How to find your phone when it’s lost (even if the battery is dead)
File photo: An attendee checks out an iPhone X. (Reuters/Stephen Lam) (REUTERS/Stephen Lam)
I love my husband, but he misplaces everything from his keys to his wallet more often than you would think is even possible.
It was more of a pain years ago. These days, I’ve slapped an Apple AirTag on anything I can that he owns. We even have one on our Golden Retriever’s collar, just in case. Tap or click for more ingenious ways to use AirTags and Tile trackers.
Be careful, though. There are reports of criminals using AirTags to mark vehicles and steal them later. AirTags are so small that one can be easily slipped into a backpack or purse.
When it comes to finding your phone, there are better ways than shouting for someone else in the house to call you, and that's not always possible. Try these proven methods instead.
Apple makes it easy
If you have a newer iPhone, I have great news. A recent Find My app update lets you locate an iPhone even if it’s powered off or has a dead battery.
Note: This works for the iPhone 11 and newer, including all iPhone 11, 12, and 13 models running iOS 15.
First, make sure Find My is enabled and check your settings. Here’s how:
- On your iPhone, open Settings > [your name] > Find My. If you’re asked to sign in, enter your Apple ID.
- Tap Find My iPhone, then slide the toggle next to Find My iPhone to the right to enable it. (This should be enabled by default.)
- You can also turn on or off either of the following:Find My network: If your device is offline (not connected to Wi-Fi or cellular), Find My can locate it using the Find My network. On a supported iPhone with iOS 15 or later, turning on the Find My network allows you to locate the device for up to 24 hours after it’s turned off.Send Last Location: If your device’s battery charge level becomes critically low, its location is sent to Apple automatically.
- Find My network: If your device is offline (not connected to Wi-Fi or cellular), Find My can locate it using the Find My network. On a supported iPhone with iOS 15 or later, turning on the Find My network allows you to locate the device for up to 24 hours after it’s turned off.
- Send Last Location: If your device’s battery charge level becomes critically low, its location is sent to Apple automatically.
FILE - A person uses an iPhone. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)
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How to use Find My
Now that Find My is set up, you have a few options to use it should your phone go missing.
Have an Apple Watch? You have a simple method. Swipe up on the screen. Once your watch is open, tap on the phone icon with sound waves. This tap will force your iPhone to emit a noise even if it’s on silent.
If you have an iPad or MacBook, use the Find My app. You can use it to track your phone and emit sound, just like with an Apple Watch. See full steps to track from a Mac here. Here’s how to track your phone from an iPad.
Don’t worry if your iPhone is your only Apple device. You can use your web browser.
- Log in to iCloud.com.
- Locate the Find iPhone feature.
- Once you’ve selected Find iPhone, sign in again.
- Click on All Devices to locate the phone you’re looking for.
- Select the phone you’ve lost and select Play Sound.
You can also view your misplaced phone on a map.
Remember this trick. If your phone is ever stolen, you can wipe it remotely, so your info doesn't get into the wrong hands. Here are the steps to get that done.
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What about Androids?
Find My Device is automatically turned on when adding a Google account to any Android device. For it to work, you must:
- Be signed in to a Google Account
- Be connected to mobile data or Wi-Fi
- Have Location turned on
- Have Find My Device enabled
Once your phone is missing, it's too late to do these steps. Do it now while you're thinking about it.
Like with Find My iPhone, you can locate your Android phone using a few different methods. Here are some options:
From a browser, go to android.com/find to locate your device:
- Sign in to your Google Account.
- Click on the lost phone icon at the top of the screen.
- A notification will be sent to your phone.
- You’ll see on a map approximately where your phone is located.
- Choose Play Sound to cause your phone to ring at max volume for five minutes so you can find it.
In this photo illustration an Android logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
If you have a second Android device, like a tablet, download the Google Find My Device app and use it to locate your missing device.
- Download the Find My Device app and open it.
- Choose Continue on your profile.
- Follow the same steps as listed above from your web browser
Like an Apple Watch, you can use your Wear OS Watch for Android to locate your phone in certain circumstances. To use your watch, your phone must be powered on and connected to your watch by Bluetooth:
- If you can’t see your screen, wake up the watch.
- To see your list of apps, press the Power button.
- Tap Find my phone.
- Your phone will ring to notify you of its location.
These methods work only if your phone is powered up. If you have a Samsung phone, there’s an app you can use to track your phone even after it dies. Tap or click here for direct download links and instructions.
We all have more photos than we know what to do with. Most are on our phones and computers, but then there are all the albums and frames full of old printed photos, too. In this episode, you’ll hear insider secrets that the pros take with saving photos before it's too late.
Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, "Komando."
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Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters, and more, visit her website at Komando.com.