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How to Use Find My iPhone to Locate Lost or Stolen iPhone

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How to use Find My iPhone

The Find My iPhone app in action

Everyone hopes to never need this article since, if you do, it means there's a good chance that your iPhone (or iPod touch or iPad) has been stolen. If it has been, though, and if you set it up to use Find My iPhone before it was stolen, you may be able to get it back--or at least prevent the thief from getting at your personal data. These instructions will help you use Find My iPhone to locate a lost or stolen iPhone.

Related: Do you need the Find My iPhone app to use Find My iPhone?

 

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: A minute or less

Here's How:

  1. As noted above, you need to have set up Find My iPhone on your device prior to it getting stolen. If you did, go to https://www.icloud.com/ in your web browser (there's also a Find My iPhone app [link opens iTunes] that you can install on another iOS device to track it. You don't need the app; it's simply another option. These instructions are for using the web-based tool).

    Log in using the account you used when setting up Find My iPhone. This is likely your Apple ID/iTunes account.

  2. When you log in, Find My iPhone will immediately begin trying to pinpoint your device. You'll see onscreen messages as it works. If the device is turned off, the map will display its last known location, not necessarily its current location. When it's turned back on, the map will update.

    If it finds your device, it will zoom in on the map and show the location of the device using a green dot. When this happens, you can zoom in or out of the map, and view it in map, satellite, and hybrid modes, like in Google Maps.

  3. When your device is found, a window will pop up over the green dot (if it disappears because you clicked elsewhere on the page, just click the green dot again to get it back). Click the window and you'll see the various options you have.

    The first option is to have it play a sound. Sending a sound to the device is best when you think you've misplaced your device in the house or office and want help finding it. It can also be helpful if you think you know where a device may be, but someone is denying it. To do this, click Play Sound.

  4. You can also click the Lost Mode button. This will allow you to remotely lock the device's screen and set a passcode (even if you hadn't previously used a passcode) that will prevent the thief from using your device or accessing your personal data.

    To do this, click the Lost Mode button and enter the 4-digit lock code you want to use twice. You can then also enter a phone number where the person who has the device can reach you (this is optional; you may not want to share this information if it's been stolen). You can also, optionally, write a message that will be displayed on the device's screen. When you're ready, click Done and your device will now be inaccessible to the thief unless they guess your code.

  5. For even greater security, you can also remotely delete all data from the device. To do this, click the Erase button. There, you'll see a warning (basically, don't do this unless you're absolutely sure you want to). Click the box that says you understand what you're doing and click the Erase button. This will delete all your data, preventing the thief from accessing it.

    If you get the device back, you can restore your data from backup.

  6. If you think your device is on the move, click the target icon at the top left corner of the screen to refresh and get a new fix on your device's location.

  7. If you have more than one device configured to use Find My iPhone with this account, you'll see a menu called Devices in the top left corner. Click that to see a list of all devices available to be found.

Related: Why Is Find My iPhone Not Working?

What You Need:

  • An iOS device
  • An iCloud account
  • To have enabled Find My iPhone before the device was lost
  • A web-connected computer or device
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