My iMac rarely has WiFi turned on since I use Ethernet, however Location Services seem to need a WiFi connection (they both connect to the same router, so I fail to see the logic there… but there we go).

Is there a way to override or set my location so that apps which use Location Services can still get a location?


3 Answers 3


It seems that you can need wifi on (but not necessarily configured) in order to get location, Core Location works using skyhook and will not function without wifi on. This is not well documented by Apple but this StackOverflow conversation covers it.

According to the above, you should be able to turn on Wifi, wait for a location fix and then turn it off. If that doesn't work look into WhereAmI, this project allows command line access to CoreLocation and you should be able to script it and wifi to turn on once in a while, log your location and then turn wifi off.

  • I'm looking for some debugging flags. I know how it works in general.
    – bot47
    Commented May 19, 2014 at 18:18
  • 1
    Apple dropped Skyhook several years ago. Now Apple, much like Google, uses their own geolocation database, which matches wi-fi MAC addresses to GPS coordinates (based largely upon iOS devices reporting that information). So it is not IP geolocation, and there is no GPS hardware in Macs, but it does actually require wi-fi MAC address(es) of nearby access point(s).
    – pseudon
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 18:27
  • Apple describes the their Location Services process starting on p. 4 here: wired.com/images_blogs/gadgetlab/2011/04/…
    – pseudon
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 18:33
  • @pseudon - good find.
    – chananelb
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 6:19

You can set a custom location in Google Chrome's developer tools.
Press ⌥⌘I+Esc, then go to the Emulation tab and set your custom longitude and latitude.

  • I found out about that, but it just affects Chrome...
    – bot47
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 22:43

If your machine or devices don't broadcast some type of radio signal how do you expect it to determine your location? The logic is that Wi-Fi, GPS, or cellular towers can be used to bounce signals back and forth between you and them to pinpoint where you're at. Without broadcasting a signal somehow it wouldn't know if you were 10 ft. away from the router or on a VPN connection 3k miles away,

The only thing you can really do for what you're asking is to turn on your location services temporarily and when you're done turn them off.

More Info

  • 1
    How does a radio signal to my router differ from a Cat5 connection to the same router? A VPN connection shouldn't make a difference, I'm still connecting to the same router...
    – ghickman
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 9:58
  • Apple's location database only has the MAC addresses of the wireless interface of the router. When you turn off Wi-Fi, there is no way for your computer to get that information.
    – Kevin Chen
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 17:22
  • Actually, since my iMac doesn't leave my desk, I would like to just set my location manually. I don't know why they don't provide this option. Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 12:31

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