How to Locate Your iPhone or iPad If It’s Lost or Stolen

by Ross McKillop on April 14, 2010

iPad iPhone Security

This tutorial will guide you though the steps to set up and use the Find My iPhone (or iPad) App to locate your lost or stolen iPhone or iPad.

Note: this tutorial has been updated (on Nov 6th, 2012) to reflect the changes in the latest version of the Find My iPhone service.

  1. First, make sure you’ve created an iCloud Account with Apple, as you’ll need your username and password to complete this procedure (and to recover your device). If you haven’t created and set up an iCloud Account on your iPhone or iPad, see this tutorial by Apple.

    From your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, install the free App Find My iPhone. Even though the name is slightly misleading, it does work perfectly on the iPad and iPod Touch, not just the iPhone.

  2. install the Find My iPhone App

  3. Now open the Settings on your iPhone and select iCloud from the Settings column. Toggle the Find My iPhone (or iPad…) ON/OFF switch to ON.
  4. iCloud Preferences screen on an iPhone
    click to enlarge

  5. Tap the Allow button when prompted.
  6. Find My iPhone confirmation screen

  7. Now you’ve completed the installation part of this tutorial. To locate your iDevice, continue with the next step.
  8. Visit the iCloud Home Page in a web browser. Sign in to the site when prompted, then click the Find My iPhone “button”.
  9. Find My iPhone iCloud Website button

  10. If you’re prompted to enter your password again, do so.
  11. Find My iPhone confirmation sign in window

  12. If your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch is connected to the Internet, it will appear as a ‘green dot’ on a map of the world. That’s where your iDevice is right now.
  13. iPhone location map
    click to enlarge

  14. Click the “green dot”. If you’ve misplaced your iDevice and think it’s within earshot (as I do, daily) – click the Play Sound button. This will trigger your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to start “beeping”.
  15. Find My iPhone Map options
    click to enlarge

  16. The device itself will also have a message pop up displaying a Find My iPhone Alert message.
  17. lost iPad audio alert
    click to enlarge

  18. In addition, an email will be sent to the address associated with your iCloud account letting you know that the alert was triggered.
  19. Find My iPhone email notification

  20. If using the Play Sound feature doesn’t help you find your device, tap the Lost Mode button. This will allow you to lock your device and display a message on its screen.
  21. Lost Mode for the Find My iPhone service
    click to enlarge

  22. If you haven’t set up a passcode yet, you’ll be prompted to do so now.
  23. Find My iPhone pinpad

  24. Enter your phone number in the space provided, and tap the Next button.
  25. Find My iPhone Lost Mode setup

  26. Enter a message in the space provided, and that message will also be displayed on your devices screen. Click Done to finish.
  27. The “status” of your iPhone/iPad will now be set to Lost Mode.
  28. Now a message will be displayed on your iPhone/iPad – the message and phone number that you entered in the previous steps. If you’re lucky, at this point someone will give you a call :)
  29. If you don’t get the phone call, or you’re worried about the contents of your device being accessed, it’s probably a good idea to wipe your device completely. This will delete all of the information on your iPhone/iPad, which means the Find My iPhone feature will also be disabled (you’ll no longer be able to track its location).

    Click the Erase iPhone/iPad button.

  30. Enter your password again, and finally, click Erase. This will remotely wipe your iDevice.
  31. If you have any questions, by all means please leave a comment below!
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  • Sarah

    So i guess you have to have MobleMe downloaded on your iPad inorder to use it? Our iPad was stolen today. Is there a way to track it with MobleMe if it’s not downloaded, or any other way? I hear Apple does not help!

  • Tim P

    I shipped a new iPad to Germany… the USPS Registry number that I used never updated futher than when it was received in Germany… it doesn’t show up that it was delivered. I have the iPad Serial number on the receipt when I bought it, is there any way I can make use of this to use the GPS Tracker on the iPad to see where it’s at? I wasn’t sure if this is something I could make use of after the fact, or if this was something I had to set up on the actual iPad itself before I could use it.

  • Dante

    So still no reply? Is there a way to track a lost/stolen iPad if you did NOT have MobileMe installed?

