We’ve all been there. That gut-wrenching moment when you realize your iPhone is no longer in your pocket, your purse, your backpack, or wherever you might carry it normally. Our phones act as a digital hub for all of things most important to us including text messages, photos, important files, bank information, and so much more.

Once you realize that precious melding of glass, plastic, and metal is no longer in your possession, it’s important to take action quickly. If you have a friend around, you might simply want to try calling your iPhone real quick. If this doesn’t yield results, don’t worry. In this guide we’ll show you how to find your iPhone.

Using Find My iPhone

The Find My iPhone tool is really the only way to accurately track down your device.

Okay so you’re asking yourself “how do I find my iPhone?” It all begins with a simple app.

The Find My iPhone app is preinstalled on all iOS devices. This app can’t be uninstalled. Hopefully, when you set up your iPhone, you activated this feature, because it’s really the only way to accurately track down your device. In the case that you didn’t activate it, all you need to do is open the app and enter your iCloud password. After you do so, your devices will be trackable by other iOS devices on your account, or via iCloud.com.

If you think you’ve lost your iPhone or if you think someone may have walked away with it, instead of searching “how to find my iPhone,” you can use Find My iPhone to locate your device by following the steps below.

From another iOS device on your account:

  1. Open the Find My iPhone app and sit patiently while all of your devices are located.
  2. Zoom around the map until you see your iPhone.
  3. Tap on the iPhone icon.

From iCloud.com:

  1. Log in to iCloud.com using your Apple ID credentials.
  2. Choose the “Find iPhone” icon and wait while your devices are located.
  3. Find your device on the map you are shown.

Note: Following these steps works to locate any of your iCloud devices — not just your iPhone. If you lose your iPad, MacBook, or Apple Watch, these same steps apply.

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What can you do after finding your iPhone?

Once you’ve located your iPhone using the Find My iPhone app or using iCloud.com, you have a few options. The path forward that you choose will depend on whether or not your device is just lost, or if it has been stolen. If your device is just lost — maybe you left it behind at a restaurant or in a movie theater — you can calmly proceed to the location using the built-in directions feature of the Find My iPhone app.

If you discover that your iPhone has been stolen, you can storm in, confront the thief, and demand your device back. Actually, on second thought that’s a terrible idea. Don’t do that.

how to find my iphone

Play a sound

The easiest and first step in finding your phone, in the case that you suspect it may still be nearby, is to send a sound to the phone. From the Find My iPhone app, you can press “Play Sound” and your iPhone will do just that. Ideally, you’ll be able to hunt it down using that sound as a guide.

Put your iPhone in Lost Mode

Once you’ve located your lost or stolen iPhone on the map in the Find My iPhone tool, you can choose to put the device in Lost Mode. While your phone is in lost mode, a few settings are changed so that the device doesn’t call much attention to itself — if it’s laying on a park bench, for example. For instance, all alarms and notification alerts are disabled, though phone calls and Facetime calls can still get through.

Lost Mode will also temporarily freeze your Apple Pay account, and suspend any cards that are attached to it.

When you remotely put the iPhone in Lost Mode, you will be asked to create a passcode for the phone unless you already have one for it. Once the phone is in Lost Mode, you can choose to display a message and phone number on the screen of the phone, so a good samaritan might find your phone and contact you to let you know that they have it.

Outside of disabling notifications, locking your phone, and displaying a custom message, Lost Mode will also temporarily freeze your Apple Pay account, and suspend any cards that are attached to it. This can happen even if your phone is offline which is pretty impressive.

Erase your iPhone remotely

If all else fails, and you have no hope of getting your phone back, you can remotely erase the device using the Find My iPhone tool. Simply click that little trash can icon and enter your iCloud password yet again to start the process. You might also have to answer some security questions if you’re using a browser that isn’t “trusted.”

Once you initiate this process, you will receive an email confirmation, and if your phone is connected to the internet it will be erased. If your phone is not connected to the internet, the process to erase your iPhone will begin the next time it is connected to the internet. Fortunately, if you happen to come across your phone after it has been erased, (whoops,) you can restore it from a previous iCloud backup.

Wrap Up

We hope that losing your iPhone or having it stolen is never something you have to deal with. But, if it is, hopefully, this will help you get it back promptly.

Have any other tips you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below!

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