Finding someone’s location on Google Maps without their knowledge raises some ethical concerns. However, there are times when you may have legitimate reasons for wanting to do so, such as locating a lost family member or tracking an employee during work hours. While Google Maps does not have a built-in feature for covert location tracking, there are a few tricks you can use to determine someone’s whereabouts through the app.
Using Location Sharing
One of the easiest ways to find someone on Google Maps without their knowledge is by taking advantage of Google’s location sharing feature. This allows you to see your friends and family members’ locations in real time, but only if they have agreed to share their location with you.
To do this, open the Google Maps app and tap on the hamburger menu in the top left. Select “Location Sharing” and choose the person you want to track. If they have location sharing enabled with you, their profile icon will show their current location. You can tap on it to see exactly where they are on the map.
The downside to this method is that the other person will receive a notification that you are tracking their location. So it doesn’t allow for completely covert monitoring.
Checking Timeline Data
Google Maps has a Timeline feature that maps out everywhere a user has been if they have opted into location history tracking. This data can potentially be used to determine someone’s movements and patterns.
To see someone’s timeline, you would need access to their Google account. From there, open Google Maps and click on the hamburger menu > Your Timeline. Here you can scroll through everywhere the account holder has been.
The timeline goes back for a number of months, so you may be able to spot regularly visited places like home and work addresses. Keep in mind the person will be notified if any recent account activity is seen, so this method only works if you can access the account without the owner realizing.
Using Find My Device
Google also offers a Find My Device service that can help you locate Android devices. If you know the Google account details of the phone you want to find, you can use this service to locate it remotely.
Go to android.com/find on your desktop and sign in with the target account details. If their phone has location services switched on, you will then see its exact whereabouts on a map.
The phone will receive a notification that the Find My Device service is tracking its location. But if you only need a one-time location check, this may not matter.
Tracking via Google Account Logins
Whenever someone logs into their Google account, their approximate location is noted based on their IP address. This location data is accessible by going to https://myaccount.google.com/security and reviewing recent account activity.
If the person you are tracking is regularly logging into Google services on their mobile device, this can give you an indicator of their location and movements. However, IP address tracking only provides a rough estimate – not an exact street address.
Using Find My Friends App
Google’s Find My Friends app lets you share real-time location data with selected contacts. If you can convince the person you want to monitor to download the app and share their location with you, this can provide accurate tracking without notifications.
Unlike Google Maps location sharing, Find My Friends does not notify the user every time someone checks their location. So it allows for completely covert monitoring.
The downside is that you need to get the user to willingly install another app and share their location. This may raise suspicions if they do not normally use Find My Friends.
Using Google Earth’s Historical Imagery
Google Earth has high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery that can be helpful for viewing someone’s home or place of work. In addition to current views, it provides the ability to look back at historical satellite photos.
By inputting an address and browsing historical imagery, you may be able to spot the vehicle of the person you are tracking in previous photos of their property. This could give clues about their comings and goings.
Obviously this method won’t give real-time tracking, but the historical review capability can be surprisingly powerful.
Before attempting to track someone’s location without their consent, carefully consider whether you have an ethical basis for doing so. Surveilling someone’s movements without their permission is an invasion of privacy and illegal in some jurisdictions. Make sure you are not overstepping personal, ethical or legal boundaries.
If you have legitimate reasons for needing to determine someone’s whereabouts, limit tracking to only what is absolutely necessary. Be transparent with the person if possible, and stop any covert monitoring as soon as reasonable. Technology provides powerful tools but should be used with great care.
While Google Maps does not offer a direct covert tracking feature, there are ways to determine someone’s location without their knowledge by taking advantage of Google account and app activity logs. Just be very careful only to use this capability when entirely necessary and appropriate. Location tracking can quickly become unethical behavior if abused, so proceed with caution.