Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to view the location history of your AirTag tracking devices? Being able to see where an AirTag has traveled over time can be extremely useful for finding lost items or monitoring valuable possessions.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about accessing your AirTag’s historical location data.
How Does AirTag Location Tracking Work?
First, let’s quickly review how AirTags track locations:
- The owner pairs an AirTag with their Apple device using the Find My app. This connects the AirTag to their Apple ID.
- The AirTag updates its location frequently, around every 60-120 seconds. It does this by sending out a Bluetooth signal.
- Nearby Apple devices with Find My enabled detect the signal. They relay the AirTag’s location back to the Find My network.
- The owner can then view the AirTag’s most recent location in the Find My app on their Apple device.
So in summary, AirTags leverage the Apple ecosystem to crowdsource location info and make it viewable for the owner.
Now let’s look at what location history gets saved and how to access it.
What AirTag Location Data Gets Recorded in History?
Whenever an AirTag updates its location, that data gets saved in the Find My network. This enables you to view a timeline of where your AirTag has been.
Specifically, here’s what information gets recorded in the location history:
- Timestamps for when the AirTag was detected at a specific spot. This gets updated every 60-120 seconds.
- Coordinates showing the GPS location on a map where the AirTag was detected.
- Addresses showing street location info if available.
- Movement path showing the route the AirTag traveled between detections. This connects the dots to visualize how the AirTag moved over time.
All of this historical location data gets securely saved in the Find My network. Next we’ll cover how you can access it.
Step by Step: How to See Your AirTag’s Location History
Viewing your AirTag’s location history is straightforward using the Find My app. Here are the step-by-step instructions:
- Open the Find My app.
- Select the “Items” tab at the bottom.
- Choose the AirTag you want to view history for.
- Tap on “Find” to see the AirTag’s current or last known location.
- Scroll down and tap “See Location History.“
- This will display a map with pins for all the AirTag’s detected locations. It also shows the path it traveled between spots.
- Zoom in and tap on individual pins to see timestamp, address, and other details for that detection point.
- Open the Find My app on your Mac.
- Click the “Items” tab.
- Select the AirTag you want to check.
- In the AirTag details screen, scroll down to the Location History section.
- This will display an interactive map with pins for detected locations.
- Hover over pins to view timestamps and other details.
And that’s all there is to it! The Find My app makes it simple to monitor your AirTag’s location history from your iPhone or Mac.
How Long Does AirTag Location History Get Saved?
AirTag location history gets saved in the Find My network for a limited time. According to Apple, they store data for approximately 15 days.
So you can view about two weeks worth of historical location details for your AirTags in the Find My app.
After that time, older location points get deleted on a rolling basis. The Find My network keeps the most recent two weeks of detections.
If you need to preserve location data long-term for documentation purposes, consider taking screenshots or extracting the data. We’ll cover tips for this shortly.
Privacy Policies Around Apple AirTags Data
For privacy reasons, Apple limits the access users have to AirTag location history. Here are the key things to know about their privacy policies:
- Only the AirTag owner can view history: The location data is end-to-end encrypted and synced to your Apple ID. Only you can see your AirTags’ history, not other users.
- No option to fully export data: There is no official way to download or export the complete location history from your AirTag. You can only view it in the app.
- No API access: Apple does not provide an API for developers to programmatically access AirTag location data. All interactions happen through Apple’s own Find My app.
- Can’t increase history length: Two weeks is the maximum history retention period, according to Apple’s policies. There’s no setting to make this longer.
So in summary, Apple limits access to prioritize user privacy. You have access to view history but not export or store it long-term.
Tips for Using AirTag Location History Effectively
While Apple limits access, you can still use AirTag location history effectively. Here are some tips:
- Screenshot key locations – Manually take screenshots if you need to preserve certain locations for records.
- Check history after losing an item – The first thing to do when an item goes missing is check its location history in the Find My app. This can reveal where it went missing.
- Add notes for context – The Find My app lets you add notes to Pins in the history. Use this to add details like “Left AirTag in rental car” for more context.
- Monitor valuable items – Occasionally check location history for expensive items like bags or keys to retrace their path and make sure they weren’t stolen.
- Create custom alerts – Use IFTTT applets to get notified if an AirTag enters or leaves a certain location, based on its updated coordinates.
Limitations of AirTag Location Tracking
While extremely useful, there are some limitations to be aware of with AirTag location tracking:
- Not live tracking: AirTags update their location every 60-120 seconds, so it’s not a real-time live view. There can be a delay seeing the latest detected location.
- Limited precision: The location accuracy depends on proximity to Apple devices detecting it. Rural areas with sparse Find My network coverage may show less precise tracking.
- Drained battery: AirTags rely on a user-replaceable battery to function. If the battery runs out, the AirTag stops updating its location.
- Short history retention: As mentioned above, Apple only stores two weeks of historical detections. So older data gets deleted automatically.
- No exported data: Unlike third-party GPS trackers, you can’t download the full location dataset from your AirTags for archiving or analysis.
Alternative Option – Open Source Tracking Script for Apple Devices
If you’re looking to keep long-term location histories or export the full data, there are open source projects that can help.
For example, OwnTracks Recorder is an open source web app that lets you store and export location data from Apple devices.
It uses the OwnTracks protocol to capture location updates from iPhones and Mac laptops. Devices send data to the recorder web app, which stores the full history.
With some technical setup, this provides a way to export and archive location data from Apple devices beyond the AirTag limitations.Shop AirTag on Amazon
Frequently Asked Questions About AirTag Location History
Does AirTag show location history?
No, AirTags do not natively show a complete location history timeline within the Find My app. The official Find My app only shows the current or last known location of an AirTag.
Apple does store approximately 2 weeks of location history data for AirTags internally. However, there is no built-in feature to fully export or view the complete history. This is due to Apple’s privacy-focused policies.
Some third-party apps utilize workarounds to capture an AirTag’s location data in the background and compile a history. But there’s no official support from Apple to show the full GPS history trail. The Find My app focuses on real-time tracking rather than past location data.
How often do AirTags update their location?
AirTags are designed to update their location frequently, approximately every 60-120 seconds. This allows them to provide near real-time location tracking through the Find My network.
Can I export the full location history from my AirTags?
Unfortunately there is no official way to export the full historical location data from AirTags. Apple only allows you to view the last two weeks of location history in the Find My app.
Do AirTags record audio or video?
No, AirTags only track location. They do not have microphones to record audio or cameras to capture video. Location is the only data tracked.
Can police or third parties access my AirTag data?
No, the location history is end-to-end encrypted and tied only to your Apple ID. Only you can view your AirTags location history through Find My. Police or others cannot access it.
How long does AirTag location history stay in Find My?
Apple retains about 15 days of recent location detections for AirTags in the Find My network. After that time, older location points get deleted automatically on a rolling basis.
If an AirTag’s battery dies, will it keep recording location?
No, an AirTag needs a working battery to update its location. If the battery dies, the AirTag will stop collecting new location data until the battery is replaced.
Can I see other people’s AirTag location history?
No, the Find My network only allows you to see your own AirTags’ location history. You cannot see or track other people’s AirTags. The location data is private.
Can I connect an AirTag to multiple Apple IDs?
No, an AirTag can only be associated with one Apple ID at a time. The owner of that Apple ID can view the location history.
Checking your AirTag’s location history can provide valuable insight into where your lost items have been. While Apple limits extended histories and data export, you can still effectively monitor your AirTags in the short term using the Find My app.
Understanding the technology and privacy policies around AirTags allows you to best utilize what’s available. Hopefully this guide has helped demystify how to see your AirTag’s location history! Let us know if you have any other questions.