After my last post about chasing down my wife’s stolen iPad, a few people have asked about how to be sure they’ve set their own iOS devices correctly to protect themselves.
Let me tell you first that Apple’s help posts on their website are phenomenal, and their forums are better that anyplace for getting detailed help on how to do almost anything on any Apple device. When I worked as an Apple tech, we constantly referred to the same Knowledge Base articles that the public has access to. Here is a great place to start for lots of info on using Find My iPhone after you read this.
First of all, if you own any iOS device, you are probably already set up on iCloud. Your Apple ID (the email address and password you use to download apps) will get you into that too.
First, make sure your device has Find My iPhone enabled. In your device’s Settings, go to iCloud, then make sure Find My iPhone is toggled on.
Next, go to the iCloud site here (opens in new tab). Log in with your Apple ID, and look around. You will see several very nifty tools, and maybe a few you don’t even use (probably Pages, Numbers, and Keynote).
Here is what mine looks like:
See the “Find My iPhone” icon? Click on it. You will have to verify your password again. You can play around a bit with no harm done. Just don’t touch anything that says “Erase.”
Mine currently shows my iPhone, iPad, and Macbook all on my home property.
Right now, Erin is out touring a haunted sanitarium, I can see her device on the map since we use Family Sharing. This was handy when tracking her iPad with my own iPhone. (Yes, you can do most of this from a free iOS app called “Find iPhone.” If you don’t have that app, download it too to track any other Apple devices you have.)
Select your device in the “Find My iPhone” section of iCloud by clicking the drop-down menu under All Devices. If you have only one iOS device, you may not need to do this step.
When you select a particular device, the map will zoom to it, you will see some options:
- Play Sound
- Lost Mode
- Erase iPhone (iPad, etc)
Again, don’t touch the Erase. That’s the Nuclear Option.
But try the Play Sound function.
If you’ve ever had someone call your phone so you can find it, you’ll love the Play Sound function on Apple products. It even works if the phone is silenced, but not if it is off or the battery is dead.
You can also play with the Lost Mode, though. It will walk you through setting a lock code and putting in a phone number and message to appear on the locked device, should anyone find it. Here is more info on setting that lock.
Remember: Lost Mode will not take effect until your device accesses the Internet. This happens either via cellular data or wifi. If your device is an iPhone or a cellular-enabled iPad, that’s almost immediate. If it is a wifi-only device like many iPads or a Macbook, it will require it to hit a wifi spot you have used before, or for a thief/finder to try to use it on wifi. That’s how we got Erin’s locked and found.
There is a lot you can do with iCloud. My old iPhone flew out the window of my car as I careened through a roundabout once. I drove straight to an AT&T store with my crushed phone, got another, logged into iCloud, and within minutes I had my contacts, calendars, and lots of other stuff back on my new phone.
One more thing I suggested in my previous post: Have a record of your device’s serial number somewhere. Maybe email it to yourself or keep it in an Evernote or Simplenote app (if you don’t have one of these, you must try them.)
You can find your device serial number on iOS under Settings > General > About. Scroll down to see the serial number. Take a screenshot, even (press power and home keys at the same time).
With your complete serial number, police can list your device in a database that pawn shops and other businesses can see nationwide. If your device is locked, a message is displaying, and the serial number is in that database, it is nearly useless to thieves. They can’t even erase it without your Apple ID and password.
One more thing: Get AppleCare. It’s worth it many times over, especially if you have an iMac or Macbook. It turns disasters into inconveniences. I don’t work for them anymore, but my house is full of Apple devices, all because I saw firsthand how much support there is.
Hope this helps. Remember to search any Apple questions at Apple’s Support Site. It’s free to read and post questions. (39)