Skip to content

How To Update Your iPhone Privacy Settings: 21 Settings You Should Change Now

Your iPhone contains a wealth of personal data – photos, messages, emails, and more. While Apple has robust security measures in place, there are still steps you should take to lock down your privacy settings and keep prying eyes out.

In this guide, we‘ll cover 21 key iPhone privacy settings to change for optimal security, with statistics and examples demonstrating why these precautions matter. I‘ll provide actionable tips you can implement right away to take control of your data.

Let‘s get started securing your iPhone!

The privacy risks of mobile devices

Recent surveys reveal the vast majority of smartphone owners are concerned about mobile privacy:

  • 76% of iPhone users worry about the security of personal data on their device [Source: ExpressVPN]
  • 85% of Americans report being anxious about the privacy of their mobile data [Source: Pew Research Center]

These concerns are valid. Smartphones face a range of privacy threats, including:

  • Hackers: Malware and phishing scams infect phones to steal passwords, texts, and bank info. One report found over 35,000 malicious mobile apps. [Source: PurpleSec]
  • Surveillance: Governments and companies use advanced spyware to monitor devices, calling and browsing history. For example, the Pegasus software reads WhatsApp messages and tracks locations. [Source: The Guardian]
  • Data collection: Apps and sites gather detailed profiles on you through trackers, ad IDs, and location access to target ads and products. Over 75% of iOS apps share data with third parties. [Source: Yale Privacy Lab]
  • Physical access: Someone with temporary physical possession of your phone could access the contents and install spying apps without your knowledge.

The good news? You‘re not powerless – adjusting your iPhone settings bolsters privacy substantially. Let‘s examine the most critical options to update.

Lock down login and passcode security

Hackers who gain access to your iPhone passcode can view everything on your device. Make your passcode impossible for others to crack:

  • Use 6 digits instead of 4 – this exponentially boosts passcode strength.
  • Avoid sequential or repeated numbers like 123456 or 111111.
  • Don‘t use personal info like birthdays that others can easily guess.
  • Change it every ~90 days to lower risk from brute force attacks.

You can set and update your passcode under Settings > Face ID & Passcode.

For even better protection, enable these advanced login features:

Passcode Setting Benefit
Touch ID / Face ID Requires fingerprint or facial scan to unlock phone. Prevents access if stolen.
Erase Data Wipes device after 10 failed passcode attempts, thwarting brute force cracking.
USB Accessories Disable data transfer via USB port when phone locked. Prevents exploitation of locked phone.

Face ID is more secure than Touch ID, with a 1 in 1,000,000 false acceptance rate vs. 1 in 50,000 for fingerprints. [Source: Apple]

Finally, use strong unique passwords for all accounts you access on your iPhone, especially email, banking, and social media. Consider a password manager app to generate and store robust passwords.

Turn on two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) requires both your password and a temporary code generated on your phone when you log in.

Activate 2FA for:

  • Your Apple ID – prevents unauthorized access to iCloud data
  • Other accounts accessed on your phone like email, social, financial

With 2FA enabled, thieves can‘t access these accounts even with your password because they lack your device for the 2FA code.

You can set up two-factor for your Apple ID under Settings > [Your Name] > Password & Security.

Limit location tracking

Location data reveals where you live, work, and spend your time down to precise GPS coordinates. Protect your location privacy:

  • Disable location access for apps that don‘t need it, like games and utilities. Adjust under Settings > Privacy > Location Services.
  • Turn off Location Services entirely when not in use. This prevents passive background location collection.
  • Use a VPN to mask your true location from sites/apps.

Location data is highly sought after – over 1,700 apps were caught unlawfully sharing user location data. [Source: Consumer Reports]

Restrict photo access

Photos on your iPhone provide a window into your personal life. To keep prying eyes off:

  • Disable photo access for social media sites and other apps that don‘t require it. Adjust in Settings > Privacy > Photos.
  • Turn off iCloud Photo Library sync to prevent storing images on Apple‘s servers. Keep photos solely on your device.
  • Use a strong photo passcode/Touch ID to secure the native Photos app itself on your device.

In one experiment, over 6 million Facebook users had their personal photos exposed publicly due to a platform bug. [Source: Business Insider]

Limit ad tracking

Advertisers track your activity across sites and apps to target promotions based on your interests and location. Minimize ad tracking:

  • Opt out of personalized ads under Settings > Privacy > Apple Advertising. This prevents targeting based on your usage patterns.
  • Reset your Advertising Identifier frequently under Settings > Privacy > Advertising. This clears your tracked ad profile.
  • Use a VPN and ad blocking browser like Brave to prevent tracking.

