There’s a little-known feature built into your iPhone that keeps a history of every location you’ve been – and how many times you’ve been there.
This “Significant Locations” list can be found in your settings, but it’s rather hard to find, whether that’s purposeful or not.
Apple tracks, and stores, every place you’ve been, and how often (and when) you visit each place. But it gets even more detailed than that: Your iPhone compiles locations small enough to a single address, tracks the time you get to leave each location, and even how long it took to get to each location and by which mode of transportation.
According to Apple, the list is kept “to learn places that are significant to you.” And Apple isn’t alone in keeping track of this amount of location data – Google does it too, through a Location History list found in your Google account.
“This data is encrypted and stored only on your device and will not be shared without your consent,” Apple says on its website. “It is used to provide you with personalized services, such as predictive traffic routing, and to build better Photos Memories.”
But if you no longer want Significant Locations turned on, here’s how to turn off and delete the history from your iPhone:
First, head to your Settings app and locate the Privacy tab.
Click on the first option, Location Services.
Underneath Location Services, you’ll find a list of every app on your iPhone and the kind of access each one has to your location data. Skip that, however ….
… and scroll to the bottom of the page, where you’ll find “System Services” at the end of the list.
In System Services, you’ll find a full list of what built-in Apple services you have granted access to your location data, which may be more extensive than you knew. Some of these options need your location for daily use, such as Find My iPhone and location sharing. But at the bottom of this list, there’s a tab called “Significant Locations,” which requires your password (or fingerprint or Face ID) for access.
Under Significant Locations, you’ll find a comprehensive history of all the locations your iPhone has been.
The list is sorted by city, and under each city, you can find even more specific info — the exact addresses of places you’ve been, how many times you’ve been to each place, the specific dates (and times!) you’ve been to each location, and how much time you spent at each place. It’s a wild amount of data.
Before you turn off your Significant Locations feature altogether, don’t forget to clear the history that’s been kept on your phone. The “clear history” option is located all the way at the bottom of your history list.
Finally, you can turn off the Significant Locations list by toggling off the feature at the top of the page. Apple may still have access to a huge trove of your data, but at least you can keep it from compiling a detailed list of everywhere you’ve ever been!