It’s not uncommon to lose your iPhone, whether it was stolen from you or you simply misplaced it an event or store.
It can be a very frustrating time, especially when you use it for things like work and staying in touch with children. Thankfully, Apple has included software in the iPhone that will allow you to easily and quickly locate an iOS device, whether that be an iPhone or iPad. Of course, you will need to set this software up in order for it work.
It’s a very easy process to set up. In fact, I’ve had multiple iOS device and even a MacBook. It only took a few minutes to set up Find My iPhone or Find My Mac. All you need is access to the device you plan on setting up, an Apple ID, and access to iCloud.
Setting Find My iPhone, iPad, and Find My Mac up
Setting up Find My iPhone is relatively easy, especially if you have an Apple ID already. If not, we’ve outlined a few quick steps to get one below.
There’s really only one common point of confusion and it’s this.
You set up ‘Find My iPhone’ in your device’s iCloud settings as we’ll cover below.
But, there is also an App for iOS called ‘Find My iPhone‘ which is one way that you can locate your device if it goes missing.
This App is the thing you use to look for your lost device so it needs to be on the other device that you are using to find your lost iPhone. It doesn’t in fact, need to be on the lost device (as the ability to track that is set up by ‘Find My iPhone’ in your iCloud settings on that device!).
And, if you don’t have another device, don’t worry as you can also track a lost device from any computer using the iCloud website over the internet. Again, we’ll cover that below.
For now, download the ‘Find my iPhone’ App to every iOS device that you have!
To set up each device so that they can be tracked, do the following:
If you have an Apple ID, head over to Settings > iCloud. Enter your Apple ID when prompted, and then scroll down to Find my iPhone in the list of options and make sure that it is “On.”
If not, tap the Find My iPhone selection, and tap the slider to turn Find My iPhone on. This will allow you to be able to access your iPhone’s connection from a computer or another device.
Setting up Find My Mac is just as easy. On your Mac, select Apple Menu > System Preferences > iCloud. You’ll be prompted to enter in your Apple ID. Once entered, if you see the Find My Mac selection off, simply turn it on.
Keep in mind that this process should work with any iPhone, iPad, and Mac, even the much older ones. However, there are chances that the process is just a little different on devices Apple isn’t supporting anymore. You should still be able to find the Find My iPhone setting under the iCloud tab in Settings, though. As far as Mac goes, it all should still be under Apple Menu > System Preferences > iCloud.
Finally there are two more steps, on your iPhone or iPad, you’ll need to open the Find My iPhone settings (go back to Settings > iCloud), sign in with your Apple ID, and when asked if you want to broadcast the device’s last known location, select ‘Yes’.
If your device ever dies from lack of battery or a thief has already wiped the data, this will give you the last known location of the device, which gives you a general idea of where to look along with something to give to authorities if they were to take on a lost item report.
The last thing to do is ensure that your device also has ‘Location Services’ enabled. This is required in order for your device to be able to broadcast it’s location to the Find My iPhone function.
In Settings > Privacy > Location Sevices make sure that this is toggled on (grren) for all Apps, or, at the very least check that it is individually set to on in the list of Apps as you scroll down for the ‘Find My iPhone App.
Congratulations, both Find My iPhone and Find My Mac are set up and ready to go!
These steps and the recovery of a lost iPhone are covered well in this recent video:
Setting up an Apple ID
Setting up an Apple ID is easy. On your computer, head over to www.appleid.apple.com/account and follow the instructions to create an account. Usually this process happens during the initial setup of any iOS or Mac device, but in case you fell through the cracks, setting up the Apple ID is fairly easy from the link provided above.
You’ll need to prove an email, create a password, and enter in a mailing address for billing. You, of course, won’t be billed for anything unless prompted to buy something.
Recovering a lost iPhone, iPad, or Mac
Now that Apple’s location software has been set up on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, it’s extremely easy to locate your device on an iPhone, iPad, and even a computer. However, the process of locating the device is different on iOS and the computer, so we’ve outlined both steps below.
Keep in mind that Find My iPhone only works when the device is online and connected to a network. That said, if someone were to have stolen it and wiped the device, there aren’t many chances that you’ll be able to locate it. Also, if no one has stolen it, but your battery is dead, you won’t be able to find it.
However, there is some good news. If you chose to broadcast a device’s last known location (as outlined in the setup process), this gives you a little to work with. If someone hasn’t stolen it, it could be just enough to jog your memory where you sat your device down at and recover it. This also gives you information to give to authorities when filing a report for your lost item. They’ll be able to tap into security cameras and hopefully find suspicious activity, leading to the retrieval of your stolen device.