In 2021, Apple‘s App Tracking Transparency feature caused a 62% drop in companies collecting user data due to increased privacy controls. [Source: Financial Times]

Evaluate app permissions

Apps request access to contacts, calendars, cameras, and microphones. Only allow what‘s strictly necessary for their function.

Carefully examine the purpose of each app permission under Settings > Privacy and reject unnecessary access. For example:

  • A weather app shouldn‘t require calendar access
  • A game shouldn‘t need microphone access

Also toggle off the setting for apps to request HomeKit access – only smart home apps need this.

Strengthen email privacy

Email contains sensitive correspondence. Protect your inbox:

  • Tap your email address at the top of the Mail app and enable Protect Mail Activity. This hides your IP address and stops senders from tracking when you open an email.
  • Disable remote image loading under Settings > Mail to prevent Hidden Pixel tracking – companies embedding invisible images in emails to log when you open mail.
  • Avoid signing up for marketing email lists that could sell your address. Use a disposable email address service for public registrations instead of your real email.

Lock down messaging

Text messages can reveal private conversations. Safeguard them:

  • Set texts to auto-delete after 30 days or 1 year under Settings > Messages > Keep Messages. This regularly erases history.
  • Disable text message previews on the lock screen to prevent glimpses of messages. Adjust under Settings > Notifications > Messages > Show Previews > When Unlocked.
  • Disable read receipts if you don‘t want senders to know when you view a message. Turn off under Settings > Messages > Send Read Receipts.

Restrict shared content access

Apple‘s Shared With You feature shows content people send you directly in associated apps. Limit its visibility:

  • Review Shared With You in the Photos, Safari, Apple News, Music, Podcasts and TV apps. Disable for any you don‘t want to auto-import shared content.
  • Ensure Shared With You only displays content from people in your contacts under Settings > Messages > Shared With You.

Use a VPN for public Wi-Fi

On public Wi-Fi networks like cafes, hotels, and airports, a VPN tunnels your internet traffic and encrypts it to keep your browsing activity, information and location private.

Some top VPNs optimized for iPhone include ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost. Look for fast speeds, unlimited bandwidth, and a user-friendly iOS app.

Limit social sharing

Be selective in what you post to social media. Once shared broadly, you lose control.

  • Double check permissions before using third-party apps that integrate with sites like Facebook. Revoke if not needed.
  • Tighten visibility settings on social sites so only certain people can view your content.
  • Consider not posting any sensitive personal information like addresses, travel locations or identities of family members.

Nearly 75% of US adults restrict access to their social media accounts due to privacy concerns. [Source: Pew Research Center]

Protect physical security

Even if you have robust digital protections, someone gaining physical possession of your unlocked iPhone could access everything. Safeguard physical security:

  • Enable auto-lock with a quick 1-5 minute timeout to require passcode if you walk away or it‘s briefly stolen.
  • Avoid leaving your phone unattended in public spaces where it could be taken.
  • Enable Find My iPhone under Settings > [Your Name] > Find My > Find My iPhone so you can remotely wipe if lost or stolen.
  • Invest in tamper-proof packaging like otterbox cases to prevent undetected physical tampering.

Passcode or Touch ID should be required for powering off iPhone to prevent bypassing lock screen by force restarting device.

Keep software updated

Apple issues frequent iOS updates with the latest security fixes and privacy defenses. Don‘t delay updates!

  • Install iOS updates immediately when prompted. Ensure automatic updates are enabled under Settings > General > Software Update > Automatic Updates.
  • Review patch notes for details on security enhancements with each release. Updates thwart emerging threats.
  • Avoid jailbreaking your iPhone as this bypassses Apple’s privacy safeguards and exposes your device and data to compromise.


Your iPhone contains an incredible amount of personal data. While Apple engineers strong defenses into iOS, you must properly configure settings for full privacy protection.

Follow the 21 tips outlined here to harden iPhone access, limit tracking and leaks through apps, mask your identity and activity, and keep your sensitive data out of the wrong hands.

Taking a few minutes to lock down these iPhone privacy settings gives powerful peace of mind that your mobile security is air tight. Implement these precautions and take back control of your personal information today.


Streamr Go

StreamrGo is always about privacy, specifically protecting your privacy online by increasing security and better standard privacy practices.