How to Find Your Location History in Google Maps or iPhone

Here's how to see your location history and opt in or out

Both Google and Apple keep track of your location to provide you with location-aware services, including maps, custom routes, directions, and search. These services also include Facebook, review services such as Yelp, fitness apps, store brand apps, and more.

The iOS procedure works for iOS 12 and currently supported previous releases of the Apple mobile operating system.

How Location Services Work

Not many people know that the location awareness of their portable devices and software extends to tracking and recording their location history, as well. In the case of Google, if you opt-in to Places You've Been in your account settings, your location history consists of a detailed and searchable data file with a visible trail, organized by date and time. Apple provides less information but keeps, and displays at your request, a record of your recently visited places, without the detailed trail feature that Google offers.

Both Google and Apple provide these history files with assurances about privacy, and you can opt-out, or, in the case of Google, erase your location history.

These are useful services that help you as long as you're aware of them and have them opted in to your comfort level. In some situations, location history could play an important role in legal or rescue situations.

View Your Google Location History

1:16

To see your location history in Google Maps, you must be logged in to your Google account, and you need to have been logged into your Google account on your smartphone or laptop as you moved about locally or traveled in the past.

After you are logged in to Google, go to www.google.com/maps/timeline on a desktop or laptop web browser or your smartphone. You are presented with a map-enabled search utility. In the location history control panel on the left, select the date segments you want to see, in one-day through seven-day increments, or up to 14-day or 30-day increments.

After you select the date segments and ranges, your location and a travel trail of your positions for the time period displays. These tracks are zoomable, and you can get a detailed history of your travels. You may also delete history from this time period, or delete your entire history from the database. This is part of Google's effort to offer both transparency and user control when it comes to private location data.

Apple iOS & iPhone Location History How-To

Apple provides less location history data and less detail. However, you can see some history. Here's how you find your information:

  1. Go to the Settings app on your iPhone.

  2. Scroll down and tap Privacy.

  3. Tap Location Services and scroll to the bottom.

    iOS Settings screens showing Privacy and Location Services
  4. Tap System Services.

  5. Scroll to Significant Locations (called Frequent Locations in some versions of iOS). You can turn this feature off with the toggle switch at the top of the Significant Locations screen.

  6. You'll find your location history at the bottom, with location names and dates.

    iOS screenshots showing System Services, Significant Locations
  7. You can now see everything that Apple sees.

Apple stores a limited number of locations and doesn't provide precise travel tracks and timelines like Google. It provides a location, a date, and an approximate position circle on a non-interactive (you can't pinch-to-zoom it) map. 

Like much technology today, location history can be harmful or helpful, depending on who uses it and how, whether you understand and control it, and whether you opt-in to what you want to have tracked (and opt-out of what you don't want). Learning about location history on your device and how to view and control it is the first step.