A Complete Guide to Location Sharing on iOS

Location Sharing Ios Featured

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 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 and Messages. iCloud location sharing is most useful with iOS and iPadOS 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 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. Further down the screen, select “Find My.”

Location Sharing Ios Find My Add

4. Turn on the “Find My” toggle at the top.

5. On the resulting screen, there are options for helping you locate your iPhone: Find My iPhone, Find My Network, and Send Last Location. If finding your iPhone is important to you (and why wouldn’t it be?), turn these on.

6. Flip back to the previous screen and turn on the “Share My Location” toggle.

Location Sharing Ios Share My Location

Underneath that toggle, you will see the names of the other members of your family. The examples here have been altered for privacy reasons.

If you would like to disable iCloud location tracking completely on your iOS device, turn the “Share My Location” toggle to the off position.

Manually Share iCloud Location with Find My

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

Start Sharing Location with Find My

1. Open the Find My app on your iOS device.

2. In the “People” tab, Tap “Share My Location” at the bottom of the list to add another person. You can see in the image below that the locations for family show up automatically.

Location Sharing Ios Add2

3. To share your location, the person needs to be one of your contacts. Start typing their name, and this field will populate. Then click Send.

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

This will send your current location to the contact. They will continue to be able to see your location until the time limit you chose expires. You can send it to an email instead of through Messages, but your contact will only be able to see your location if they are signed in to iCloud on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.

Location Sharing Ios Email

Once they view your location, it will request that they share their location with Find My in return. Location sharing will remain on until it expires or you turn it off.

Stop Sharing Location with Find My

To stop sharing your location before it expires, remove the contact from your Find My app.

1. In the Find My app, slide the contact to the right. You’ll see an option to add the contact as a favorite and another to delete it.

2. Tap the Trash can icon, and the contact will be removed. This stops iOS 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 device.

Start Sharing iCloud Location Through Messages

1. Open the contact in the Contacts app or tap the contact’s icon in a Messages thread, then tap the “i” button.

Location Sharing Ios Messages

2. On the next screen, you can choose to either “Share My Location” or “Send My Current Location”

3. If you choose to “Share My Location,” once again, choose a time lime limit: one hour, until the end of the day, or indefinitely.

You will see a confirmation message in the contact’s message 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, then tap the “i” button. It can’t be shared in this manner through the Contacts app.

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

Location Sharing Ios Current

Stop Sharing Location with Messages

1. Open the contact again in the Find My app and tap the “i” button.

2. Tap “Stop Sharing My Location.”

Changing the iCloud Device Used for Location

If you have multiple devices 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. Tap your name and icon at the top of the Settings app, then the Find My option.

Location Sharing Ios Ipad

2. Make sure “Share My Location” is toggled on.

3. Look at the two lines above that. The first will show you what device is sharing your location. The second line gives you an option to “Use This [device] as My Location.” Click that, and your location will automatically switch to that device.

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. It must be a contact who is sharing their location with you.

2. Tap “Add” under “Notifications.”

3. Choose “Notify Me.”

4. On the resulting screen, choose between your contact arriving, leaving, or “not at.”

Location Sharing Ios Notify Me

5. Choose between the contact’s current location, your location, or a new location.

6. Choose whether this is a one-time-only thing or every time the contact reaches or leaves that location.

7. Tap “Add” to confirm the notification settings.

You will now receive the alerts that you requested. You’ll get notifications on your iPhone, iPad, iPad Touch, and Apple Watch.

Location Sharing Ios Apple Watch2
Location Sharing Ios Arrived

To turn off these notifications, tap the contact in the Find My app, click “Notify Me,” scroll to the bottom of the screen, and tap “Delete Notification.”

If you want the contact to receive a notification based on your movements, select the contact in Find My and tap “Add.” Choose “Notify [Contact]” and set the appropriate options.

Share Location with Google Maps on iOS

A reliable and functional way to use location sharing between your iOS device and an Android is to use Google Maps.

1. Begin a Messages thread with the contact you want to share your location with.

2. Tap the Google Maps app’s icon above the keyboard. You will likely need to scroll horizontally to find the Google Maps icon. You’ll see your present location previewed on a Google Maps thumbnail.

Location Sharing Ios Google Maps

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

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.”

If you’d like to become more of a power user with iOS, take a look at some of the best Siri shortcuts.

Related:

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.

Leave a Comment

Yeah! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic! Check out our comment policy here. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.