How to use iPhone privacy settings 2024

iPhone privacy settings help cut down on the amount of data Apple and other companies can gather about you. Here's how to use them.

Your iPhone can collect allow Apple and other companies to collect a lot of data about you - whether you know it or not.

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Companies can use your iPhone can gather a lot of data about you – whether you know it or not. Using iPhone privacy settings can help cut down on the number of companies getting information about you through your device.

Your location is often tracked and shared with app developers, as well as information about the kinds of apps you have downloaded and how you use them. Here we walk through how to change your iPhone settings to take more control your data and information.

How to turn off iPhone location tracking

Your phone tracks everywhere you go, and you can see that for yourself – and limit location tracking – inside the Privacy & Security settings.

  1. In the Settings menu, click on Privacy & Security
  2. Select Location Services
  3. Scroll to the bottom and click on System Services
  4. Lastly, select Significant Locations. Here you’ll see the logged record of everywhere you’ve been. Deselect this to turn this tracking off.

 

Stop iPhone apps from tracking you

Third-party apps are notorious vehicles for unnecessary data collection. This includes apps on your iPhone, allowing the companies behind those apps to track your activity across other companies’ apps in order to target advertising or share your information with data brokers. Having this setting on essentially allows Apple and lots of other parties to take note of everything you do on your phone.

Apple has recently implemented a change requiring companies to ask before tracking you, but you want to make sure the overall “Tracking” setting in your Privacy & Security settings is turned off.

  1. Go to Privacy & Security in Settings
  2. Click on Tracking
  3. Turn off Allow Apps to Request to Track

Stop apps from accessing your photos on iPhone

When you download a new app, it may request access to your camera roll. If you let it, that app gets access to all of the photos on your device. Often your photos can even share the precise location of where the photo was taken – information that can be sensitive and, for example, reveal where you live, work or go to school.  It’s best not to give apps access to your entire camera roll.

You can revoke apps you’ve all downloaded from having this access.

  1. Go to Privacy & Security in Settings
  2. Select Photos
  3. Click each app and choose what you want it to have access to. “None” will revoke all access. “Limited access” means you’ve allowed the app to have access to a set of photos. You can click and see which files each app can access and revoke those in this menu, too. 

iPhone privacy settings to stop apps from using your microphone

When you download apps, they may ask for permission to access your microphone. We recommend turning this feature off whenever possible. You can check which apps on your phone already have microphone access and turn off any that don’t make sense.

  1. Go to Privacy & Security in Settings
  2. Select Microphone
  3. Toggle off microphone access for any apps that don’t require it to function. 

 

Topics
Authors

Khloe Young-Neawedde

Intern, Don't Sell My Data campaign

R.J. Cross

Director, Don't Sell My Data Campaign, U.S. PIRG Education Fund; Policy Analyst, Frontier Group

R.J. focuses on data privacy issues and the commercialization of personal data in the digital age. Her work ranges from consumer harms like scams and data breaches, to manipulative targeted advertising, to keeping kids safe online. In her work at Frontier Group, she has authored research reports on government transparency, predatory auto lending and consumer debt. Her work has appeared in WIRED magazine, CBS Mornings and USA Today, among other outlets. When she’s not protecting the public interest, she is an avid reader, fiction writer and birder.

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