How to locate your phone with Google
Should you happen to lose your phone, you can locate its whereabouts by logging into your Google account from any computer or even from another phone.
- Launch a web browser from a phone, tablet, or computer.
- Navigate to Google if it is not your default search engine or home page.
- Type find my phone android in the Google search bar.
- Tap on Find My Device (usually the first option in the search).
- Enter your email address and password just as though you were checking your email. If you have 2-step verification set up on your Google account (and you most certainly should), you’ll need to complete that process as well.
When your phone is located, you have three options to choose from:
- You can Ring your phone so that it makes noise (even if you had it on silent). This feature is helpful if the map indicates that the phone is within earshot and you simply can’t see it.
- You can Lock your phone so that the finder can’t access your home screen. This feature is most helpful if your phone wasn’t previously secured with a passcode or a fingerprint sensor.
- You can Erase your phone. This is the best option if you know for certain that you aren’t likely to retrieve your phone.
If you are trying to locate your phone with Find My Device and it doesn’t seem to be working, the most likely cause is that your phone is not currently connected to Wi-Fi or an available network. In this case, it’s important to keep trying; the moment your phone does make that connection, it will appear on the map.
If you want to download a tracking app for fear of a missing phone crisis, there are a number of options to choose from, and we’re highlighting some choice picks for you.
Find your phone with Other third-party Apps
While Google’s built-in option is definitely your best bet, there are some third-party options you might want to consider. We’ve broken down the best third-party apps for finding your phone below.
The Family Locator app by Life360 is essentially a GPS tracker for phones but is especially useful for families with multiple phones in use. Your family members become a “Circle”, the app’s name for a closed group of people who consent to having their phones tracked in real time. Your family members will appear on live maps within the app as little icons so that you can see where everyone is at any given moment.
The app also allows you to chat with people in your Circle or broadcast a meeting time and location. And, of course, if a phone from within your Circle is ever lost or stolen, the app will track it on the map.
Cerberus anti theft
This locator app from Cerberus offers an impressive array of remote control features if you find your phone has been lost or stolen. You’ll still be able to lock, ring, or erase your phone, but you’ll also be able to remotely access your camera or sound a loud alarm from your phone, even if it was on silent mode when you lost it.
The advanced features allow you to hide Cerberus in your app drawer so that it can’t be detected if and when your phone is found or stolen. Your missing phone will transmit data to you via the Cerberus website or via SMS text from another phone with the Cerberus app installed.
Prey Anti Theft
The Prey Anti Theft app is impressive in that three different devices can be protected through one download. You’ll have the ability to sound an alarm from your missing phone, take screenshots if it’s in use, and lock down the device the moment you realize it’s missing.
Once you’ve downloaded the app, it will walk you through a series of tutorials to show you how to use your Prey Account to track your phone. The app itself is free and doesn’t require additional purchases in order to access the high-end features.
Lost Android will allow you to have remote access to your missing phone via their website. Here, you’ll be able to erase sensitive information if you fear that your phone may never be returned, or send messages to your phone in the hopes of someone finding and returning it.
Additionally, you can choose to remotely forward any calls you may be missing to another number and record a running list of any calls or messages made or photos taken with your phone.
Where’s My Droid
The basic features of the Where’s My Droid app allow you to ring your phone if you misplace it, locate it via GPS on Google Maps, and use a passcode to prevent unauthorized changes to apps on your Android phone. Stealth Mode also prevents anyone who finds your phone from seeing your incoming text messages; instead, they’ll see a customizable attention word that alerts them of the phone’s lost or stolen status.
The Pro version of the app, which you pay to use, lets you remotely wipe data from your phone, use a landline to access your phone, and remotely lock the device.
How to Find Your Phone From Your Computer
There’s a good chance you’ve stumbled across this article after having lost your phone, so instead of telling you what you should’ve done before losing it, let’s get right to it: you want to know what to do right now.
The good news is that you can quickly find your missing handset with Google’s Android Device Manager, even if you don’t have the app installed. Grab your computer (if you don’t have your computer, see the next section), connect to the internet, open Chrome, and make sure you’re logged in to your Google account (seriously, this part is crucial). Type “Where is my phone” in Chrome’s omnibox. This will do a search, and Google will automatically load a mini Android Device Manager window inside of the search results. During my testing, I found this little box to be pretty hit and miss in terms of accuracy, so for the sake of finding your phone quickly, go ahead and hit the first link: “Android Device Manager.”
This will bring up the Device Manager site—you may or may not have to log into your Google account again here—and immediately start tracking your device. If you happen to have multiple phones and tablets, you can use the small drop down to find the one that’s missing.
Once you’ve told the Device Manager to find your missing phone, it’ll start tracking and should find it within a few seconds. It’ll provide the time it was located, the location, and the accuracy range. This will give you a damn good idea of where your phone is.
To make sure your personal data is safe and secure, you can use the “lock” button to quickly enable a lock screen password, even if you didn’t have one enabled before. Once the password is set, you can also put a recovery message on the locks screen—something like “Thanks for finding my phone! Please call the number below.” (Then put a number in the box below.)
This should, in theory, lock the device up behind the password you entered. The message will display in big letters at the top of the screen, with a large “Call Owner” button just below. If an honest person found your phone, hopefully they’ll call you. If a thief snatched it, hopefully they’ll know you’re aware that the phone is missing and get freaked out. I wouldn’t count on that, though.
After locking the device, you can also send a command to ring it, which can help you pinpoint its exact location if you just left it somewhere. It doesn’t scream out—it just plays the set ringtone at full volume for five minutes. If you’re tracing back your steps to a location where you left it, you should probably wait until you’re close enough before executing this command.
Lastly, if all hope is lost, you can completely wipe the device with the “erase” command. This will completely factory reset the device, wiping all of your personal data, pictures, music, and all other stored files. It will also try to wipe the SD card if your device has one, but there’s a possibility (depending on Android version and manufacturer) that it may not be able to, so keep that in mind. Once the phone has been wiped, Android Device Manager will no longer work, so this is basically you saying goodbye to your phone—this is the point of no return.