Privacy is a central part of Apple’s marketing campaigns and it sounds great in the company’s ads and product announcements. But actually making things as private as possible on Apple devices does require a bit of effort and time.
We’ve assembled all the settings you can change on your iPhone and iPad to make the devices as private as possible. These instructions are all based on iOS 15, the newest version of the operating system, but details can vary between updates.
Apple has added a number of settings and reports to its iOS mobile operating system, which runs on iPhones and iPads, to make personal information more private from webpages, third-party apps and even Apple itself. It all starts with a trip to the iOS settings app. (Most settings use a toggle that is green when on and gray when off.)
There’s only so much that can be done on the device-side, so make sure you’re also keeping an eye on settings for the most popular apps themselves with the rest of our privacy guide.
Disable ad tracking
Ad tracking is when companies collect information about what you’re up to online, where you are, and details about who you are. The data can be sold to third-parties to better target ads to you. This setting lets you decline all requests to track you by default.
Record what your apps are up to
Get a snapshot what Apple and third-party apps are up to with this option. After you turn it on, let it run for a week and come back and save it. Apple is updating this feature to make it more useful in its next update, 15.2, and calling it the App Privacy Report.
Revoke access to your data liberally
This is one of the best things you can do for your privacy. Apps can access huge swath of data about you and your device, but Apple has included a way to control who sees what.
Stop Apple from targeting its own ads
Apple makes a big fuss about other companies targeting ads, but it does it as well. The company’s ads appear in places like the App Store, Apple News and the Stocks app. There’s an easy way to turn off Apple’s targeting.
Stop sharing data for analytics
Apple and its developers collect data about how you use your device and their products to improve products and services, but if you want, you can cut off access. (You may already have opted out when you set up your device.)
Browse the Internet while sharing less
These settings can make Safari more private, though you also have the option to use a third-party browser app on iOS, such as Firefox.
Open emails in peace
New in iOS 15, this feature stops companies that send you emails from getting your IP address or knowing if you’ve opened their message.
Lock down Siri
How to keep your intimate, embarrassing or damaging text messages as private as possible
Turn on iCloud Private Relay
This feature is new, still in beta and requires a paid iCloud subscription, which starts at $1 a month. ICloud Private Relay is Apple’s twist on a virtual private network, or VPN, that works on Safari traffic. It hides your IP address from websites and sends browsing activity through a third-party, so your network provider doesn’t see that information. Your IP address and websites you visit aren’t linked, making it more difficult for third-parties to track you. (Unlike a traditional VPN, iCloud Private Relay doesn’t let you use IP addresses from different countries to try to circumvent country-based rules.)
Let us know if we’ve missed anything or if a setting has changed, email [email protected].
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