Thursday, May 10, 2018
Why Does macOS High Sierra Track Your Location? (And Should You Be Worried?)
Apple stands out among other companies for its stance on privacy. While Google tracks your every move on your Android phone and Windows 10 is filled with telemetry, using Apple products generally doesn’t require an invasion of your privacy.
So you might be surprised to know that in macOS High Sierra, your Mac tracks your location. Let’s take a look at why Apple added this feature, how it works, and how you can disable it.
What Is Significant Locations in macOS?
macOS High Sierra includes a new feature called Significant Locations. While it doesn’t track your every travel route like Google Maps does, it does pick up on locations that you visit frequently.
Apple states that this feature “learn[s] places significant to you in order to provide useful location-related information in Maps, Calendar, Photos, and more.”
For instance, say you’re part of a board game club at Joe’s Coffee Roastery. If you were adding a calendar event for a game night at the shop, Calendar would know you travel there frequently and could suggest it when you create a new event to save you time.
How to View Your Significant Locations on Mac
The list of locations your Mac considers significant is buried a few menus deep, but it only takes a minute to review them.
First, open System Preferences, which you’ll find under the Apple Menu in the top-left corner. Enter the Security & Privacy category, and switch to the Privacy tab.
Here, you’ll see a list of apps that request access to sensitive information. Select Location Services in the left column, then you’ll need to click the Lock in the bottom-left corner. Type your administrator password to allow changes.
Next, scroll down the right column until you see System Services at the bottom. Click the Details button. This will show you a list of macOS features that can access your location.
Most of these are services you probably want to use. Setting Time Zone is obviously more convenient than manually changing the time zone whenever you travel, and Find My Mac gives you a good chance at recovering your lost laptop.
But we’re interested in Significant Locations. Click the Details button again. Now, you’ll see a list of cities your laptop has recently visited. Expand a city with the dropdown arrow and you’ll see more specific locations.
Your Mac identifies these locations based on nearby Wi-Fi networks when you visit them, so it should be pretty accurate. Of course, if you’re using a desktop Mac, this won’t be of much use since it’s not portable.
How to Delete Significant Locations on Mac
You can’t delete individual locations from this menu. You’ll have to click the Clear History button wipe them all out.
After you delete them, your Mac will start collecting locations again over time. If you want to stop this, jump back to the Details pane of the System Services entry and uncheck the box for Significant Locations. Your Mac won’t keep track of those locations anymore, but it can still use your location for other tasks.
If you’d like, you can also check the Show locations icon in menu bar when System Services request your location. You’ll see the icon (it looks like a compass pointer) to indicate when your Mac is using your location for a system purpose.
To go a step further and completely prevent your Mac from using your location, uncheck the Enable Location Services box on the Privacy tab visited earlier. This will stop all apps and services from using your location, which increases privacy but will keep some useful features from working.
For instance, Weather and Maps won’t know where you are, meaning you’ll have to enter some additional info manually.
Does Location Tracking on Mac Violate My Privacy?
If you click the About Location Services & Privacy button on the Privacy tab, Apple has this to say about the feature:
“Your computer will keep track of places you have recently been, as well as how often […] you visited them, in order to learn places that are significant to you. This data is transmitted end-to-end encrypted between your iCloud connected devices and will not be shared without your consent.”
On the Significant Locations page, Apple elaborates:
“Significant locations are encrypted and cannot be read by Apple.”
So this location data is not readable by Apple or third parties. It exists only on your device to help make the local OS work better. However, it seems that Significant Locations doesn’t have a lot of usage so far.
While it helps a few built-in Mac apps work better, it doesn’t do anything super interesting like having Siri tell you when to leave for appointments or recommending other places you might like.
Overall, if you’re OK with other Apple services and third-party apps using your location, there’s no real reason to worry over this one either.
Significant Locations: Useful but Unnecessary
Location services are just one way that your Mac can become more personalized. But there’s no pressure to keep this enabled if you don’t want it.
