Find My iPhone Overview Updated April 6, 2021

Find My iPhone

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34 'Find my iPhone' stories

November 2011 - April 2021


Find My iPhone is part of the Find My application that Apple preloads on iPhones, iPads, Apple Watch, and iCloud.com.

What is Find My iPhone?

Find My iPhone allows a user to track their lost iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch. If you lose your iPhone, you can use the Find My app on another device to see its last known location.

In previous versions of iOS, Find My iPhone and Find My Friends were separate applications. Starting in iOS 13, they were combined into a single app that allows you to locate your devices and check the location of your friends and family.

Find My iPhone has become a way to make iOS devices less attractive to steal. Once Find My is enabled on an iPad, iPhone, Mac, or Apple Watch, the device cannot be unlocked without the iCloud password of the original account.

How to enable Find my iPhone

To protect yourself from losing an iPhone, it’s important that you turn on Find My iPhone on your iPhone. You should also turn it on on your iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch as well.

Find My iPhone

On your iPhone, go to Settings > Choose Your Account at the top (where it says Apple ID, iCloud, iTunes & App Store). Go to Find My.

In the top section, make sure it is enabled. You can also enable “Share My Location” in order to also let your family and friends know where you are at. This feature is handy if you have Family Sharing enabled for checking to see the location of your spouse or children. If you have a HomePod, you will want to enable this feature to be able to make personal requests regarding your data.

How to locate a missing iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch

If you have misplaced your iPhone, it’s easy to track it using the Find My application on another device or on iCloud.com. To get started, open the Find My app, go to the Devices tab, and find the device in the list.

Once you locate the device in the list, you can play a sound, get directions to its locations, Mark as Lost, or even erase it. If the device is offline, it’ll receive commands once it comes back online. You should only erase the device if you don’t expect to be able to recover it.

How to disable Find My iPhone

Disabling Find My iPhone should only be done when selling a device or sending it off to be repaired by Apple. Apple requires the service to be disabled before generating a return code.

To disable Find My iPhone, go to Settings > Choose your account > Find My > Turn Off. To turn it off, you will be forced to authenticate the request using your iCloud password.

Again, just to clarify, the only two times you should disable the service is when you are selling a device or at the request of Apple Support prior to sending a device in for repair.

How to bypass Apple’s activation lock

If an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or iPad is locked with an iCloud account, the only way to unlock is it with the password of the account or by getting in contact with Apple. Apple will only unlock the device if you can provide the original proof of purchase that matches the serial number of the device. Apple’s policy is to protect against device theft.

If you don’t remember the password of the account, you can reset it using the email address tied to the account.

Find Missing AirPods

Find my Airpods

The Find My application can also locate AirPods. If you have Find My enabled on your iPhone, it will automatically be enabled on your AirPods as well.

If your AirPods are lost, not in their case, and are somewhere close, you can use the Find My app to locate them. If your AirPods are out of range of your devices, have dead batteries, or are in the case, the Find My app can still help by showing the time and location where they were last connected.

If you can find your AirPods on the map, you can have them play a noise. This  feature can be helpful if you lose a single AirPod in the couch or in the bed. If you can’t find your AirPods, you’ll be able to see their last known location. If your AirPods come back online, you will then be able to make them play a sound.

Find my iPhone Stories April 6

Apple has debuted a new “Find My Certification Asst.” app today that is designed to let third-party companies test how their accessories will work with the Find My application. This comes after Apple announced at WWDC 2020 that it would open up the Find My network to third-party products for the first time.

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Find my iPhone Stories June 3, 2019

macOS Catalina adds a new Find My feature, which combines Find My iPhone and Find My Friends.

Finding a lost or stolen Mac works even when the machine is sleeping …

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Find my iPhone Stories April 17, 2019

Apple is working on a new app that’s going to replace the Find My Friends and Find My iPhone apps. With codename “GreenTorch”, the app is currently being tested by engineers at the company.

People familiar with its development shared exclusive details about the project with 9to5Mac, but asked to remain anonymous discussing the company’s plans. The new app will have the same features of the two existing apps, but combined into a single app, which will be available on both iOS and on macOS, as a Marzipan app.

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Find my iPhone Stories March 20, 2019

I’m not sure whether there’s a typical lost iPhone story, but the tale of how I came to leave my iPhone behind on Monday evening, outdoors, several miles from home, is a slightly convoluted one.

I should like to note that no alcohol was involved – only tea …

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Find my iPhone Stories March 6, 2019

If you’ve ever worried about your iPhone, iPad or Mac being stolen, you may be worrying about the wrong thing. Data from device-protection company Prey shows that you are far more likely to misplace a device than to have it stolen.

The company also revealed some of the stranger stories behind the loss of devices …

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Find my iPhone Stories February 14, 2019

How to set up and use Find My iPhone

Do you want to enable the option to play a sound on and locate your iPhone and other Apple devices? Follow along for how to set up and use Find My iPhone with Siri, HomePod, and all of your other Apple devices.

