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How to turn off Private Relay in iOS 15 – and why you might want it

How to turn off Private Relay in iOS 15 – and why you might want it


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Apple’s Private Relay feature in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey may be just a public beta at launch, but it’s still a privacy boon — except that it won’t always work well with other VPNs you may have. Here’s what you can do about it.

Apple notes that while this prevents sites from tracking you and your location, it’s not a VPN. On the face of it, the difference is only that when a VPN hides your location for privacy reasons, you can also simulate the country you appear to be in.

So Private Relay won’t let you see your US Netflix account when you’re traveling in Europe, for example. Locations may never know where you are, but they know exactly the right area so they can provide the right geographically secured service.

None of that matters, except that sometimes you want to use an entire VPN — and sometimes companies require their employees to use a VPN. Even after launch, it may take some time for Apple service providers and VPN to enable them to fully coexist easily.

What’s supposed to happen

Developers that offer apps like a VPN take your network requests and anonymize or change them as they pass through their own servers. If developers are already using Apple’s networking APIs – URLSession and NWConnection – they don’t have to change anything.

These applications use what is called a Network Extension, and when data is sent through that, and via these APIs, Private Relay is turned off to allow this. The idea is that the user has made a positive choice to turn on the VPN, so Apple backs down.

However, during the full beta process of macOS Monterey, we saw some VPNs refuse to turn on because, they claim, you already have a different VPN turned on.

It’s not clear how widespread this is, but it may contribute to why Apple is turning off Private Relay as a public beta. Whatever the reason, until your VPN definitely works with macOS Monterey, the answer – on both Mac and iOS – is to turn off Private Relay temporarily.

On a Mac, choose iCloud in System Preferences, and turn Private Relay on or off

How to turn off Private Relay on macOS Monterey

  1. to open System Preferences
  2. Click apple id at the top of the screen
  3. Choose iCloud
  4. Now mark the rotation private relay turning off

How to turn off Private Relay on iOS

  1. to open Settings
  2. Click on your name at the top of the screen
  3. Choose iCloud
  4. Now press private relay
  5. Click to turn off private relay
  6. Click Turn off private relay For confirmation
  7. Click OK

Note that this setting is not available if you are only using the free iCloud storage that came with your Apple ID.

Other private migration options

Obviously, to restart Private Relay, you just have to follow the same steps and make the opposite decision at the end. However, there is more that you can do.

On both Mac and iOS, in the section where you can turn Private Relay on or off, there is currently an additional section titled Location IP address.

There are two options here, with virtual presence Maintain public site. alternative Use country and timezone.

One way to not have a Private Relay is to decide not to pay for iCloud storage.

Both have to do with how much Private Relay hides you, and it probably won’t make much difference for most users.

with Maintain public site The specified, the location you are entering will not get your actual IP address, your actual location, but it will be very close. It seems like Apple hasn’t said yet exactly what it means so close, however it’s a good bet that you’ll be narrowed down to get to the nearest town or city.

with Use country and timezone, you wouldn’t be restricted to a town, it would be much wider.

This will make a difference. If you’re in the United States in Eastern Time, for example, you could be anywhere from Florida to Maine. Different countries may have different rules for who can access their systems, for example.

This is not very likely because state ministries know that people are traveling around. And when you are away from home, you may desperately need to do something on their systems.

But this can happen and presumably this is the reason for Apple default Use country and timezone.

Stay in beta

Private Relay isn’t dead, but so far as a public beta, you can see how Apple is tweaking and improving how it describes Private Relay in Settings to take advantage of it more clearly.

Even with the delay, even with potential conflicts between it and VPNs, Private Relay is very good and very welcome.

One feature that Apple didn’t even hint at during its launch proved to be particularly useful. Previously, you could have Apple Mail show you the full contents of a message only if you allowed it. Otherwise, it will show you the text and give you a button to load all the other graphics.

That’s because these graphics come from the sender, so opening the message and loading the mail means the mail has to connect to the sender’s server. This was usually perfectly legitimate, but it was also a way for spammers to know that your email address was real.

Now with Private Relay, the first time you receive an email with such graphics or other items that need to be downloaded, you are given one last prompt. Say yes to Private Relay, and it will from now on automatically open all graphics in every email – but it protects you from spammers because they can’t know where you are.

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