As of macOS High Sierra, there’s not much visible benefit to the feature if you don’t rely on Apple apps like Calendar and Maps. This may become more useful in the future, at which time you can decide if you want to keep it running or not.
Thankfully, Apple has decided to keep this information stored locally. It’s not synced back to Apple servers, so the company isn’t using it for anything nefarious.
With everything considered, this feature shouldn’t give you too much pause, especially because your location is already tracked everywhere you go.
By: Waseem Patwegar
In case you were not aware, your MacBook has an in-built Location Tracking Feature that maintains a list of locations your Mac has travelled with you. However, you can easily Disable Location Tracking on Mac, in case you want to.
Disable Location Tracking on Mac
The Location Tracking feature on Mac is known as “Significant Locations” and it basically maintains a list of places that your Mac has travelled with you.
According to Apple, this feature is mostly used by Maps, Calendar, and the Photos Apps, in order to provide location based information and recommendations to the users.
Also, your Location information is stored locally on your Mac in an encrypted form and this information is not shared with Apple. However, in case you want to, it is possible to Disable Location Tracking on Mac by turning OFF “Significant Locations” service on your device.
Disable Location Tracking on Mac
Follow the steps below to turn OFF Significant Locations in order to Disable Location Tracking on Mac.
1. Click on the Apple Logo in the top menu bar of your Mac and then click on System Preferences option in the drop-down menu.
2. On the System Preferences screen, click on Security & Privacy .
3. On the Security & Privacy screen, click on the Lock Icon and then enter your Admin User Name and Password to make changes.
4. Next, click on the Privacy (1) Tab, click on Location Services (2) in the side menu and then scroll down in the right panel to “System Services” and click on the Details (3) button next to it.
5. On the next pop-up, you will see a list of System Services on your Mac that can use your Location information. You can disable, any System Service, including Significant Locations by unchecking the option (See image below).
Also, you can take a look at your currently stored Locations on Mac by clicking on the Details button located next to Significant Locations (See image above).
By Clicking on the Details button, you should be able to see a list of Cities that your MacBook has travelled with you and also the exact location of where it was placed in those cities.
Unfortunately, there is really no way to delete individual Locations. However, you can click on Clear History button and this will delete all the Location information stored by “Significant Locations” Service on your Mac (See image above).
The latest macOS, High Sierra, ushers in a whole slew of new features, most of which will fly completely under the radar for most users. In this update most of the new features are buried underneath the surface, hiding from plain view. This means that most users are completely unaware of what they are or what they even do. Most of the changes are refinements like a more efficient file system and other tweaks that will prepare your Mac for future changes.
One of the more eyebrow-raising functions of High Sierra is an always-on location tracker. While that sounds nefarious, Apple has dressed it up with the less scary sounding name, “Significant Locations.” Despite the fancy name, the fact that this feature is buried in the High Sierra settings makes its usefulness to anyone other than Apple questionable at best. Fortunately, if you don’t like the idea of your computer keeping a stalker-ish list of every place you’ve ever been, you can shut it off.
What is “Significant Locations?”
Significant Locations is more or less a port of the feature iOS calls “Frequent Locations”. Essentially, your Mac keeps track of the places you’ve been. This probably isn’t a big deal for people who use a desktop iMac (unless of course you cart it around under your arm). However, folks who tote their Macbooks around might find this concerning. According to Apple, this data is used by Maps, Calendar and Photos to give the user “useful location-related information.” How useful this feature is will depend heavily on how a person uses their Mac. Currently, this location data is only stored locally on your Mac and is not beamed back to Apple.
At this stage, Significant Locations is designed to make your experience using macOS more intuitive. That being said, even though this information is stored locally, there are still security and privacy concerns. For instance, if you upload your photos to social media from your Mac, your photos will retain all of the location information embedded by macOS. This means that services like Facebook, who collect all metadata in a photo, will also have access to your location information. From a security and privacy point of view, this is disturbing.
