How To Use Garmin LiveTrack And Share Your Location With Friends

The writer using Garmin LiveTrack during a run
(Image credit: Lois MacKenzie / Future)

Safety is a top priority for me as a runner. I always plan my route beforehand, I run on well lit streets at night and if I’m running alone, I use Garmin LiveTrack. 

Garmin LiveTrack is a tracking function that allows you to share your real-time location and tracking information with whomever you choose. It works when you’re tracking an activity, such as a run or cycle, but you can also opt to keep it active when you’re just wearing your watch as normal. 

It’s one of my favorite features on the Garmin Vivoactive 4, and you can find the feature on most GPS-compatible Garmins from 2018 onwards, and some older models too. Check if your device is compatible on the Garmin support page

A screenshot of the writer's LiveTrack mid run

(Image credit: Lois MacKenzie / Future)

How do you use Garmin LiveTrack?

To set up LiveTrack, open the Garmin Connect app. In the Settings menu (on an iPhone, this is the three dots with “more” underneath on the bottom right, and on Android, it’s the three lines on the top left), click Safety & Tracking. You can then tap LiveTrack and follow the set-up process. 

There are various settings for LiveTrack. You can start it in the app by clicking on the big start button, but you can also set it up to automatically begin tracking whenever you start an activity. To do this, the app will prompt you to set up at least one contact to share your location with. An eye icon will appear on your Garmin watch to show that LiveTrack is active.

When you start via the app you will receive a link to your tracking session. You can manually send this to anyone and they will be able to see where you are and track your progress. You can even post the link on social media for your followers to see where you are in real time, which can be useful during a race, for example. 

It’s worth noting that using LiveTrack is likely to drain the battery of your Garmin running watch (and your phone) faster than usual.

Do you need to run with your phone for Garmin LiveTrack to work?

For LiveTrack to work, you must have your phone with you. It must be connected and paired with the Garmin Connect app and if you have an iPhone, the app must be open in the background while LiveTrack is running. Your phone must also have a signal for LiveTrack to work.

However, this is not the case with all Garmins. If you have the Forerunner 945 LTE, with an active LTE subscription, you do not need to have your phone with you. 

What features does Garmin LiveTrack have?

LiveTrack doesn’t just share your location with your chosen contacts, it can also share your stats such as average pace, time elapsed, distance traveled and elevation gain. Select Graphs at the bottom of the LiveTrack map and it will also display current pace, speed, current elevation, heart rate and cadence.

The Show Course feature allows you to share with others your planned route, plotted on a map. This is available on only certain Garmin devices (Forerunner 245, 745, 945, Fenix 6 and 7 series and Epix Gen 2, as well as some cycling devices).

Your followers can cheer you on virtually, using Spectator Messaging to send audio or text messages to you during your run, though you’ll need to have Bluetooth headphones connected in order to hear any audio messages.

You can also choose to extend the session visibility, which means your contacts can still see your tracked activity for 24 hours after the session ends.

Garmin LiveTrack Show Course function

(Image credit: Garmin)

Does Garmin LiveTrack work for races?

I recently ran the Edinburgh Half Marathon and used Garmin’s LiveTrack so my friends could track my progress and know when to head for the finish line. 

Unfortunately, like most GPS on race days it fell short. Because of the huge number of people in the area competing for phone signal, the LiveTrack regularly froze or dropped out completely. In the last three miles (where the crowd was much more dense), it stopped working completely and would not display any tracking information.

Lois Mackenzie
Fitness writer

Lois Mackenzie is a fitness writer working on news, features, reviews and buying guides for Coach and sister site Fit&Well. Lois is a hill walker and avid runner who has just completed her first marathon. Before joining Coach, Lois worked as a senior SEO reporter at Newsquest Media Group.