How to send your location on Android smartphones and tablets

Did you know that you can send your exact GPS location, using the features that are built into your Android smartphone, in an SMS message, to any person you wish? Maybe you are stranded in some remote place, you need help, and you do not have a data connection. Maybe you need to share your location with a friend so that they can find you easily. Whatever your reason for sharing your location, here it is how to do it using the features that are built into your Android smartphone:

How location sharing works on an Android device

You may have asked the question "How do I share my location using my Android phone?" In this tutorial, we look at the situation when you want to share your location with someone else while you use an Android smartphone or tablet. If you lose your smartphone and you want to locate it, read How to find your lost or stolen Android smartphone with Find My Device.

Nowadays you can find plenty of chat apps that allow you to send your location on Android. The typical requirements for these apps are to have a data connection and that your contact uses the same app. If you have an urgent need to share your location coupled with no data connection, all these apps are going to fail you. And the fact is, you do not need them. Android provides a simple, straightforward, SMS based solution that comes pre-installed on every Android device. Read on to find out how to send your location on Android without any additional apps, and with the certainty that your contact can receive and open the message.

Step 1: Turn on location services on your Android device

The first step is to make sure that the location service is activated on your Android smartphone or tablet. The easiest access is through the Quick settings that you open by dragging down from the top of the smartphone screen to the bottom. You might not see the Location button right away, and if that is the case, you have to extend the list of Quick settings. To do that, repeat the drag-down gesture one more time. The Location has a two-state icon: when dimmed it is disabled when in full contrast, it is enabled.

Activating Location in Android's quick settings

Make sure that the Location is enabled. You can tap a couple of times for comparison if you are not sure.

Step 2: Open the Messages app on your Android smartphone

Then, start the Messages app on your Android device. You should find it in the Apps drawer or one of the default shortcuts on the bottom of the Home screen.

Messages in Apps drawer

If you already have a conversation started with the person that you want to contact, tap on it and go to the next step in this guide. If not, tap the "Start chat" button.

Start chat in Android

If you tapped "Start chat," start typing the name, phone number, or email of the person that you want to receive your location. Make sure that you choose a contact for which you have a phone number.

Type a name, phone number, or email for a new conversation

Step 3: Attach your location to the message

Now it is time to attach the location to your message. To do that, tap the Attachment symbol on the left side of the "Text message from" box. That symbol is usually a + sign.

Attach to a message in Android

You can select from multiple types of attachments, including pictures, voice messages or your location.

Scroll down through the list, until you find the option to give access to Location. If this is the first time you have used this feature, you find the text "Tap to give access to Location."

Tap to give access to Location

Android asks for your permission to allow Messages to access your device's location. Tap Allow.

Allow Messages to access your device's location

After a couple of seconds in which Android is updating your exact GPS location, a map is shown with your location as identified by your phone. Tap "Select this location.". Do not worry if the location is not exactly what you want because you can adjust it in the next step.

Select this location in Messages

Step 4: Send the message with your location

Google identifies and selects your current location as an address. Underneath there is a list of Nearby places. If you want to modify the location, you have two options:

  • Tap one of the places listed below by Google in the list Nearby places.
  • Drag the map and, after you stop the drag movement, tap the screen on the new location. The location icon appears on the map on the place you tapped. Please note that the list of Nearby places is also updated based on the new location.

When you are happy with the location choice, press the send button on the right-hand side (with the word SMS under it).

Send this location in Messages

Your message is sent to the person that you selected, in the form of an SMS that contains a URL. The URL opens by default in Google Maps. Other navigation apps can also utilize this information.

Sent location in Messages

NOTE: This procedure was tested, and it is guaranteed to work on Android 8 Oreo and Android 7 Nougat. The procedure is similar on all Android-powered devices, so you should be set even if you are running a different version on Android on your device. Our guide was tested using a Huawei smartphone and a Samsung tablet. It worked the same on both devices. It should work on yours too.

What happens when you do not have a data connection available?

The method we describe in this tutorial can be used even if you have only basic cell coverage and no data connection. In this case, Android sends the GPS coordinates (no address or place information), and there is no picture associated with the message.

GPS coordinates for a location

Did you manage to send your location through SMS?

Now that you know how this feature works, you can use it in all kinds of situations, including when you are in danger, and you need to be found by others. Try it out, see how it works and then let us know what you think, in the comments below.