Of course, just because Apple doesn’t collect your location data now, that doesn’t mean that Apple won’t ever collect this information. In today’s world where data is more valuable than gold, it isn’t hard to imagine Apple exploiting the location data it collects. While Apple has a pretty good track record when it comes to customer privacy, they could easily use your location info to send you targeted ads or suggestions for places to shop or eat. Of course, some people will consider this a helpful feature. However, if the idea of your computer spying on you gives you the willies, you can turn off “Significant Locations.”
How to Disable Location Tracking
As we mentioned before, turning off the Significant Locations feature requires a little digging. First, you’ll want to open your System Preferences. You can do so in one of two ways: either click on the cog icon in your dock or click on the Apple icon and select “System Preferences” in the dropdown box.
Once the System Preferences window is open, select “Security & Privacy.” In the Security & Privacy Window click the “Privacy” tab. Click on the lock icon in the bottom-left of the window. At this point your Mac will prompt you to enter your administrator password. Once that’s done, click “Location Services” from the column on the left. In the column on the right, scroll down until you see “System Services.” To the right of “System Services” you’ll notice a button labeled “Details.” Go ahead and click on that.
At this stage you’ll be presented with a list of system services that utilize your location information. You can disable the “Significant Locations” feature by unchecking the corresponding box. You can also have a look at all the locations your computer has logged up until this point by clicking the “Details” button. Doing so will list all of the places you’ve been with your laptop in tow. Hit the “Clear History” button to wipe everything if you wish.
How do you feel about this new macOS “service?” Does it bother you that seemingly everything wants to keep tabs on your every move? If so, what do you do to limit tracking in your daily life? If not, why doesn’t it concern you? Let us know in the comments!
If your Mac goes missing, these steps might help you find it and protect your information.
The Find My app combines Find My iPhone and Find My Friends into a single app for iOS 13, iPadOS, and macOS Catalina. If you need help finding it, use Search on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, or use Spotlight on your Mac. You can also share locations or find missing devices on iCloud.com.
If you don’t have iOS 13, iPadOS, macOS Catalina, or watchOS 6, set up and use Find My iPhone and Find My Friends instead of Find My, or log in to iCloud.com.
With Find My, you can locate and protect your Mac if it’s ever lost or stolen. You need to set up Find My Mac before it goes missing. To turn it on, simply choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Apple ID, then click iCloud. If you believe that your Mac was stolen, contact your local law enforcement.
Use Find My to locate your computer
If you set up Find My Mac before your Mac was lost or stolen, you can use it to locate your Mac on a map, or play a sound to help you find it. You can also use it to remotely lock or erase your Mac. To use Find My, sign in to iCloud.com on another computer or open the Find My app for iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
Locate your Mac on a map
Open the Find My app and select your Mac from the list of devices to view its location on a map and get directions.
Play a sound
If your Mac is nearby, you can have it play a sound to help you or someone nearby find it.
Lock your Mac
You can use Find My to mark your computer as lost, which remotely locks it with a passcode. You can also display a custom message on its screen.
Erase your Mac
You can use Find My to remotely erase all your personal information from your Mac.
What if my Mac is shut down or offline?
If your Mac is turned off or offline, you can still use Find My to request a notification when it’s located, or lock or erase it remotely. The next time your Mac is online, the actions take effect. If you remove your Mac from Find My when it’s offline, your requests are canceled.
How do I unlock my Mac?
After you locate your Mac, you can unlock it with your passcode on iCloud.com. Make sure to use the passcode that you created when you locked it with Find My, not your device passcode.
Here’s how to see the passcode that you used to lock your Mac:
- Sign in to icloud.com/find.
- Select your Mac from the Devices menu.
- Select Unlock. After you follow the steps to verify your identity, you’ll see the passcode that you need to unlock your Mac.
You can look up your passcode for a limited time. If you forget your passcode or can’t verify your identity to see it, take your Mac to an Apple Authorized Service Provider along with your proof of purchase.
