With so much personal stuff on our phones, losing one feels disastrous. What can you do after it’s been lost? Android has its own version of “Find My Phone” and it can track your phone without any previous setup.
Note: In the past, this guide recommended apps that could be installed on your lost device remotely (like Android Lost) or had to be set up beforehand. Thankfully, Android no longer requires these third-party solutions.
How It Works
Google’s version of Apple’s “Find My Phone” feature is simply called “Find My Device.” It’s pre-installed on all Android devices that have the Google Play Store—which is the vast majority of them.
Find My Device is tied to your Google account, the one you used to set up your Android phone for the very first time. That’s also when Find My Phone is activated. Once you’ve set up your phone, you’re good to go. Find My Device is ready and waiting.
There are a couple of things Find My Device can do. First, it shows where your device is on a map, Wi-Fi information, and battery percentage. Second, it can simply ring your phone—even if it’s on silent—to help you find it if you think it’s nearby. Lastly, it can remotely lock your phone or erase all of your data.
Using Android Find My Device
You can access Find My Device from the website and the Android app. Note that the Android app is not required to be installed on the lost device. This app is for viewing your devices, it’s not what enables tracking. We’ll be using the website in this guide, but the same tools can be found in the app.
After signing in with your Google account, you’ll see your devices. Select the device and you’ll see when it was last detected, the network it’s on, and the battery.
Of course, you also can see where the device is on the map. Selecting the pin will open Google Maps to that location.
Next, you can select “Play Sound.” This will ring your device for up to five minutes—regardless of ringer mode/volume—until the device is unlocked.
The next few tools are especially useful for lost devices. We’ll start with “Secure Device.” Select it and enter an optional message and phone number for whoever finds your phone. Then tap “Secure Device.”
The last tool is the most extreme. If you don’t think you’ll ever get the device back or you’re worried about someone getting into your personal stuff, you can erase everything remotely. If you do this and you get the phone back, it will need to be set up from scratch again.
Select “Erase Device” and then confirm your decision by clicking “Erase Device” again. There’s no going back after this.
That’s pretty much all there is to Find My Phone. Of course, all of these things rely on your lost phone being powered on. You won’t be able to track it or remotely do anything if the battery has died or someone turned it off.
However, there are some things you can do to remotely protect your data that will work even if the device is off.
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