4 Ways to Find Your Lost iPhone – Even if it’s Powered off!
We’ve all been there. “Has anyone seen my phone?”, “Can someone ring my phone?”. That stressful moment when you can’t find your iPhone. As we all know, a lost iPhone is not a trivial event. Putting aside the fact that these buggers are expensive and they are sometimes tied to contracts with service providers, they can also hold your important and potentially private data.
The obvious first step would be to call the phone number and listen for the ring. This is helpful in situations when the phone is somewhere close to you or with the hope that someone who is near it will hear the ring and answer it. If you are like me, my ringer is almost always on silent (bad habit), so this method doesn’t really help me much.
Fear not, there are definitely other ways to find the location of your lost iPhone, even if the battery has died or the ringer is on silent.
The easiest way is using the Find iPhone functionality that Apple makes available to all iDevices they sell. It is a free service and it really is the most important app on your iPhone. If you haven’t enabled it and you’re reading this after you’ve already lost your iPhone, that really sucks and I’m sorry to hear this, but don’t worry, there are other methods at our disposal (Keep reading).
If you still have your iPhone and you haven’t enabled this feature…DO IT NOW!…I’ll wait. Click here for instructions on how to do that. (Be sure to enable the Send Last Location).
Now, onto how to locate your device using the Find iPhone service.
Using a Mac or PC, navigate to http://icloud.com. Login using your AppleID. Click on Find iPhone.
All your iDevices that are associated with your AppleID should appear. A map showing their location is also displayed. Click on All Devices to get a drop-down list of your devices and click on the lost iPhone you want to locate. Information on whether the device is currently online is displayed as well as the last time that device sent it’s location data to the service and the battery level of the device is also displayed. The battery level can help gauge how long before it will become unreachable.
There are some useful tools that are available for you to use.
Pressing this button will allow you to play a sound on the device regardless of whether it is on silent or not. The sound will also keep repeating until it has been found or the battery dies.
This feature is useful if you really can’t find the device or if the battery has died. It allows you to lock and track the whereabouts of the phone and to send your contact info to be displayed on the screen, in case someone finds it. This mode will also disable Apple Pay.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. It allows you to remotely wipe your phone. Of course, be careful with this one. It will warn you before proceeding, but accepting this will result in your phone will be erased the next time it connects to the internet.
If your lost iPhone is offline, there is also the ability to enable Notify me when found. This is helpful, letting you know when the device comes back online.
If you’ve logged into your Google apps on your phone, you could use the location information that Google saves, which essentially traces your every move. Before you freak out about the fact that Google stores this information, you should have read the terms and conditions before signing up, and you could also disable this feature if you don’t like it. If this feature was enabled when your phone went missing, however, using this feature could come in very handy.
To find your location information, hop onto a PC and navigate to https://www.google.com/maps/timeline
If you are already logged in to your google account, it will bring you directly to the location timeline. If not, log in using the same account you’ve logged in on your phone.
Once logged into the correct account, it will provide you a way to look through dates and locations on the map. It will display right down to the minute and show where you were and even a path over time, plotted on a map to help trace your steps.
If you use Snapchat, they too have a location history that you can view, which can help retrace your steps. This is on a request basis, where Snapchat will email you the information.
First, you must log into your SnapChat account, using a PC or Mac: https://accounts.snapchat.com/
Once logged in, Click on the My Data button.
A list of your user data that’s available for download is displayed. Scroll down to the bottom and select “Submit Request”.
They will process your data and send a link to the email address you have registered to your account. The email will contain a link that will bring you to the data. The request is usually pretty quick but can take some extra time if there is a lot of data to process.
Once the email arrives, click on the link provided and it will bring you back to your account page, and it will display your data file in zip format.
Click on the file to download to your computer and unzip the file. Inside, you will find some directories.
Go into the html directory and locate the location_history.html file. Open the file (it should open into your web browser). All the location information that they have collected will be displayed. Sometimes, it could take 24hrs+ for SnapChat to populate the latest data, so if the most recent date doesn’t seem as current as you expected, try re-requesting the data file in 24 hrs.
The location is displayed using longitude and latitude coordinates. You can enter the data into google maps to map them. The location precision can vary, depending on a few factors. The data also shows how precise the location is, so you are aware of how broad an area they are referring to.
Regardless of the precision of the location data, even having an approximate location can be incredibly valuable when searching for that lost phone.
4 – Facebook
Like SnapChat, Facebook also saves your location if you have that setting enabled. This could be also used to find that pesky lost iPhone if the other methods didn’t work. Depending on your usage of Facebook and whether you have the location history enabled, the information could vary but it’s worth looking at what they have.
From a browser, navigate to http://facebook.com.
Enter settings -> Your Facebook Information -> Download Your Info
The list of information that Facebook collects is displayed. All the items should be selected. Click on De-select. Scroll down and select Location History.
Click on Create File.
This process can take a few minutes. Click on Available Files to see the file that they created for you. Download the file to your PC. Unzip it and the location data will be found in the location_history directory.
Like with Snapchat data, you will find the locations that facebook last recorded your logins to come from.
Again, when in a panic that your iPhone is lost, this data can prove to be invaluable.
There is no doubt that your iPhone is a valuable and important item, but what’s more important is your health and safety. If you’ve discovered the location of your phone and it is in a location such a strange house or building that you are not familiar with, do not attempt to retrieve it by yourself. Contact authorities about a potential theft of your device, and they may assist you, but even that may be difficult. Always think safety first. You may be upset that someone may have your phone but be careful before marching up to knock on doors to confront them. There is no assurance that they are as nice as you are.
Always use your best judgement and Stay Safe!
Lost for good?
It is quite upsetting to get to the point where you’ve conceded to the fact that your phone may be lost for good. Although it may still turn up months later, it is important to limit the liability of the lost device. This means, it is time to change the passwords on the applications you care most about, for example: Facebook, Twitter, email, banking, etc.
You will want to contact your service provider. They may be able to provide some information on whether the phone was used while out of your possession. You will also want them to disable the SIM and assign a new one if you will be replacing your phone.
If you paid for your device using your credit card, contact them. Some credit cards have theft or loss insurance for products you bought using their cards. You may actually qualify for them to replace the device for free or at a discount. These credit card services are often overlooked or forgotten, but can protect you in these situations.
I hope these tips have helped you locate your lost iPhone. I’d love to hear from you if you have any stories or comments around this topic.