How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location


Applies to: iOS6, iPhone, iPad, iPad2, iPad 3, "New iPad", & iPod Touch

 

Updates for 2013 and iOS 7 

The instructions on this page are specifically for iOS 6, but if you have a new iPhone with iOS7 or if you have upgraded from iOS6 to iOS7, the settings are basically the same.


Did you know that your iPhone (iPad or iPod Touch) can be used as a real-time GPS location-tracking device, giving the (near) exact location of the phone (or the car, or purse that it is in) in near-real time?  You can watch on your PC or Mac as the location is pinpointed on a map, and updated every several seconds, accurately to within just a few feet!  The person holding the phone doesn't even have to do anything, and won't even know they are being tracked. Perfect for parents that want to keep an eye on their children's location - now buying (or loaning) an iPhone to your kids might make more sense.

 

Watch the video version:

WARNING: Using this method to turn an iPhone into a real-time GPS location tracking device should only be done to an iPhone that you own.  Tracking someone's iPhone that you do not own, without the owner's permission or placing any tracking device on someone without their permission or knowledge is not only immoral, but it may also be illegal in some states.Iphone Tracking via GPS

What you need to track your iPhone location:

  • Any iPhone (1st generation, iPhone 3g, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S) running iOS 5 or newer - Jailbreaking is not required.  First generation iPhones will provide slightly-less accurate location information due to the lack of a GPS chip, and must be in range of cell towers.  Works on all iPads, but for non 3G iPads, it will only work if/when the iPad is in range of a wireless network and the location data may be less accurate.  Also works on iPod Touch but only if wireless is enabled and the device is in-range of a wireless network
  • MobileMe Account:  Mobile Me is a service provided by Apple for email, online data backup/storage, calendar/contacts sync, and Find My iPhone.  The normal cost for Mobile Me is $99/year, but you can usually find memberships for less on eBay (buyer beware!).  You can often get several months of Mobile Me for free when buying a new iPhone or computer from Apple, and you can also sign up for a free 60-day trial membership at the Mobile Me website to try the service.  For more info on the Mobile Me service, see Apple's Mobile Me website.
  • iCloud Account (FREE!): iCloud is a service provided by Apple for email, online backup of iOS devices, calendar/contacts sync and Find My iPhone.  iCloud is FREE.  See Apple's iCloud Website

How to turn your iPhone into a GPS location-tracker:

The key to using your iPhone as a real-time GPS location tracker is the Find My iPhone service which is part of iCloud.  Most people have probably heard about the Find My iPhone service - Apple markets the service as a way to find your iPhone if it becomes lost or stolen - but what many do not realize about the Find My iPhone service is:

  1. You can use Find My iPhone to get real-time maps of where your iPhone is at any time.  You do not have to 'report' the phone as stolen.
  2. You can get the location of your iPhone as often as you wish, with no limits
  3. There is no limit to the number of iPhones you can track - they don't even have to be owned by you! Just remember: do not track a phone/person without that person's permission.  Should the iPhone owner catch on that you are tracking their every movement, the information they need to convict you will be stored in the iPhone.

How to setup location tracking on an iPhone:

  • On the iPhone you want to track, go into SETTINGS, then iCloud
  • Enter your iCloud account information
  • Scroll down through the iCloud options (contacts, calendars, etc) and make sure that Find My iPhone is ON

Your iPhone is now setup as a location tracker! 

How to find and track the location of your iPhone:

From any computer connected to the internet: From any browser go to www.iCloud.com and sign in with your email address/iTunes account and password.  Once signed-in select Find My iPhone.  When prompted, re-enter your password.  After a moment a list of all devices you have configured for tracking will show on the left of the screen.  Click the device to track - after a moment a map will appear with the location of your device pin-pointed in the center (this usually takes a few seconds).  If the iPhone is in motion it will not be updated live on the screen - click the refresh button near the upper-right (near the time) to update the location.

From another iPhone or an iPad: Download and install the free Find My iPhone app.  Start the app and enter your Mobile Me membername (email) and password.  Select the device to track from the list and a map will appear with the location.  To update the map/location, click the refresh-button in the lower left.

When tracking on either a computer or another iPhone or iPad: on the map, select "hybrid" view for the best map view.

 

That's all there is too it!  There are other, cheaper ways to track an iPhone but they require jailbreaking and the person with the iPhone must first run a specific application on the phone, and are just not as simple or 'fool proof' as this method.  This method requires only a minute to setup and does not require you to do anything on the iPhone once configured. 

 

More reading about tracking and locating iPhones, iPads, iPods:

 

 

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photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location

No - when the iPhone is powered off, it cannot be tracked. And.. if they restore/wipe the phone, it will not be traceable.. Be sure that you report the phone as stolen to your carrier so they cant start making calls on your account.. Then, go shopping for your new phone Sad

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location
my iphone4 was just stolen last night,and I tracked it on mobile me and I'm looking on hybrid and the blue dot is on the house and I have the adress moreless;But how acurate is the Tracking system?
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location

Sometimes it is very accurate. Sometimes it's not accurate at all. Call the police.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location
I did they gave me a case number but they said there was nothing can do... :/ why is it that it varies what does it depend on that it sometimes isn't accurate. I looked up my account and found an outgoing phone number that was called about 13 times right before I locked my phone. and a friend of mine can get information with that number since they work at att. So hopefully I can get something!
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone

Because sometimes it's just not accurate.. But, what if if it is accurate? If they are shitbag enough to steal your phone they are probably shitbag enough to beat, stab or shoot you if you try to confront them.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone
true and I'm pretty tiny. Sad
jessicafromsaskatoon (not verified)
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location
I have a question for you. I lost me iphone a couple days ago. My mom also has one, but she was also smart enough to buy into MobileMe. My phone is under her contract. Would she be able to locate my phone on her MobileMe account? I've been told "There is a tracking device built in. You don't have to download anything, you just have to activate it by setting up the FREE MobileMe find my iPhone service. The app is only used to display the location of, lock, notify or wipe a lost/stolen device. If you have only one iOS device, having the app on it serves no purpose. If you have activated Find my iPhone, you can log in to me.com on the web and track the location of the device." Now if I had the "find my phone" set to on...but not set up a me.com account...could she still locate it...at all?
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location

You can't have "Find My iPhone set to on, but not set up a me.com account" - in order set activate or "set to on" Find My iPhone, you must have a MobileMe account.

Read the page above about setting up FindMyiPhone - if you didnt follow all of those steps on your iPhone, you will not be able to track it.

jessicafromsaskatoon (not verified)
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location
ok, thank you Sad
iceprincess
iceprincess's picture
I am Not interested in drama from Not where I want to live.....
Member for 7 years 20 weeks
GuG-Points: 62
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location

I have discovered (and I want to apologize off the bat if this was previously mentioned already) that if you do not have an iphone 4, the findmyiphone app will not work, UNLESS, you have had a previous mobileme account. Apparently they are no longer accepting subscriptions to the service unless previous customer? I am a little confused by why apple would stop accepting customers especially for the paid service? I am not operating an iphone 4, sadly, still have the 3G, but am very interested in how i can go about having a service like mobileme, or at least be able to track my phones/daughter's phone location (she is very....oh whats the word....irresponsible and constantly losing her phone, but it is 100% necessary that she has one) without alerting the thief? or my daughter for that matter as she gets older...lol Any ideas or info that will help me find an accurate program is much appreciated! Thanks! 

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