Getting an iPhone, iPad, or Mac location
Retrieving the last known location or current location on an iOS device is quite easy. Simply open the Find My iPhone application on another device, enter your Apple ID, and then the software will begin trying to locate your device. If it cannot find anything, it will show you the last known location. If it cannot find the last known location, it’ll turn up as no devices online.
There’re also some added features to help you locate your device. For instance, under the “Actions” tab in the Find My iPhone screen, you can play a sound to help you find your device by way of audio. You can also select “Lost Mode” to lock your device and begin tracking it.
Finding your device’s location is just as easy on the computer. In fact, it’s recommended to do this process on a computer, as you have a bigger screen to see a better outline of the possible location of your lost device.
To get the location, point your web browser to www.iCloud.com. Enter your Apple ID.
Next, select the Find iPhone web app. In some cases, you’ll be prompted to enter your Apple ID password again as an extra security measure. The web app will then show you a detailed map of the current or last location your device was seen.
You have access to the same additional features for finding your iPhone under the “Devices” tab on the desktop as well.
It’s that easy!
Last Case Scenarios
If you cannot find your iOS device or Mac and you’re certain it’s been stolen by a thief, you may want to wipe all of your data as soon as possible. There’s no need for important information like banking credentials to get into the wrong hands.
Apple’s Find iPhone and Mac software let you wipe any device remotely. If you’re ready to make the leap, head into the Find My iPhone app on an iOS device, enter with your Apple ID, and under the “Actions” tab, select “Erase iPhone” and follow the prompts to begin the wiping process. Once complete, whoever took your iPhone won’t have access to your pertinent information. You can follow the same process for erasing your Mac.
Alternatively, you can do this same erasing process through the Find iPhone web app at www.icloud.com under the “Actions” tab.
How to Switch Find My iPhone Off
There could be a myriad of reasons as to why you might want to switch Find My iPhone off. First of all, it could easily backfire. Someone with bad intent could get your Apple ID and easily see all of the places you frequent using Apple’s Find My iPhone software. While it’s not likely to happen, it’s still possible, and something to keep in mind if you’re paranoid about someone getting your home’s location.
Another reason why you might want to turn it off, along with location services, is because it’s a massive battery drain. As we cover in our iPhone battery guide, GPS on any mobile platform is a big contender for sucking up most of your battery life, and in many cases, that’s because it’s constantly reporting your location to certain applications, such as Apple Maps and Find My iPhone.
For those reasons (and although we don’t generally recommend it) you might want to turn Find My iPhone and location services off – at least temporarily as you try to fix ongoing batter drain issues
To do this, head into Settings > iCloud > Find My iPhone and turn it off. That’s one less application that will be requesting GPS information.
To turn off Location Services entirely, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and turn it off. Alternatively, you can just head into the Share My Location option within the Location Services selection and turn that off. Not only that, but in this same list, you can choose which apps receive location sharing.
To do this on Mac, go to Apple Menu > System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Location Services. Here you can choose whether enable or disable location services, which in some cases may require you to enter your MacBook’s password. If prompted, enter it, and you should be able to enable and disable as much as you need.
Found your device?
If you found your device and ended up erasing all of your information, recovering it is fairly easy if you had iCloud Backup turned on before the reset. Basically, it’s like setting up your device as if it were new all over again. Only this time, you’d choose the prompt to backup all of your data from an iCloud backup.
Alternatively, if you backed up your phone manually, you can setup your iPhone again without an iCloud backup. Then plug it into your computer via a Lightning to USB-A cable, and start the restore process from your manual backup using iTunes. To do this, ensure your device is plugged in, open iTunes, select your device, and under “Backups” select “Restore backup…”
Restoring your Mac is a little more complicated. There’s no chance you’re getting your Mac’s information back unless you set up Time Machine to do frequent backups on an external drive. If you were fortunate enough to have done one, Apple has provided a detailed step-by-step guide on carefully recovering that information through a few different processes.
Get It Done!
And that’s the definitive guide to recovering your lost iPhone, iPad, or Mac! Losing your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or any device is much more common than you might think. With how costly they are, especially the newest models, they’re an easy target for thieves. Then there’s also the fact that many just set their phones down and forget about. It’s as common as leaving your wallet at a restaurant.
Thankfully, Apple’s Find My iPhone (or Mac) software makes it a little less painful, allowing you to easily locate your lost device, at least in most cases. Unfortunately, after going through all of these steps, if you haven’t been able to make any progressable steps to recovering your device, chances are, you won’t be getting the device back and will need to alert your carrier as it being stolen.
Your carrier will, in most cases, cut off all data connectivity to the device, and sometimes even put a freeze on your bill for it. Hopefully we’ve helped you work towards recovering your iOS or Mac device successfully!