Google location tracking: How to stop Google from tracking your location on Android phones, iPhones, and PCs

Google tracks your locations to offer better services. That accurate navigation via Google Maps or location-based searches on Google Chrome isn’t possible without location tracking. However, if you wish to keep your whereabouts private, there is an option in your device that can stop Google from tracking your location. The option is available on any device of your choice, including Android mobile phone, iPhone, and PC/ laptop. It can disable the Google location tracking for the time being or altogether. If don’t want to take that route, you can use incognito mode, VPN, and other services to disguise Google from tracking your location and more. Before we get down to how you can stop Google from tracking your location, let’s first understand why the tech giant follows you every step of the way and how.

Why does Google track your location and how?

It’s safe to say that Google thrives on your data. Recording your whereabouts helps Google enhance its services like location-based search results, location data for pictures, real-time traffic, etc. The tech giant also uses your information for targeted advertising.

There are two ways for Google to find your location, irrespective of the device.

  1. IP Address – This unique identification number for your device, be it PC or phone, is issued by your internet service provider and is based on your location.
  2. Location Services – This feature uses your device’s built-in GPS, APN and other such information to provide a more precise location than your IP address. Most websites and third-party apps ask for Location Services access to use all features.

Note: Google’s location tracking capabilities are especially advanced if you use an Android phone as it requires you to turn on Location Services to access useful features.

While a lot of Google services based on location tracking might be useful to you, it can also be a serious privacy concern. Plus, it also exhausts your battery much faster than is ideal. If you don’t want Google to track your location, you can disable the same on your Android or iOS phone or your computer, when you don’t need it. Read on to know more.

How to disable or restrict Google’s location tracking abilities

Listed here are different ways through which you can ensure that Google isn’t tracking your location, depending on whether you’re using an Android or iOS phone or a PC.

On Android phone

Toggle the location icon from the Quick Settings menu

It is the easiest way to stop Google from tracking your location. Here’s how it works:

  • Scroll down from the top of your screen for the quick settings menu
  • Look for the location icon. If it’s highlighted that means your location is being shared
  • Tap on the icon to disable your location

This will stop Google from tracking your location. However, it will also block other apps and services from using your location. If you don’t want that, the next method is just for you.

Turn off location tracking for Google apps and services

Most Android mobile phones now give you the option to tweak the location settings of a specific app. You can use to it block location tracking for Google apps and services altogether or allow only while using the app or ask every time. 

  • Open Settings app on your Android phone
  • Select the Location option from the menu
  • Now, click on ‘App access to location’
  • You’ll find a list of apps here that have the permission to access your location, all the time or while in use
  • Click on the Google app whose location tracking service you want to stop. Now, choose from the available option: Allow all the time, Allow only while using the app, Ask every time and Don’t allow. Don’t Allow will completely block Google from tracking your location

Note: Remember that turning off location tracker can affect certain app functionality.

Turn off Google’s Location History setting

In case, you want Google to track your location but don’t store it, this is what you can do:

  • Open the Settings app on your Android phone
  • Scroll down the list and select the Google option
  • Click on Manage your Google Account
  • On your account page, tap Data & Privacy
  • Click Location History to open Activity Controls
  • Tap the Turn Off button under Location History settings
  • Scroll down the page that opens and then click on Pause

Note: Even after you’ve turned off Location History, Google can still save some location data as part of your activities on its key services, including Maps and Search. You can prevent the same by turning off its Web & App Activity setting found under Data & Privacy.

On iPhone

The methods to stop Google from tracking your on iPhone are pretty much the same as the Android mobile phone.

Turn off the location

  • Open the Settings app on your iPhone
  • Scroll down and select the Privacy option
  • Click on Location Services
  • Toggle the Location Services button off

This will stop location sharing for all apps, not just Google.

Turn off location tracking for Google apps

  • Open the Settings app on your iPhone
  • Select the Privacy option from the menu
  • Click on Location Services
  • Look for Google apps that are tracking your location. 
  • Tap on any one of them and the following option will appear on your screen: Never, Ask Next Time or When I Share and While Using the App (it’s possible for some apps to have an Always option too). Tap Never to disable location tracking for apps that you feel have no need to use your location

Turn off Google’s Location History setting

  • Open the Google app on your iPhone and log in to your account. In case you haven’t downloaded the app, open a web browser to sign in to your Google account
  • Once you’ve logged in, tap your account avatar in the top-right corner of the screen
  • Now, click on Manage your Google Account
  • On your account page, select the Data & Privacy tab
  • Go to Location History and click on it to open Activity Controls
  • Click on the Turn Off button under Location History settings
  • On the page that opens, tap Pause

    On PC

    PC users can turn off the location history setting to stop Google from keeping a tab on your location. Here’s how to do it:

    Turn off Google’s Location History setting

    • If you’re already signed in to your Google account on your Windows desktop, laptop, MacBook or iMac, click here to open its Activity Controls window. If not, open a web browser and log in first before clicking on the link
    • Once you’ve opened the link, tap the Turn Off button under Location History setting
    • On the window that opens, scroll all the way to the bottom and then, tap Pause

    Other ways to hide your location

    While the above solutions can restrict the amount of location data Google can collect from a PC or phone, they’re not 100 percent proficient. Google can still use your IP address whenever you use the search engine to get a general idea of your location. If you wish to further shield the location data Google is collecting or perhaps shut it down completely, try these ways.

    Browse in Incognito mode

    This is a great solution if you don’t want to mess with the location settings on your phone or computer, but would like to prevent Google from tracking you for a moment. Just open the Google Maps app, tap on your account avatar on the top-right corner of screen, and select the Turn on Incognito Mode option. This will stop Maps from saving your location or search history; however, other Google services would still be able to track your location.

    Note: Turn off the Incognito mode in Google Maps to return to its normal version.

    Use a VPN

    If you want to mask your location from Google completely, consider getting a VPN (or virtual private network). It protects your public IP address and replaces it with another one not tied to your ISP by rerouting your internet activity to a dedicated VPN server that isn’t indicative of your location. It must be noted that most good VPN services charge a small fee.


    For how long can Google store my location data?

    Google keeps a detailed record of all the places you have visited and when on the Timeline, and disabling its location history setting doesn’t delete any of this prior information. Worry not though as Google does allow you to choose how long it can hold on to your data, which is 18 months by default. You can set it to 3,18 or 36 months from the Auto-delete option in Location History setting under Google’s Activity Controls page. Click here to open it.

    Is it possible to delete all my location history from Google?

    Yes! You can delete all your location history from Google Timeline (or only parts of it) using the Google Maps app or a web browser. Keep reading to know more about the ‘how’.

    Using the Google Maps app:

    1. Open the Google Maps app
    2. Tap on your profile icon
    3. Click on Your Timeline
    4. Go to the three dots menu on the top-right corner
    5. Select Settings and privacy
    6. Under Location Settings, tap Delete all Location History
    7. Check the “I understand and want to delete” box
    8. Tap the Delete button

    Note: You can also delete a particular day, stop, or data from a date range if you wish to.

    Using the web browser:

    1. Open your Google Maps Timeline in the web browser
    2. Tap the trash icon near the bottom right corner of the map
    3. Follow the on-screen instructions