How to Turn on Location Services on a Mac

Turn it on via System Preferences and gain more personalized suggestions

What to Know

  • Apple menu: System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Lock symbol > Enable Location Services.
  • Change which apps can use Location Services by checking/unchecking the box next to the app's name.
  • Location Services is useful for receiving more personalized suggestions.

This article explains how to turn on Location Services on a Mac. It also looks at how to adjust Location Services settings so only certain apps and websites are able to use the feature. It concludes by looking at why you may wish to enable Location Services. 

How to Turn On a Mac’s Location Services

Macs often come with Location Services enabled but if yours is switched off, here's how to turn it on.

  1. Click the Apple icon on the menu bar.

    Mac Desktop with Apple icon highlighted.
  2. Click System Preferences.

    Mac Desktop with System Preferences highlighted.
  3. Click Security & Privacy.

    Mac System Preferences with Security & Privacy highlighted.
  4. Click Privacy.

    Mac Security & Privacy preferences with Privacy highlighted.
  5. Click the lock in the bottom left corner.

    Mac Security & Privacy settings with Padlock for unlocking changes highlighted.
  6. Enter your Mac's password and click Unlock.

  7. Tick Enable Location Services.

    Mac Security & Privacy settings with Enable Location Services tick box highlighted.

How to Adjust Which Apps Use Location Services

Once you've enabled Location Services, you can change which apps can use the feature and which can't. It can be useful if you want one app to use Location Services but not all. Here's how to adjust which apps can use Location Services.

  1. On Security & Privacy, click Privacy.

    Mac Security & Privacy settings with privacy highlighted.
  2. Click Location Services.

  3. Click the lock in the bottom left corner to be able to change settings.

    Mac Security & Privacy settings with padlock highlighted for making changes.
  4. Enter your Mac's password and click Unlock.

  5. Check apps you wish to use Location Services. Untick apps you don't want to have access to your location.

    Mac Security & Privacy settings with tick box highlighted next to individual apps under Location Services.
  6. Click the lock again to save the settings.

How to Check When Location Services Is in Use

If you've enabled Location Services, it's useful to be able to see when the feature is being used by an app. Here's how to ensure you can see what's going on at all times.

  1. From the Location Services section of Security & Privacy, click System Services > Details.

    Mac Security & Privacy with Details highlighted next to System Services.

    You may need to scroll down to find it.

  2. Tick Show location icon in menu bar to ensure an icon is always displayed on the menu bar when Location Services are being used.

    Mac Location Services detail settings with tick box next to Show location icon in menu bar highlighted.
  3. You can also choose to tick or untick other options under Allow System Services to determine your location to change what parts of your Mac can access your location.

Why Location Services Is Useful on a Mac

Location Services has some useful functions, and some downsides too. Here's a look at why you may want to enable Location Services. 

  • To gain more relevant information. If you use Google Maps or Apple Maps on your Mac, you can immediately see your current location without having to enter it manually. 
  • To make something more personal. Use Twitter or other social media platforms? Being able to have your city or region listed alongside your posts automatically can help you receive more personal information and insight, although it can make you feel more open to harassment too.
  • To track your Mac. Find My Mac relies on Location Services so it can track where your Mac is at all times. It's one of the best reasons to have Location Services enabled, at least for one app.
  • To receive location-based suggestions. Siri suggestions and Safari suggestions depend on Location Services to offer you relevant suggestions. It can save you time and give you better ideas. 
  • Why can't my Mac determine my location?

    If an app can't determine your location, go to your Mac's Location Services settings and make sure the box next to the app is checked. If you still have trouble, try updating macOS and restarting your device.

  • How do I turn on location services in Safari?

    To enable location services in your browser, go to the Location Services settings on your Mac and check the box in front of Safari.

  • How do I turn on location services on my iPhone?

    To turn on location services on an iPhone, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and move the switch next to Location Services to the On position.

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