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How to set up & use Find My Friends on iOS

Find My Friends is a tool which uses the location sensors on your iPhone to let your friends know where you are and to let you know where they are – here’s how to use it

As you’d expect, a feature that tracks your location for others is open to abuse, which is why Apple has put several safeguards in place. These give the user ways to control who sees their location and when. For example, if you’ve arranged to meet up with a group of friends for a specific event, you could limit the sharing of your location for the day of the event. Time limits can be anything from a couple of hours to several weeks. And, of course, if you’re really not comfortable with anyone knowing where you are, you can switch it off altogether.

Setup up on iCloud

Find My Friends is an iCloud service, so to use it you’ll need to be running the latest version of iOS and have iCloud switch on on your iPhone. To check, go to the Settings app and tap iCloud. If you see your Apple ID displayed, you’re logged in. If not, tap Sign in with your Apple ID and type in your details.

You'll need to log in to iCloud to use Find My Friends.

You’ll need to log in to iCloud to use Find My Friends

Next, go back to the Settings app and scroll down to Find Friends, then tap it. There are only two things you need to configure here. First, tap Location and then ‘While Using the App.’ If you tap Never, you’re location will be hidden and you won’t be found using Find My Friends. Next, tap Notifications and set the sliders according to how you want Find My Friends to notify you of friend requests and other notifications.

You must expressly choose to share your location.

You must expressly choose to share your location

Controlling location sharing

To control how and when your location is shared, and with whom, open the Find Friends app. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see ‘Me,’ tap it. You’ll now see a list of options for how you want to share your location.

At the top of the screen is the name of your current location. To change the name that’s displayed for the location, tap Label My Location. To the right of that is Notifications. Tapping that allows you to send an iMessage to a contact with your location. You can choose between sending the message now, when you leave, or when you next arrive.

Choose which device from which to share your location.

Choose which device from which to share your location

Beneath those two options is the switch which allows you to decide whether or not to share your location. This overrides the switch in Settings, so even if you have that set to ‘While Using the App,’ your location won’t be shared if you set it to off here.

Multiple devices

If you have more than one iOS device, you can select which of them you want to share your location from by tapping it on the list on this screen. You can also choose, from this screen, which email address friend requests are sent from, whether you receive friend requests from others, and from who you can see geofence alerts. These alerts tell you when someone on your friends list arrives at or leaves a location, depending on how they’ve configured the app on their device. Finally on this screen, you can choose whether distances are displayed in miles or kilometres.

Back on the main screen, you’ll see a list of friends who are able to see your location. If you no longer want to share your location with them, tap their name and then tap Remove on the next screen. To add new friends, tap Add at the top right of the screen and then choose someone from your Contacts.

The location of your friend is shown on a map.

The location of your friend is shown on a map

If anyone is sharing their location with you, you’ll see them at the top of the list and above that, a map of their location. Tap the map to see it full-screen. For more information on their location, tap their name and tap More at the top of the screen. You’ll be shown the details of the location, if they are available. From this screen you can also choose to be notified when your friend leaves their current location, by tapping Notify Me, or to notify them when you leave your current location, or when you arrive at a location you specify.

To share your location on a one-off basis, use Messages.

To share your location on a one-off basis, use Messages

One-off location sending

Finally, if you want to share your location on a one-off basis, you don’t need Find My Friends, you can do it from Messages.

You’ll need to send at least one message first, then open the conversation in Messages and tap Details. From there, tap Send My Current Location. They will then be sent a message containing details of your location, but you won’t share it with them after that.

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