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Losing an iPhone–or any smartphone for that matter–can be a catastrophe. After all, who really wants to lose a close to $1000 device? It’s not a fun situation, whether you unintentionally set it down somewhere or if it was theft. Luckily, if you have an iPhone, you can take advantage of some online software to try and track it down. And if you can’t track it down, at least there are some features available to you to make sure that no one can get their hands on pertinent information, such as bank credentials, password databases, and other sensitive information.

Tracking Down Your Lost iPhone Or iPad

It can be difficult to track down a lost iPhone, particularly because the smartphone must be turned on and attached to a network for you to try and find it. If it was stolen by a thief, they’ve likely turned off the smartphone or have already wiped it. However, it’s still worth trying to use Apple’s online tools to try and track down your smartphone on the off chance that it is still turned on and attached to a network.

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First off, on your PC, point your browser to http://icloud.com. Once you arrive, you’ll need to enter your Apple ID credentials and press “Enter” or the small sign-in arrow.

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Once you’ve successfully logged in, you’ll want to click the “Find iPhone” web app. Depending on your network connection, it’ll take a minute or two to load, so sit tight.

Keep in mind that, in some cases, it will require you to log-in again once clicking the “Find iPhone” app. It’s an extra layer of security that at least attempts to keep prying eyes out. Once fully signed-in, the web app will begin locating your device by trying to pinpoint your iPhone or iPad’s global positioning sensor (GPS).

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If your device is shut down or has no service, the above screen will appear. You won’t be able to do anything to try and track down your device if you get this screen. However, it’s worth watching it off and on in case your device ever does come online. There’s also a chance that you didn’t turn the “Find my iPhone” feature on inside your iPhone’s software itself. We’ll touch on that in a minute.

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The above screen is ideally what you should get. From here, you need to determine whether or not the location is somewhere where you’ve misplaced your iPhone. In that case, it’s a good idea to go and try and track it down. If you have another smartphone or tablet, you can keep an eye on it from a web browser while out and about. On the other hand, if you’ve determined it has been stolen, it’s best to contact local authorities to try and retrieve your stolen goods, as you trying to take care of it yourself doesn’t usually work out in the best way possible. Safety first, as they always say. A $1000 iPhone certainly isn’t worth your life.

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If authorities are unable to help you, all you can really do is call it a loss and erase your iPhone from the web app. This is so that no person can get their hands on the likely sensitive information on your iPhone, such as photos of kids, friends, family, as well as the aforementioned bank credentials and other info.

Alternatively, if you know you just misplaced your smartphone inside your home or in your car, you can click the “Play Sound” button (two options to the left of the Erase iPhone button). This will take the iPhone off of mute, crank the volume up, and play a rather annoying sound until you’re able to find it. Keep in mind that for any action you do in the Find My iPhone app, Apple will email you notifying if a sound was played on your iPhone, or even if the iPhone was erased.

Precautions For The Future

A lost iPhone or iPad is not any fun at all. It’s usually a costly endeavor if you’re unable to locate your lost technology, but there are a few things you can do to prevent it from happening again in the future:

  • Keep your iPhone or iPad with you at all times. Don’t let it out of your sight. However, all of us are prone to mistakes. That said, it’s worth getting something like the Tile tracker, which will start beeping whenever you get too far away from your iPhone or iPad. There are other similar devices, and they’re all worth the investment if you think it’ll help you from misplacing important technology like this.
  • In case your iPhone does ever get lost, make sure to have Find My iPhone turned on. You can do this by going into the Settings of your iPhone, tapping the ‘iCloud” option, and then selecting the “Find My iPhone” field. From here, you can turn the feature on and off. Keep it on to increase the chances of you finding it in the event of misplacing it, or worse, a theft.
  • Losing an iPhone to theft, in most cases, is a lost cause. However, you don’t have to lose “all” of your iPhone. Make sure to back-up your iPhone frequently to iCloud or your computer so that you have all of the personal data immediately available to you. So, if you can get a new device, you can quickly return that new device to the same state as your last iPhone through a restore.

Closing

And that wraps up our definitive guide to locating your lost iPhone or iPad! If you have any feedback or questions, be sure to join us over in the PCMech Forums.

Have you ever lost an iPhone before? What did you do to find it? Let us know in the comments below!