How to Find a Lost iPhone

Losing any phone is a pain, but losing your iPhone means a significant cash outlay for a new one, plus the loss—and possible exposure of—personal data, your iTunes ...Read more
Losing any phone is a pain, but losing your iPhone means a significant cash outlay for a new one, plus the loss—and possible exposure of—personal data, your iTunes account, your photos, and all the hours you've already spent setting it up just the way you like. Perhaps, all is not lost! If your iPhone hasn't been stolen—you have merely misplaced it—your chances of recovery are excellent, and we'll show you how to do it.

Steps

Method 1: Use the "Find My iPhone" App
  1. Open the "Find My iPhone" app on an iOS device or iCloud on a Mac. If you don't have the app you can get it from the app store.
    • You will be asked to log in again, as a security precaution. Do so, and after a moment, you will be taken to a screen. It may default to a map of Apple in Cupertino, or it may display a map showing you the location of your phone.
  2. Click on the Devices button. This is in the upper left of the screen, and will give you the option of choosing any enabled device.
    • Your iPhone will be displayed in this list. Click on it, and Find My iPhone will search for your phone's location.
    • Note: If the phone has been powered off, or the battery has run out, it will show you the last known location, but will not be able to show you the current address.
  3. Send a notification. From your iPhone's info window, you can send an alert. If your phone has slipped between the cushions, or left in your jacket, this makes it easy to find. For two minutes, a loud alert will sound—even if you've muted your phone.
  4. Track your phone. If you're using iOS 6 or later, click Lost Mode in your phone's info window.
    • You'll be asked to enter an unlock code for your phone. Use a random number set that's not tied to you: no SSN, no birthdate, driver's license number, or anything that is personal.
    • You may also enter a message and contact phone number.
    • If your iPhone is online, it will immediately be locked, and you can see your phone's current location, as well as any changes in location. If your phone is offline, it will lock immediately if it's powered up, you'll be notified via email, and you'll be able to track your phone's position.
  5. Erase all your data. Should you not be able to locate your phone, and suspect that it's lost, click on the Erase iPhone button in the phone's info window. This will erase all data, but you will not be able to use Find My iPhone to locate your phone once that happens. It's better that, however, than to have your personal information compromised.
    • Should you later recover your phone, you can restore your data through your iTunes backup.
Method 2: Other Software Tools
  1. Install an application on your iPhone called "If Found". If Found lets you create a background wallpaper that shows your contact details that lets an honest finder contact you by another means (such as your home phone).[1]
    • Naturally, you'll need to add this before you have the misfortune of losing your phone, but it makes it very simple for even a non-iPhone owning person who finds your phone to find a way to get in touch with you without having to scroll through your data and maybe never work out who you are.
    • (Note that you need to purchase If Found but the cost is minimal.)
  2. Use iHound. This is a free program that alerts you the moment your iPhone is plugged into a computer. This means that you'll receive an email letting you know that your tracked iPhone has been located, along with a detailed report on where it is being used.
    • This is a good additional measure for where the iPhone gets turned off but is later plugged in to change or upload software, etc.[2]
    • iHound lets you sound an alarm to help you find the iPhone in case it's slipped down the back of sofa, etc.
    • iHound lets you use geofencing location alerts. These are alerts and check-ins that work automatically with Facebook, Foursquare, or Twitter when you arrive at locations.
  3. Use iLocalis. This lets you log in to the website to find your missing iPhone. You can also log in and send yourself a message. If the sim card has been changed, you'll also be able to get the thief's new phone number.
Method 3: Use Social Media
  1. Use social media. You never know—letting people know via Twitter or Facebook that your phone's gone missing may return dividends if someone who follows your pages or has friended you online stumbles across it.
    • It's a long shot but friends of friends of friends are sometimes a good way to find something lost.
    • You can use Twitter to keep a track of your iPhone. Create an account just for your iPhone and a separate email address of its own.
    • Protect the Twitter account so that only you, or a limited number of people such as your spouse or business partner, can see it. Then set up your iPhone to tweet in on a regular basis.
    • Install a program called "FindMe"; it will be able to use the tweets to this Twitter account to tell you the GSM tower's cell ID, as well as the latitude and longitude using Google maps.[4]
Method 4: Go To The Authorities
  1. Check with local law enforcement. Police stations and lost property stations in the vicinity of where you lost your iPhone might yield positive results. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that someone has handed in your phone, and even if they haven't, leave your details as there may be a delay in processing or turning in.
    • The amount of lost items not ever collected from police or lost-property is enormous—just visit police auctions!
    • Think laterally. Although you may have lost your iPhone in one borough or suburb, a person finding it might use a police station of a borough or suburb nearest to their own home, especially if in a hurry or not able to locate the one where they found the phone. Ask how you can check stations outside your area as well.
Preventative Measures
  1. Take good care of your iPhone and try not to lose it again. Losing an iPhone and never retrieving it again is an expensive and potentially personally exposing experience. Do your best to avoid losing it again by following these suggestions:
    • Always double-check that you have your iPhone on you before leaving any place—cafes, restaurants, meetings, other people's houses, museums, the opera, etc. Just get into a habit of looking for it before you leave.
    • Keep your iPhone somewhere safe at all times. Losing the iPhone is easier if you haven't been careful about where you keep it. Bags that let the contents fall out easily, pockets that tip when you move, and leaving it unattended while swimming or doing laps around the track, etc., are ways of asking for trouble. Secure the iPhone in a good carrying item or lock it up when you're pursuing outdoor or sporting activities, so that you don't need to worry about it.

Video

These guys explain how to use 'Find My iPhone' to easily locate any lost or stolen iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.

Tips

  • For Find My iPhone to work, it must have been enabled. To do this, go to the iCloud tab in Settings, and set the switch for Find My iPhone to On.

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