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Journal makes your iPhone 'Discoverable by Others' by default. Here's how to disable it

There's a lot of misinformation about the 'Discoverable by Others' feature in Apple's Journal app. Here's what iPhone users need to know about this setting and how to turn it off.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
iPhone Journal app on iPhone 13
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

With iOS 17.2, Apple launched a Journal app to help iPhone users capture and reflect on their everyday moments and experiences. 

The Journal app prompts users to reflect on their experiences with personalized suggestions powered by machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence. There's just one potential problem: the "Discoverable by Others" setting in the app is enabled by default.

Also: How to use StandBy Mode on iOS 17 (and which iPhone models support it)

According to Apple, Journal uses Bluetooth to "detect the number of devices and contacts around you" and "improve or prioritize your suggestions". Essentially, Apple wants you to capture special moments when you're out with friends and family. Because this discoverability feature is turned on by default for all Journal app users, you must manually disable it.

How to disable Apple Journal's 'Discoverable by Others' setting

What you'll need: An iPhone running iOS 17.2 or newer. 

1. Go to your iPhone Settings

To find the Journal app setting, open your Settings app on your iPhone.

Access iPhone Settings
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

2. Find Privacy & Security

Scroll down and open Privacy & Security within your Apple device's Settings app.

Find Privacy & Security
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

3. Tap on Journaling Suggestions

Tap on Journaling Suggestions. Even if this option is disabled, the "Discoverable by Others" setting will be enabled until you disable it.

Tap on Journaling Suggestions
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

4. Turn off Discoverable by Others

Toggle off the "Discoverable by Others" setting within your Journaling Suggestions privacy setting.

Turn off Discoverable by others
Maria Diaz/ZDNET


Where is the Journal app on iOS 17?

The Journal app was released in December 2023 along with iOS 17.2. The app was added to iPhones automatically with the software update, so it should have appeared on your iPhone's home screen around that time. If you can't find Journal, search for the app through your iPhone's list of installed apps. If you deleted it, you can redownload it from the App Store.

What is the problem with the iPhone Journal app?

Apple announced the iPhone's Journal app as an iOS 17 feature in 2023 that was a new "true to you" way to curate your memories and jot down experiences to remember or reflect on.

'Discoverable by others' setting that is enabled by default

The 'Discoverable by Others' setting is enabled by default.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

However, some people feel uncomfortable about the app tracking who you've been messaging and about what (to suggest adding snippets of a conversation to a journal entry, for example), following the music you've been into lately, or suggesting a new entry when you're out with friends.

Also: iPhone 16 reports: Spatial video and ultra-thin bezels coming to all models

The ability to detect nearby devices is meant to improve the experience by providing personalized suggestions based on your activities and interactions. Apple is adamant that this information is saved on the device and not shared with the company, and says it does not store which of your contacts were detected around you.

What if I've never used the Journal app?

Even if you've never used the iPhone Journal app, Apple enables the "Discoverable by Others" setting by default. This allow other iPhones nearby to potentially detect your device via Bluetooth and get suggestions on their phones to add an entry about a shared moment together.

Also: Let the iPhone sideloading begin; iOS 17.5 lets EU users download apps from the web

The "Discoverable by Others" setting does not reveal or share your personal information or journal content with other iPhone users. Apple simply uses it for prompting purposes. If you're uncomfortable with the setting, you can turn it off and still use the Journal app. 

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