Have you ever misplaced your iPhone and asked, “how do I find my iPhone quickly, and do it without all the stressors involved with the great search?” There’s a quick fix. The fastest way to find your iPhone is to turn on the Find My iPhone feature.
Apple’s Find My feature does exactly what it says. Suppose you lose your iPhone or other Apple device while running errands or exploring a new city. All hope is not lost—you can identify your device’s last known location by looking in the Find My app or on the iCloud website, and you can make it play a tone. It’s great for tracking down a missing iPhone, whether you lost it in your bed or left it behind on a bus.
But Find My does much more! You can set up the Find My app on your iPhone, Mac, iPad, or iPod touch. Once set up, the Find My app makes it a breeze to keep track of nearly any Apple device, including your Apple Watch, those tiny AirPods, or even personal items that have an AirTag attached. Find My can also help if your Apple device is stolen, and we’ll talk about that later in this article.
How to Use Find My iPhone
The most important thing to know about Find My is that you must turn it on before your device goes missing! Here's how to turn on Find My iPhone:
- tap Settings > Your Name > iCloud > Find My iPhone and enable Find My iPhone.
- Also on that screen, turn on Send Last Location.
- Finally, go back to the main level of Settings, tap Privacy > Location Services, and make sure Location Services is turned on.
On the Mac:
- open System Preferences > iCloud and select the Find My Mac checkbox—if you see a Details button beside Find My Mac, click it
- Click Open Security & Privacy, and select the “Enable Location Services” checkbox.
Once Find My is on, go ahead and practice viewing where your devices are located and playing tones on them. That way, if a device goes missing, you’ll know how to put Find My to work.
Find My iPhone has a few tricks up its sleeve for when you want a device to show a message or if you think it was stolen:
Lost Mode: With this mode, which works on an iOS device or Apple Watch, you’ll be asked to set up a 6-digit passcode, optionally enter a phone number where you can be reached, and a message (“Please return this iPad to the Starbucks on 3rd and Ravenna—no questions asked!”). When you enable Lost Mode on a missing device, it kicks in as soon as the device is awake and has an Internet connection. Anyone who tries to use the device will see your message along with a place to enter the passcode. Additionally, if you’ve set up Apple Pay on the device, Apple suspends the device’s capability to make payments with those credit or debit cards. If you get it back, you can enter the passcode to dismiss the message and use it normally.
Lock: Available for the Mac, the Lock feature enables you to protect an entire Mac with a short passcode. You can also enter a message that will appear on the Lock screen. This is a good choice if you think you’ll get your Mac back but would prefer that nobody mess with it in the meantime. Note that if you lock a Mac, you can’t erase it as we discuss next, so lock it only if you think it can be recovered.
Erase: Even if your device had an excellent passcode or password, you might worry that a thief will access your data. Fortunately, you can erase your iOS device, Apple Watch, or Mac. This resets it to factory defaults and deletes your data from the device. In the case of an iOS device or Apple Watch, even after the erasure, if the thief doesn’t know your iCloud credentials, they will be unable to set it up for someone else, rendering it useless. If you get the device back, you can restore your backup—you do have a backup, right? Note that erasing a device makes it impossible for you to see its location in Find My iPhone.
Activation Lock: If the stolen device is an iOS device or an Apple Watch, when you turn on Find My iPhone, you also enable Activation Lock. This feature prevents someone who doesn’t know your Apple ID and password from turning off Find My iPhone, erasing the device, or setting it up for a new user. In other words, Activation Lock makes it so there’s much less of a reason to steal an iOS device or Apple Watch, since the stolen device can’t ever be used by anyone else.
Note that Find My works only while the device still has power, so if you think a device has been mislaid, it’s best to try locating it right away, before the battery runs out. But even if you are unable to retrieve your Mac, iOS device, or Apple Watch, you can likely prevent others from accessing your data or taking over the device.
How to Turn Off Find My iPhone
If you’re planning on selling, giving away, or trading in your iPhone or other Apple device, you should turn off the Find My app. Here’s how to turn off Find My iPhone and the Find My app for your other Apple devices:
How to Turn Off Find My on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch:
You can choose to do one of the following
iOS 13, iPadOS 13, or later:
- First, go to settings > [your name] > Find My, then turn off Find My iPhone or other devices.
- Enter your Apple ID password.
- Tap Turn Off.
iOS 12 or earlier:
- First go to settings > [your name] > iCloud, then proceed to turn off Find My [device].
- Next, enter your Apple ID password.
- Then, tap turn off.
How to Turn off Find My on your Apple Watch:
- Drag the Power Off slider to the right.
- Next, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
- Then, tap your Apple Watch at the top of the screen.
- Tap the Information button.
- Tap Unpair Apple Watch.
- Select Apple Watch in the Find My iPhone on iCloud.com and click remove from account.
How to Turn off Find My on a Mac:
First, you need to choose Apple Menu > System Preferences, then depending on your macOS, do this:
macOS 10.15 or later:
- Click Apple ID, then click iCloud and deselect Find My Mac.
- Next, you’ll need to enter your Apple ID password and click Continue.
macOS 10.14 or earlier:
- First, click iCloud and deselect Find My Mac.
- Then, enter your Apple ID password and click Continue.
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