    Sarah, did you ever figure that out? My iPad was also stolen and I don’t have mobileme on my iPad. Trying to desperately figure out a way to try and track it down!

  • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross McKillop

    Dante – without some kind of 3rd party tracking software on your iPad (which I’m not sure exists, but I haven’t thoroughly checked the app store) – OR MobileMe running “Find My iPad” – no, there’s no way to track it down.

    Sarah – did you enable Find My iPad on your iPad BEFORE it was stolen? The software is built-in, you just have to input your MobileMe account info, and enable Find My iPad. If you didn’t do both of those, Find My iPad won’t be running, and you won’t be able to track it down..

  • Dante

    Ross,

    Thanks for the super fast reply. But looks like I’m SOL. Hopefully it will turn up…

  • nathan

    Can this also check to see if the ipad is currently registered… like if you are buying a used ipad?

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  • John Vaughn

    Is there a way to know if a stolen Ipad has been plugged on another computer by the serial number? Every time that you plug in your ipad or iphone, the serial number should be logged into itunes, shouldn’t it? I have been missing my ipad for almost 3 weeks and I would like to at least know if someone has tried to plug it in to itunes.

  • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross McKillop

    John – no, I don’t think so. That would be a pretty big privacy concern, even if helpful at returning stolen devices.

  • Kylie

    Hi. My ipad was stolen a day afte I bought it – I’m staying in shared accommodation. I didn’t get a chance to download or activate anything. Is it possible for the police to track the ipad if another use buys something through itunes? Isn’t the EMI code used? Can’t apple locate the person using the device?

  • Elaine Trevithick

    What if I had done all the above. I set it up on my and my husbands ipad on our two mobile me accounts, and I can find his by testing it. I could find mine, but not that it has been lost or stolen, it does not work. It does not show on map, it will not remote lock and it says remote wipe is pending, so what else can I do?
    If someone turned it off, it will not work until turned on, and what if they try to wipe it and resync it, will it let them since it is my SN?

  • http://Twitter.com/DanteMonteverde Dante

    Elaine,

    I’m pretty sure if the thief powers down the iPad there isn’t much you can do. Which sucks. Keep trying to locate it, maybe they will turn it on. But yeah you have to try and locate as quick as possible.

  • Danny

    Ipad was stolen today and I didn’t register mobileme.. what are the chances of getting my ipad back? I have the serial number from the box and was wondering if I can sign up using mobileme to track it down after it was stolen? Would this work or not? Also, am I able to track the ipad down if they turned it off?

  • http://Twitter.com/DanteMonteverde Dante

    Danny,

    unfortunately if you don’t have our iPad already registered with mobile me. Or if the thief turn it off there is not much you can do.

    I suggest ALL iPhone and iPad users to install the Find iPhone app by Apple. It let’s you lock or wipe your iphone/ipad and best of all it’s free.

  • Elaine Trevithick

    I had find my ipad mobile me on mine and it still shows as remote wipe pending………..

  • Amy

    My ipad was just stolen, and I was wondering how i can stop them from accessing my email on the ipad? Is there a way to remotely log off of my ipad email?

  • http://Twitter.com/DanteMonteverde Dante

    People! As soon as you finish activiating your iphone or iPad download the Find My iPhone App from Apple:

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/find-my-iphone/id376101648?mt=8

    You can find, lock, and wipe your iPhone/iPad once installed.

  • Tom

    I lost my iphone4 and went to me.com to try to find it. (I’m not sure I had the locate phone feature turned on on my iphone) It couldn’t locate it so I initiated a wipe, which is still pending.
    Should I call ATT to suspend service? or will wipe not ever work if service is suspended?

  • Eban

    I can send messages to my iPad, etc but I cannot seem to locate it. It says “NO LOCATION AVAILABLE.” What does this mean? Can only locate in the US?

  • Susan

    Having the same problem as Eban.
    MobileMe allows me to send messages to my iPad, but will not locate it.
    Any suggestions?

  • Mike

    I remote wiped my iPad, can it still be located?

