There are many reasons for wanting, or needing, to know how to track a cell phone location without installing software on the target phone. Maybe you want to keep track of your kids' activities, think an employee is stealing, or suspect that your spouse may be cheating on you.
If you're not careful, needing to find a way to track a phone without installing an app may get in the way of being able to effectively do it, as you may have too much emotional involvement. Read this article to learn how to track a cell phone location without installing software.
How To Track A Cell Phone Location Without Installing Software On The Target Phone
A spy app, also known as "spyware," is a program that can monitor smartphone activity. Employers use these apps for employees for workplace surveillance and parents use them to keep an eye on their children's activities. With the help of spy apps, you can access and control a smartphone from anywhere and still track what they're doing even if you aren't physically present.
It's easy to assume that you would need physical access to the phone to effectively set up tracking, but this is not necessarily true. However, if you want what you are doing to remain secret or need to see more about your child's activities, it will be necessary to have access to the phone for the 5-10 minutes it takes to install a spy app. After that, it will enter stealth mode and you will be able to track everything on their phone from a web-based control panel.
Because of the massive difference in capabilities with these methods, we will be starting with the easiest and most powerful ways to track a cell phone location without installing software.
uMobix is what I use to track the location of my son's iPhone, and it's been great. In my case, I didn't have to install anything on the target phone because I had his iCloud information. But, if you don't have their iCloud credentials or are tracking an Android phone, installation takes about 10 minutes.
Once the uMobix app is set up, you can log into your account and view the exact location of the target phone in real time. You can also see a history of where they have been and set up geofencing alerts to notify you if they go outside of a certain area.
Many more advanced features are available if you are able to install the app, which I eventually did secretly once I saw how much more information could be accessed. It's definitely worth the effort to get the phone for the few minutes it takes to install. After that, it enters stealth mode and you will never have to touch it again.
The uMobix app provides better monitoring for social media apps than any other spy app on the market, including Tinder, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, WhatsApp, Skype, TikTok, Telegram, Snapchat, and Zoom, just to name a few.
The app goes far beyond simply tracking the location of the target device and gives you full control over it, including the ability to remotely activate the microphone and camera.
It even has a spy app detection feature to alert you to other stealth tracking apps that are already on the phone. At first glance, this seems like a hilarious feature for a location monitoring app to have. But, if you are spying on your child for their safety, it would be a huge concern if you found that someone else was already tracking them.
Live tech support is available, which can be a lifesaver if you need to install the app in a limited amount of time.
I have had no complaints aside from intercepted data only staying available for 30 days. But, this limit is higher on multi-month plans so I'm only taking away a half star for it.
- Remote camera activation
- Can stream live video
- Remote microphone activation
- GPS location tracking
- All social media apps
- Data retention limited to 30 days on basic plan
mSpy is what I previously used to track the location of my son's cell phone without installing software.
It has most of the features of uMobix and is easier to use than most other methods. The reason I switched, and the reason this method would be my second recommendation, is that it lacks the camera and microphone activation abilities that uMobix has when it's installed.
While mSpy would be my top choice if I knew I was only going to need a phone tracking app, I would choose uMobix if there was the possibility that I could use a phone monitoring app some day.
Aside from that, mSpy is easier to use and offers more detailed help and tutorials for how to use it to find the location of a cell phone.
You should choose what is best for you based on the likelihood that you will need to use it for spying and not just as a tracker.
- Records text messages
- Screen recorder
- Real-time GPS location tracking
- Access to all social media apps
EyeZy is the newest and most powerful mobile phone tracking software that doesn't require installation. Exploiting iCloud syncing gives access to the person's current GPS location, contacts, e-mail, photos, and videos. Even more information is available for Android smartphones using Wi-Fi sync.
If you can get physical access to the device, eyeZy offers a wide range of advanced capabilities including:
- Keystroke Capture
- Website Browsing History
- Alerts for specific conversations
- Call logs
- Great tech support
Perhaps the best feature is you can spy on Facebook, Tinder, Snapchat, Skype, WhatsApp, KiK, and Instagram messages to monitor what the person does online.
- Easiest to use
- Totally hidden
- GPS location tracking
- All social media apps
- Not quite as powerful as mSpy
FlexiSpy (read our full FlexiSpy review) is not as user-friendly as other spy software, but it uses the most comprehensive security technology currently available. It too remains totally hidden and has a long list of mobile monitoring capabilities, and these are some of the highlights:
- Call Logs
- All Text Messages
- Monitor Social Media Content, including Facebook
- Search History
- Compatible with all versions of Android and iOS
To me, the most alluring abilities of FlexiSpy are related to taking control over the hardware on your mobile phone. Once this tool is in stealth mode, it gives you full root control and allows you to silently activate the front and rear cameras or turn on the microphone and spy on the phone without them knowing.
