Losing an iPhone/iPad/AirPods is a bad situation no matter how you spin it. Not only do the devices cost a fair amount of money but it might also contain valuable personal or business data that you absolutely cannot do without, not to mention that most of us are not too thrilled about the idea of strangers getting their hands on our personal files. Thankfully, Apple’s ‘Find My iPhone’ service is an absolutely fantastic tool that will allow you to quickly and easily trace your device and hopefully recovers it.
What is Find my iPhone?
Before learning to rely on Find My iPhone you must first enable the service and become familiar with the way it all works. Before doing anything else, head over to your iPhone/iPad’s Settings, open the iCloud menu and turn the “Find My iPhone” item on. You might also want to enable the “Send Last Location” option which will allow your iPhone to send out a signal before it dies out, ensuring that you can find it even if it runs out of battery (which is obviously quite likely). Make sure that the Apple ID you are using in your iOS device is your main one as you will need it later if you want to locate your device again.
The next step is to make sure that Location Services are enabled, otherwise, Apple will not be able to track your device. Head over to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and enable the feature. I understand that some people would like this to be turned off for privacy or battery reasons but if you want to use Find My iPhone you will have to make this compromise.
Locate your missing iPhone, iPad, AirPods or Macbook
The dedicated Find My iPhone app is an absolutely essential piece of software, especially if you or someone in your family owns another iOS device. The app does a whole lot of things, including showing the location of all your iOS devices and letting you perform several remote actions in case your device happens to be misplaced.
The app will immediately present you with a list of your Apple devices on a map. Tapping on any one of them will then show you their location on a map. From there you have several options, depending on what it is you are trying to do. Tapping on the car icon will open Maps and plot a route to the current or last known location of your device.
Tapping on Actions will give you access to three different tools: Play Sound, Lost Mode, and Erase Phone. The first option does what it says on the tin, meaning it will cause your iPhone/iPad to beep loudly. This option is probably most helpful when your device is somewhere in the house and you simply cannot find it. You can also opt to select that tool if you believe someone will find your phone for you but I would not really recommend it.
The Lost Mode option will let you enter a password that will remotely lock the device. This is probably the first tool you should use as it will prevent anyone who finds your device to gain access to your personal information. When you recover your device you can simply enter the passcode and be done with it. Finally, the Erase option is a last resort kind of deal. By using this tool you will instantly wipe all data from your device, including your Apple ID. What this means is that you will no longer be able to locate your device so you should only ever use it if you are certain the device has been stolen and you can no longer take it back.
Finding your device using the iCloud service
If you only have one Apple device then your only option is to head over to the iCloud page and access the Find My iPhone feature from there. Once you open the website, log in with your Apple ID and launch the Find My iPhone app from the list. The web app works almost exactly the same as the mobile one so it should feel familiar at once.
Using Family Sharing
Your final option in your iPhone hunt is to use the iOS 8+ feature of Family Sharing. Once you have connected all your family members through the service you can see all of their devices on the map. Privacy implications aside, this feature allows you to always know where your family members are which is obviously useful if one of the devices gets lost. If you would like to know more about Family Sharing, check out our guide on how to set it up here.
Lost your AirPods?
Many users don’t know that with this option, you can also locate your missing AirPods. That’s right, we already know the AirPods are easily misplaced or lost due to their small and wireless nature, so the Find My iPhone option will also help you locate those. Evidently, you need to have paired them first with your Apple device.