  • Mr. Scott

    I was robbed on the 28th of February 2011 by 10:15pm at gun-point in Maryland Lagos State, Nigeria and my iPad and Laptop were stolen. I have my passcode on and also some money in my itunes account. Can I access my itunes account online using my laptop?

  • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross McKillop

    Mr. Scott –

    Yes. Use iTunes on your laptop to sign into the iTunes Store. Change your password once you’re signed in.

  • Laura

    My wifi iPad was stolen on Friday. The iPad had automatically stored my info for making purchases at Amazon and iTunes (apps). Do I need to cancel my credit cards or is it as simple as just changing my passwords? Are there any other security issues I need to be aware of?

  • http://n/a Brian

    I have noted that Apple does not assist at all once your ipad/iphone is lost/stolen. Good thing though is that, if your ipad/iphine is on at the time you lost it, you can track it with ifind – if that app is downloaded onto your ipad/iphone. If your ipad/iphone is off, then you must forget you will never locate it – it must be on to be located. You wont be able to lock it or wipe it off until one whole stole it switches it on. Seeing that Apple came out with ipad/iphone, they need to work out on some way to track these expensive instruments even if it is off.

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  • Just Me

    With today’s technology and the fact that you need an apple account to activate or even wipe the ipad/iphone out. Apple should have a way to track down a lost/stolen device by user account. And if the user account ends up being fake there’s always the IP address leading to their ISP in which they would have information on who was using that IP at what time.

  • Ricardo

    Unfortunately i also lost my iPad recently on an airplane.
    There was a post on May 17 that was deleted.
    Is there a way to contact the person who posted?
    Thanks!

  • Rick

    I just had two iPads stolen from me. One was my personal iPad 2 and the other belonged to my work and was an original iPad. Both were WiFi only and I did activate Find My iPhone on them both. The problem is that I had WiFi turned off and they are locked with a PIN. So apparently (this is from Apple) there is no way to track them if WiFi is turned off even though the iPads are on. And since I locked them with a PIN there is no way for the thief to turn on WiFi so that I can locate them. Kind of a catch 22. I thought I was being smart by putting the PIN on and also turning off WiFi when it wasn’t in use. Seems like I shot myself in the foot on trying to locate them. Unless anybody has another idea. Apple does not know of a way to locate them in the situation I have.

  • John smith

    My iPad was stolen yesterday and I have mobile me account can I track down my iPad even if they do a master reset and erase everything on it and apps…?

  • Jill Pursell

    Is there any way to subscribe to mobile me after your ipad was lost or stolen if you have the find me function turned on but never set up the account?

  • mike

    My ipad was stolen yesterday. The thing I have is the ip address. can we locate it if it is on line?

    Desperate Mike….

  • Kermit

    My IPAD was stolen also and I called Apple and they said there is nothing they can do, I filled a police report and waiting for that to come back. To save the battery i turned off the location services (which was dumb) so when i went to locate my ipad on the internet it will always say pending to locate and wipe. I did activate the wipe my ipad if too many incorrect passcode attempts failed, so I really hope that whoever stole it tried xx number of times so the data was wiped, that is my main concern. But as was stated before it is a very expensive piece of equipment so there should be a way for Apple to do more in these cases.

  • Kermit

    Unless Apple improves on the find my ipad when they are stolen I will never purchase another one again, it is way too expensive to purchase another one.

  • richard barton

    My ipad 2 was stolen from me, I was just about to trade it for a car, so I reset it, and then I had to leave the ipad at my “friends” house for an hpur, when i came back it was stolen, and there is nothing I can do? That is bull, I waited 5 hours opening day for it, I paid everything cash, and it gets stolen from me? Its a heartbreak, and it was a lose lose situation for me, no car, no ipad, no money, and now I’m in a $1075.00 debt

  • Caps

    I had a brand new Ipad and it was never actived yet. Can I trace it if it is unlocked or jail broke.

  • Joe

    Hey i had my ipad2 stolen last weekend, i have the serial number for the ipad is there anyway i can track it or apple/police can find it if it was registered to another itunes account? Thats if they have wiped the ipad and put there stuff on it that is!!!!

  • bob

    my ipod touch 4g just got stolen i have the serial number now whee should i go?

