Websites employ web tracking for collecting relevant information about their visitors to serve them personalized content. A subset of web tracking, which is widely used in location tracking these days, is geolocation or geopositioning.

hide or spoof location in web browser
IMAGE: Andrey_Photo (Pixabay)

As its name suggests, geolocation is a tracking practice that focuses entirely on determining the geographic location of internet-connected devices and gathering information about their users so that web apps can leverage it to offer their users specific services/features or relevant recommendations.

Although geolocation has several useful applications, it brings with it some privacy concerns. Hence, it’s often advised to hide or spoof your actual location in your web browser to protect your privacy.

With that in mind, here’s a guide detailing geolocation and the steps to hide or spoof your location in Google Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

What is Geolocation?

Geolocation is the process of estimating the geographic location (latitude and longitude) of any device connected to the internet.

Most popular web browsers, such as Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox, implement geolocation services via the Geolocation API and help web applications access their users’ locations so they can serve their users better.

Generally speaking, there are numerous applications where you can see geolocation in action. Navigation services, check-ins and geotagged posts on social media, food ordering services, and weather apps are a few such examples from everyday life.

How Does Geolocation Work?

Although the Geolocation API plays a significant role in enabling geolocation services on browsers, it doesn’t provide location information on its own. Instead, that task is taken care of by the device, and the API is responsible only for serving the curated location data to the browser.

As for location tracking, geolocation relies on a few different methods, like GPS tracking, Wi-Fi positioning system, and IP address tracking, to deduce a device’s location. So depending on where you’re located, any of these methods can be used accordingly to locate your device.

When Should You Hide or Spoof Your Location?

Hiding and spoofing your location in a browser are two ways to prevent websites from collecting your device’s location information. Both of these methods work differently but have pretty much the same objective: keep geotracking at bay and safeguard your privacy.

While hiding the location entails disabling geolocation services in your browser, spoofing involves faking your default location to some other city in the world. Not just that, spoofing also facilitates unblocking of geo-blocked content so you can access the content of different regions from your current location.

How to Hide Location on Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox

Hiding your location on Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox is easy: you just have to disable geolocation from the browser settings on your Mac or Windows PC, and it’ll prevent websites from tracking your physical location.

1. Hide Location on Google Chrome

Follow the steps below to hide your geolocation in Google Chrome:

  1. Open Chrome and click on the three vertical dots in the right-hand corner of the screen.
  2. Select Settings and navigate to Privacy and Security > Site Settings.
  3. Click on Location under the Permissions section and select Sites can ask for your location. This will require websites to request access to your location.
    hiding location on google chrome
  4. If there are websites that already have access to your location, you’ll see them under Allow. Click on the trash button next to them to revoke their access to your location.

2. Hide Location on Microsoft Edge

Similar to Google Chrome, you can hide location on Microsoft Edge using the steps listed below:

  1. Open Microsoft Edge and click on the three horizontal dots in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
  2. Select Settings and choose Cookies and Site Permissions from the left-hand pane.
  3. Tap on Location, under All permissions, and enable Ask before accessing.
    hiding location on microsoft edge
  4. Similar to Chrome, you can also revoke access to websites that are already accessing your location to prevent them from using it moving forward. To do this, tap on the trash icon next to the websites listed under Allow.

3. Hide Location on Firefox

To hide your location in Firefox, use the following steps:

  1. Open Firefox and click on the hamburger (three horizontal-line) menu on the top-right corner of the screen.
  2. Select Settings and tap on Privacy & Security from the left-hand menu.
  3. Scroll down to the Permissions section and click on the Settings… button next to Location.
  4. In the Location Permissions settings, remove the websites that you don’t want to continue using your location access. You can tap the Remove All Websites button to remove all websites at once.hiding location on firefox

How to Spoof Location on Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox

As we mentioned earlier, hiding location helps you prevent web browsers from accessing your physical location. However, if you want to strengthen your privacy even further, you have to spoof your location to trick the web browser into thinking that you’re located in some other location.

1. Spoof Location on Google Chrome

The easiest way to spoof or fake your location in Google Chrome is to use a browser extension. One such extension is Location Guard, which works by giving your fake location to the different websites you visit on the web. It offers three privacy levels — choose the highest level for better privacy.

Download: Location Guard

Once downloaded, follow the steps below to spoof your location on Chrome:

  1. Open Location Guard’s settings.
  2. Select Options from the left-hand menu.
  3. Click on the dropdown button next to Default level, on the right pane, to select the level of privacy. Choose a higher level for better location spoofing.
    spoofing location on chrome with location guard
  4. Alternatively, select Use fixed location from the sub-menu and pick a location from the map to set it as your permanent fake location.

2. Spoof Location on Microsoft Edge

Unlike Chrome, Microsoft Edge offers a pretty straightforward way of spoofing your location. Follow these steps to spoof your location in Edge:

  1. Open Microsoft Edge and tap the three horizontal dots in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
  2. Navigate to More Tools > Developer Tools.
  3. Press Command-Shift-P or Ctrl-Shift-P to open the command menu.
  4. When the command menu pops up, click on the search field and look up show sensors.
    spoofing location on microsoft edge
  5. In the sensor menu, which appears at the bottom right of the screen, click the dropdown button next to Location.
  6. Choose a city listed under Overrides to spoof it as your default location. Alternatively, you can select Other and set your custom latitude and longitude.
    spoofing location on microsoft edge

3. Spoof Location on Firefox

Compared to Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, Firefox is the easiest to spoof your location. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open Firefox.
  2. Tap on the address/URL bar and enter about:config.
  3. When prompted with a warning, hit Accept the Risk and Continue to continue.
    spoofing location on firefox
  4. In the search field, type geo.enabled and tap the arrow button to toggle its status to off/false/0.
  5. Visit any latitude-longitude website, like LatLong, and enter the name of the city that you want to spoof to get its coordinates. Copy its latitude and longitude values.spoofing location on firefox
  6. Again, in the search field, enter and hit Enter/return.
  7. Hit the pen icon next to the address and replace it with the following line:
    data:application/json,{"location": {"lat": X, "lng": Y}, "accuracy": 27000.0}

Make sure to replace the X and Y values in the above line with the latitude and longitude values you copied in step 5.

Hiding or Spoofing Your Location to Prevent Geopositioning

Using this guide, you can easily hide or spoof your location in Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox and prevent websites from geopositioning you on the internet and serving you targeted ads.

However, do note that these steps restrict only a part of what constitutes web tracking, and there are several other ways in which websites can track you on the web.

So if you want stricter privacy and security, you should consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or  Tor (The Onion Router) service, which masks your IP address to secure your internet activities and prevent you from being tracked online.

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