Find my iPhone Stories September 12, 2017

Apple patents easy way to get a lost iPhone back to its owner

Find My iPhone is a great feature to have if you’ve ever realised you’ve misplaced your iPhone. You can not only track the device, but also post a message on the Lock screen asking a finder to contact you …

Find my iPhone Stories April 18, 2017

A thief who stole more than 100 smartphones from people attending the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was caught thanks to Find My iPhone, say police. One report said that the number of devices found in his backpack was 130.

When festival-goers noticed their iPhones had been taken, they activated Find My iPhone to track the location of their devices. They then identified someone whose movements around the site matched the moving dot.

“A bunch people activated their ‘find my phone’ and pointed at, ‘Hey, it’s that guy, my phone, my dot, it’s moving with that guy,'” said Indio police Sgt. Dan Marshall …

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Find my iPhone Stories August 25, 2016

Future iPhones & iPads could video thieves and capture their fingerprints

An Apple patent noted by Patently Apple describes how iOS devices could make it very easy to police to identify thieves by automatically taking photos and video of them, and capturing their fingerprint data via the Touch ID sensor.

Find my iPhone Stories June 2, 2016

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Update 2: Apple is reporting that the iCloud.com services have also been restored.

Update: Apple is reporting that the availability of some services has now been restored but several features of iCloud are still down and undergoing maintenance.

As noted by Apple’s system status page, a multitude of Apple services are currently experiencing instability and downtime for some users. The affected services include the App Store, Mac App Store, Apple TV services, iTunes In The Cloud and critical features like Find My iPhone. We have also had a few reports of Apple Music downtime, seemingly repeating the outage yesterday, but Apple’s official status report does not mention any problems with Apple Music at this time.

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Find my iPhone Stories February 19, 2016

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An 18-year-old girl reportedly kidnapped by her ex-boyfriend has been safely rescued by police after her mother tracked her location using Find My iPhoneCNBC reports that the victim was found more than 150 miles away from home.

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Find my iPhone Stories January 28, 2016

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Anyone who has ever accidentally left behind their iPhone or iPad in a public place like a coffee shop will know the sinking feeling in your stomach the moment you realize you’ve done it. Even if you rush back just one or two minutes later, you know there’s a high chance that the device will be gone.

If the worst happens, and you have another device with you, Find My iPhone lets you track the stolen device – except thieves tend to know this, and all they have to do to prevent it is to power-down their ill-gotten gains. This can be done while the device is locked, with no Touch ID or passcode access needed …

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Find my iPhone Stories June 2, 2015

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Update 2 9:45PM ET: Users this evening again reported issues centered around iCloud. The outage affected all store services, according to Apple’s status page. It appears to have been resolved, however, with the exception of Game Center.

Update: After about an hour of downtime and still with no admission from Apple of anything ever having gone wrong, iCloud services seem to be coming back online now.

Despite being listed as fully functional on Apple’s status page, it seems iCloud is once again down for many users. Reports across Twitter and in our own experience here at 9to5Mac have verified that iCloud and the App Store (and possibly other Apple services) are currently down.

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Find my iPhone Stories May 21, 2015

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Update: As of 6.30am PT, Apple had updated its status page as showing all services back to normal. The company said that 40% of users had been affected.

Apple’s system status page is showing a substantial issue with iCloud services, the problems affecting eleven different services and persisting for four hours and counting at the time of writing.

While Apple lists the services as “may be slow for some users,” many users are reporting that the services are either completely unavailable or time-out when attempting to login …  expand full story

Find my iPhone Stories May 14, 2015

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A bug appearing for a small number users on iCloud.com may allow them to temporarily track and make changes to Macs belonging to other users, according to reports appearing on Twitter. Users have noted that Macs with names they don’t recognize recently started appearing in the device list on the Find My iPhone web service, allowing them to remotely lock or erase the computers in some cases, or just play a sound in others.

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Find my iPhone Stories March 7, 2015

iOS 8 How-to: Use Siri to return a lost iPhone to their owner

What happens if you are out and about and happen to find an iPhone? You happen to be a good person and want to return the iPhone to the original owner, but the phone is locked with a passcode. You might think you are stuck, but actually you can use Siri to find out who owns the device.

Find my iPhone Stories February 28, 2015

Find My iPhone

Find My iPhone was first released in June 2010 initially for the iPhone. Now, Find My iPhone allows you to track the location of your device, be it an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, in case it gets lost or stolen. This is a great benefit because when you locate your device using Find My iPhone, the device makes noise until it is found and will show you were it is located using Apple Maps. Recently, the police used Find My iPhone to track and save a woman’s life. However, Find My iPhone did require the device to be turned on and connected to the internet in order for it to work completely. New with iOS 8, you have the option to automatically send the location of the device to Apple when the battery is critically low. In this how-to I will discuss how to set up Find My iPhone, and how to use Find My iPhone.

