How to Find a Lost iPhone

Losing an iPhone isn’t just about the expense involved, which is considerable enough. It’s also about the personal data, your iTunes account, and your photos, and all the hours you’ve already spent perfecting its contents to the way you want them. And it’s never pleasant to lose a gadget. Here are some ways to find your lost iPhone again.


1. Well, first of all, try really hard to not lose it in the first place. Always make sure you know where it is at all times. So you won’t lose it. But if you do, keep reading.

2. Use MobileMe. This is the most direct route as it doesn’t require borrowing someone else’s phone to download an app. You do, however, need access to a computer.

  • Log in to your Mobile Me account at
  • Click the cloud icon in the top left corner then choose “Find My iPhone”.
  • Re-enter your MobileMe password, then wait for it to locate your phone.
  • At this time, you can also click “Display Message or Play Sound”, “Lock”, or “Wipe” to perform those actions remotely on your phone.
3. Use “Find My iPhone” via MobileMe. This is a freeapp, although you must have a subscription to MobileMe or an iPhone 4, iPad or iPod Touch 4G with the most recent iOS 4.2 updates, where the Find My iPhone feature of MobileMe is now free of charge. This method works on the built-in GPS chips, and can also be used to locate a lost iPad or iPod (via Wi-Fi in the case of the iPod Touch). You’ll need to have MobileMe configured on your iPhone, and the Location Services feature will need to have been turned on on the lost iPhone (go to “Settings”, then “General”, then “Location Services”).
  • Install the Find My iPhone application on another iPhone, an iPod Touch, or an iPad. Ask a family member or a friend to use their i-gadget if you don’t have any other devices you can access.
  • Sign in to the Find My iPhone app using your MobileMe name and password. The application locates your iPhone; it will also show you the location of your phone on a map.
  • Set a display message or make your iPhone play a sound. The sound can be used to draw the attention of the person who has your phone, enabling them to check the message you’re sending (it lasts for 2 minutes). Send a message with information on how to return the phone. This will show up on your iPhone’s screen.
  • Lock your phone remotely. This way, other people cannot use your phone without knowing the passcode.
  • Wipe your phone of all personal information remotely. Doing this will get rid of all your personal texts, phone history, contacts, etc. permanently. Since this is a pretty drastic option, only use this feature if you don’t think you’ll be able to get your phone back.
4. Install an application on your iPhone called “If Found”. If Found lets you create a background wallpaper that shows your contact details that lets an honest finder contact you by another means (such as your home phone). Naturally, you’ll need to add this before you have the misfortune of losing your phone but it makes it very simple for even a non-iPhone owning person who finds your phone to find a way to get in touch with you without having to scroll through your data and maybe never work out who you are. (Note that you need to purchase If Found but the cost is minimal.)
5. Use iHound. This is a free program that alerts you the moment your iPhone is plugged into a computer. This means that you’ll receive an email letting you know that your tracked iPhone has been located, along with a detailed report on where it is being used. This is a good additional measure for where the iPhone gets turned off but is later plugged in to change or upload software, etc.
  • iHound lets you sound an alarm to help you find the iPhone in case it’s slipped down the back of sofa, etc.
  • iHound lets you use geofencing location alerts. These are alerts and check-ins that work automatically with Facebook, Foursquare, or Twitter when you arrive at locations.
6. Use iLocalis. This lets you log in to the website to find your missing iPhone. You can also log in and send yourself a message. If the sim card has been changed, you’ll also be able to get the thief’s new phone number. This software requires a jailbroken iPhone.
7. Check local police stations and lost property stations in the vicinity of where you lost your iPhone. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that someone has handed in your phone, and even if they haven’t, leave your details as there may be a delay in processing or turning in. The amount of lost items not ever collected from police or lost-property is enormous – just visit police auctions!

  • Think laterally. Although you may have lost your iPhone in one borough or suburb, a person finding it might use a police station of a borough or suburb nearest to their own home, especially if in a hurry or not able to locate the one where they found the phone. Ask how you can check stations outside your area as well.

8. Use social media. You never know – letting people know via Twitter or Facebook that your phone’s gone missing may return dividends if someone who follows your pages or has befriended you online stumbles across it. It’s a long shot but friends of friends of friends are sometimes a good way to find something lost.

  • You can use Twitter to keep a track of your iPhone. Create an account just for your iPhone and a separate email address of its own. Protect the Twitter account so that only you, or a limited number of people such as your spouse or business partner, can see the account. Then set up your iPhone to tweet in on a regular basis. Install a program called “FindMe”; it will be able to use the tweets to this Twitter account to tell you the GSM tower’s cell ID, as well as the latitude and longitude using Google maps.

9. Take good care of your iPhone and try not to lose it again. Losing an iPhone and never retrieving it again is an expensive and potentially personally exposing experience. Do your best to avoid losing it again by following these suggestions:

  • Always double-check that you have your iPhone on you before leaving any place – cafes, restaurants, business meetings, other people’s houses, museums, the opera, etc. Just get into a habit of looking for it before you leave.
  • Keep your iPhone somewhere safe at all times. Losing the iPhone is easier if you haven’t been careful about where you keep it. Bags that let the contents fall out easily, pockets that tip when you move, and leaving it unattended while swimming or doing laps around the track, etc., are ways of asking for trouble. Secure the iPhone in a good carrying item or lock it up when you’re pursuing outdoor or sporting activities, so that you don’t need to worry about it.


  • Note that there is a downside to using MobileMe, in that you need to switch on the Push setting, which consumes more battery power.

Things You’ll Need

  • A MobileMe account
  • An iPod Touch, iPad, or another iPhone
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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 11th, 2012 at 7:40 pm and is filed under Gadgets. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.