It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the AirTag is perhaps the best product to have at hand whenever it becomes necessary to track something, whether it’s the luggage that you’re checking in for a flight, the bike that you’re leaving outside, or your set of keys that you have a hard time locating at home.
On the other hand, one vital feature that the AirTag seems to be lacking is displaying the location history, which can be a pretty helpful tool in many cases, with the luggage example being one that anyone who has lost luggage before can relate to, especially considering that it can be quite bothersome to deal with the airline in such a case.
Fortunately, no official support does not always mean impossible in the world of software, which is why we will be taking a deeper dive into the topic of seeing the location history of an AirTag in this article and try to find out whether something can be done to add this functionality to the AirTag when needed.
So, is it possible to see the entire location history of your AirTag?
Even though the AirTag does not provide you with its entire location history, it’s entirely possible to add this capability to your AirTags with the help of third-party software that automatically saves all the location updates that your AirTag sends.
Moving forward, we will discuss the possibility of seeing the location history of an AirTag in greater detail, learn how to make it possible to see the location history of an AirTag with the help of third-party software and find out how frequently an AirTag updates the location data, which is a crucial factor to keep in mind when analyzing location history.
Is It Possible to See AirTag Location History?
The capability to see the location history of an AirTag is something that users have been requesting for a while now, especially considering the simplicity of such a feature’s addition, as the data that makes this possible is technically already available with the AirTag refreshing its location in short intervals.
Even though the official Apple Find My application does not offer the capability to see the location history of an AirTag, the fact that this data is already available to the user makes it technically possible to generate the location history through other means.
For instance, it would be entirely possible to generate your own AirTag location history by manually noting down the location whenever an update takes place, as the location data that allows you to do so is already provided.
That being said, we can all agree that manually keeping track of updates that occur almost every minute is definitely not a feasible strategy, which brings us to our next point; automation.
Provided that there is a way to access the location updates that the AirTag provides programmatically, automatically saving each update to create a location history log would be definitely be a doable programming task, which would allow us to have access to a location history log that is automatically updated at all times.
Fortunately, it appears that it’s also possible to access this data and, as a result, see the location history of an AirTag without any manual work, which will be our topic in the next section.
How to See AirTag Location History?
While the process of seeing the location history of your AirTag is not the most straightforward one due to there being no official support and no fully polished third-party software that makes it possible, it’s not an impossible one either.
Before we start, it’s worth mentioning that you will need a Mac computer for this process, as the script you will need to use to collect the location data is explicitly designed to work on MacOS.
To start, grab the AirtagAlex script from its GitHub repository, which is what you will be using to populate the location history data of your AirTag, by clicking the Code button on the top-right, choosing the Download ZIP option, and double-clicking the ZIP file in Finder to extract the script into a folder.
Next, open up the Terminal application on your Mac (Cmd + Space to bring up Spotlight, then type “Terminal”), and install Homebrew by running the command you can find on the official homepage.
For those unfamiliar, Homebrew is a package manager that will allow you to install the dependencies that the AirTagAlex script requires to run on your computer.
Once the Homebrew installation is done, install the jq utility through Homebrew by inputting the command brew install jq into the Terminal window, which is
the dependency that the AirTagAlex script requires to run.
Once the installation process is complete, navigate to the directory where you have extracted the AirtagAlex script through the Terminal with the cd command.
For instance, if you have saved the ZIP file to your Downloads folder through GitHub and extracted the ZIP directly in there, you can navigate to the correct folder by running cd ~/Downloads/AirTagAlex-main, and confirm that you’re in the correct folder by running ls, which should display that the AirTagAlex.sh file is present.
After navigating to the script folder, the next step you will need to take is to make the script executable by inputting the chmod 700 AirTagAlex.sh command through the Terminal, which will allow you to run the script on your computer.
Once that’s done, run the AirTagAlex script by inputting the ./AirTagAlex.sh command into the Terminal, and provided that your AirTag is present in the Find My application on your Mac, and that no dependencies for the script to run correctly are missing, you should see the output in the example image below, which effectively tells us that the script has started saving the location data.
If you come across the operation not permitted error, refer to the Troubleshooting section in the GitHub page of the script for an explanation and a solution.
If you come across the jq: command not found error, make sure that you have installed the jq utility as we have mentioned earlier in the guide, and that the installation hasn’t failed due to an issue.
If the script cannot find your AirTag to process the data, verify that the AirTag is present on the Find My application of your Mac (not your iPhone or iPad).
Finally, to find the location history data the script has generated, navigate to the script folder once more, but this time through Finder, and open the Airtags.csv file.
Upon opening the spreadsheet, you should find timestamped rows that contain the full location data for each given time period, which essentially make up the location history of your AirTag.
For those who are interested in how things work, the script operates by reading the cache file that the Find My application writes to (which includes the latest recorded location data of an AirTag) every 60 seconds to obtain the current location of the AirTag, and saves this information to a spreadsheet (Airtags.csv), which effectively creates a location history log of all the location updates, complete with all the data that the AirTag provides, whether it’s the latitudes and longitudes, or the human-readable addresses.
Naturally, the way that the script operates only makes it possible to access to the historical data for the periods where the script is actively running on your Mac, practically meaning that it will be impossible to access any past data from the time before you have started running the script, and data from periods where you have closed the Terminal window where the script is running or powered off your Mac, including putting your Mac into sleep mode, which is something to keep in mind.
While the script we have mentioned in this guide is open source, meaning you’re free to inspect the source code yourself, please remember that it’s still a third-party application (not an official Apple application) that you should run at your own risk, and that it can be subject to change after the time of writing of this guide.
How Often Does an AirTag Update (Refresh) Its Location?
As the location history can only be as accurate as the frequency of the location data, knowing the interval at which the AirTag updates its location is an essential factor to keep in mind when analyzing the location data you have obtained.
As long as there are Apple devices with Bluetooth enabled around the AirTag at all times, it should update its location every 60 to 120 seconds, which provides you with location data that is quite fresh.
It’s also worth mentioning that whenever your AirTag updates its location, you will be able to see the time at which the location was last updated, giving you a clear idea about the update status and allowing you to see how frequently the updates happen for yourself.
On the other hand, when there are no Bluetooth-enabled Apple devices around the AirTag, the location data will remain stale until your AirTag encounters a device that can transmit the location data, in which case you will see the last updated location until new data arrives.
Even though the lack of the AirTag location history feature is intended, with Apple most likely having no plans to implement it any time soon, there is no denying that there are many use cases where having access to the location history of your AirTag would be highly beneficial.
To summarize, even though official support for viewing the location history of an AirTag does not exist and most likely won’t be implemented in the near future, it’s possible to generate the location history yourself with third-party scripts that automatically save each location update to a file.
While this is certainly not as convenient as directly accessing the location history from the Find My app, it’s a good enough solution that can be easily improved with some extra work, such as making a custom application that allows you to see the location history interactively.
Mark’s first real encounter with tech was when he had to format his computer with Windows 98 around the age of 6 to quickly get back to playing Heroes of Might and Magic III without having to send the computer in for a repair, which he strangely found to be rather enjoyable since it was a new challenge for him at the time.
While he has always been particularly interested in the software side of things, which eventually led to him becoming a software developer, he enjoys keeping up with the advancements in consumer electronics and smart home technology when he’s not busy coding.