If you can’t find your Mac
Find My Mac is the only Apple service that can help track or locate a lost Mac. If you didn’t set up Find My Mac before your Mac was lost, or you can’t locate it, these steps might help you protect your data:
- Change your Apple ID password to prevent anyone from accessing your iCloud data or using other services (such as iMessage or iTunes) from your Mac.
- Change your passwords for other accounts you use with your Mac, including email, banking, and social sites like Facebook or Twitter.
- Report your lost or stolen Mac to local law enforcement. They might request the serial number of your computer. You can find this information on the original box or receipt you received when you purchased your Mac.
Information about products not manufactured by Apple, or independent websites not controlled or tested by Apple, is provided without recommendation or endorsement. Apple assumes no responsibility with regard to the selection, performance, or use of third-party websites or products. Apple makes no representations regarding third-party website accuracy or reliability. Contact the vendor for additional information.
На некоторых веб-сайтах присутствуют сторонние поставщики содержимого. Вы можете запретить сторонним поставщикам содержимого отслеживать Ваши действия на различных веб-сайтах и пользоваться этой информацией для рекламного продвижения товаров и услуг.
В приложении Safari на компьютере Mac выберите пункт меню Safari > «Настройки», затем нажмите «Конфиденциальность».
Включите параметр «Мешать перекрестному отслеживанию».
За исключением тех случаев, когда Вы посещаете веб‑сайты сторонних поставщиков контента и выполняете на них какие-либо действия, файлы cookies и данные веб‑сайтов удаляются.
Веб-сайты социальных сетей зачастую добавляют кнопки, позволяющие поделиться контентом, прокомментировать его или поставить отметку «Нравится», на другие веб-сайты. Эти кнопки могут использоваться для отслеживания Ваших действий в интернете, даже если Вы ими не пользуетесь. Safari блокирует такое отслеживание. Если Вы всё же захотите воспользоваться этими кнопками, Safari запросит разрешение на предоставление этому веб-сайту возможности просматривать сведения о том, какие действия Вы выполняете на других веб-сайтах.
Подробнее об отчете о конфиденциальности, содержащем список известных трекеров, которым было запрещено отслеживать Ваши действия, см. в разделе Просмотр веб-сайтов, которым запрещено отслеживание Ваших действий.
Примечание. Каждый раз, когда Вы посещаете тот или иной веб-сайт, он собирает данные о Вашем устройстве — например о том, какова текущая конфигурация системы, — и использует эти данные для отображения веб-страницы, предназначенной именно для Вашего устройства. Эти данные используются некоторыми компаниями в целях уникальной идентификации Вашего устройства. Для предотвращения этого при каждом посещении Вами какой-либо веб‑страницы Safari предоставляет только ограниченные сведения о конфигурации Вашей системы. Таким образом, Ваш Mac становится практически неотличим от компьютеров Mac других пользователей, что существенно сокращают возможности уникальной идентификации Вашего устройства при отслеживании.
By Luke Dormehl • 9:00 am, October 25, 2016
- Top stories
Here’s what to do if you don’t want localized suggestions.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac
Much like Google offers personalized searching, macOS Sierra delivers location-based tips as part of its suggestions within Spotlight, Siri, Safari and Maps. That means Apple will try to recommend relevant services within your immediate vicinity.
If you don’t want this feature, however, there is a way to get rid of it. Check out our guide below to show how to do this — and how to turn it back on again if you change your mind.
Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not after you!
First, you’ll want to head to System Preferences and choose the Security and Privacy option. Start by going to the Security & Privacy option.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac
Next, make sure you have Location Services selected, and then click the Lock icon and enter your password in order to authorize the changes you’re about to make. You’ll have to click the padlock icon to make the necessary changes.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac
Once you’ve carried out the necessary authentication, scroll down the list until you find System Services. Click to select Details. Scroll down to System Services.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac
A window will then open, allowing you to choose whether to Enable or Disable location-based suggestions for Spotlight, Maps, Safari and Siri.
