Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen


Apple's Find My iPhone service is a free service available to all iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad owners that can help you find your iDevice if it gets lost or stolen.  Find My iPhone uses WiFi triangulation and/or real-GPS tracking to locate your device and display it's location on the Me.com website or from another iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch using the Find My iPhone App.

We have several posts and pages here at GrownUpGeek.com regarding how to track in iPhone and difference between the Find my iPhone App and the Find my iPhone service, but we still get questions about the specifics of finding a stolen iPhone, what Find My iPhone can or cannot do, etc, so this page will provide some quick and easy answers to those common questions.  Although the term iPhone is used, most answers also apply to the iPad and iPod Touch.

 

Q: What is required for Find My iPhone to track or find my iPhone?

A: You must have previously configured the Find My iPhone service, Location Services must be enabled for Find My iPhone, the iPhone must be powered-on, the iPhone must be able to aquire a GPS signal OR location triangulation via cell-towers or WiFi, and the iPhone must be in a 3G service area or be connected to WiFi. 

Q: My iPhone was lost (or stolen) but I never setup an iCloud account or Find My iPhone - can I still track the location of my iPhone?

A: NO - Find my iPhone must be configured BEFORE your iPhone or device gets lost or stolen

 

Q: My iPhone was lost (or stolen) but location services was turned off - can I track my iPhone or enable location services remotely?

A: YES - Only if your phone has iOS 8 and Find My iPhone was setup, you can log-in to www.iCloud.com and use Find My iPhone to enable "lost mode" which will turn-on Location Services. However, Location Services cannot be turned-off in iOS 8 without your icloud password, so if the theif was able to turn off Location Services he has probably already locked you out of your iCloud account, or removed your phone from your account.

 

Q: My iPhone was lost (or stolen) but I never setup an iCloud account or Find My iPhone - can I remotely activate tracking?

A: NO - Find My iPhone must be configured before your iPhone becomes lost or stolen

 

Q: If my iPhone is stolen and the thief disables Find My iPhone or erases/restores/wipes the iPhone, can it still be tracked?

A: NO - Once the Find My iPhone service or Location Services is disabled or if the iPhone/iPod touch/iPad is erased, it is no longer trackable by you using Find My iPhone

 

Q: If the theif removes the SIM card, can my iPhone still be tracked?

A: YES - If the iPhone is able to connect to Wifi, even without a SIM card, iCloud can still locate it. 

 

Q: If the battery dies on my lost or stolen iPhone or if the dirty-thief turns the iPhone off, can the iPhone still be located or tracked?

A: NO - The iPhone must be powered-on to be tracked

 

Q: If I did not setup Find My iPhone or if the thief disabled it, can the police/my provider still track my iPhone?

A: YES - The police and/or the telephone service provider (AT&T, Verizon, etc) can locate a phone (or, a 3G enabled iPad, not an iPod Touch) in emergency situations (they use their own services/systems, not Find My iPhone).  Key word of that sentence is "emergency situation". 

 

Q: I installed the Find My iPhone App on my iPhone so I can track it now right?

A: NO!  Tracking or locating an iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch is done via the Find My iPhone service, not the Find My iPhone App.  See this page to understand the differences: Find My iPhone App vs Service

 

Q: My iPhone was lost or stolen and when I track it with Find My iPhone it says 'offline' - Why?

A: The phone might be turned off, out of range of WiFi or 3G service, Find My iPhone or Location Services may have been disabled on the phone or the phone could have been wiped/erased/restored 

 

Q: Can I use the Find My iPhone service to track other phones or devices that aren't iPhones?

A: Find My iPhone can be used to track iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, iMacs, and MacBooks with OS X Lion or Mountain Lion

 

Q: Does Find My iPhone display the history of the locations or track everywhere the iPhone has been?

A: Find My iPhone only displays the current location of the device by default.  If you put the phone in "lost mode" if it becomes lost or stolen, you will then be able to view the history of the phone's location.

 

Q: Will the person/theif with the iphone be notified when I track the phone?

A: If enabled, location services may display a tiny indicator near the clock.  The person can then look at the location settings screen and it will notify them if they are currently being located, or if they have been located within the previous 24 hours

 

Q: How accurate is the location tracking of Find My iPhone?

A: Find My iPhone accuracy ranges from a few feet to a few miles.  The size of the 'blue location circle' indicates the accuracy.  A small pinpoint circle indicates more accuracy, a larger circle indicates less accuracy

 

Q: Can I put Find My iPhone on my first Gen iPhone, my iPhone 3 or iPhone 3G?

A: NO - Find my iPhone only works on iPhone 3GS or newer (iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, 4S+), Newer iPod touches, all iPads, and iMacs/Macbooks running OS X Lion or newer

 

Q: Someone stole my iPhone.  Find My iPhone is showing me where the phone is, should I barge in and take back my phone? 

A: NO!  Seriously?!  Find my iPhone is intended to help you locate a LOST phone i.e.; if you left it at a restaurant.  Because the accuracy of Find My iPhone is not perfect, if you try confront a thief you run the risk of breaking down the wrong door, getting your ass-kicked or worse, a knife to the spleen or a bullet to the face.  Use some common sense and leave confronting criminals to the professionals.  

 

Got a question about tracking your lost or stolen device? Post a comment below.

