How to Find Your Lost Smartphone, Tablet or Laptop
Do you ever lose your phone or other devices? It can be frustrating, even devastating, but it's not impossible to find them. In this article, we will show you how to do so.
Why would you want to track your device?
The three major reasons you'd track a device are:
- Monitoring your children
With the busyness of your day, the number of devices you have, and the frequent interruptions to routines, we will often misplace them. This experience can be distressing emotionally, workwise, and financially.
DigitalInformationWorld reports that the average price of a smartphone is $308, and premium models can fetch up to $999. The latest laptops cost a lot too. So, if we set up tracking now, we'll avoid frustration in the future.
Loss or theft and checking on your child:
Fortunately, most smartphones come with GPS (Global Positioning System), a radio-navigation system formed using satellites and towers/ ground stations. The system is for emergencies, so 911 services can find and help you, but you can use it to find your phone when you lose it, or it gets stolen.
Also, write down your:
- Device's make
- Model number
- Serial number
- Unique device ID number: IMEI, MEID, or ESN
You can find your device ID number in your phone settings or printed on a label under the battery. Police use this information to help find a lost or stolen device.
Find my lost iPhone
Thankfully, Apple has a simple way for you to find your phone and many of its other products. Follow these easy steps to use the Find My app.
- Sign-in to iCloud.com/find
- Type in your Apple ID and password
It will show you a map and an approximate location of where your iPhone is. You can also make the app play a sound that will alert you to its location. It doesn't matter if it's in silent mode.
Check now if you have the Find My app turned on. If not, here's how:
- Open the Settings app.
- Tap on your name, then Find My.
- If you want friends and family to know where you are, turn on Share My Location.
- Tap Find My and iPhone, then turn on Find My iPhone
- To see your device, even if offline, turn on Find My network.
- To send your device's location to Apple when your battery is low, turn on Send Last Location.
If you want to be able to find your phone with a map, turn on Location Services. To do this:
- Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services
- Turn on Location Services
"But what," you say, "do I do if my phone is turned off or has run out of battery life?" Again, all is not lost. You can still use the Find My app if your iPhone runs out of juice. It won't tell you where it is in real-time but will give you the last location so you can go and have a look. Alternatively:
- Log in to your Google account and open Google Maps
- Click on the menu to click on Your timeline
After this, a new window will pop up. Put in the date you last had your phone to see its location history.
Most other phone companies offer similar services as Apple have for the iPhone, but it would take too long to describe each one. However, there are common ways to find Android smartphones. And they're not too different.
Find my Android Phone
Android's Find My Device is automatically turned on if you have added your Google account to that phone. It gives you three options to deal with your lost Android Phone:
- Play Sound: The sound will ring for up to 5 minutes even if it's silent.
- Secure Device: Lock down your phone and sign out of your device. Plus, display a special message as a way to reach you.
- Erase Device: The nuclear option allows you to delete all content from your smartphone.
And it is easy to use. On another device:
- Go to Google search
- Type Find My Device or android.com/find
- Tap on the device you want to find
- Use the Google map they send you to locate it more accurately
The map isn't deadly accurate, but you can combine it with the Play Sound to help locate it. To enable location tracking, you need to have:
- Wi-Fi or mobile data enabled
- Logged into your Google account
- Phone switched on
- Enable Location and Find My Device
How to check they're on (Find My Device is usually automatically switched on):
- Go to Settings
- Go to (Biometrics) and Security
- Scroll to Find My device / mobile
- Switch it on
- Go back to Settings and scroll down to Location
- Switch it on
Now you're good to go.
What if your phone has run out of power? Follow the same steps you did for Find My Device. Unfortunately, it will not be in real-time, and you will have to check for its last known location.
Remember to search using the Google account you use on that device.
What if I lose my laptop, or it gets stolen?
Your laptop is probably only a smidgin less critical to you than your phone, and the likelihood of losing it is less. If you are a student, this is the second last thing you want to go missing. Not only will it be much more expensive, but think of lost work.
Windows Find My Device
Fortunately, Microsoft has a feature called Find My Device that helps you find your Windows PC or Tablet in the unfortunate event it gets misplaced.
Find My Device that can help you:
- Pinpoint its position via an on-screen map
- Lock the device
- Emit a sound
- Send a message to the screen
You'll need a Microsoft account to sign into your device and track its location. This feature can be helpful if you have a desktop PC during a move.
Set Up Find My Device in Windows 10 or Windows 11:
- Click the search icon and type: Find my Device or Navigate to: Settings > Update & security > Find my Device
- Switch Location Services on
- Scroll down and turn on Let apps access your location
How to Find My Device:
- Log into your Microsoft account
- Go to the Devices page
- Click on Find My Device
If you can't get to your device, click the Lock button so another person can't access it without your admin password. You can also type a message on the screen for anyone who finds your device. Use Google's Last location history to find it if the power runs out.
Available on Android and iOS, Glympse is a free product giving fast, real-time tracking to provide you with peace of mind. Share your location with friends and family to keep their heads clear.
Life360 is a family tracking app available for Android and iOS which gives you real-time tracking of all your family members during the day. Initially free, Life360 offers excellent services, including:
- Real-time location
- Predicted arrival times
- Driver safety behavior tracking
There're upgrades Silver ($4.17/month), Gold ($8.33/ month), and Platinum ($16.67/month), giving ever-increasing security for you and yours.
Prey App for Laptops:
Prey has free and Premium options ($5/ month) that offer laptop location tracking using GPS or Wi-Fi geolocation, taking screenshots, capturing images through your webcam, remote deletion of data, and lockdown of your laptop. Losing your phone or your laptop can be devastating. Monitoring your child's location is necessary for their safety. Using the above methods and apps can help you prevent the loss, find a guilty party, and give you peace of mind. Take a few moments today to set up the location services on your device, and check out different apps and devices that can help you save time, stress, and money in the future.
A few words of advice:
You should contact the police rather than confronting the thief yourself if it's stolen. Some criminals can be violent, and your health and safety have greater value than any electronic device. Notify the police and notify your insurer.
*The opinions reflected in this article are the sole opinions of the author and do not reflect any official positions or claims by Acer Inc.
About Malcolm Archibald: Malcolm is an SEO copywriter that helps businesses thrive. He's passionate about languages and helps companies improve traffic, bring in customers, and build a better web presence.