Recover a lost device
The realisation that you’ve misplaced your precious iPad, iPhone or Mac is a stomachdropping one. Is it lost? Have you left it somewhere? Was it stolen? The first thing you need to do is identify where it is – but before you can do that, and while your precious tech is safely in your possession, it’s time to make use of the ‘Find my Mac/iPhone/iPad’ feature built into your device. It’s part of iCloud, free to use and a doddle to set up – if you were diligent, you may have already done this when first setting up your computer or mobile.
Mac users should open System Preferences and select iCloud, then simply scroll down and place a tick next to ‘Find my Mac’ if it’s not already present, clicking Allow when prompted. iOS users should open Settings and flick the ‘Find My iPad/iPhone’ switch to On. It’s also worth setting Send Last Location to On, so if your iPad battery dies, you’ll be able to find it even if it’s switched itself off (assuming it’s not moved, of course).
Switching this feature on has three benefits: first, it helps you locate your device by showing you its location on a map – it’s more accurate for devices with GPS, while Wi-Fi only devices can only show you their location based on the last Wi-Fi network they were connected to. If the device is close by – say down the back of your sofa – click Play Sound to emit a loud repeating beep to help you track it down.
If you’ve lost a Mac, you can then either lock it remotely with a six-digit numeric passcode to protect it, or go even further and choose Erase. This will wipe all your data and settings so is a pretty drastic option. You get the same erase option with iPhones and iPads, but instead of Lock you get to put your mobile into Lost Mode, which will display a phone number and message of your choice should someone find your iOS device and switch it on. Lost Mode is switched off simply by entering your iPhone or iPad’s passcode.
iCloud will keep you informed as to the current status of your lost device – through your web browser, but also by sending you email notifications when something changes – you play a sound, for example, or when your device exits Lost Mode (that way, if it wasn’t you who entered your passcode, you can take further, more drastic action).
Log into iCloud
Log in to icloud.com with your Apple ID and password on any device, then click ‘Find my iPhone’. After a short pause, you should see a map showing all your connected devices. Click the one you can’t find – if it’s close by, click the Play Sound button to locate it.
Enter Lost Mode
If you’ve left your iPhone or iPad in a public place and can’t get to it, click Lost Mode instead. If it’s not got a passcode, create one to lock it, then enter your phone number (click Use Anyway if prompted) and a short message providing your contact details.