How to Find a Lost or Stolen Phone
Lost your Android or Apple device? Don’t panic – here’s a step-by-step walkthrough that gives you a second chance to find your missing device.
Find Your Lost Android Phone or Device
Protect your Android it in case of loss or theft by downloading an app from Google Play called “Find My Device.” This free app helps you locate your lost or stolen device.
Once you have the app installed, you can access Find My Device from any browser by typing in https://google.com/android/find.
Youll have options to ring, lock or erase your device in case of loss or theft.
Set Up the “Find My Device” App
Sign into Google and type myaccount.google.com into your browser. Locate the “Find Your Phone” option at the bottom left and click on Get Started.
Find Your Phone displays a map of where your phone has reported its location. Next, tell Google which time period you’d like to search. After you enter this information, Google will display the last known location of your phone before its battery died.
As well as viewing your phone’s last location, you can also lock your device to protect it from prying eyes through this same interface.
If you feel that your phone won’t be recovered, then take the final step and erase all personal data from your phone. Be sure that this is what you want to do because there is no going back after this step.
Apple user? We’ve got you covered in case you lose your device, too. Here are two methods to locate your lost device.
Locate Your Lost Apple Device With The Find My iPhone App
Apple has an app called Find My iPhone that comes pre-installed on your device (it also works for iPad.) And it’s your new best friend for finding a missing device.
To set it up, sign into iCloud. Locate the “Find My iPhone”setting and turn it on. Turn on the “Send Last Location” setting as well. (You’ll need this activated to report the last known physical location of your phone.)
Now that you’ve activated Find My iPhone let’s look at the options available inside the app to help you locate a missing device.
Find my iPhone Lost Mode
If you can’t find your device, navigate to the Find My iPhone app on another Apple device. Sign in with your Apple ID.
Choose “Lost mode.” Enter your phone number at the prompt.
This number will then display on the screen of your lost device so you can be notified by the person who finds your phone.
In Lost mode, your phone plays an audible tone to alert anyone nearby for as long as your battery lasts.
This is also a handy feature to help find your phone if you misplace it while you’re alone.
Using a Mac or PC to Find Your Lost Device
If you can’t sign into iCloud on a family member or friend’s device, don’t despair. You have an option to sign iCloud in from a browser on a Mac or PC.
Navigate to icloud.com/find from your browser and sign in with your iCloud ID.
Follow the on-screen prompts to put your phone into Lost mode.
Lost iPhone Last Resort
If you feel there is no chance you’ll get your device back, choose Erase in Find My iPhone’s settings.
Erase deletes all personal data from your phone. Make sure that you feel there’s zero chance of recovering your phone before you take this step because you won’t be able to reverse it.
Hopefully, you had previously enabled iCloud or iTunes backup. If you did, if necessary, you’ll be able to restore your lost phone’s settings to a new device.
But what if a family member loses their device?
If you have iCloud Family Sharing enabled you’ll have a way to help them track it down.
Bonus Section: Track Family Members’ Lost Apple Devices
If you’ve enabled iCloud sharing between family members, and have Location Tracking enabled, the Find My iPhone feature will allow you to see where your family members have left their devices too.
You’ll see a list of your family member’s devices and the last reported location of each device after log-in.
Also, enabling Location Sharing also means you’ll be able to view a family member’s physical location if they are carrying a device registered to the family account. This feature could be useful while travelling, or in case your family accidentally gets separated in a crowd situation.
If you feel the device can’t be recovered, then erase the device’s data as described above to protect personal information.
About the Author
NormaR is our WeBananas tech blogger. She came to us as a crusty copywriter from the Far North who lives and breathes conversions. In her spare time, she's a diehard Edmonton Oilers fan (sadly), a foodie and a passionate landscape photographer.