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Find my iPhone Stories January 7, 2015

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Bloomberg reports that a Manhattan District Attorney is challenging recent moves by Apple, Google and other tech companies by suggesting government pass laws that prevent mobile devices from being “sealed off from law enforcement.” In an interview this week, the government official called it “an issue of public safety.” expand full story

Find my iPhone Stories December 9, 2014

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Apple appears to have finally dropped Google Maps from iCloud.com, replacing it with its own in-house maps almost two years after removing Google Maps from iOS and most of its other products. Apple started slowly rolling out the feature to its iCloud beta site for select users earlier this year before pulling it, but it now seems to have replaced Google for all users of iCloud.com’s Find My iPhone feature (pictured above). expand full story

Find my iPhone Stories October 15, 2014

Police officer uses Find My iPhone to track and save woman stranded in 500-foot ravine

A San Jose police officer used Apple’s Find My iPhone service to track down and rescue Melissa Vasquez, a woman who had been trapped in a 500-foot South Bay ravine for 17 hours. According to a report by KGO-TV, officer David Cameron is to thank for locating the stranded driver. After Vasquez was involved in a car accident, OnStar reported her location to the police, but they were unable to find any evidence of the car or driver.

When Cameron, who says he’s known around his department for being a bit of a “tech geek,” searched her house, he found her iPad and realized that he could use Find My iPhone to locate Vasquez’s cell phone. Vasquez’s tablet was locked using a passcode, but it took Cameron only three guesses to figure out the code and gain access to Find My iPhone.

From there it took only 20 minutes for police to track down Vasquez and begin the process of airlifting her to a nearby hospital.

Find my iPhone Stories October 1, 2014

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Apple has unveiled a new tool for users to help determine whether an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch is configured to use Activation Lock. The page works much like the tools used by carriers such as AT&T to determine whether a potential trade-in device was protected with the feature. You enter the IMEI or serial number of the device, fill in a CAPTCHA, and press “Continue” to get your results (via iDownloadblog).

If the device is protected, you’ll find instructions for disabling the security measure before selling it. You’ll also find help for removing a used device from another user’s account, in the event that you were sold a phone and the original owner had not disabled it (of course, all of those options involve contacting the previous owner and having them do it, for security purposes).

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Find my iPhone Stories September 19, 2014

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Before Family Sharing, there was Home Sharing, which allowed you to share apps and media with your family by having an Apple ID that contained the purchases to be used on up to five computers and an unlimited number of iOS devices. For your family to make purchases with that Apple ID, they either know the password to that Apple ID (which also means they can access your passwords, credit card information, documents), or they have to go to the account holder every time they want to purchase an app or music.

Now with iOS 8 there is Family Sharing and it does not require sharing an Apple ID. Instead your family of five (six including yourself) each have their own Apple ID with the same credit card and can download apps and iTunes. Your family does have to have their Apple ID based in the same country. Also, parents can approve their kids’ purchases right from their device. Besides managing the App Store and iTunes purchases, Family Sharing can help you track where your children are using Find My Friends and can help find their lost devices using Find my iPhone.

Family Sharing also allows you to easily create a shared family calendar and shared family reminder list that anyone in the family can view and edit. It also creates a shared family photo album. In this how to, I will discuss how to set up Family Sharing and how to use it.

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Find my iPhone Stories September 2, 2014

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Apple has responded to this week’s hackings of celebrity iCloud accounts, which resulted in postings of private photographs. Here’s Apple’s statement in full:

CUPERTINO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–We wanted to provide an update to our investigation into the theft of photos of certain celebrities. When we learned of the theft, we were outraged and immediately mobilized Apple’s engineers to discover the source. Our customers’ privacy and security are of utmost importance to us. After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet. None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud® or Find my iPhone. We are continuing to work with law enforcement to help identify the criminals involved.

To protect against this type of attack, we advise all users to always use a strong password and enable two-step verification. Both of these are addressed on our website at http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4232.

Apple says that it conducted an investigation for more than 40 hours, and denies that iCloud or Find my iPhone was actually breached. Apple is presenting this as a very targeted username, password, and security questions hack on “certain celebrity accounts.” Apple recommends that users utilize the 2-step verification service for Apple IDs/iCloud. The company also says it is continuing to work with law enforcement on finding the hackers involved.

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Find my iPhone Stories June 3, 2014

New iOS 8 feature makes it easier to track missing devices

A new feature in Apple’s iOS 8 software might make it easier for users to track down missing or stolen devices. The setting seen above can be found in the Find My iPhone panel of the device’s iCloud settings, and enables the phone to automatically send its last known location to Apple’s iCloud service if the phone’s battery is almost dead.

The data will apparently be stored for 24 hours after the phone’s battery dies, so even if the phone is no longer turned on users can at least have some idea of where it was active.

Of course, there’s still a chance that thieves could just turn off the device before the battery reaches a critical level and avoid being caught by this feature. Perhaps a future update will allow the phone to send this information as part of its regular shutdown process, but for now it’s at least a step in the right direction.

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