After you’ve disabled or enabled it, close System Preferences, and you’ll find that your Mac will make the necessary adjustments regarding use of your location to provide suggestions. After this, your Mac will no longer immediately recognize your location. Unless you turn it back on again.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac
Before we start
Having spent some years coding applications for macOS we’ve created a tool that everybody can use. The all-round problem fixer for Mac.
So here’s a tip for you: Download CleanMyMac to quickly solve some of the issues mentioned in this article. But to help you do it all by yourself, we’ve gathered our best ideas and solutions below.
Features described in this article refer to the MacPaw site version of CleanMyMac X.
Location Services in macOS are used by a whole host of apps and websites to provide several different services.
They allow calendar apps to tell you how long it will take you to get to an appointment, for example. And, of course, they allow Apple’s Find My services to locate you, your friends, or your devices. However, they also allow search engines to show you adverts relevant to your location. And location data is personal, so you might not want every possible app or website to have access to it. Fortunately, you can control who can see your location data and when. Here’s how.
How to disable Location Services on Mac
- Go to the Apple menu and choose System Preferences.
- Select Security & Privacy.
- Choose the Privacy tab.
- Select Location Services on the left-hand side.
- Click on the padlock and type in your admin name and password.
- Uncheck the box next to Enable Location Services.
- Quit System Preferences.
If you’d rather exercise more nuanced control over which apps can access location data, here’s how to do it.
- Follows steps 1-5 above.
- Leave the Enable Location Services box checks, but go through the list of apps and uncheck the ones you don’t want to access your location. Those that have used location data recently are flagged with the Location Services icon.
- Quit System Preferences.
If you take this approach to control your location data, it’s worth turning on the location indicator in the menu bar, so you can see when an app or service is using it.
- Follow steps 1-5 in How to Disable Location Services.
- Scroll down to System Services and click Details.
- Check the box next to the “Show location icon in the menu bar when System Services request your location”
- Press Done and quit System Preferences.
How to turn on Location Services on Mac
- Click on the Apple menu and choose System Preferences.
- Select the Security & Privacy pane.
- Click on the Privacy tab.
- Choose Location Services.
- Select the padlock and type in your admin username and password.
- Check the box next to Enable Location Services.
- You will see apps that want access to Location Services listed in the main window. Those that have access have a checkmark next to their name.
- Uncheck any apps you don’t want to have access to your location data.
- Quit System Preferences.
If your main concern about allowing apps and services access your location data is privacy, and particularly if you are worried about being tracked, there’s a great deal more you can do to protect yourself. The first step is to manage the permissions you give to programs on your Mac. I’ve been using CleanMyMac X to check and control which apps can access the microphone, camera, and specific folders on my Mac. The app shows all permissions your apps have and lets you remove them quickly.
Here’s how to use it to control app permissions
- Install and launch CleanMyMac X — a link to download the free edition
- Choose Privacy in the sidebar.
- Check the boxes next to the apps to revoke their permissions.
- Press Remove.
There are a few other things you can do to prevent apps and websites from tracking you. The first is to swap Google for DuckDuckGo. Whereas Google grabs as much data as it can about you to feed to advertisers so they can display relevant adverts, DuckDuckGo doesn’t track you and doesn’t display adverts.
You could also consider using a virtual private network (VPN). By signing up for a VPN service, you ensure that all the data transmitted to and from your Mac is encrypted. You can also choose which country it looks like you’re connecting from. So you can be as anonymous as you like. Your ISP won’t know what sites you’re visiting, and the websites you visit won’t know where you’ve come from.
There are also a number of extensions that can help secure your privacy while you surf the web. Ghostery Lite blocks ads and trackers, and you can customize it so that you can choose to allow some adverts. Traffic Light helps protect you from phishing attacks by finding hidden trackers and warning you about malicious websites.
By the way, did you know that CleanMyMac X can manage your browser extensions and scan your Mac for malware?
Location Services in macOS can be very useful, particularly when it comes to getting directions, locating people or devices, or just finding the nearest branch of your favorite store. However, there are times when you might not want to hand over location data. Fortunately, it’s very easy to control who can access or turn it off altogether by following the steps above.
