iMessage is unarguably the best instant messaging app on an iPhone. The app has many exciting features, albeit locked to iOS and macOS users only.
While most iMessage users know that you can send messages, GIFs, pictures, and videos on iMessage, not many know that you can get someone’s location from the popular instant messaging app.
If you want to track the location of someone with an iPhone, doing it through iMessage is probably your best bet.
This post will show you how to see someone’s location on iMessage for free. In addition, you’ll get some other ways to track someone’s location without them ever knowing.
How to see someone’s location on iMessage
Before starting the tutorial, you should know that you must have access to the target’s iPhone for the iMessage location tracking functionality to work.
The steps outlined below are perfectly legal if you have the consent of the person you want to track. It is a feature that Apple deliberately built into iMessage to make the app more exciting.
I advise getting the permission of the target before proceeding with any of the following steps. We won’t be responsible for any effects of your actions.
Depending on the laws of your jurisdiction, tracking someone without their consent may be a criminal offense.
That said, here are the steps required to see someone’s location on iMessage (with their consent, most preferably).
- Launch the Messages app on the target’s device. Of course, to access the iMessage app, the user must unlock their iPhone and allow them to access it.
To be legally safe, you can also tell them what you’re planning to do and how you will be going about it to see how they would react.
- If they are willing to share their location with you, open your conversation with the user on their iPhone and go to the details by clicking on the little ⓘ icon at the top of the interface.
- Find and select the Share My Location option on this page. You will be prompted to choose for how long you’d like to keep sharing your location.
You should decide this for yourself, but “Share Indefinitely” may be the best option if it’s a family member. That way, you don’t have to keep redoing it each time you need to track their location.
After completing all the steps above on the target’s iPhone, you can now see their location at any time from your iPhone without using any external apps.
To see their current location, open the Find My app and select the People tab. You will see a list of all your friends that you can see in their location.
Scroll through the list and select the target’s name, and you’ll instantly see their exact location on a map, with driving instructions on how to get to the person in real-time.
Also, you can set notifications that go off when the person leaves or enters a pre-set location, a practice also known as geo-fencing.
This practice can be very damaging from a privacy standpoint, as most people won’t want someone to set a geofence around them in real-time.
With Apple’s strides on privacy, it’s almost unthinkable that the company will ship an app with all of these privacy-ignoring features, even ahead of WhatsApp.
To avoid several legal troubles that may come up due to using the feature described here, you should try convincing the target to share their location with you themselves.
If they decide not to, you reserve to right to do it without their knowledge, and you can land yourself in legal trouble by not heeding to that.
How to prevent someone from seeing your location on iMessage
Seeing how easy it is to find out anyone’s real-time location on iMessage, you should be worried if you use iMessage a lot (most iPhone users do, by the way).
You’ll never know if one of your contacts has accessed your phone without your authorization and set your iPhone to always share its real-time location with them.
If you fear this is the case, there are some quick changes you can make to ensure that nobody is tracking your iPhone’s location using iMessage. Here are some of them.
Turning off your device’s location
Your iPhone can only learn about your location if you have location services enabled. If your iPhone doesn’t know your location, it’s impossible to share it with any of your iMessage contacts.
If you think someone is tracking your device’s location using iMessage, turning off your location in an instant and practical first step to take.
Here are the steps required to turn off your device’s location.
- Launch the Settings app on your iPhone and select Privacy.
- Select Location Services from the Privacy options. Turn off Share My Location from the resulting screen to stop sharing your location with any app or process on your iPhone.
This way, your phone disables the GPS functionality completely to prevent anyone from snooping on your activities without your permission.
Watch iMessage-related notifications
To give a privacy justification to the feature, you’ll receive a notification telling you that you’ve started sharing your location with the contact with whom you’re sharing your location.
If you see a similar notification, don’t ignore it unless you consent to it. Instead, stop sharing your location with the contact by reversing the steps contained in this guide.
While Apple may be the benchmark for privacy practices among big tech companies, they also make some pretty significant mistakes.
One of these mistakes is letting people track your location for an indefinite period using iMessage. If you want to track the movements of a family member or a spouse, you may not need those insanely expensive tracking apps (that I don’t recommend anyway).
Instead, fire up iMessage and share the target’s location with yourself. Now, sit back from your iPhone or Macbook and watch their location history in real-time, as long as they have location services enabled.