Comment viewing options

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
My ipad was stolen before I even got to use it. Can it be tracked if it gets connected to WiFi? Like through it's Mac address or something?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
Did you even bother to read any of the words on the page, right above where you asked the question that was already answered. on the page, above?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
Ok I lost my iPhone 6 about four months ago. I've gotten a new phone since then but I still want to find it. It's probably dead in lost mode and find my iPhone. But isn't there a way Apple can turn it on and get to the device through a computer??? I'm pretty sure someone has said that once before to me.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
the best way to find an iphone is to leave it on. Then, if you had find my iphone set, every time they turn it on, if you watch for it and have made a police report, the police equipment can track it even better than find my phone. If you don't turn it off, the phone cant be sold so its not so great for who took it. This advice, from a police department, found our iphone and the person who took it
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
No. If the battery is dead, it's dead. Even Apple, in all of it's greatness, can't remotely charge a battery.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
What if you didnt know anything about Find My Phone App until it was lost and then you try to track it? Can you use a serial number to track your iTouch?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Tracking iPhone
If I use lost iPhone so that Location Services turns back on will the finder/thief be notified and so turn it off again since they will know I am tracking them?
anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tracking iPhone

Taken from the page above:

 

Q: Will the person/theif with the iphone be notified when I track the phone?

A: If enabled, location services may display a tiny indicator near the clock.  The person can then look at the location settings screen and it will notify them if they are currently being located, or if they have been located within the previous 24 hours

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
Hi, can we add back devices linked to Find My Iphone if we have accidentally removed it.
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen

I *think* you just turn-off Find My iPhone on the phone itself, then turn it back on/sign back in and it will be re-added.

Desi (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
I lost my iphone 6. So i called my company provider and they turned off the phone. My question is if my service is turned off on my phone does that mean i can't use Find My Iphone?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
Can I real time track my daughters iphone without her knowing? I do not pay for the phone. My ex does. Can I do it without jail breaking it. I might be able to get the password, but I heard that she is sent a message on both her phone and a e-mail. Is that true
Apple Eater (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
There are several other posts here about how to track your children (try the search function). But without full access to the phone there is not much you can do. The best thing would be to create an Apple Family Sharing account, and add her to it - you will then be able to use Find My iPhone from your computer or iPhone/iPad to track the location to the phone. But without her knowing and without the phone in your hands it's difficult to do and easy for her to Undo..
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
5s got stolen. It's offline. I restored an old phone through iCloud using the info from that phone, did that make it impossible to find the stolen one? Did transferring my info log me out of that phone resulting in me not being able to erase it manually through find m iPhone whenever it gets reconnected?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
My iPhone has no sim, not connected to the internet and the location is off, how can i find it
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
What to do so that my lost iPhone 6plus cant be used anymore by anybody?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
My iphone 5 is currently lost, but its connected to a wifi that i have connected to before so is there anyway i can locate it? (i dont have Find my iPhone connected...)
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen

If you setup iCloud and have iOS 8, you may be able to log on to the iCloud website and mark it as "lost" and/or send a sound to it to locate it.
If you didnt setup iCloud, you are SOL ..

vinay (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
i lost my apple iphone 6 . i think theif thrown it some where while its online can i find my phone?
Apple Eater (not verified)
Tracking your iPhone
If you setup iCloud and Find My iPhone, then yes, you can track it. Just go to iCloud.com, sign in, and click the Find My iPhone button. If you never setup iCloud or Find My iPhone, you cannot track it.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
It would be wonderful if I could find my iphone 5 even when it's offline and not on. Yes, I set up Icloud after I bought the phone. But Apple should have a feature that allows you to find the phone even when it's off. Now that would be cool! At the moment I'm not concerned about erasing it, I just want to find it. I already called Apple and they said it can't be done. Sad
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
tracking my iphone
Can I track my iphone 6 if it was restored to factory and doesn't have the sim card in it?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: tracking my iphone
no
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
If I lost my phone but never set up I cloud and find my phone is disabled can I still erase my phone back to factory settings?
photo of member named
Hubby
insert witty description here
I am a Grown Up Geek
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen

If you never setup iCloud, you cannot take advantage of any of it's features - one of which is remotely erasing your phone.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
If your I Phone 5 is offline you won't be able to find it. It has to be able to connect to the internet, so it has to be on.
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
iPhone 6 got stolen and appears as "offline" after 20 hours.

Hi,
I am currently on vacation in Stockholm. I bought a new iPhone 6 at Amsterdam airport on my way to here. I activated it with the SIM from my country and I was using it for taking pictures and accessing Facebook etc with the hotel's wifi. While I was watching some street performance in the central station area someone pick-pocketed me and it was gone... Only after 2 days of purchase...

"Find My iPhone" was turned on but almost 20 hours after the incident it still appears as "Offline". What should I do? I understand that the phone needs to be on to be tracked. The thief will need to turn it on eventually to use it or sell it to someone, but is there way for these these thieves to turn it on without being tracked down? I don't want to keep sitting in front of my laptop rest of my time here to wait until this appears on my page. What should I do? Should I just forget about it? ah.... Thank you in advance for your advice.

Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
my iphone 5s was stolen at a party. I was able to track it to seton hall university the next day where Find My iPhone said it was, but I couldn't get into the building where i know it is. I had my mom do the Activation Lock (locks down the phone so the phone number, data plan, and etc is unaccessible) and I put it in lost mode. Now that it has been over 24 hours, the last location is no longer available and my phone says 'offline'. i think it may have died because the battery was low when i tracked it. Should i still file a police report? Is there any hope for my phone? Should i deactivate the Activation Lock and will that let me locate my phone again?
Anonymous Visitor (not verified)
Find My iPhone offline
Is there any way to track/find my lost iPhone if it's 'offline'?
kushal barun shrestha (not verified)
Re: Tips to track your iPhone if it is lost or stolen
any one find my iphone

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.