Patrick Lucas Austin
Using iCloud to monitor the location of your Apple devices is an easy way to keep track of your stuff, and lock it down when it’s in the wrong hands. Just remember to say goodbye to iCloud before you sell that ageing iMac. Designer Brenden Mulligan signed into his iCloud account and found an old friend waiting for him among his list of devices: the iMac he had sold nearly three years prior.
Mulligan had formatted and reset the machine, so there was no trace of his data on it, but the device was still associated with his iCloud account, and still let him interact with the sold iMac, thanks to Find My Mac and its theft prevention tools. He may have removed all his data from the machine, but it turned out there there was more to be done.
Just wiping your Mac, it turns out, won’t get rid of its association with you. Unless you separate it from your actual iCloud account, you’ll still be able to track your old Mac, at least until its new owner signs into their own iCloud account. In Brenden’s case, that hadn’t happened, which is why he was able to keep tabs on his old all-in-one for nearly three years.
You Can Now Block Distracting MacOS Apps With The Freedom App
macOS. Freedom, the cross-platform app that blocks distracting websites, just got even more powerful. Now on macOS, and soon on Windows, Freedom can block desktop apps.
So: before you sell your Apple device, be sure to remove it from your iCloud account like so:
- Choose Apple menu > System Preferences
- Click iCloud
- Deselect Find My Mac
You should also remove your iCloud account from the device:
- Choose Apple menu > System Preferences
- Click iCloud
- Click Sign Out
After removing your iCloud account from your Mac or iOS device, feel free to format the computer or reset the device to its factory settings to prepare it for its next journey. If you want to go the extra mile to get this Mac as far away from you as possible, ensure its new owner signs in to their iCloud account to associate the device with the new owner.
That way you won’t find yourself accidentally stalking some unsuspecting buyer who just wanted a decent computer for their home office.
Apple introduced a much-anticipated — and hotly contested — feature in iOS 14.5 with App Tracking Transparency, a new system function that enables users to opt out of unwanted ad tracking. Here’s how to use it.
By default, iOS 14.5 automatically obscures a user’s identification for advertisers (IDFA), preventing apps from tracking their movement in other apps and online.
Apple has allowed users to disable forms of tracking with an “Allow Apps to Request to Track” option in previous iOS versions, but the feature was buried deep within Settings. Today’s iOS 14.5 surfaces the function by making it part of the app setup process.
When a new app is installed, a permission dialogue box includes two choices: “Ask App Not to Track” “and Allow” tracking, in that order. The pop-up includes a section for developers to explain how it uses user data, whether it be for ad tracking, app personalization, internal metrics gathering or some other purpose.
Users can enact a blanket ban or reverse a decision to allow ad tracking by navigating to Privacy > Tracking in Settings.
By toggling the “Allow Apps to Request to Track” button that appears at the top of the Settings screen, users can disable or enable IDFA tracking across the entire operating system. Disabling the option will also limit permission pop-ups, which can initially be intrusive for people who download and use more than a few apps a day.
Additionally, iOS 14.5 allows granular control over tracking permissions. In the same Privacy settings menu, users can toggle tracking controls for individual apps that have at one time been granted IDFA access.
App Tracking Transparency is available now with iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5 and tvOS 14.5.
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Leaked instructions for GrayShift’s GrayKey iPhone unlocking device have surfaced, giving an idea of what the device intended for law enforcement officials can do, and how it works.
Patreon doesn’t pay Apple’s 30% App Store commission, and its CEO isn’t sure why not
Patreon’s CEO Jack Conte has confirmed that the platform doesn’t pay the Apple’s commission on App Store purchases — and it doesn’t have a special deal with the iPhone maker.
New Jamf app unlocks Macs via Face ID on iPhone
Enterprise customers using Jamf to manage Macs now have a Jamf Unlock app for iPhone, which allows user authentication using Face ID.