Manage applications that use your location in OS X

compassSome apps you use in OS X may handle location information to bring you directions, weather, or other details about your location without you needing to enter zip codes or other details manually. While it may be no question that some applications like Maps will need to use your location information, at times seemingly unrelated programs may attempt to access your location and you might wish to know what they are and be able to disable them, if desired.

When applications use location details, you should see a small navigation arrow icon appear in your system’s menu bar, which when clicked should list the applications that are currently accessing location information. This should help you determine which programs are using this information, and help you decide whether or not to quit them.

Note that this menu icon will only appear when programs access your location, so you might have a program like Maps open and not see this menu until you perform a search or get directions.

If you want to prevent applications from accessing your location, you simply need to switch to them and quit them; however, there are two other approaches you can take to managing how and which programs access this information.

Application Settings

Location services settings in OS X

Toggle these check boxes to grant or deny location access for the associated program.

Some applications that use your location will have settings that allow you to grant or deny access to this service, so you can first try perusing your program’s preferences and application menus to see if there are relevant location-based settings that you can toggle. For instance, a program that embeds maps and directions may have a setting to enable or disable this feature.

System Preferences

While some programs include settings for the use of location-based services, it is more likely they access location services automatically and hand off privilege settings to OS X.

If a program is actively using your location, then you can click the arrow that appears in the system menu and choose the option to open the system’s Privacy settings, or go to the Security & Privacy system preferences and click the Privacy tab. In here, you can select Location Services where you will have the option to enable or disable it globally, or toggle the check box next to listed applications to enable or disable it for specific programs and system services.

This list is not only useful for purposefully denying a program access, but can also be used to troubleshoot those you want to grant access. If you are finding programs are not accessing location services when desired, then you might have purposefully or otherwise disabled them in this list, so first go here to determine the location settings for each program before delving into further troubleshooting.