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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Hubby
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I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: How to Password Protect "Find my iPhone"?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
GPS locating an iPhone
I'm not sure if I am understanding this correctly or not. If I want to track my daughter's phone, would I need to turn on the iCloud in her settings on her phone? Also, does this cost something in order to use the tracking?
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: GPS locating an iPhone

Yes, iCloud needs to be on, and the Find My iPhone option also has to be on (in settings, you do not need to download or install anything). You then go to the www.icloud.com website, enter the iCloud username and password, click 'find my iphone', and it will show you the current location of the phone.
iCloud is free, using Find My iPhone to track the iphone is free and unlimited.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
iPhone GPS Tracking on iOS7
This feature doesn't work any longer with iOS 7. They have removed the ability to use the Find my Phone service/app with a secondary iCloud account. Please advise if there is a workaround, this feature has been a life saver for me, and I need to keep doing it somehow. I even have my son's iCloud password, but I can't log into this account from my iPhone, because everything is linked to my iCloud account. I am able to log into his account from my PC laptop, but there are times when I need to track him from my iPhone.
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: iPhone GPS Tracking on iOS7

There is no mention of adding a second account for Find My iPhone on this page, however we will be updating the setup two iCloud accounts page.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To GPS Track Someone's Location
I have a friend being stalked by her soon to be ex-husband. There are too many concidental times he has shown up at the same location she is at. Is there a way she can tell if her phone is being tracked? How can she turn this locator off but still be located via emergency servcies if needed?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: How To Use Your iPhone To Track Someone's Location
Your Friend must be dishonest to her husband , that's why he keep on looking for her to save her from any bad place or society. Cheating spouses have the same response.
I See Stupid People (not verified)
Turn of GPS Tracking on an iphone
If Find My iPhone is being used she can easily see the account setup in her account settings on the phone (read the page above). By deleting that account or turning off Find My IPhone the phone would not longer be trackable by iCloud.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Tracking an iPhone
I don't want to use the app. Find My Phone. Is there another way to track a phone?
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: Tracking an iPhone

Instead of the Find My iPhone app, you can also use the www.icloud.com website.

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