How to Use Find My Friends For iPhone And iPad

Send your location info to trusted loved ones

friends looking at a map, with camera and tablet
Using the Find My Friends app is an easier way to share your location with others.

Dave and Les Jacobs/Kolostock/Blend Images/Getty Images

 

Because every iOS device has location awareness features built in, Apple's Find My Friends app makes it easy to track the people most important to you and share your location with them. This is terrific for parents who want to keep track of their kids, or spouses who want to let each other know when they're heading home from work or arriving safely when on a trip.

Find My Friends is also easy to set up and use. Here's how.

How to Set Up Find My Friends

Find My Friends comes pre-installed with iOS 9 and up, so you probably have it on your device already and don't know it; use the Spotlight search tool to find it. If you have an earlier version of iOS, or it's not pre-installed for some reason, you can download the app from the App Store.

find my friends settings
Find My Friends settings on an iPhone.

Find My Friends uses iCloud and your Apple ID, so when you sign in to iCloud, you sign in to Find My Friends, too.

Tap the Find My Friends app to launch it. The app will ask to access your location while using the app. Since the app can't work without this, tap Allow.

How to Add Friends in Find my Friends

Adding people to the Find My Friends app is quick and easy; it only takes a few steps.

Adding friends in Find my Friends
Adding friends and sharing your location in Find My Friends.

To add friends to the app:

  1. Tap Add.
  2. In the To: field, tap + to choose friends from your Contacts app or type friends' email addresses or phone numbers.
    1. Note: The people you're adding must have Apple IDs, too.
  3. Tap Send.
  4. Choose how long to share your location with those friends: Share for One Hour, Share Until End of Day, or Share Indefinitely.
  5. At this point, you're done. On your friends' devices, a window pops up informing them you're sharing your location and asks if they want to share their location, too. They have the same options from step 4, plus an additional Don't Share option.
  6. If friends share their location, you'll receive a notification.

How to Use Find My Friends on iPhone and iPad

With friends added, you can start using the app. Opening the app shows the location of all of your friends, but there's a lot more you can do.

find my friends notifications setting
Creating notifications in Find My Friends.

Notifying Friends When You Leave or Arrive

To notify your friends when you leave or arrive at a location, follow these steps:

  1. Tap Me at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Tap Notify Friends.
  3. In the To: field, add all the friends you want to notify of your movements.
  4. Tap When I Leave or When I Arrive to choose when to send a notification.
  5. Tap Other to set the location that triggers the alert.
  6. Type an address into the search bar, then tap the correct address.
  7. On the map screen, drag the line to set the radius you have to be inside to trigger the notification.
  8. Tap Done.
  9. If this is a one-time notification, skip to the next step. If you want to send this notification every time you leave or arrive at the address, toggle the Repeat Every Time slider to on/orange.
  10. Tap Done.

Delete a Leave/Arrive Notification

If you want to delete a notification, follow these steps:

  1. Tap Me.
  2. Tap Notify Friends.
  3. Swipe right to left across the notification.
  4. Tap Remove.

Hide Your Location

To hide your location for a short period of time without deleting a notification entirely:

  1. Tap Me.
  2. Toggle the Share My Location slider to off/white.
  3. You will disappear from your friends' map, but reappear when you start sharing your location again.

Stop Sharing Your Location

To keep seeing your friends' locations, but to stop sharing yours permanently, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap your name at the top of the screen.
  3. Tap iCloud.
  4. Tap Share My Location.
  5. Toggle the Share My Location slider to off/white.

Another Way to Use Find My Friends: iCloud

Since the Find My Friends app uses iCloud to show your location and connect with your friends, you're also able to find friends without using the app.

find my friends on icloud
Using Find My Friends via iCloud.com.

Just log into iCloud using a web browser and you can find your friends and use all of the other features found on the iOS app, even if your iPhone or iPad isn't nearby.

The Pros and Cons of Using Find My Friends

Depending on your perspective, Find My Friends may sound terrific or terrifying. There's truth to both opinions, of course, so it's worth considering the pros and cons before you start using the app.

Pros

  • Helps parents know where their kids are, and get automatic notifications (like when a kid gets home from school).
  • Lets spouses notify each other when they leave work without having to call or text.
  • Makes it easy to meet friends at a specific location (especially one you haven't been to).

Cons

  • It can be creepy to think that people know exactly where you are at all times.
  • Could be used by an abuser to keep tabs on their partner.