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Finding iOS Devices

Finding iOS devices via iCloud requires that you set up each device to use this feature. When that is done, you can use the Find My Device app on your iCloud website to locate a device, and then you can perform several different actions to secure it.

Enabling Find My iPhone on iOS Devices

To enable an iOS device to be found, perform the following steps:

  1. On the Settings screen, tap iCloud.
  2. If OFF is displayed next to Find My Device, where Device is iPad, iPhone, or iPod, tap the switch to set it in the ON position; if ON is displayed, skip the rest of these steps.
  3. Tap Allow at the prompt.
  4. If prompted, enable Location Services. The Find My Device feature becomes active, as shown in Figure 13.1, and iCloud starts tracking the location of the device.
    FIGURE 13.1

    FIGURE 13.1. With Find My iPad enabled, this device can be tracked via the iCloud website.

Using Find My iPhone with iOS Devices

When the Find My Device feature is activated, you can access your device’s location via your iCloud website by doing the following tasks:

  1. Log in to your iCloud website (see Lesson 1, “Getting Started with Your iCloud Account and Website” for the details).
  2. If you aren’t already on the Home page, click the cloud button located in the upper-left corner of the window to move there.
  3. Click Find My iPhone. (This is labeled Find My iPhone no matter which device you are locating.)
  4. Enter your Apple ID password.
  5. Click Sign In. You see a map showing the location of the device on which you are displaying your iCloud website.
  6. Click the Devices button at the top of the window. All the iOS devices and Macs for which you have enabled the Find My Device feature under your iCloud are shown on the My Devices list. If a device is online and has been located, it is marked with a green dot.
  7. Click the device you want to locate. If the device can be located, you see it on a map. You also see a dialog that shows you the options you have to find the device, as shown in Figure 13.2 and explained in the following paragraphs.
    FIGURE 13.2

    FIGURE 13.2. This iPad has been found.

When you have located a device, you can perform the following actions:

  • Play a sound—This does just what it sounds like. A sound is played on the device and an alert appears on its screen. This provides information to whomever has the device—such as if you’ve loaned the device to someone and want it back. The sound can help you locate the device if it is in the same general vicinity as you.
  • Lost Mode—This does locks the device so it can’t be used. If your device doesn’t already have a passcode, you create one when you lock it. This can protect your device without changing its data. You can also display contact information on the device’s screen to enable someone to get in touch with you.
  • Erase—This erases the device’s memory as the “last chance” to protect your data. You should only do this in the worst-case scenario because when you erase the device, you lose the ability to find it again.

Each of these actions is explained in the following steps.

Here’s how to send a sound or message to an iOS device:

  1. Locate the device as described in the previous steps.
  2. Click Play Sound. The sound plays on the device and an alert message appears on the screen.

To stop the sound from playing on the device, unlock it and tap the OK button on the message prompt (if it isn’t locked, you can just tap the OK button on the alert). (If you don’t require a passcode, anyone who has the phone can do this, which is one reason requiring a passcode is more secure.)

To prevent someone from using a device, you can lock it remotely by doing the following:

  1. Locate the device using the earlier steps.
  2. Click Lost Mode. What happens next depends on whether or not the device has a passcode.
  3. If the device currently has a passcode, skip to step 6.
  4. If you haven’t entered a passcode on the device (which you should have, per the earlier Note), you’re prompted to create one by entering it (see Figure 13.3).
    FIGURE 13.3

    FIGURE 13.3.Ideally, you would have already created a passcode on your device, but if you haven’t, you can do so when you put the device into Lost mode.

  5. Re-enter it at the prompt.
  6. If you want to send a phone number to the device so that someone can call you about it, enter it at the prompt.
  7. Click Next.
  8. Enter the message you want to appear on the device (see Figure 13.4). This can be your request that whoever has the device call you, instructions for returning the device, and so on.
    FIGURE 13.4

    FIGURE 13.4. This message is displayed on the device’s screen when it enters Lost mode.

  9. Tap Done.

When the device enters Lost mode, it is locked and protected with the existing passcode or the new one you created during the Lost mode process. The phone number and message you entered appears on the device’s screen, as shown in Figure 13.5. If the device is an iPhone, the person finding it can tap the Call button to call the number you entered.


FIGURE 13.5. Hopefully, someone will return my iPhone!

The device remains in Lost mode until it is unlocked.

If you decide you’ve lost control of your device and want to protect the information it contains, take the following steps:

  1. Locate the device using the earlier steps.
  2. Click Erase Device, whereDeviceis the type of device you’ve found.

  3. Click Erase.
  4. Enter your Apple ID password, as shown in Figure 13.6.
    FIGURE 13.6

    FIGURE 13.6. When all hope of a quick recovery is lost, erase a device to protect its data.

  5. Click Done. All the data on your device is erased, and it is restored to factory settings.

Here are a few more tidbits to facilitate finding your devices:

  • To update the locations of your devices, refresh the web page and reopen the My Devices list.
  • If you lose control of your device, use an escalation of steps to try to regain control. Look at the device’s location on the map. If the device appears to be near your current location, play the sound because it might help you find it again. If the device doesn’t appear to be near your current location or it appears to be but you can’t find it, put it in Lost mode. This will hopefully prevent someone else from using it while you locate it and allow someone who finds it to contact you. If you lose all hope of finding it again, you can erase the device to delete the data it contains. This is a severe action, so you don’t want to do it prematurely.

  • Erasing a device is a bit of a two-edged sword. It protects your data by erasing your device, but it also means you can’t use Find My iPhone to locate it anymore. You should only use this if you’re pretty sure someone has your device, because after you erase it, there’s no way to try to track the device’s location. How fast you move to erase a device also depends on if you’ve required a passcode. If you do require a passcode, you know your device’s data can’t be accessed without that code, so it will take some time for a miscreant to crack it, and you might be slower on the erase trigger. If your device doesn’t have a passcode, you might want to pull the trigger faster. If you do recover your device after it has been erased, go through the restore process using iTunes to return your device to its condition as of your most recent backup.
  • As you use Find My iPhone, you receive email notifications about various events, such as when a device is locked, when a message you sent is displayed, and so on. These are a good way to know something about what is happening with your device, even though you might not be able to see the device for yourself.
  • If Find My iPhone can’t currently find a device, you can still initiate the same actions as when the device is found, although they won’t actually happen until the device becomes visible again. To be notified when this happens, check the Email me when this device is found check box. When the device becomes visible to Find My iPhone, you receive an email and then can take appropriate action to locate and secure it.
  • The circle around a device’s dot indicates how precise its location is. The larger the circle, the less precise the device’s location is.
  • There’s an app for that. You can download and use the free Find My iPhone app on an iOS device to use this feature. For example, you can use this app on an iPhone to locate an iPad.
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