For many iPhone owners, the worst-case scenario is losing their device. When this happens, all your photos, contacts, apps and data all lost together with it. Fortunately, Apple’s upgraded “Find My” app comes with new features to help you find your phone.
How to Set Up Find My iPhone in iOS 15
If you are new to the iPhone or have never set up your Find My app yet, this can become confusing. While the app used to be called “Find My iPhone,” it is now simply “Find My.” However, using it on your iPhone is an option called “Find My iPhone.” Let’s see how to set that up.
- Go to the Settings app on your iPhone, tap on your name, then “Find My.”
- At the very top, tap on “Find My iPhone” and make sure it is toggled on.
- Assuming you are already on iOS 15, you will also have the option of “Find My network,” which will help you locate your iPhone even if it is offline.
- Tap on “Send Last Location,” a helpful feature that will send your location to Find My if your iPhone battery is about to die.
How to Share My Location with Others
Once you’ve enabled Find My, you have a number of options available with iOS 15, including the ability to share your location with friends and family.
- Go to “Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services.”
- Tap on “Share My Location,” then enable the option for “Share My Location.”
- You may need to share your location individually. Ensure this has been done by tapping on each person’s name. If you see “Stop Sharing My Location,” you know your location is being shared.
As soon as this is toggled on, anyone on your Apple Family account can see your location.
If you want to expand your location sharing to people in your contact list, you can do that as well.
- Start by opening the “Find My” app and open the “People” tab. Tap on the “+” sign directly at the top right of the pop-up menu.
- Tap on “Share My Location” and choose the name of the contact you wish to share your location with. Alternatively, you can manually enter their email address or phone number.
- Tap on “Send” and choose how long you would like to share your location.
If you want to stop location sharing altogether, it’s very easy to do from inside the Find My app.
- Enter the app and disable “Share My Location” and all location-sharing will be off.
- Should you prefer to stop sharing with a particular person, tap the people tab at the bottom of the app and choose the appropriate contact.
- Tap “Stop Sharing My Location.”
How to Track a Lost iPhone
Initially, the best way to locate a missing iPhone is to use the Find My app.
- Open the app on another device like a Mac or iPad and tap or click on the “Devices” tab.
- Look for the missing device on the list.
You have a few options: making the device play a sound, turn-by-turn directions to its location, adding a message to the lost device asking for it to be returned, lock the device so anyone who finds it cannot access it, and erasing all of the data.
In the event you don’t have another Apple device that has the Find My app installed, iCloud.com/find is the next best option.
Click on “All Devices,” then select the device you want to put into Lost Mode or lock.
Apple doesn’t offer the same set of options here as you will on a device like an iPhone, iPad or Mac. However, between Play Sound, Lock and Erase iPad, you should be able to take the necessary steps to locate a lost device.
How to Use Someone Else’s iPhone to Locate Yours
If your iPhone is lost and you can’t access another device or iCloud.com/find, you can turn to a friend or family member for help.
- On the other person’s iPhone, open the Find My app, then tap on the “Me” option at the bottom right of the screen.
- At the bottom of this screen is now an option for “Help a Friend.”
- Have your friend follow the on-screen directions, which include signing in to iCloud using their Apple ID to see and locate their lost device.
- The other person can tap on Play Sound to locate the iPhone if it’s nearby or tap on Lost Mode to protect the data on the iPhone and activate low power mode to allow for a larger search window. They can also choose to erase the iPhone.
How to Locate an iPhone that Is Offline
This is perhaps one of the biggest iOS 15 changes to Find My. It’s important to know that the offline feature only works on the iPhone 11 lineup and above. Once this feature is active, you will know it’s available the next time you power down your iPhone and see the message “iPhone Findable After Power Off.”
- Start by going to “Settings -> Your Name -> Find My” and tapping on “Find My iPhone.”
- Make sure the toggle next to “Find My iPhone” is on. If you are on iOS 15, you will also see an option for “Find My network.”
- “Send Last Location” is another option that you should enable. It will send your location to your Apple account when the iPhone detects your battery is about to die.
- If you lose your phone after you set this up, you can follow the steps above to locate your iPhone as you would from another Find My app on a Mac or iPad, a friend/family member’s iPhone or iCloud.com/find.
- All of the available steps like placing the iPhone in “Lost Mode,” playing a sound or using directions will be available. You can also set the device to erase the next time it’s powered on.
How to Use Lost Mode
Let’s take a deeper look at “Lost Mode.”
Once you activate Lost Mode, a number of steps will happen:
- A confirmation email will be sent to your Apple ID email address alerting you to this change.
- A custom message can be displayed on your iPhone (or iPad).
- While in Lost Mode, your iPhone will not receive any alerts or notifications outside of phone calls and FaceTime calls. This includes alarms, email notifications, iMessages, etc.
