How to set up and use Find My iPhone

Easily thwart bad guys – or a bad memory

Nobody likes to think about their beloved iPhone, iPad, iPod, or MacBook being lost or stolen, but unfortunately, our dearest devices go missing all the time.

The good news is that Apple makes it easy to get them back – you just have to set each item up properly and learn how to use the tools to track it. This quick guide will help you prepare for the worst, so you can rest a little easier.

How to set up your iPhone so it can be tracked

From the Home screen, go to Settings > iCloud > Find My iPhone (or Find My iPod or Find My iPad), and make sure the feature is toggled on. (If this is the first time you're setting anything up, you may be required to enter your Apple ID. If you don't yet have an Apple ID, choose Create a new Apple ID and follow the instructions.)

Also on this screen, turn on Send Last Location. This feature will make your device transmit its location when it's about to run out of battery, so when you try to locate the device later, you'll see where it was.

How to set up and use Find My iPhone

By toggling on these two features, the recovery of a lost iPhone becomes likely.

How to track a lost iPhone using a computer

You're all set up! Easy, right? Now let's imagine you've lost your iPhone, or that (gulp) someone's stolen it.

On a Mac or PC, open a web browser and visit iCloud.com. After logging in with your Apple ID username and password, click on Find iPhone (the icon that looks like a green radar). After typing your password again, a map will show the location of all your associated iOS devices and Macs.

How to set up and use Find My iPhone

The Find My iPhone icon sits among many other features at iCloud.com.

A green dot means the product is online, while a gray dot means it's offline. If the device was online at any point within the previous 24 hours, you'll be shown the time it was last located.

If a device is online, click on its dot, then click on the information icon (i). (Alternatively, select the device from the pull-down menu at the top-center of the screen.) A new window will pop up that lists when the device was last located and how much charge it has left, along with three options: Play Sound (to help pinpoint the item if it's close by), Lost Mode (this lets you lock and track the device, and provide contact information — such as displaying a phone number on your lost iPhone), and Erase iPad.

If a device is offline, you'll have an additional option: Notify me when found. This will alert you when the item comes back online.

How to set up and use Find My iPhone

After locating your lost device, you can trigger several remote functions.

How to track a lost iPhone using an iOS device

You can also locate a lost iOS device using another iOS device. First, download the Find My iPhone app if you don't have it already — the app works the same as the website described above.

Finally, the Find My Friends app can also be used to locate the iPhone of anyone you've agreed to share location data with. The app doesn't provide as many tracking options, but if your child or significant other misplaces their iPhone, this provides a fast and easy way to make a first check.

How to set up and use Find My iPhone

The Find My Friends app offers a quick way to find a family member's iPhone.

Thanks for reading! For more helpful tips, be sure to check out our collection of guides on how to use iOS 9.