Try to find Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook’s home on the street view modes of Google Maps or Apple Maps, and you’ll hit a pixelated brick wall. It’s no accident, either. Cook’s house went incognito after he won a restraining order against an alleged stalker in January.
But Cook isn’t the only person who can make his home disappear from two of the most used mapping apps out there. Regular users can do the same thing, especially if you happen to find their street view features a bit too revealing for your taste.
If you’re unfamiliar, Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Street View, and Apple’s version, Look Around, allow you to get a close-up look at locations from a street level.
The idea is to give you a better view of the address you’re looking up. Chances are you’ve used it a few times to get a look at someplace you're heading to, like a restaurant where you're meeting friends.
But the features also put your home on the internet for all the world to see. Yes, people can just drive by your house in real life and see it, but there’s something creepier about having the place where you spend most of your time on display for the entire world.
Thankfully, you can blur your house via either app, making them less visible to other users. And doing so is actually surprisingly quick and easy. Here’s how.
Using the Google Maps app on either your iPhone or Android device, type in your home address. Tap the image of the location to get a Street View of your residence. Then press the options button, represented by three horizontal dots, in the top right corner of the screen.
From there, select “Report a problem.”
You’ll then be brought to a screen with an image of your home. Arrange the photo so that your house is in the red square. Then under the “Request blurring” option choose “My home.” Next, enter your exact address in the dialog box to blur your house. You can also blur your car and license plate if you’d rather no one see those, either.
Then enter your email address and click submit. It can take some time for the blurring to take effect, but once the request is submitted, it will be permanently blocked. That means you can’t un-blur it either, so make sure this is something you want to stick with.
If you’re using your laptop or desktop, the process is identical to the one for the app. Just look up your address, enter Street View, click report a problem, and choose blur “My home.”
Apple Maps makes things a bit easier than Google Maps. Instead of having to go through a request process, you can submit an email to Apple at [email protected] and request that your particular address be blurred on Apple Maps.
The whole process is very straightforward. Just be sure you are certain you want to blur the location for good. I personally like to go on a digital stroll around my childhood neighborhood every once in a while to kill time and see what’s changed in the years since I moved. If that’s something you might want to do in the future, then it’s best to leave your home easily visible.
If not, blur away.
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