If you’ve lost your phone it’s not necessarily gone forever. But don’t wait until you lose your phone to prepare: you’ll need to configure it now to enable you to find a lost Android, iPhone or Windows Phone.
If you’ve lost your phone help could be at hand in tracking it down. But note that the solutions offered in this tutorial will require your phone to be switched on in order to give you an accurate idea of its location, and to access options to remotely lock or wipe it. If your battery runs out or your phone is stolen and switched off, you may be out of luck.
Below we’ll consider the options built into each major mobile operating system to explain how to track your lost or stolen phone. For each of these you will need to be signed into either your Google, Apple or Windows account on the phone before you begin.
How to find a lost Android phone
Find My Device, previously called Device Manager, offers the easiest way to track an Android phone. It’s a free app from Google Play, and you can also access the service from any browser by visiting google.com/android/find should your device become lost.
Find My Device offers options to ring, lock or erase your device, should it get out of your hands.
Another option, if your phone is switched off, is to check your location history to find its last reported location. You can do this by visiting myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols and tapping on Manage Activity under Location History.
You’ll now see a map of all the places in which your device has reported its location during a time period that you specify. The last known location is where Google last saw it before the battery died, and if your luck’s in it may still be there.
Note that location history uses Wi-Fi- and mobile signals rather than GPS, so it won’t be as accurate as Android Device Manager.
How to find a lost iPhone
To locate a lost Apple device you need Find My iPhone – but before you lose your iPhone you’ll need to ensure it’s set up on your device. Just tap on Settings, iCloud, then scroll down to and enable Find My iPhone. Also turn on the option below, which sends your last known location just before your battery dies.
Find My iPhone requires location services to be active, too, which you’ll find under Settings, Privacy, Location Services.
Having set up Find My iPhone, you have two ways to track a lost device. Firstly, you can use the free Find My iPhone app on another Apple device to track your phone.
Alternatively, you can sign into your account on a desktop browser at iCloud.com, then tap Find My iPhone.
If you have multiple Apple devices select the one that’s been misplaced.
Having selected your phone, Find My iPhone will show you on a map its last known location, and offer options to sound an alarm, lock it or erase its contents.
How to find a lost Windows Phone
Windows Phone also has its own built-in phone tracker feature. From the home screen swipe to the right to open the apps list, then scroll down to and select Settings.
Scroll down the Settings pane until you find the Privacy section. Here you’ll find options for Location and Find my phone. The first should be turned on by default; open the Find my phone option and enable the option to ‘Save my phone’s location periodically and before the battery runs out to make it easier to find’.
To later find a lost Windows Phone, all you need do is log into your Windows account at account.microsoft.com/devices. Hit ‘Find my phone’ under the device you’re looking to locate.
You’ll now see a map onscreen showing you the last place your Windows Phone reported its location. As with Android Device Manager, also here are options to Ring, Lock and Erase.
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