Losing your iPhone is a pain. More than just an inconvenience, it can end up being a security risk — after all, many of us have important information on our phones. Fortunately, the Find My iPhone feature on iOS lets you easily track down a lost device or, failing that, remotely lock or wipe it so that it can't easily be accessed. All you need to do is make sure that you turn it on before you lose your device.
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Enable Find My iPhone
1. Open the Settings app.
2. Scroll down and tap iCloud.
3. Scroll down and tap Find My iPhone.
4. Slide the Find My iPhone switch to the On position.
5. If you like, enable Send Last Location, which will — as the name suggests — report your phone's last location before the battery dies.
You're now prepared should the worst happen and your iPhone is lost or stolen.
Find a Lost iPhone
In the eventuality that your iPhone is lost or stolen, you can quickly track it either via iCloud.com or using the Find My iPhone app on another iOS device (yours or someone else's). In both cases, the process is essentially the same, though it may look a little different. And though we refer to the feature as Find My iPhone, it also works on iPads and iPod Touches.
1. From a Web browser, go to iCloud.com or launch the Find My iPhone app on another iOS device.
2. Login with your iCloud account -- this should be the same iCloud account that you're logged into on your lost iPhone.
3. If using the Web interface, click the Find My iPhone icon.
4. If using the Web interface, click the All Devices menu at the top.
5. Select the iOS device that's missing.
6. Use the map controls to pan around and zoom in on the phone's location, just as you would in any mapping application.
7. In the iOS app, tap Actions to bring up a menu of options.
8. Tap the Play Sound button to have your iPhone sound an alert (even if it's currently muted) to make sure you haven't mislaid your phone within earshot.
9. If the phone is well and truly lost, tap the Lost Mode button to make sure it's locked down.
10. In the iOS app, tap Turn On Lost Mode.
11. Enter a contact number where someone who might find the phone can reach you, and click Next. (Remember not to use your iPhone's number!)
12. Type a quick message to whoever might pick up the phone, and click Done.
If the iPhone has a passcode — and you've put a passcode on your iPhone, right? —it will be locked to that code. Otherwise, you'll be asked to enter a code to secure it. If you have Apple Pay enabled on the phone, it's suspended.
The lock screen of the iPhone will display the message and phone number you chose, along with a button that lets someone call that number.
You can update the phone number and lock screen message at any time via iCloud.com or the iOS app. You can also opt to receive email updates when the device moves. (Find My iPhone will also track the device's movements as long as Lost Mode is active.)
To disable Lost Mode, select the Lost Mode button again and then either click Stop Lost Mode on the Web or tap Turn Off Lost Mode in the iOS app. If you've located the missing device, you can also simply unlock it with its passcode.
Next time you unlock the phone, you may be prompted to enter your iCloud password.
Got a question about your iPhone you want answered? Ask our experts in the Tom’s Guide iPhone forums.