A Complete Guide to Location Sharing on iOS

Location Sharing Guide Ios Hero

iOS devices can share your location with your friends and family in a number of ways. In most cases it’s done over iCloud Location Sharing, which interfaces with the “Find My Friends” app. You can also use third-party apps like Google Maps. Here’s your ultimate guide to location sharing on iOS, from start to finish.

Enable iCloud Location Sharing

When you turn on iCloud location sharing, you’ll be able to share your location over iCloud Family, Find My Friends, and Messages. iCloud location sharing is most useful with iOS devices on both sides.

The same switch also enables location tracking for everyone in your iCloud Family. Members of your iCloud Family will be automatically invited to share your location in the Find My Friends app. Once you set up iCloud Family Sharing, you can flip this switch to automatically share your location with all iCloud Family members continuously.

1. Open the Settings app on an iOS device.

2. Tap your name and icon at the top of the settings app.

3. Select “Share My Location” toward the bottom of the screen.

Location Sharing Ios Share Icloud Location

4. Turn on the “Share My Location” toggle.

To disable iCloud location tracking completely, turn the “Share My Location” toggle to the off position.

Manually Share iCloud Location with Find My Friends

To manually share your location with another person, we’ll use the Find My Friends app. You’ll need to have Location Sharing turned on (see above for instructions) for this to work.

Start Sharing Location with Find My Friends

1. Open the “Find My Friends” app on your iOS device.

Find My Friends App Icon

2. Tap “Add” in the upper right.

Location Sharing Ios Add Find My Friends Contact

3. Enter the contact, phone number, or email of the person you want to share your location with.

4. Choose the time limit for location sharing: one hour, one day, or indefinitely.

Location Sharing Ios Add Find My Friends Expiration

This will send your current location to the contact.

If they have an iOS device, it will request that they share their location with Find My Friends in return. The contact will appear as a “Follower” in your Find My Friends app until they follow you back. Location sharing will remain on until it expires or you turn it off.

Stop Sharing Location with Find My Friends

To stop sharing your location, remove the contact from your Find My Friends app.

1. In the “Find My Friends” app, tap “Edit” in the upper left.

2. Tap the red minus sign next to the contact you want to stop location sharing with. Check multiple contacts and tap the trash can to remove multiple contacts.

Removing the contact will stop location sharing in both directions.

Manually Sharing iCloud Location with Messages

The same iCloud location can be sent over the Messages app on iOS. This can be sent to any kind of device.

Start Sharing iCloud Location Through Messages

1. Open the contact in the People app or by taping the contact’s icon in a Messages thread and then taping the “i” button.

Location Sharing Ios Messages Info Button

2. Tap “Share My Location” to begin sharing your location with that contact.

Location Sharing Ios Messages Share My Location

3. Choose the time limit for location sharing: one hour, one day, or indefinitely.

Location Sharing Ios Messages Set Expiration

You will see a confirmation message in the contact’s thread after you share your location.

Manually Send Current Location with Map as a Message

This is the most reliable method for sharing your iCloud location with a non-Apple device. To share a GPS-navigable map of your current location over Messages, follow these instructions:

1. Tap the contact’s icon in a Messages thread, and then tap the “i” button. This particular step must be begun in a Messages thread and can’t be accessed through the contacts search.

Location Sharing Ios Messages Info Button

2. Tap “Send My Current Location” to share your current location with a map screenshot and GPS-navigable Apple Maps link.

Location Sharing Ios Messages Send Current Location

Stop Sharing Location with Messages

1. Open the contact in the phone app’s People tab or by tapping the contact’s icon in a Messages thread and then taping the “i” button.

2. Tap the red “Stop Sharing My Location” to stop sharing your location.

Changing the iCloud Device Used for Location

If you have multiple iDevices on your iCloud account, you can share the location for any of those devices. This can be set a la carte when sharing the location or globally in iCloud settings.

1. Open “Settings -> Share My Location.”

Location Sharing Ios Share Icloud Location

2. Tap “Share My Location -> From.”

Location Sharing Ios Device Location Selection

3. Select the correct device from the list. “This device” will appear in grey text under the device you’re presently using.

Setting Geofenced Notifications

If someone has shared their location with you, you can get alert notifications based on their movements. For example, you can get an alert when they leave their current location or arrive at a separate location. It’s useful for confirming that people arrived at work, school, home, etc.

1. Tap the contact in Find My Friends. It must be a contact who is sharing their location to you.

2. Tap “Notify Me” at the top of the screen showing the contact’s current location.

Location Sharing Ios Set Geofenced Notification

3. Select whether you want to be notified when they leave or arrive at that location and the appropriate geographic location. You can choose the contact’s location or your location, or tap “Other” to enter a separate location.

Location Sharing Ios Set Geofenced Notification Properties

4. Tap “Done” to confirm the notification settings.

You will now receive alerts based on that contact’s movement. To turn off these notifications, tap “Notify Me” again, and tap the red “Remove” button.

If you want the contact to receive a notification based on your movements, select the contact in Find My Friends and tap “More” in the upper right. Choose “Notify [contact name]” at the bottom right and set the appropriate options.

Share Location with Google Maps on iOS

A reliable and functional way to share your location with Android and iOS devices using Google Maps.

1. Begin an iMessage thread with the contact you want to share your location with.

2. Tap the Google Maps Messages app’s icon above the keyboard. You will likely need to scroll horizontally to find the Google Maps icon. This hides the keyboard and shows your present location preview on a Google Maps thumbnail.

Location Sharing Guide Ios Google Maps Messages Icon

3. Tap the “Send” button in the lower right to share your location.

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This will share a web link with the GPS coordinates for the device you sent the message with. The link preview will contain a Street View picture of your location. Tapping the link will open Google Maps (or its web interface) and show the GPS coordinates of your shared location pin. The location will not update as you move.

Conclusion

If you want to share your location with your iCloud Family members indefinitely, turn on Family Sharing and enable iCloud Location Sharing. If you want to share your location with other iOS users, invite them with Find My Friends or Messages. If you want to share your location with an Android user, share the location with Google Maps or push your location manually over Messages following the instructions in the section titled “Manually Send Current Location with Map over Messages.”

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