Having strangers from around the world watching your home isn’t necessarily something you want, but it can be done in seconds on the mapping apps we all carry around on our phones.
If you want to deter these digital voyeurs, you can ask Google, Apple, and Microsoft to cast a privacy veil over your property. You’d be in good company, too: Apple CEO Tim Cook had his house blurry mapping apps after issues with a stalker.
However, there is something to keep in mind before doing this: you may not be able to reverse the process. The blur could be here for good. This is the case for Google Maps, and although Apple and Microsoft do not specify whether the blurs on their services are permanent, they may follow the same protocol or decide to do so in the future.
To blur your home on Google Maps, find it on the web or mobile app, then switch to Street View mode. You should be able to do this by clicking or tapping on the image that appears when viewing the property.
Then click on the three points which are in the upper left corner (on the web) or in the upper right corner (in the application), and select to report a problem. You will receive a form to fill out, which includes Street View images and a red selection box. Make sure this area precisely covers the area you want to blur.
To take My house under the What would you like us to jam? section, then enter your email address and press the Tp submit button. With this, the jamming process is underway, although Google says you might receive an email request additional information.
The version of Street View you’ll find in Apple Maps is called Look Around, and you can access it by clicking or tapping the “Look Around” Thumbnail which appears when you drop a pin on the map or search for an address (the thumbnail features a small pair of binoculars).
The images on Look Around aren’t as comprehensive as on Street View, so it’s worth checking to see if your house is actually visible first. Unfortunately, you can’t use the desktop or mobile apps to request that your home image be blurred. You will need to email [email protected]
[Related: 14 tricks to get more out of the underrated Apple Maps app]
Apple does not say exactly what format your email request should take, but we assume you will need to at least include your address. We also suggest attaching a picture of the property, highlighting where you live and where the blur boundaries should be.
You can get to Bing Maps on the web, and its street-level images are called StreetSide. To access it, click on the map view button in the upper right corner (it will probably say Roadbecause this is the default view), choose Street sidethen click on a blue line on the map.
If you are on the web, click the Report a privacy concern with this image link (bottom left). In the Maps app for Windows, click the to report a problem link (bottom right). In both cases, you will receive a form to fill out. Enter your email address, click on the part of the image that shows your property and choose House of What kind of concern do you have? scrolling menu.
Finally, click Tp submit to send your request to Microsoft. The company does not give much more details on the blurring process beyond these basic instructions, but, as with other services, we assume that you will be notified when action has been taken.