We’ve discussed Why the iPhone Tracking Hubub is a Gigantic Overreaction, and shown you How To Encrypt your iPhone Backups to prevent your location logs from getting into the wrong hands, but what if you want to access your own location info? It can be cool to see a map of where you’ve been since you’ve gotten your iPhone, and developer Pete Warden wrote an app to make the process effortless.

With the iPhoneTracker app for Mac, your location data is pulled from the backup file that’s made when you sync your iPhone to your computer, indexed and then displayed as a huge map showing you dots of varying sizes showing you where you’ve been since you got your iPhone or since your iPhone was updated to iOS 4.

The data is not 100% accurate, because it’s based mostly on cell tower triangulation rather than the more accurate GPS data that your phone uses when you want to get your location on the device. Getting a map like this of where you’ve been is still pretty neat. Here’s how:

1. Download iPhoneTracker and make a backup of your iPhone on the computer you’d like to use

You can download iPhoneTracker at Pete Warden’s github site. Then, make a backup of your iPhone in iTunes. If you followed our instructions on encrypting your backups, you’ll need to make an unencrypted backup if you’d like iPhoneTracker to work. Make sure the “Encrypt My Backups” option is unchecked in the iPhone Sync Options, then right click on your iPhone in the iTunes sidebar and select “Back Up.”

2. Load iPhoneTracker and the map will be created

Next, all you need to do is load up the iPhoneTracker application that you downloaded and it will automatically pull your location data from the backup file and plot it out for you similar to the map above. The process really couldn’t be easier, and this fact definitely proves that you want to be encrpyting your backups so this information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Didn’t Work? Some common issues with iPhoneTracker

  • Make sure you made the backup in the same user account that you are running iPhoneTracker in
  • Double-check your iPhone’s settings to make sure the backups aren’t encrypted
  • iPhoneTracker does not work with Verizon iPhones yet, only AT&T
  • iPhoneTracker does not work with iPod Touches or WiFi iPads, your device needs a 3G connection