How to Use Private Relay on iCloud+

Did you ever notice that the ads shown on websites are related to your most recent searches?

It’s because websites and network providers track you. If you are concerned about your privacy, check out how Private Relay on iCloud+ can help. 

Private Relay is a privacy service offered by Apple for users who have availed of the iCloud+ subscription. The service helps users browse the internet more safely and privately by using anonymous IP addresses to hide the users’ exact addresses and identities. 

When using Private Relay while browsing the web, you are sure that your information is not exposed to any company—not even to Apple. 

Check out the detailed information below to learn how to use this vital privacy feature on your iPhone and Mac.

Apple iCloud+
Apple / iCloud+

How to Use Private Relay 

Before using “Private Relay” you need to ensure that you have the following:

  • iOS device running iOS 15, iPadOS 15, or macOS Monterey. You can check out this article to help you troubleshoot iPhone iOS updates.
  • iCloud+ or Apple One subscription.

Note: To upgrade to iCloud+ from any of your Apple devices, go to Settings > Your Device Name > iCloud > Manage Storage or iCloud Storage > Buy More Storage / Change Storage Plan > Choose your preferred plan.

Turn On Private Relay on iPhone

To enable Private Relay on your iPhone, do these:

1. First, open your iPhone’s “Settings” from the Home screen.

Private Relay on iCloud - iPhone Settings

2. Once you are on the “Settings” menu, tap on your Apple ID. This will take you to your Apple ID page.

Private Relay on iCloud - Apple ID

3. Then, from the Apple ID settings, tap on “iCloud.”

Private Relay on iCloud - iCloud Menu on Apple ID

4. Once you are in the iCloud Settings, tap “Private Relay.”

Private Relay on iCloud - Private Relay feature on iCloud menu

5. This will take you to the Private Relay page. Tap the toggle switch to turn it green. The feature is on when the toggle switch turns green.

Private Relay Toogle Switch

6. Then tap on the “IP Address Location” to choose your assigned IP address. You can choose one from the two options:

IP Address Location Settings on Private Relay
  • Maintain General Location: You are assigned an anonymous IP address that’s near you. Websites and network providers see you surfing in the area near you without unnecessarily exposing your actual location.
  • Use Country and Time Zone: You are assigned an anonymous IP address within your country and timezone. Websites and network providers see you surfing in your current country without exposing your nearby areas.  

7. You are done.

Note: Private Relay only assigns you an IP address within your country. You cannot use an IP address not from your country to prevent users from bypassing regional restrictions.

Turn Off Private Relay for Specific Wi-Fi Networks on iPhone

Not all websites and networks are compatible with Private Relay. Some sites and network-based services need to know your IP address and browsing activity as their existence or function relies on that data. 

You can address this compatibility issue by temporarily turning off your iPhone’s “Private Relay” feature. Also, you can set specific Wi-Fi networks not to use “Private Relay” even if the feature is activated on your iPhone. Here’s how you can do it

1. Go to your iPhone’s “Settings” menu.

iPhone Settings

2. Then, tap on the “Wi-Fi” menu.

iPhone Settings - Wifi Menu

3. Tap on the “More Info” button next to your target Wi-Fi network.

iPhone Settings Wi-Fi More Info

4. Tap on the toggle switch next to Private Relay to turn off the feature on that network.

Wi-Fi Setings iCloud Private Relay

5. You are done. 

Turn Off Private Relay for Specific Cellular Networks on iPhone

You can also set specific cellular networks to disable the usage of “Private Relay” on them.  To do just that, follow these steps:

1. Open your iPhone’s “Settings”.

iPhone Settings

2. Then in the Settings menu, tap on the “Cellular” menu.

iPhone Settings - Cellular

3. Next, tap on the “Cellular Data Options”.

iPhone Settings - Cellular Data Options

4. Tap on the toggle switch next to Private Relay to turn off the feature on that network.

iCloud Private Relay switch on Cellular Networks

5. You just activated Private Relay on specific cellular networks!

Turn On Private Relay on Mac

As of writing, “Private Relay” is not available for Mac yet. However, as announced by Apple, “Private Relay” will be available for devices running “macOS Monterey.” You can check your Mac from time to time to see if the feature is already available. 

Once the feature is available for Mac, you can enable Private Relay by going to Apple Menu > System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud > activate Private Relay.

Devices that Support Private Relay

Private Relay on iCloud+ is one of the new features offered by Apple to users of their latest operating system. Older Apple devices do not have the “Private Relay” feature even if users subscribe to iCloud+. 

“Private Relay” is only available for the following devices running iOS 15, iPadOS 15, or macOS Monterey:

  • iPhone 6S and later models
  • All iPad Pro models
  • iPad Air 2, iPad Air Gen 3 and 4
  • iPad 5th generation and later models, iPad mini 4 and late models
  • MacBook 2016 and later models, Macbook Pro 2015 and later models
  • MacBook Air 2015 and later models
  • iMac 2015 and later models
  • iMac Pro 2017 and later models
  • Mac Mini late 2014 and later models
  • Mac Pro late 2013 and late models

Private Relay is Not a VPN Service

Though “Private Relay” has some VPN-like function of hiding your real IP address from sites and network providers, the service is not a VPN. Thus, you shouldn’t treat it as a VPN service. “Private Relay” is not a VPN replacement. Instead, it can add up to that layer of protection that VPN offers. The main differences between “Private Relay’ and a VPN service are the following:

  • Private Relay only works on Safari while VPN works on most apps.
  • A VPN service usually tries to make it appear as if you are not using a proxy server while Private Relay clearly shows that you are using a proxy server.
  • Private Relay only hides your exact location and does not change your country/region preventing you from accessing region-lock restrictions. A good VPN offers services to bypass region restrictions.

Getting personalized ads is not necessarily a bad thing. However, having your personal information, including your browsing history and habits, exposed to companies and other entities without your permission is borderline illegal.

If you are concerned with protecting your online privacy, Apple’s Private Relay on iCloud+ can be an excellent supplement to your current privacy practices.

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