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This is the fastest way to find your lost or stolen iPhone



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Losing an iPhone can be expensive. Prepare for success.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

The second you realize iPhone missing – or even scarier, stolen – can cause panic. In the blink of an eye, you quickly realize how much personal information is stored on your phone, and the problem gets worse as you realize that your means of communicating with the outside world have also disappeared. Not to mention, replacing a lost iPhone can be an expensive endeavor.

There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of permanently losing and using a phone Apple’s Find My service is the key to securing and restoring your precious iPhone.

While I have your attention, let’s take a moment to make sure you’ve set up a passcode. That way, if someone steals your phone, they won’t have access to a wealth of personal information. Let’s also take a moment to make sure the Find My service is turned on so that you have the best chance of getting your phone back.


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Set an access code

Some people view the use of Face ID or Touch ID as an unnecessary step when using an iPhone. Those people are wrong. Setting a passcode and using your face or fingerprint to protect all information on your phone is an essential part of keeping your personal information secure. Just think of all the information on your phone: banking apps, private calls, the location of your home and office, contacts, emails, photos … the list goes on.

Do you really want a random stranger to experience all of that?

Secure your device by opening Settings Face ID (or Touch ID) and passcode and follow the instructions. Scanning your finger or letting Face ID work its magic is one thing minor discomfort. And after a few days, the extra step becomes part of your routine and you don’t even notice it.

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There’s more than just a toggle to turn on Find My that you’ll want to keep an eye out for.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Make sure Find My iPhone is turned on

After setting up a passcode, make sure Find My is turned on. It should be on by default and you should do your best to turn it off, but it’s always a good idea to check right now.

Open it Settings app and tap your name at the top of the screen. Then tap Find my Find my iphoneMake sure the switch next to Find My iPhone is on and make sure the switches are next to Find my network and Send last location are also on.

As a refresher, Apple’s Find My network will crowdsource the location of a device marked as lost. For example, if you lose your iPhone and mark it as lost in the Find My app (more on that process in a minute), Apple will use the Find My service on any iPad, iPhone, or Mac to locate your iPhone, even if it isn’t connected to the internet. The owner of the device doesn’t even know that they help you find your lost device. I’ve discussed this feature in more details here when it made its debut. There’s no reason not to use the network to help you or a complete stranger find a missing Apple device.

As for Send Last Location, that goes without saying. If your battery is low, it will automatically send its last location to Find My to help you recover it when it shuts down.

Take advantage of Family Sharing

Apple’s Family Sharing service not only saves you money by letting your whole family install a paid app on multiple devices, but it also integrates with Find My. With Family Sharing set upyou can view the location of all devices associated with a family member’s Apple ID. This means you can ask a family member to immediately search for your lost iPhone once you realize it is missing.

Create good habits

The best way to keep your phone secure, especially when traveling or in unfamiliar areas, is to keep a close eye on it and never relax. Be attentive. Even overly careful. Don’t keep your phone out in the open where someone can grab it and run. If you do lose your phone, don’t panic! Take a deep breath and don’t forget to use Find My iPhone.

Recover your lost iPhone: The Find My app is the key

On every iOS device, Apple’s Find My service, formerly Find My iPhone, is built into the system settings. The app is connected to and managed by your Apple ID. The moment you realize you’ve lost your phone, you should first visit icloud.com/find on a computer, open the Find My app on another Apple device you own or a member of your Family Sharing- group the Find My app on one of their Apple devices. You can also use the Find My app on another Apple device by signing in with your Apple ID.

If you access Find My from the website or on someone else’s device, it is important that you log in to the same iCloud account associated with the lost iPhone. After logging in, click on it All devices option at the top of the screen and select your phone from the list. The map refreshes and takes you to the current location of your phone. When the device is turned off, the last known location is displayed.

When viewing the location of the device, use the map in the top right corner of the screen to play a sound, turn on Lost mode or wipe your phone remotely. Or in the Find My app, you can scroll down to find the same options, as well as enable notifications for when the device is found if it goes offline.

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The Find My website makes it easy to track down your lost Apple devices.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Can’t find your phone? Enable Lost Mode

If you’re playing a sound on your iPhone and still can’t find it, turn on Lost Mode. If you already have a passcode to lock your device (you know it, right?), It is necessary to unlock your device and disable Lost Mode. If you don’t have a set yet, you need to make one. You will also be asked to enter a phone number and message that will be displayed on the lock screen asking whoever has your device to return it.

When enabled, Lost Mode will lock the device, prevent notifications and messages from appearing on your lock screen, and continue to track the phone’s location. The phone will still ring for incoming phone and FaceTime calls. This should help you locate the phone if it is nearby. Or maybe you’re lucky and the person who has the phone will answer it to help them get it back.

All credit and debit cards added to Apple Pay, as well as student IDs and transit cards stored in the Wallet app, will be disabled until you can access the phone again and sign in to your iCloud account.

If the phone is turned off and lost mode is on, you will receive a notification when the phone is turned back on, including its current location.

When you restore your phone, you will need to enter your passcode or the passcode you created when entering lost mode. Then log in to your iCloud account to regain access to all your Apple services, such as Apple Pay.

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What an iPhone looks like when lost mode is on.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Whatever you do, don’t confront a thief

If you can trace your phone to a house or apartment building, don’t just confront the potential thief. Call the police and ask for their help. Sure, you’ll want to get your phone back, but facing off and potentially getting hurt isn’t ideal.

Contact your local police and let them handle it.

Please contact your network provider

If you cannot get your phone back, contact your carrier and explain that your phone has been lost or stolen. The carrier will mark your device’s International Mobile Equipment Identity number and in most cases prevent that number from working on the network, rendering the device unusable for whoever has it.

Keep in mind that having your service suspended will reduce the chances of the phone being tracked unless it is connected to a known Wi-Fi network or another Find My network member is nearby. Suspending service is something you should only do if you are sure you cannot restore the phone.

Submit an insurance claim

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AppleCare Plus claim page for a lost iPhone.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani / CNET

If you have AppleCare Plus with theft and loss or pay monthly device insurance through your carrier, start the claim process as soon as possible. You will need to fill out some paperwork and pay a deductible to get a replacement device.

Use this website to start the process for a phone with AppleCare Plus with theft and loss coverage. Submitting a claim will erase your iPhone and no one else will be able to use it. If you find your phone after submitting a claim, you can cancel it. But you have to set up your iPhone as new.

Please contact your carrier directly to start the claim process.

After you restore your lost iPhone, take a few minutes to pass change these 15 settingsIf you are still getting used to iOS 14, check out our favorite featuresWe even found a few hidden features you should know


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