How to Find a Lost Smartphone


Smartphones are pricey and contain a lot of personal information. If you’ve misplaced your iPhone or Android phone, hunt it down with Find my iPhone or Find My Device.

Uh oh. Where’s your smartphone? If it’s lost or stolen and you need to find it quickly, you have a few options.

Apple owners can locate a device with the Find My app (known as Find My iPhone on pre-iOS 13 devices), ping an iPhone via an Apple Watch, or sign into iCloud to track down a phone. Google provides an app and website called Find My Device through which you can seek out your Android phone.

If you believe your iPhone or Android phone may have been stolen or you don’t want it falling into the wrong hands, you can remotely erase the information on it so no one else can access it.

No matter what you own, here’s how to locate your missing device.

How to Find a Lost iPhone on iPad

Before your device went missing, you should have set up the Find My (iPhone) feature. On iOS 13+, go to Settings > [Your name] > Find My > Find My iPhone. On an earlier operating system, navigate to Settings > [Your name] > iCloud > Find My iPhone.

Either way, make sure that Find My iPhone and Send Last Location are both turned on. The new Find My app comes with the added bonus of tracking your device’s location even if it’s offline. If you want this capability, make sure to turn on the switch next to Enable Offline Finding.

Find Your iPhone on the Map

Now, let’s say your phone is lost. The first trick is to simply call it from another phone, but if that doesn’t work, it’s time to enlist the aid of another device. If you own an iPad running iPadOS, fire up the Find My app. In the lower-left corner, tap Devices. The app displays a list and a map showing the locations of any of your Apple devices that are currently turned on.

If your device is running an older operating system, the Find My iPhone app will automatically show any registered devices on the map and in the list.

Select the iPhone Entry

If your iPhone’s location is visible, tap the icon on the map or the entry in the list. The app will then display a few options. Tap Play Sound and your iPhone will emit a pinging sonar noise to help you find it. Tap Directions within iPadOS and the app will give you directions to the lost device.

Mark Device as Lost

If you can’t find your phone, tap Mark as Lost in iPadOS (or Lost Mode in older versions). This mode lets you lock your phone so no one else can access it. If someone finds it, the device will display your contact information.

Erase iPhone

If you can’t locate your phone and are concerned about it being accessed by the wrong person, you can erase all the information remotely. Once the iPhone has been marked as lost, an option to erase the data becomes available. Tap Erase This Device (or Erase iPhone on older versions) to remove all personal information.

The downside here is that an erased phone can no longer be tracked through this app, so only use this option if you have given up all hope of finding your device.

How to Find a Lost iPhone on Mac

On a Mac with Catalina, you can use the Find My app to track down a missing iPhone. To get to the app, click Go > Applications > Find My in the top menu. In the Find My app, click the option for Devices.

Click the entry for your iPhone from the list or select the icon on the map and click the Info button. From the Info menu, click the Play Sound button to play a pinging sound on your phone. Click the Directions button to view directions to your phone.

How to Find a Lost iPhone with iCloud

If you don’t have another Apple device handy, you can visit your iCloud website to find your phone. Launch your browser and go to Sign in with your Apple ID and password. Click the icon for Find iPhone.

Select Your iPhone on the Map

At the map, click the heading for All Devices and choose the entry for your iPhone. Click the green dot for your iPhone. From the pop-up menu, you can now play a sound on your device to help locate it, put it in Lost Mode so no one else can access it, or erase all the data.

How to Find a Lost iPhone with Apple Watch

If you have an Apple Watch, you can use it to help find your phone. Swipe up from the watch face to display the Control Center. Then tap the icon that looks like a ringing phone. Your iPhone emits the pinging noise to help you locate it. The noise goes off just once, so you’ll have to keep tapping the icon to keep the pinging alive.

How to Find an Android Device

Google offers an app and web page where you can hunt down your phone. The app, which you can download from Google Play, is helpful if you have more than one Android device, while the web page comes into play if you have just one device.

Now let’s say your Android phone is missing, and the app is installed on your Android tablet. Fire up the app, and it should pinpoint the location of your lost phone. Select the lost device and ping it by selecting Play Sound.

Secure Device

You can lock the device and display a message for anyone who finds it. Tap Secure Device, then type a message to display on the lock screen. Tap Secure Device to finalize and lock the phone.

Erase Device

Are you afraid the phone’s been stolen or don’t want someone to access the data on it? Tap Erase Device, then tap Erase Device again to finalize. Make sure you read the information on what will happen to your phone here because there’s no going back.

On the Web

Alternatively, you can use the Find My Device webpage. Log into the site with your Google account. The page should display the location of your phone as long as it’s turned on. Like with the app, you can ping the device, secure it, or erase all the data on it. This Google webpage can also assist you if you need to find, lock, or erase your Android phone.

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