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There’s a Hidden Map on Your Phone That Shows Everywhere You’ve Been and the Photos You’ve Taken There

When cameras were added to mobile phones, suddenly we could take photos any time, anywhere. As phones progressed from flip phones to blackberries and now finally to the smartphones we own today, things got a bit more high-tech. Google then came along with their photo app that stores and sorts your photos for you. However, with all the positives of this, there is one caveat: Google photos tracks your location via a hidden map that knows everywhere you’ve been via your photos. (1)

Google Photos Hidden Map

If you go into your Google photos app and click on the “search” function, a screen will come up that allows you to search your photos by people and pets, documents, things, and of course, places. It’s here in the “places” folder that you can find your personal, somewhat hidden map. (1)

For some, there might be a square that says “your map.” Others, you may have to select a place, say the city that you live in. From there a map will appear that shows you everywhere in your city you’ve taken a photo. Monkey around with it a bit more, and you’ll realize that Google has stored every location you’ve ever taken a photo around the world. (1)

Naturally, many people are put off by this. If you don’t like the idea of Google maps knowing every location that you visit and snap a pic of, follow the steps below to turn off your location tracking. (1)

Be aware that if you turn this off, your phone will no longer be able to sort your photos via location or give you the exact location in which you took a photo. (1)

The Desktop Version

This is stored on the Google Maps website as well.

Open Google Maps on your laptop. Click on the hamburger menu in the top left corner, next to the search bar. There, select “your timeline.” This will bring up a map with the location of every place you’ve ever checked into in the entire world. (1)

Google saves wherever you go in the world with any of your devices, even if you don’t actually use a Google service while you are there. (1)

How To Turn Off the Hidden Map in Google Photo

If you’re feeling creeped out or like Google has encroached on your privacy, there is a way to turn off this application. Grab your laptop and follow along with the instructions below to disable Google maps’ hidden map function. (1)

  • Open Google maps and select “your timeline.”
  • Click “manage location history” at the bottom of the screen.
  • Click on the blue slider next to Location History to toggle the application to off. When you do this, it will turn grey. If it is already grey, then it has already been disabled.

If you wish, you can also select the Auto-Delete option. This allows you to select a period of time to automatically delete your location history, from photos older than three months up to older than 36 months. (1)

To erase more recent data, follow these steps (1):

  • Open Google Photos on your PC laptop.
  • Select “settings” in the top right-hand corner
  • Click “sharing.”
  • Click on the slider for “hide photo location data” to activate this setting

This hides location data from others, however, it doesn’t actually delete it entirely. To do that, you have to edit each photo or video as you take them. (1)

  • Open Google Photos on your PC
  • Open a picture or video.
  • Select “info” at the top. The location will be indicated at the bottom.
  • Click on the pencil icon to edit the photo or video. If you wish to edit multiple photos or videos at once, mark each one by clicking the checkmark in the top left corner of the image thumbnail.
  • Once you’ve selected all the photos, you wish to edit, select the three-dot menu button at the top and click on “edit location.” From there, you can remove the geotags.

iPhone Users

If you are an iPhone user, you have to go into your privacy settings. From there, select location services, then system services. From there, look for something labeled “significant locations” and turn it off. (2)

Now Google or Apple will no longer be able to track where you’re going. Well, at least not by the hidden map of photos you take when you’re there.

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  1. Hidden map on your phone shows everywhere you’ve been and the photos you took there.” Fox News. Kim Komando. January 2.
  2. How to see the secret map tracking everywhere you go.” Komando. Komando Staff. June 26, 2020.