- Apple Pay is immediately disabled. This extends to any transit and student ID cards as well. Once your device is returned, you can resume using all of your cards after unlocking the device and signing back in with your Apple ID.
- The location of your device is placed on any iCloud map, including Find My on other Apple devices you own, that of a friend or family member, and iCloud.com/find.
To disable Lost Mode:
- Go to iCloud.com/find, click on All Devices, and select the device that is currently in Lost Mode.
- Click on “Stop Lost Mode,” then click on it again.
Do note that should you recover your device, Lost Mode will disable itself as soon as your passcode is entered on the device.
How to Turn Off Find My
While Find My has critical importance to locate a missing device, there may be a time you will want to disable it.
iPhone, iPad and Mac
On any iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, the steps to disabling Find My are all the same:
- Go to “Settings -> Your Name -> Find My.”
- Tap on “Find My [device]” and turn off “Find My [device]”.
It’s that simple. If you’re on a Mac,
- Go to the Apple Menu at the very top left -> System Preferences -> Apple ID.”
- Click iCloud in the sidebar, then deselect “Find My Mac.”
With an Apple Watch, the most important step to disable Find My is to unpair it from your iPhone. Doing so will erase any contents, remove Activation Lock and delete any payment card information for Apple Pay. To unpair your Apple Watch:
- Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
- Tap “My Watch -> All Watches,” then tap on the “i” next to your watch.
- Tap on “Unpair Apple Watch,” and it will erase and remove itself from your iCloud account.
With AirPods, the steps are pretty straightforward to remove from your Find My device list. You just need to unpair your AirPods from your Bluetooth settings on all of the devices they are connected to. This could include Apple TV, an iPod, Mac, iPad, etc.
- Go to “Settings -> Bluetooth.” Tap on the “i” next to your AirPods name.
- Tap or click on “Forget This Device” to remove the AirPods from all Apple devices that use the same Apple ID.
On the Mac:
- Navigate to “Apple menu -> System Preferences -> Bluetooth.”
- Press Ctrl + click your AirPods and choose “Disconnect.”
- Similar to a iPhone or iPad, if you choose “Remove” and then “Forget Device,” the AirPods will be removed from all devices using the same Apple ID.
Disabling AirTags is just as easy as one might expect, requiring only a few taps to remove them from an Apple ID.
- Using the iPhone, iPod or iPad, open the Find My app and locate “Items” in the menu at the bottom of the screen.
- Bring your AirTag close to your iPhone or iPad if possible.
- Tap on “Remove Item” and follow the remaining on-screen instructions.
What About Separation Mode?
Another new function of iOS 15 (and iPadOS 15) is the introduction of “Separation Alerts.” The name pretty much explains what this feature will do, but once enabled, your iPhone, Pad, iPod touch, Apple silicon or macOS Monterey hardware will let you know if it’s been left behind. This feature isn’t only for Apple devices, as you can activate Separation Mode for just about anything.
- Start by opening up the Find My app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Tap on “Devices” at the bottom of the screen, then tap again on the intended device.
- Toward the middle of the screen, below “Notifications,” you will see “Notify When Left Behind.” Toggle this option on, then follow the onscreen instructions.
- You can also add a “Trusted Location,” such as your home or office, so you have a little flexibility for a range of motion. Tap on “New Location” and add as many addresses as you see fit.
In the case of AirTags:
- Tap on “Items” at the bottom of the Find My screen, then “Notify When Left Behind” and toggle on.
- Add a trusted location by selecting the location on a map and tapping “Done.”
- Tap on “Done” a second time, and AirTags will be enabled for separation alerts. Place them in a backpack, purse, suitcase, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Should I attempt to locate a missing iPhone by myself?
This is likely the most important aspect of using Find My. No, you should absolutely not attempt to locate a missing iPhone if it appears to be in a home or office building. Should you have any concerns about where an iPhone may be if it went missing or was stolen, contact local authorities to help.
2. Is it safe to use someone else’s iPhone or iPad to locate my device?
Yes, absolutely. Apple makes sure you are protected by ensuring you are using your Apple ID to help locate your device. Also, make sure you log out after you are done locating your device, and you shouldn’t have any security concerns.
3. If I erase my iPhone thinking it’s lost, can I restore it?
Yes, but only if you have a recent iCloud backup. Just restore your iPhone as you normally would after disabling Lost Mode.
Losing your iPhone or any device is a heartbreaking experience. Our devices have become such an integral part of our life that we almost can’t remember what we did before smartphones. Fortunately, Apple has helped develop multiple steps to ensure that in the worst-case scenario, there are built-in protections for its users to locate and recover lost devices.
If you just bought a new device, learn how to transfer your data to a new iPhone or iPad.