How to Track by Cell Phone

Updated November 21, 2016

Tracking a cell phone can help you recover a lost or stolen cell device. It can also help the user find his location or keep track of a family member or loved one. A phone owner with a computer or Internet access can track a mobile phone using a global positioning satellite, or GPS, chip. A variety of services are available for tracking the phone, and many cell phone companies offer GPS locating in-house.

Obtain a cell phone with a global positioning satellite, or GPS, chip. Most newer cell phones, including the BlackBerry, Motorola iDEN, Boost Mobile, Windows Mobile and many others, already contain GPS chips.

Some phones, especially older phones, do not have the chips installed. Find out from the manufacturer if the phone will take a GPS chip. If so, the chips can be bought at cell phone stores, from the manufacturer or over the Internet. Install the chip according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Check with the cell phone service company to determine if its network has GPS capability. Most larger services, such as Verizon, Cingular/AT&T and Sprint/Nextel, provide the service. Disney Mobile is designed to allow child cell phone tracking through GPS.

Find a location-based service, such as AccuTracking or, which often work with the cell phone service companies. Independent services such as Mologogo and others are also available. These services may charge small or moderate fees for GPS tracking.

Use a computer to go to the location-based service provider's website, log in and follow the instructions to subscribe and to download its software to the computer.

Connect the cell phone to be tracked to the computer via a PC-phone connector cable. Follow the instructions to load the GPS-tracking software into the cell phone, and, if necessary, to activate it using the phone's menu.

Give the phone to the user and use the computer to log into the location-based service provider's tracking website. Depending on the service, it can show the phone's location on a Google or MapQuest grid. Some services can also tell what speed the phone is travelling, how long it has been in one position and even the altitude.

If the tracker has a cell phone with wireless Internet access, she can use that instead of a PC to track the phone.


If the person doing the tracking does not want the person using the phone to know he is being tracked, hold on to the cell phone after downloading and activating the location-based service provider's GPS software. The tracking service often sends an initial text to the tracked phone saying it is now subject to tracking. Erase the text before turning over the phone to the user. The cell phone must be turned on for the tracking service to work. GPS tracking often uses additional battery power, and may require more frequent cell phone recharging.

Things You'll Need

  • GPS enabled phone
  • GPS service provider
  • Computer
  • Internet access
  • PC-phone cable
  • Location-based service
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About the Author

Richard Cole has worked as a journalist for 35 years. He has written for or appeared in media ranging from local weeklies to the Internet and national television, including 18 years with The Associated Press. He attended Lafayette College and the University of California at Berkeley.