How to Use Find My Friends for iPhone and iPad

Send your location info to trusted loved ones

friends looking at a map, with camera and tablet

Dave and Les Jacobs / Getty Images

Every iOS device has location features built-in, which makes it easy for the Apple Find My Friends app to track the people who are important to you and share your location with them. This is terrific for working parents who want to know when their kids get home from school or arrive at sports practice. It's convenient for partners who want to let each other know when they're heading home from work or arriving safely when on a trip. Here's how to set up and use Find My Friends.

Instructions in this article apply to devices running iOS 9 and later.

How to Set Up Find My Friends

Find My Friends comes pre-installed with iOS 9 and up. Use the Spotlight search tool to find it. For earlier versions of iOS, or if it's not pre-installed, download the app from the App Store.

Find My Friends uses iCloud and your Apple ID, so when you sign in to iCloud, you sign in to Find My Friends.

How to Add Friends in Find my Friends

Adding people to the Find My Friends app is quick and easy; it only takes a few steps.

The people you want to add must have an Apple ID.

To add friends to the app:

  1. Open Find My Friends, then tap Add.

    The Find My Friends app and the Add command
  2. In the To field, tap + to choose friends from your Contacts app. Or, go to the Search box and enter an email address or phone number to choose a contact. Then, tap Send.

    Adding a contact in the Find My Friends app
  3. Choose how long to share your location with those friends: Share for One Hour, Share Until End of Day, or Share Indefinitely.

  4. Your friends' devices display a notification informing them that you're sharing your location and asks if they want to share their location. They have the same options, plus an additional Don't Share option.

How to Use Find My Friends on iPhone and iPad

Opening the app shows the location of all of your friends, but there's more you can do.

Notify Friends When You Leave or Arrive

To notify your friends when you leave or arrive at a location, follow these steps:

  1. Tap Me, then tap Notify Friends.

    Notify Friends command in the Find My Friends app
  2. In the To field, add the friends you want to notify of your movements.

  3. Tap Right Now to share your location immediately. Tap When I Leave or When I Arrive to tie the notification to your departure or arrival at a specific place.

  4. Tap Other to change the place that triggers the alert. If you want to use the default location, which is your current location, skip to Step 7.

    Setting up a notification in Find My Friends
  5. Go to the Search bar, enter an address, then tap the correct address.

  6. On the map screen, drag the line to set the radius you have to be inside to trigger the notification. Then, tap Done to save your settings.

    Setting a location to trigger an alert in the Find My Friends app
  7. Turn on the Repeat Every Time toggle switch to send the notice every time you satisfy the conditions, for example, when you leave work for the day. Then, tap Done to finalize the alert.

    The Repeat Every Time switch in the Find My Friends app
  8. Now, the friends you designated will receive an alert every time you leave or arrive at the location you set.

Delete a Leave or Arrive Notification

To delete a notification, tap Me, then tap Notify Friends. Swipe right to left across the notification, then tap Remove. Tap Add Notification to create a replacement or tap Done to finish.

Removing a notification in the Find My Friends app for iPhone

Hide Your Location

To hide your location for a short period of time without deleting a notification entirely, tap Me and turn off the Share My Location toggle switch. You'll disappear from your friends' map, but reappear when you start sharing your location again.

Toggling off Share My Location in the Find My Friends app for iPhone

Stop Sharing Your Location

To keep seeing your friends' locations, but to stop sharing yours permanently, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app, then tap your name.

    Accessing your account in Settings on an iPhone
  2. Tap Share My Location, then turn off the Share My Location toggle switch.

    Turning off Share My Location in Settings on an iPhone
  3. Turning off this setting turns off sharing for Find My Friends and for apps that use your location.

Another Way to Use Find My Friends: iCloud

The Find My Friends app uses iCloud to show your location and connect with your friends. Use iCloud to find friends without using the app.

find my friends on icloud screenshot

Log in to iCloud using a web browser to find your friends and use the features found on the iOS app, even if your iPhone or iPad isn't nearby.

The Pros and Cons of Using Find My Friends

Depending on your perspective, Find My Friends may sound terrific or terrifying. There's truth to both opinions. Consider the pros and cons before you use the app.

What We Like

  • Parents know where their kids are and get notifications of activities.

  • Spouses can notify each other without calling or texting.

  • Makes it easy to meet friends at a specific location.

What We Don't Like

  • It can be creepy to think that people know exactly where you are at all times.

  • Could be used by an abuser to keep tabs on their partner.