How to use ‘Nearby’ and ‘Sightings’ to track in Pokémon Go

How do you track nearby Pokémon in Pokémon Go? With the newly updated Sightings and — if you’re lucky! — Nearby screens!

Ditto has just be found in Pokémon Go and here’s how to catch him!

Update: Pokémon Go has once again rolled out the Nearby tracking feature to a bunch of new locations in North America and Europe:

We will be expanding the Nearby Pokémon feature to the rest of the continental United States and large parts of Europe. We will continue to review the feedback submitted on our official social media accounts and in other channels and make changes if necessary.

Looks like Canada has expanded as well. If you’ve just gotten Nearby in your region, let me know below, and what you think of it. For a guide on how to use Nearby, keep reading!


I’ve become thoroughly engrossed in the magic of Pokemon Go, Niantic’s new augmented reality game. To play, you create an account, then physically walk around your neighborhood to “find” nearby Pokémon. We’ve already covered the essential Pokemon Go tips, tricks, and cheats, but now it’s time to get specific: How exactly do you track your nearby future pals?

Niantic’s software is annoyingly opaque, with a blinking radar ring both around you and the Pokémon creature bar that can easily mislead you into walking the wrong way. But here’s the scoop on how it actually works.

How to find nearby Pokémon

Once you’ve set up the game and started walking, you’ll notice a small grey box on the screen to the right of your virtual avatar; this displays three nearby Pokémon shapes (or filled in avatars, if you’ve already caught or engaged with those critters).

Tap that grey box, and you’ll be presented with a group of up to nine Pokémon in your local area: This is the Nearby & Sightings screen.

If your account has the new Nearby & Sightings screen, you’ll see a list of up to 9 Pokémon in your area, sorted under the Nearby and Sightings headings. The Pokémon under Nearby show an icon of a local PokéStop where you can find those critters.

Note: Pokémon originally spawned on the map for 15 minutes in the same stationary location. Back in the fall this expanded to 30 minutes. After that time is up, they disappear. Pokémon won’t disappear just because another trainer has caught them — they’re available for every trainer to catch.

When a Pokémon despawns, it will automatically be removed from the sightings list on the next scan. It can also disappear from the list if you move too far away (around 700-1000 feet).

How to use Nearby in Pokémon Go

The new Nearby tracking system has been rolling out to more and more locations. With it, you can see some of the Pokémon that have gathered around the PokéStops in your vicinity.

  1. Tap the Nearby Tab at the bottom right of the screen.
  2. Tap the Pokémon you want to track.
  3. Tap the Footprints button to start tracking.

The map will zoom out and show you the PokéStop where that Pokémon is located, and hang a Footprints flag over it. When it zooms back out, the Footprints flag will remain, so if you pan around you’ll still be able to see where it is.

The Pokémon you’re tracking will also give off radar rings in the Nearby tab so, on the off-chance you forget what it is you’re tracking, you can remind yourself at a glance.

Then, all you have to do is head on over to where it is and, when you get close enough, it’ll spawn. If it doesn’t spawn right away, walk around the PokéStop to make sure you’ve looked on all sides.

You can only track one Pokémon at a time, so if you try to track another, you’ll stop tracking the first. You can also purposefully stop tracking at any time.

  1. Tap the Nearby Tab at the bottom right of the screen.
  2. Tap the Pokémon you want to stop track.
  3. Tap the Footprints button to stop tracking.

If a Pokémon de-spawns before you get to it, you’ll get a pop up telling you it fled.

How to use Sightings in Pokémon Go

If you don’t have the new Nearby feature yet, or you’re far away from any PokéStops, you’ll fall back on the older Sightings system.

With Sightings, when you tap the tab at the bottom right, you’ll see a simple grid of Pokémon that are within your vicinity.

While originally the ones on the top were thought to be closer than the ones at the bottom the order now appears random with players in the same place at the same time seeing very different sequences.

Rare Pokémon will often populate the top row, so you don’t have the panic and expand the tab all the time, but it’s work checking occasionally just to make sure.

To find a Pokémon on Sighting, start walking. If it spawns, great. If it disappears, go another direction. Repeat until it spawns. There will typically be “spawn points” where it’s more likely for a Pokémon to appear consistently so it’s worth learning those in the areas you play most often.

These days many are around Gyms, PokéStops, and street corners. It’s not the most elegant way Niantic could have let us catch Pokémon, but hey — it adds some fun and mystery to the catching experience. At least we don’t have to risk real-world ticks to walk around aimlessly in tall grass until we encounter a Pokémon.

What the radar rings mean

When you walk in the real world, you also walk in Pokémon Go. As you do, a small grey-purple radar ring emanates from your virtual person. This radar ring is, essentially, your “reach” in discovering nearby Pokémon.

This is also what allows you to catch Pokémon without having to enter restricted buildings, like police stations: Once your Pokémon is in the top left corner of the Sightings screen, you should be able to walk to the property’s border and let your radar rings bring the critter out of hiding.

There’s also a little green radar box that emanates from the Sightings Pokémon box: This lets the user know that the list of Pokémon Sightings is updating: This can mean that your quarry has shifted closer to you… but it can also mean that they’ve fallen further behind.

Essentially, if you see this box blink, it’s worth checking your full list to see how your tracking is proceeding. You never know what might pop up on that screen!

How to find rare or evolved Pokémon

Though most of your evolved Pokémon get that way from being fed special candy, you can catch evolved versions of your creatures — and rare Pokémon, too! Here’s the deal.

Rare Pokémon tend to hang out in specific places and at specific times. Like the original game, you’ll have a much better time trying to catch a Clefairy or Drowzee in the evening times; similarly, you’ll find element-based Pokémon close to the real-world version of their element.

Evolved Pokémon tend to hang out in the same area as their unevolved counterparts, but they’re much rarer to come across. Keep checking your Pokémon Sightings!

Remember, also, that rarer Pokémon with higher CP (creature power) will be more of a pain to catch; high-level creatures may have an orange or red glowing circle around them rather than the green one when you attempt to capture them, and it may take several Pokéball throws before they stay inside. Sadly, unlike the original game, you can’t weaken them with your fellow Pokémon; the only way to weaken them is to repeatedly catch them in Pokeballs until they stop fighting.

Once you hit a higher level, you can also purchase Razz Berries to feed to wild Pokémon: This temporarily weakens them so that you have an easier chance of catching them in a Pokéball. As you level up, you can also use more powerful Pokéballs for a higher chance of success.

Questions?

Still confused on how to track and find Pokémon? Let us know below.

Leave a Reply