OS X Mavericks tips: Control the information you share with apps

December 03, 2013 10:23 AM EST

Apple's new Location Services support on Mavericks means applications and Websites can gather information about where you are. Here's how to take control of that information.

Control the information you share with apps

[ABOVE: In order to control the location data your Maps app holds about you on Mavericks, simply click on the Bookmarks icon to the left of the search interface at the top right of the app. This gives you a list of bookmarked locations and allows you to edit one or all of these.]

Location, Contacts, Calendars

When you turn on Location Services, you allow apps and websites to use your computer’s current location to provide information, services, and features appropriate to where you are.

The data is not exact and is collected using information from nearby Wi-Fi networks. This information is collected in such a way as to not personally identify you. You can find out more about how Apple handles your data within the company's published Privacy Policy.

Controlling which apps and websites can access your location data

  • First open System Preferences>Security & Privacy and navigate to the Privacy pane.

Control the information you share with apps

  • Then select Location Services, where you'll see a list of applications that have requested your location within the last 24 hours.
  • You must click the lock at the lower left side of the Security & Privacy pane to make changes. You'll be asked to enter an administrator password.
  • Once you've entered this you can control Location Services for any listed app. Just check or uncheck the box to the left of the application name in the list to enable or disable access.
  • You can also disable Location Services across your Mac, doing so may prevent some useful services.

The procedure is similar when you decide to control those applications that can access your Contacts and/or Calendars database.

Sometimes applications that you've prevented from having regular access to Location Services will need such access to work when you need them. It's OK to permit this, though you may choose to disable that access after the task completes.

Control the information you share with apps

[ABOVE: Apple also gathers certain contact information and preferences about you. This data is kept secure, but you can control the data that exists about you by logging into your account here. You can opt out of receiving ads targeted to be relevant to you by visiting here on your mobile device.]

Monitor and control

It's important to understand that when you allow a third-party app or website to use your information on an Apple product you become subject to the terms of service and privacy policies of those applications, so you should read the specific privacy policy offered by third party developers.

It is early days for Mavericks so there aren't too many services attempting to access your location data. This will change. Mavericks already accounts for 2.42 percent of the global OS market, creating a viable market to tempt developers who may want to use location data to deliver new and interesting services, Apple's Find My iPhone for example.

As more such apps and Web-based services appear it will become increasingly important for Mac users to monitor who regularly accesses this data. I hope this short report helps you take control of this task using existing Security & Privacy preferences.

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