Understand and manage your location when you search on Google

When you search on Google, like with Maps, Search or Google Assistant, your current location is used to give you more helpful results. For example, if you search for coffee shops, you’re likely searching for coffee shops near you. Your location helps to show you nearby results, even if you didn't include a location in your search.

Your location comes from a variety of sources, which are used together to estimate where you are. You can update your location settings as you use Google services to get the search results you want and control your privacy in a way that's right for you.

If you want to learn more about how location works before changing your settings, below you’ll find info on how Google determines location when you search.

Update your location to get better local results

If you’re searching for something nearby and not finding local search results, try these fixes:

  • Add your current location to your search, like coffee shops in Chelsea.
  • Check that your device sends location to Google when you search. Follow the steps below to manage your device location settings.

When you sign in to your Google account, you’ll get better results. For example, if you often search from your home or work, set or update your home or work address to help Google give you better results from those places.

Manage your device location settings

iPhones and iPads can send location information to apps and websites if Location Services is turned on, and your app and browser permissions allow it. You can control whether location is available to any app or website, including google.com, by managing Location Services in Settings.

Important: Before you manage your app or browser permissions, check that Location Services is turned on for your iPhone or iPad. Learn how to turn Location Services on or off on your iPhone or iPad.

Manage location permissions

For a website

When you visit a website through a web browser, like Chrome or Safari, you can turn location permissions on or off separately for the browser and for websites that work with location, like google.com.

If you want a website, like google.com, to have access to your location, turn location permission on for both your browser and the website.

Turn location permission on or off for your browser

You can control if your browser is able to use location at all.

  1. On your iPhone or iPad, tap Settings Settings and then Privacy and then Location Services.
  2. Tap your browser app, like Safari Websites or Chrome.
  3. Choose location access for the browser app: While Using the App, Ask Next Time or Never.

Turn location permission on or off for a website

Assuming your browser can use location, control whether your browser sends location to specific websites, like google.com.

  1. On your iPhone or iPad, open Safari or your browser and go to google.com.
  2. At the top left, in the address bar, tap Website Settings Aa or Lock Lock and then Website Settings and then Location. In some other browsers you may need to check the settings menu.
  3. Tap Ask, Deny or Allow.

Important: It can sometimes take a long time for your browser to get your current device location. To give you search results quickly, google.com might use your device's location from the last time you used Google. This location is stored in a cookie set to expire after 6 hours. Learn more about managing cookies in Safari or managing cookies in Chrome.

For an app

If you’re searching using an app, like the Google app or Google Maps, you can control whether the app uses location using your iPhone or iPad’s Location Services settings.

Turn location on for the app you’re using if you want to get better nearby search results.

  1. On your iPhone or iPad, tap   Settings Settings and then Privacy and then Location Services.
  2. Tap the app you use to search, like the Google app Google Searchor Google Maps Maps.
  3. Choose location access for the app: Always, While Using the App, Ask Next Time or Never.

How Google determines your location when you search

When you search on Google, like with Maps, Search or Google Assistant, your current location is estimated from several sources, depending on their availability. These sources are used together to determine where you are:

Important: Most of these sources of location can be controlled using either your device's permissions, your account preferences, or other settings. Learn more below about how your choices affect your privacy and location.

Sources for determining location when you search

When you search on Google, you can find out how your location was estimated at the bottom of the results page.

Your device location

Many devices, like phones or computers, can work out their precise location. This kind of precise location is useful in apps, like Google Maps to give directions or help you get useful nearby search results. For example, some searches that rely more on precisely where you are, like coffee shop, bus stop or atm, will usually give more helpful results with location permissions turned on.

Following the steps above, you can manage your device-based location settings to choose if location is available when you search. Depending on your device, you can usually turn location on or off for individual apps & websites and for your device itself.

If your device location was used to help get your search results, the location information at the bottom of the search results page will say From your device.

Important: It can sometimes take a long time for your browser to get your current device location. To give you search results quickly, google.com might use your device's location from the last time you used Google. This location is stored in a cookie set to expire after 6 hours. Learn more about managing cookies.

Your home or work address, from your labeled places

If you set your home or work addresses, they may be used to estimate your location when it’s likely that you’re at one of these places.

You can edit or delete your home or work addresses in Google Maps.

If the location of your labeled places was used to help get your search results, the location information at the bottom of the search results page will say From your places (Home) or (Work).

Your Location History

If you’re signed in to your Google Account and have turned on Location History, then Google might use the recent location of any of your signed-in devices to estimate your current location. For example, if you’re signed in and use Google Maps on a computer, you might see where you are on the map based on your phone’s location from a few minutes ago, even if you haven’t recently used your phone. If you pause Location History, your last uploaded location may be used for up to 24 hours.

If your recent Location History was used to estimate your current location to help get your search results, the location information at the bottom of the search results page will say From your Location History.

If you don’t want any new Location History to be saved in your Google Account, you can pause Location History. You can also use Google Maps Timeline to delete any existing Location History.

Learn how to manage your Location History.

Your previous activity on Google sites and apps

If you’re signed in to your Google Account and have Web & App Activity turned on, your activity on Google sites, apps, and services may be saved in your Google Account. Some items from your activity may include the general area you were in at the time. A precise location can be stored in your activity if your activity involves a precise location.

In some cases, areas that you have searched for in the past may be used to estimate your current location. For example, if you search for coffee shops in Chelsea and then nail salon, Google might show nail salons in Chelsea.

You can view and control your Web & App Activity, at myactivity.google.com. Learn how to view & control activity on your account.

If you’re not signed in to your Google Account, Google may store some location information for previous searches from the device you’re using to help provide more relevant results and recommendations. If you turn off signed out search activity, Google won't use previous searches to estimate your location. Learn more about how to search and browse privately.

If your previous activity was used to help get your search results, the location information at the bottom of the search results page will say Based on your past activity.

The IP address of your Internet connection

An IP address, also called Internet address, is assigned to your device by your Internet Service Provider. It's a requirement to use the internet. IP addresses are used to make the connection between your device and the websites and services you use.

IP addresses are roughly based on geography. This means that any website you use, including google.com, may get some information about your general area.

If your IP address was used to estimate your current general area for your search, the location information at the bottom of the search results page will say From your internet address.

Important: You can’t prevent apps or websites that you visit, including Google, from getting the IP address of your device, because the Internet doesn't work without it. This means all apps and websites that you visit can usually infer some information about your location.

Location controls & your privacy

When you search on Google, Google will always estimate the general area that you’re searching from. Estimating the general area that you’re in means that Google can give you relevant results, and keep your account safe by detecting unusual activity, such as signing in from a new city.

A general area is larger than 1 sq mi, and has at least 1000 users so that the general area of your search does not identify you, helping to protect your privacy. This means that a general area is typically much larger than 1 sq mi outside of cities. The estimated general area comes from the location sources described in this article.

If you grant location permissions to google.com or Google apps on your device, then when you search, your precise location will be used by Google to show you the best search results. Precise location means exactly where you are, such as a particular address or street.

If you set your home or work addresses, and Google estimates that you’re at home or work, then the exact address will be used for your search.

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