Plenty of apps use your location to help them provide more relevant suggestions in response to your questions and search terms.
For example, ask Siri “where can I get a coffee?” and it’ll return a list of coffee shops in your immediate vicinity; search for “curry” in Maps, and it’ll stick a little red pin in every nearby Indian restaurant.
Most of the time, having access to your location enables apps to provide a better user experience, but sometimes you might want to keep your location under wraps, or perhaps your current location isn’t relevant to the information you’re gathering. For example, if you’re spending an afternoon researching things to do on an upcoming holiday, then location-based suggestions aren’t going to be relevant, and may even becoming annoying – after all, you probably don’t need to know that the nearest tropical beach is hundreds of miles away from your house!
In this article, I’m going to share various ways that you can prevent different apps and services from accessing your location, including how to disable location-based services across your entire Mac.
Turning off Location-Based Suggestions
To prevent system services from accessing your location:
- Click the ‘Apple’ logo in your Mac’s menu bar.
- Select ‘System Preferences… > Security & Privacy.’
- Make sure the ‘Privacy’ tab is selected.
- Click the little padlock icon in the bottom-left corner, and enter your admin password when prompted.
- In the left-hand menu, select ‘Location Services.’
- In the ‘Enable Location Services’ menu, scroll until you find a ‘System Services’ option and then click its accompanying ‘Details…’ button.
- In the subsequent popup, deselect the ‘Location-Based Suggestions’ checkbox.
- While you’re in this section of the ‘Security & Privacy’ menu, you may also want to tell macOS to give you a heads-up whenever your location is being accessed, by displaying a ‘Location Use’ arrow icon in your Mac’s toolbar. Clicking this arrow icon will open a dropdown listing all the apps that are currently accessing your location. If you do want to add this icon, then select the ‘Show location icon in menu bar…’ checkbox.
- Give the ‘Done’ button a click.
Disabling Location Services for specific apps
Alternatively, you may want to pick and choose which apps have access to your location.
You’ll find a list of all the apps that can access this information, in the ‘System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Location Services’ menu. In this list, apps that have requested access to your location within the past 24 hours have an arrow next to them.
To prevent a specific app from accessing your location, simply deselect its accompanying checkbox.
Prevent all apps from viewing your location
If you want something more dramatic, then you can prevent all applications from viewing your location data, by navigating to ‘System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Location Services’ and deselecting the main ‘Enable Location Services’ checkbox. Read the onscreen warning, and if you’re happy to proceed, give the ‘Turn Off’ button a click.
Re-enable Location Based Services
If you change your mind and decide that you want to re-enable location-based suggestions:
- Navigate to ‘System Preferences… > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Location Services.’
- Scroll to ‘System Services’ and click its accompanying ‘Details…’ button.
- Select the ‘Location-Based Suggestions’ checkbox.
- Click ‘Done.’
While in the ‘Privacy’ menu, make sure you re-select the ‘Enable Location Services’ checkbox, if you previously disabled it.