Anyone who has ever lost their phone knows just how frustrating it can be, but iPhone and iPad users have a number of options when it comes to recovering their devices. If you own one of these devices it is important that you know what kinds of choices you are going to have. The more options you know about, the more likely it is that you will get your device back.
Track your Lost iPhone or iPad Using iCloud
While it’s true that you can (and should) download the Find My iPhone app on your device from the App Store, you don’t really need it to find your Apple device. This app doesn’t even have to be installed on your phone for you to recover your lost device. While it’s true that this app can be extremely helpful when it comes to tracking down and recovering your device, you don’t absolutely need it.
If you are using a Mac to track your missing iPhone or iPad, you will first need to open System Preferences and click the iCloud icon. Make sure that the Find My Mac box is checked already. You will be prompted to set up iCloud here if you have not done so already.
It is very important that you choose a strong password for your Apple ID so that someone with malicious intent will not have an easy time figuring it out. If you have a weak password for your Apple account, it is possible that someone could get into your account on the iCloud website and remotely lock or wipe your device completely. If you want to prevent this from happening, it’s highly recommended that you choose a solid password that won’t be easy to hack.
If someone else found your phone with no plans of returning it, you won’t need to worry about them being able to disconnect your device from iCloud, turn off Find My iPhone or erase all of your data. Those who have a device that uses iOS 7 or later will have a feature called Activation Lock, which will prevent anyone from doing any of these things without your Apple ID and password.
If you want to use iCloud to track your lost or stolen iPhone, you will be able to do so by following a few simple steps.
Log into iCloud
The first thing that you will need to do is log into iCloud by visiting www.icloud.com. You will need to submit your Apple ID and password. Once you have signed in, you will see the iCloud dashboard. There are going to be three different icons, but you will need to click the one that says “Find My iPhone.”
Select your Device and Begin Tracking it
You will need to click the “All Devices” option from the drop-down menu and choose the device you wish to track down. After you have done this you will be able to start tracking your device. There is going to be a big map that will show you precisely where your phone is with an icon that represents your device. You will be able to trigger an acoustic signal (play a sound), activate Lost Mode, or erase all of your data.
If you think that your phone is nearby (maybe it’s jammed between the couch cushions in your living room), playing a sound can be a good way to find it. One of the great things about this option is that it will even play a sound if your phone is set on vibrate or silent.
Activating Lost Mode will lock your device and allow you to create a custom message that will appear on the lock screen along with a phone number of your choosing. The intention here is that someone who finds your phone will see the message and call the number you have provided to return it to you. You will be required to enter your Apple ID and passcode in order to activate Lost Mode.
If you choose to activate Lost Mode when trying to find your missing device, Apple Pay will automatically be disabled. Your device will remain passcode protected until you go into Settings>Passcode and change it.
The “Erase data” option is something that you will only want to choose if you don’t think you are ever going to get your phone back. This is a measure that will ensure that the person who has your phone will not be able to gain access to any of your information ever.
It is important to keep in mind that your device will need to be connected to some sort of internet and be turned on for you to find it using this method. If mobile data is turned off and Wi-Fi is not connected, you will not be able to track it with Find My iPhone.
Using Google Location History
Another option that you have when it comes to finding your missing iPhone is to take advantage of Google’s location history, which is now known as Timeline. You will find that Google’s Timeline maps out all location data that has been collected from your device. You should be able to see where you have been on a map. With this tool you can see where your phone was located last time it sent its location data to Google.
If your iPhone is still on and connected to the internet, it will continue to send its location so you will be able to not only see where it currently is but also where it’s going. Even if your phone’s battery is completely dead, you will still be able to see its last reported location.
The first thing that you will need to do is go to www.google.com/timeline. Simply select today’s date and look at the timeline on the left side. Scroll to the very end to find the last reported location of your device. You will also have the option of checking all recorded points in the map. Make certain that you check the time stamps so that you will know exactly when your device was last connected to Google.
You should at least attempt to use the location data to determine if your phone is lying around somewhere or if it is on the move. If it isn’t staying in the same place, you should contact the police immediately so they can get your phone for you. It is never a good idea to go after your stolen phone yourself, as doing so could be dangerous.
Find My iPhone App
While it’s true that you can use iCloud to track your phone, it is still highly recommended that you have the Find My iPhone app installed just in case. Those who are using a device with iOS 7 or later should already have this app on their phone. Look to make sure that you have this app, because otherwise you could regret it later on.
You will be able to use a friend’s iPhone or iPad to find your missing phone using the Find My iPhone app. It will be necessary to sign into your account with your Apple ID and password though.
Tracking Your iPhone if it’s Turned Off
If your phone is not on and doesn’t have a working internet connection to go off of, you will not be able to use the Find My iPhone service. But as soon as your phone powers on again and there is an internet connection, the Find My iPhone app will notify you right away. This will enable you to locate your device as soon as possible.
Setting up Find My iPhone
In order to set up the Find My iPhone service you will first need an Apple ID and iCloud account. If you already own an Apple product, you probably have these things. If for whatever reason you do not, you will be able to visit www.icloud.com to set up your account so you can continue.
Go to the Settings app on your phone and tap iCloud. Scroll all the way down and tap Find My iPhone, and toggle the switch on the right to the On position, which will make it green. If the toggle is already green, just leave it alone. Then tap Allow when you are prompted, and you will be all done with this step.
You will want to first attempt to use the Find My iPhone app and iCloud before doing anything else, as these are definitely the easiest ways to go about recovering your device. While these methods might not work for everyone who loses their iPhone or iPad, they are typically very helpful. Remember to call the authorities if you suspect your phone has been stolen (you see its location moving on the map in iCloud.) In the end you will be glad that you followed these steps, as they will most likely lead you to wherever you lost your phone.