How to Disable Location Services on Mac

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How to disable all Location Services on Mac

Some Mac users may wish to completely disable Location Services features on their Mac. This is not recommended for most Mac owners, but turning off all Location Services functionality on MacOS can be desired for security concerns and privacy considerations, or even by systems administrators who don’t want the manage the geolocation features.


Disabling geolocation and location services on the Mac is pretty easy, but do note that by turning off Location Services on a Mac that computer will lose the ability to use important features like Find My Mac, and even simple tasks like using the Maps app or web-based map functionalities to get directions from your current location to elsewhere. Accordingly, most Mac users should probably leave location services enabled, or at least just selectively disable the location features for apps they don’t want to use location data.

How to Disable All Location Services on Mac

Toggling this system setting will disable all geographic location-based functionality on a Mac:

  1. Go to the  Apple menu and choose “System Preferences”
  2. Choose “Security & Privacy”
  3. Go to the “Privacy” tab
  4. Select “Location Services” from the left-side menu
  5. Click the unlock button in the lower left corner to be able to make changes, then authenticate with an admin login
  6. Find the Location Services panel in Privacy and unlock the settings panel

  7. Check the box next to “Enable Location Services”
  8. How to disable Location Services on Mac

  9. Confirm that you want to turn off Location Services by choosing “Turn Off” *
  10. How to completely disable all Location Services on Mac

With Location Services disabled on the Mac, no Mac apps or services will be able to use the Macs current location.

Disabling Location Services means that you won’t be able to get your current location from things like asking Siri about the weather, or getting directions from Maps, or other such tasks on the Mac.

Note that turning this setting off is not going to strip location data from files or remove location data that is already stored elsewhere, whether in apps or metadata, it simply prevents apps from using or determining your location moving forward. Usually the type of files that may contain location data are pictures, and if you have image files that you want to remove location data from on a Mac, you can remove location from pictures in Photos on Mac one by one, or you can drop all the images into a Mac app like ImageOptim to strip geolocation data and all other metadata from the picture files.

* Perhaps the biggest downside to disabling Location Services on a Mac is that it also simultaneously turns off the very useful “Find My Mac” feature, which is similar to “Find My iPhone” in that it allows you to locate a Mac that is misplaced or stolen.

Completely turning off location functionalities on a Mac may be a little extreme for some users, so for many a better approach might be to selectively controlling location use, and managing or disabling the location services features on a per-app and per system feature or process basis through the same System Preference panel. It can also be helpful to enable the location usage indicator in the Mac menu bar so that it’s easy to determine when and what app is using location data.

If your primary reason for turning off location services is for privacy or security purposes, you might also want to disable Location Services on iPhone and iPad as well, though that can be a bit distract and often just turning off Location Services for apps that don’t need location data, like any social media or the camera, is sufficient.

The tips here apply to modern versions of MacOS (Mojave, High Sierra, Sierra) and Mac OS X (El Capitan, Yosemite, Mavericks, etc) but if you have an older Mac with Snow Leopard, using a different setting you can also disable Location Services if you don’t want location data to be used on the computer.

Of course you can also reverse this decision and enable Location Services on the Mac too:

How to Re-Enable Location Services Features on Mac

If you turned off Location Services and regret doing so, or want to enable it on a Mac otherwise, doing so is just a matter of reversing the above steps so that you enable location functionality again:

  1. Go to the  Apple menu and choose “System Preferences”
  2. Select the “Security & Privacy” panel and then choose the Privacy tab
  3. Select “Location Services” from the left-side menu
  4. Click the unlock button to authenticate with an admin login
  5. Check the box next to “Enable Location Services” to enable the location features
  6. How to enable the Location Services functionality on Mac

Most Mac users should keep the Location Services feature enabled, though prudently disabling the location functionality for apps that don’t require location data is still a sound idea.

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