It might be out of the norm or extremely rare for you to lose your Windows 10 PC or tablet, but Microsoft has built-in features for you to easily track a lost device down. Not only can you track down your lost Windows 10 PC, tablet or laptop, but if you have a Windows Phone, you can track that down pretty easily as well. However, for you to be able to do that, there are some settings that you’ll have to enable.
Find my Device
You can start tracking your Windows Phone, PC or tablet from your Microsoft account, but once again, some settings will have to be enabled first. There’s actually two separate options — Find my Phone and Find my Device. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but Find my Phone is for finding your Windows Phone and Find my Device is for finding your Windows 10 PC, laptop or tablet.
Starting with Find my Device, you’ll need to enable it within your computer first. The first step is to open up the Start menu and click on the gear icon to access Settings.
From there, go to Update & Security and then click on the Find my Device tab.
Once you’re there, if it says “Find My Device is off,” you’ll want to press the large Change button. Keep in mind that you will need to have location sharing turned on for this to work.
Once prompted, you’ll enable the Save my device’s location periodically feature by turning the slider to the “On” position. With this turned on, you’re Windows 10 device will, periodically, send your location to Microsoft so that, if you ever lose your device, you can log into your Microsoft account and try and find it. With this enabled, even with your device powered off, you’ll at least be able to see the last-known location.
Now, to start tracking your device, you’ll need to log into your Microsoft account on the Web. You can head over to www.microsoft.com to get started. In the top right corner, log into your Microsoft account, and be sure that the Microsoft account you’re signing into is the same one you set your device up with.
Once you’re logged in, click on your account name in the top right corner and select “My Account.” Or, you can go straight to accounts.microsoft.com/devices.
Once signed in, you should see a list of all your devices. You can scroll through the list and choose which device you’re trying to locate. Some of these devices might have a weird name if you haven’t named your Windows 10 device before.
Under that device, it’ll show you the serial number for it as well as the Windows 10 version it’s on. And to the right, it shows you the last time, date, city and state it was seen in. Clicking the “Find my Device” link will take you to a Map where you can try and pinpoint your device’s location.
It’s not entirely accurate in that, if your device was powered off, it’s only showing you the last seen location. But, it still gives you a rough idea of where it was last and might even help trigger your memory as to where you lost it. However, if the device is powered on and connected to the Internet, it’s location will regularly update.
It’s worth noting that, if you believe your device was stolen, don’t try and chase after it. That can always prove to be dangerous, and it’s best to contact authorities with a location in said situation.
Features are limited
It’s neat that Microsoft has offered a service for tracking almost any Windows 10 device here, but there aren’t many features beyond seeing it’s last known location on a map. If it was stolen, Microsoft offers absolutely no way to remotely wipe it. It’s literally just a basic map feature when it comes down to it — there’s not even a button to ring it in the event that you just lost it in the house somewhere.
Find my Phone
Tracking a smartphone is pretty much the same situation. However, on a Windows Phone, you’ll want to go into the app list and head into Settings > Updates & security > Find my phone. You’ll want to make sure this box is checked: Save my phone’s location periodically and before the battery runs out to make it easier to find.
And after that, it’s essentially the same process as Find my Device for locating it. However, with some of the newer Windows Phone-based handsets, there are ways to remotely reset it, something you can’t do with regular Windows 10 devices, as mentioned earlier.
And that’s all there is to it! In a lot of cases, unless you leave your laptop unattended, it’s very rare to have it stolen, but if you misplaced it, using Microsoft’s Find my Device feature can be extremely useful and get you out of an unfortunate situation. But, once again, if you believe it be stolen, don’t put yourself in danger and try and retrieve it yourself — contact the authorities, they’re there to help in situations like these.