Read the last sentence again. It's worth having a slightly less modern interface to have safe and reliable ways of looking at more information.
- Extremely powerful
- Live camera streaming
- Pre-loaded smartphones available
- GPS tracking
- Microphone access
- Call recording
- Older interface
Minspy is one of the older methods of cell phone tracking for iOS and Android. It comes with tons of useful features for both parents and employers. Minspy does like to claim to be the most robust ways ever created to track an Android phone. While that may have been true at one time, I found this phone tracking app to be lacking.
It works well when trying to discover information about someone, with features such as the ability to read email and message contents with timestamps, web browser search logs, text messages, and more. But, it lacks the ability to intercept security passcodes and misses some Facebook activity.
Free Ways To Track A Cell Phone Location Without Installing Software On The Target Phone
Android Device Manager
Few Android users have explored their settings deeply enough to find that Android Device Manager is pre-installed, but this service is always active by default. The great thing is you can map where Android devices have been, and with accuracy to within 60 feet. Best of all, you can do everything and you don't need to have any spy apps running on the phone.
This dashboard can be used as a cell phone tracker by following these steps:
- Visit Find My Device
- Enter the number and Google Account information
- Monitor their location or ring, lock, or remotely erase the device
One important step is getting the password for the person you want to spy on, which is an obvious problem. Figuring out how you will know their password may be harder than just borrowing someone's phone and loading a location tracking application.
Google Maps Timeline
Although it still requires you to know their password, Google Maps timeline is one interesting option.
The step-by-step instructions are:
- Step 1: Open Google Maps
- Step 2: Log in with the phone's Account
- Step 3: Click on “Menu”
- Step 4: Select “Your Timeline”
Your screen should now show a timeline where you can track someone's phone location without them knowing. Alternatively, you can click on Menu -> Your Places -> Visited to view location history.
You can find out the current location by following on-screen instructions. Interestingly, you can view recorded phone data remotely at any time and the Android device's user will not be aware of being tracked.
Use iCloud As A Location Tracker
Apple has never really hidden the fact it listens to its customers, or that iOS records all online activities. In fact, they seem to think uploading all of your data to their servers is a feature. In this case, they are right.
Most people don't know you can connect to iCloud accounts directly and monitor mobile devices. This method is not as easy to perform and data is more difficult to locate than simply using software. But, with no free phone tracker apps out there now for iOS and Android, this is a method of last resort for tracking a phone.
This method can track the following:
- Current Location
- iCloud Drive
- Erase The Device
Find My iPhone
Find My iPhone is a built-in app that allows owners to locate their phones if it is misplaced or stolen. While it doesn't have advanced abilities like seeing files, it is still a good solution if you can work with just having basic information about the person.
Tracking a cell phone will usually only be legal when you are spying on your child or someone who has given you permission. However, even in these situations, you must consult with a lawyer before attempting to use a tracker because laws can vary dramatically by location and do not necessarily follow logic.
Do I need to jailbreak iPhone?
iPhones can only install Apple-approved apps from their store. This is why using unapproved apps requires jailbreaking. Many people have this done, but you should not have to jailbreak a device to spy on it remotely. Each application we recommended in this article can provide robust tracking capabilities while not requiring jailbreaking or installation.
Can I track a cell phone location for free without installing software?
No, there are no free apps made for this and it is unlikely anyone will create one. One reason for this is the applications you need for this are quite complex and no one is giving that away for free.
Beware of scammers claiming they will tell you how to track a cell without installing any software on the target device for free or for too little money to be believable.
As we have explained, spying on a mobile device without touching it is possible. However, these methods are somewhat limited because the Google Account or Apple ID credentials of the device are required. Fortunately, much better options exist.
If it's not possible to download an app to their phone, purchasing a new phone and downloading spy software before presenting it as a gift works well. If you want to track what your kids are doing on their smartphones, giving them a brand new iPhone or Android will just seem like a really nice gesture. Your gift also allows having an unlimited amount of time to get the needed software set up and thoroughly check to be sure it is undetectable.
While you can track a phone without installing app, it can actually be more difficult to accomplish than devising a way you can borrow their phone for long enough to install software.
If it's absolutely not possible for you to access the device, consider purchasing a new smartphone as a gift. Before presenting it, you can install an app without worrying about having time to ensure it works correctly.