How to Enable or Disable Location Sensing in Windows 7 and 8

It’s not just your phone that can know where you are. Did you know that many laptops and desktops have location sensing built into the hardware? There is also software to allow location sensing. Windows 7 and 8 support location sensing but it is disabled by default. These days many applications like to use your location. In this tip, I’ll show how to turn location sensing on or off, depending on your preference. I will also show how to find out in Windows 7 if any application has been using this service to send out information about your location.

Enable or disable location sensing in Windows 7

  1. Open the Start menu
  2. In the Search box, enter “sensor” (without quotes)
  3. In the Control Panel list, select "Enable location and other sensors"
  4. A list of installed sensors will be given. 
  5. Enable or disable them as preferred by using the checkbox next to a sensor. An example is shown in the figure below.
  6. Click “Apply”

Enable location sensors in Windows 7

When a program or service requests location information from a sensor, Windows 7 shows a small icon in the notification area (system tray) for most, but not all, requests.

Enable or disable location sensing in Windows 8

  1. Open Control Panel. Possible shortcuts to Control Panel are given in this previous tip
  2. In the Control Panel search box, enter “sensor” (without quotes)
  3. Click “Change location settings”
  4. The dialog shown below will open
  5. In the settings, you can choose whether to let users turn on location sensing for individual apps (administrator privileges required for this setting)

Enable location sensors in Windows 8

Checking for location  activity in Windows 7

The Event Viewer can be used to see a log of what location requests have been made.

  1. Open the Start menu
  2. In the Search box, enter “sensor” (without quotes)
  3. In the Control Panel list, select “View location activity”

The figure below shows an example log. (This one is empty on purpose.)

Location sensor activity log

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.

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