How to find a lost iPhone or iPad using Find My Phone and a little forward planning

No-one wants to think about the consequences of losing their phone or tablet and all the personal information it contains, but a bit of preparation makes it easy to locate a missing iPhone.

Whether you have misplaced it, left it somewhere or it’s been stolen, at some point most of us have had that lost-phone panic.

It’s almost impossible to stop a phone going missing, although check out our feature Never lose your phone again for tips. Fortunately if you do lose your phone, with a little advance planning, it’s surprisingly simple to track it down.

Check out the video above to find out more.

Apple has created a free app called Find my iPhone, which lets you track your phone’s location using any internet browser and your Apple login.

Once you know where your phone is you can pick it up, wipe the contents or send a message to it.

If you think it has been stolen we don’t recommend knocking on the thief’s door, instead you should pass on the information to the police. In 2013 a criminal was convicted of iPad theft when the tablets owner tracked him and the location of a van used in the break-ins.

Find My iPhone restrictions

Your phone must have an active data plan or access to wi-fi.

The phone has to have battery, but once you’ve installed the app you can track your iPhone based on its last location. Go to Settings – iCloud – Find My iPhone and flick the slider next to Send Last Location.

Here we show you how to set-up Find My iPhone, we’ve used an iPhone, but the same process applies to the iPad as well.

Step 1: Locate the app

Locate Find my iPhone app

Head to the App store on your phone or tablet and download Find My iPhone.


Step 2: Turn on Location Services

Location services iPhone

In order for the app to work it needs to have access your location details. Go to Settings – Privacy – Location Services and flick it to On.

Don’t worry if you don’t have Location Services on and you’ve lost your phone. When Apple released iOS 8, now if you select Lost mode in the Find My iPhone app (Step 7) it will turn it on automatically.


Step 3:  Activate iCloud

Activate iCloud

In order for the app iCloud needs to be turned on. Most people set it up when they activate their iPad, if not go to Settings – iCloud and enter your details. In the same menu make sure Find My iPhone is turned on.

[Read more: How to back up your iPad]

Step 4: Set up the app

Find My iPhone set up on iPhone

Launch Find my iPhone and enter your Apple ID and password, this is what you enter when installing apps or buying music.  You’ll see a map and list of any Apple devices you own, tap each one to see their current location.


Step 5:  Launch a browser

iCloud interface on web browser

If you lose your phone, head to on any tablet, phone or PC browser, enter your Apple ID and password and click Find My iPhone


Step 6:  Find My iPhone options

Find a lost iPhone browser options

Within a few seconds the location of the phone will be displayed as a green dot on a map. Click it and tap the Information icon and box will appear, with the name of your phone, the last time contact was made and the options: Play Sound, Lost Mode and Erase iPhone underneath.


Step 7:  Play a sound

Find my iPhone alert

If you have lost your phone at home – for instance you’ve put it down the back of a sofa and can’t find it, click Play Sound. Your device will emit a loud beeping sound for two minutes (even if it’s on silent) enabling you to track it down.


Step 8: Lost Mode

Find my iPhone - lost mode

Tapping Lost Mode enables you to enter a phone number and/or message that will be sent to the screen of your missing phone, so there’s a chance it can be returned to you. This mode also locks the device using its current password.


Step 9:  Erase iPhone

Screenshot Erase iPhone

The final option is Erase iPhone. This is best used as a last resort because once activated you won’t be able to track it.  However if you are sure your phone has been stolen and you don’t want anyone to get hold of your phone it’s the safest option.


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