How to find your lost Android phone even if you never set up a tracking app
With so much personal stuff on our phones, losing one feels disastrous. What can you do after it’s lost? Android has its own version of “Find My Phone” and it can track your phone without any prior configuration.
Note: In the past, this guide recommended apps that could be installed remotely on your lost device (such as Android Lost) or that needed to be pre-installed. Fortunately, Android no longer needs these third-party solutions.
How it works
Google’s version of Apple’s “Find My Phone” feature is simply called “Find My Device”. It comes pre-installed on all Android devices with the Google Play Store, which is the vast majority.
Find My Device is associated with your Google Account, the account you used to set up your Android phone for the first time. That’s also when Find My Phone is activated. Once you’ve set up your phone, you’re good to go. Find my device is ready and waiting.
There are a number of things that Find My Device can do. First, it shows where your device is on a map, Wi-Fi information and battery percentage. Second, it can just make your phone ring, even when it’s on silent, to help you find it if you think it’s nearby. Finally, it can remotely lock your phone or wipe all your data.
Android Using Find My Device
You have access to Find my device from the website and the android app. Please note that the Android app does not need to be installed on the lost device. This app is for watching your devices, it is not what enables tracking. We use the website in this guide, but the same tools can be found in the app.
After you sign in with your Google account, you will see your devices. Select the device and you’ll see when it was last detected, the network it’s connected to, and the battery.
Of course you can also see where the device is on the map. Selecting the pin will open Google Maps to that location.
Then you can select ‘Play sound’. This will cause your device to ring for up to five minutes, regardless of ring mode/volume, until the device is unlocked.
The following tools are especially useful for lost devices. We’ll start with ‘Secure device’. Select it and enter an optional message and phone number for whoever finds your phone. Then tap on ‘Secure device’.
The last tool is the most extreme. If you think you’ll never get your device back or if you’re worried someone might get in your personal belongings, you can wipe everything remotely. If you do this and you get the phone back, it will need to be reset.
Select “Erase device” and confirm your decision by clicking “Erase device” again. After this there is no going back.
That’s pretty much all there is to find my phone. Of course, all these things depend on turning on your lost phone. You can’t track it or do anything remotely if the battery is dead or someone has turned it off.
However, there are some things you can do to protect your data remotely that will work even when the device is turned off.
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