Windows 10 comes with a whole lot of improvements over its predecessors in terms of features and security, but has quirks that never fail to annoy power users. One of them is location-based tracking, which is far more prevalent in Windows 10 than in earlier versions, making it a potential security nightmare. However, it doesn’t have to be that way, because you can change location settings and disable location access in Windows 10 with a few simple clicks. Here, we will show you how to disable location tracking in Windows 10.
Disable Location Tracking in Windows 10 (2021)
You can disable location tracking for just about any third-party app or built-in Windows features using the Settings. There are a few exceptions to that rule, like Cortana, which needs to be disabled entirely to prevent it from collecting your location info. In this article, we’ll show you not only how to stop Microsoft and built-in apps from tracking your location, but also how to prevent third-party programs from accessing any location info without your expressed permission. So without further delay, let’s check out how to disable location access for Microsoft and other apps in Windows 10.
Disable Location Tracking by Microsoft in Windows 10
- Go to Settings (Windows key + I) and select ‘Privacy’.
- Now click on ‘Location’ under ‘App Permissions’ in the left pane to access location settings. If location permission is ‘On’, click on ‘Change’ and toggle off that option.
This will disable location access for Microsoft, built-in Windows 10 services and Microsoft Store apps on this device.
Disable Location Tracking by Microsoft Store Apps
If you want to prevent all apps and services from tracking you but have no problem in letting Windows from accessing your location, keep the earlier setting ‘On’.
- Now scroll down on the same page (Settings > Privacy > Location) and turn off the toggle to disable location access for all apps listed there en masse.
Note: This setting only applies to apps downloaded from Microsoft Store and built-in apps within Windows 10, but not to regular desktop apps downloaded from third-party websites.
Disable Location Tracking on a Per-app Basis
If you want to let some Windows 10 apps, like clock, weather and news apps, detect your location for more relevant information, but don’t want wholesale tracking, you need to keep both the earlier settings ‘On’ and scroll further down that page to grant permissions on a per-app basis.
- To grant or disable permissions on a per app basis, turn each toggle on or off individually based on whether you want that app to detect your location.
Note: This setting only applies to apps downloaded from Microsoft Store and built-in apps within Windows 10.
Disable Location Tracking by Desktop Apps
Desktop apps don’t ask for permission to access data in the same way that a Microsoft Store app does. To disable them from accessing location information, scroll down further and turn off the toggle for: ‘Allow desktop apps to access your location’.
Clear All Location History on Windows 10
Even if you change location settings in Windows 10 and disable every single setting described thus far, your location history will continue to remain on the device and can be accessed by apps and services. While this information will eventually be deleted automatically “after a limited time”, you can delete it manually right now.
- To clear location history on Windows 10, stay on the same page (Settings > Privacy > Location) and on the right pane, find ‘Location History’. Now click on ‘Clear’.
Disable Location Tracking Across All Accounts
Location permission can be enabled or disabled only on a per-account basis. So if you share your computer with any other user or there are other user accounts that you use yourself, you’ll have to disable location permission in all of them individually.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I Turn on Location For a Third-party App Without Letting Windows or Microsoft Access my Location?
Unfortunately, no. Microsoft specifically designed the location permissions stack in a way that you will have to let it access your location before you can grant location permission to any third-party app. So even you can change location settings in Windows 10, you cannot allow location access to third-party apps without letting Microsoft access it first.
2. Does Turning off Location Permissions Ensure Nobody Can Track My Location?
No, it doesn’t. Many apps and websites can still deduce your general location by analyzing other technologies, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cellular modem, etc. to determine your device’s location. This one of the many reasons why you might want to use a trusted VPN service to spoof your location while surfing online.
3. How Can I Turn Off Pesky Location Requests From Websites While Surfing?
All major browsers, including Chrome, Firefox and Edge Chromium, allow users to disable location requests from websites. Here’s how you do it:
- Chrome: Go to Settings > Privacy and Security > Site Settings > Location. Then toggle off ‘Ask before accessing’ to block location requests.
- Firefox: Go to ‘about:config’ > ‘geo.enabled’ and switch it to ‘False’. That should stop the nagging location requests.
- Edge: On Windows 10, you don’t need Edge itself to do this. Instead, you can turn off location access from Windows Settings as described earlier.
4. How Can I Stop Cortana From Tracking my Location?
As mentioned earlier, you will need to disable Cortana entirely to prevent it from collecting your location info. For that, check out our detailed guide on how to fully disable Cortana on Windows 10 by clicking thru the relevant link in the second paragraph.
5. Do These Methods Work Equally on Desktops and Laptops?
Yes, the methods described above work both on desktops and laptops. However, on laptops, which mostly ship with integrated webcams and microphones, you should also switch off camera and mic permissions for apps from Settings > Privacy > Camera/Microphone. Even if you do allow access, make sure that you only do that for select apps, like Skype, Zoom and Google Meet, and not for apps that shouldn’t ever need to use the camera or microphone in your PC.
6. Can I Fake My Location in Windows 10?
Yes, you can. One way used to be a fake GPS adapter driver to provide a location of your choice. However, the open-source software listed on GitHub is no longer maintained by the author, so I can’t vouch for its effectiveness at this time. Instead, you can use a VPN or even fake your location in the browser itself. The option to use fake GPS coordinates can be found within ‘Developer Options’ in all major browsers, including Chrome, Firefox and Opera.
7. How else Can I Protect My Privacy in Windows 10?
Go to Settings > Privacy and turn off all the toggles you see there. Also turn off Windows 10 advertising ID to prevent apps, websites and services from tracking you online. If you want even deeper privacy protections, go through the other options on the left pane of the same page (Settings > Privacy) and change your global privacy options for things such as speech recognition, inking and feedback.
Prevent Apps and Services From Accessing Your Geo-Location in Windows 10
Preventing Microsoft and third-party apps from collecting your geo-location information is one of the easiest ways to enure privacy on Windows 10. Once you do that, make sure to follow the steps laid out in the answer to the final question in the FAQ section to surf relatively worry-free. Alongside the aforementioned steps, you should also clear your surfing history every now and then to prevent web trackers from tracking your online activities. If you want to know anything else about online privacy, drop us a comment down below and we will get back to you ASAP.