How to prevent Google Maps from tracking and saving your location

A record of my trip to Bristol, RI.

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Google Maps tracks wherever you go on your iPhone or Android phone, and then keeps a record of this information on a “Timeline” that shows you everywhere you have been.

This includes a creepy level of detail, such as exactly when you left work, when you got home, the exact route you took along the way, photos you took in specific places and more. It will show you if you were driving, walking or on a train, and any pit stops you made during your trip.

Sometimes, this information can be useful, as if you want to remember the restaurant where you ate on November 7 in New York City. (For me, it was Philippe Chow), and what you did before and after that.

Here is an example of that day, including my lunch stop, and a meeting I had with Snapchat on the Upper West Side earlier in the day.

The Google Maps timeline shows you everywhere you have been and how you got there.

Todd Haselton | CNBC

If I approach, you can see the exact route I took to get there and where I parked. It is wild:

The Google Maps timeline shows all the places where you were on a given day.

Todd Haselton | CNBC

There is no reason why Google needs to know so much information about you, unless you Really Worry about things like Google recommendations based on where you’ve been (like restaurants you might like). There are some ways you can claim your privacy.

First, here is how to remove everything Google Maps currently knows about you:

Choose “Delete all location history.”

Todd Haselton | CNBC

  • Open Google Maps on your iPhone or Android phone.
  • Touch your profile picture in the upper right corner.
  • Choose “Your data in Maps”.
  • Choose “View and delete activity”.
  • Press the menu button in the upper right corner of the page and select “Settings”.
  • Choose “Delete all location history.”

I also recommend that you set it up so that Google automatically deletes all this location data every three months. That’s how:

Set up Google Maps to automatically delete your location history.

Todd Haselton | CNBC

  • Open Google Maps on iPhone or Android.
  • Touch the menu bar in the upper left corner of the application.
  • Choose “Your timeline.”
  • Touch the three dots in the upper right corner of the screen.
  • Choose “Settings and privacy.”
  • Select “Automatically delete location history”.
  • Change the setting of “Keep until manually deleted” to “Keep for 18 months” or “Keep for 3 months”.

If you’re really paranoid, you can disable it completely so that Google Maps can’t track you at all. Just do this:

Choose the option to pause Location History.

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  • Touch your profile picture in the upper right corner.
  • Choose “Your data in Maps”.
  • Touch where it says Location History is “enabled.”
  • Move the switch to off.
  • Confirm that you want to pause location history (if you do not, it will remain off until you turn it on again).

Or, if you don’t mind that Google tracks you day by day, but you just want to stop it for a moment, you can activate the incognito mode in Maps by doing this:

Google Maps incognito mode (as shown on an Android phone).

Todd Haselton | CNBC

  • Open Maps on your iPhone or Android phone.
  • Touch your profile picture in the upper right corner.
  • Choose “Activate incognito mode”.

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