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  • Jenn

    I have tracked my iPod to someone’s house but they deny having it. If i remote wipe it will it also wipe my ability to locate it. Also is the mobileme information usable if we choose to send the police to this location?

  • Michael

    I had my iPad stolen and never activated mobile me. I still have the box with the serial # on it. Is there anyway to track it from iTunes or the serial # ?

  • Steph

    I was wondering if there was a way to go on apple and download an app then track ur ipod even if when u lose it there isnt the app on it.

  • Steph

    What is the serial number? Where is it located.

  • Franklin Campbell

    Every iPad has a serial number. You can get the serial number by looking in iTunes under Edit – Preferences – Devices – (Works for Windows Host, if you a Mac user, it’s probably something similar). If you mouse over your iPad listed in devices, you should see a device ID. Now, technically, Apple will not help you locate your device, but if you provide your serial number, they should be able to notate your account, and if the device shows up under another Apple ID, they should be able to tell you.

    The big thing is you need to at least set a passcode lock on your device. This makes it harder for someone to break into your private information. There’s limited ways for someone to deall with a locked iPad. If they know how, then Apple should be able to nab them if they try and register it with a new apple id.

  • http://www.doitdude.com greg

    This is a great tutorial but Apple is not allowing anyone else to enroll in MobileMe. I hope I dont loose my iPad2.

  • aj

    My iPad has gone missing and I can’t find it, if whoever stole it restores it to factory setting or turns it off is there any way I can track it down?

  • Edwina

    My iPad was stolen today, i don’t have Find My iPad installed, what do I do now?

  • Jane Doe

    I just dont understand how they can track you when you use your gps or when you activate the current location for an app but they can’t find it now.. Shouldn’t they be able to look at my iTunes file or something and see that I have current location turned on and find my iPad?!

  • Terry

    To my knowledge, if someone steals an iPad, all they have to do is plug it into a computer with iTunes and then they can wipe it and use it for themselves, right? Even though the serial # is tied to an iTunes account, Apple will not block someone else from registering the same iPad to another account. It would be great if Apple would not permit this without you authorizing it via an email confirmation on the original account.

  • Chris

    They cannot tell you if it is on someone else’s account by serial number for two reasons! 1st your serial number is stored to your computer not on apple server and 2nd they cannot disclose that info for privacy reasons! It’s against federal law!

  • Terry

    Chris, that is not accurate.

    Apple does associate the serial # to your account. If you lose your iPad they tell you to log in to your Apple account and you can obtain the serial # to create a police report. As for the privacy issue, I would say it is more of a problem if you sell your device, you could prevent the new person from being able to use it.

  • Dopex

    My two cents,
    Iphones, ipod touch, ipads can be tracked using apples mobileme (with ios 5, using icloud), with the function “find my iphone”. This option has to be activated prior to your device being lost or stolen. With this function you can, locate your iphone/ipod touch/ipad, remote lock it, remote wipe it. For this to work, your device needs to be on and have an internet connection. If the thiefs find/steal your device and turn it off and/or format it, the function “find my iphone” will no longer work.

    If you had any passwords stored on your device, it would be a good idea to change them. I my opinion, the thief is usually more interested in the actual device, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

    Unfortunately, once the device has be stolen, the chances of getting it back are next to zero. Only thing you can do is go to the police with the IMEI code and block it from use on the phone network 3g/edge.

    Hope this helps and my sympathies,

  • edgar

    so why do we pay more for iphones again?

  • Bea

    Hi my husband had his IPad stolen out of his 18 wheeler:( unfortunately he does not have his serial number or the Tracker on.Does anyone know how we can still track it?Please help me!

  • Terry

    Hi Bea, if you did not install the “Find” feature, there is nothing you can do. Although you have your serial # recorded in your Apple account, it won’t help, other than to file a police report. Apple will let someone else register your iPad to their account, no questions asked. :(

  • po po

    i purchased a toshiba thrive and it has not been delivered. Can it be tracked if it was stolen.

  • min han

    I lost my i-pad, Can I find my I-pad by serial number? I haven’t made above step to cover my i-pad. Is there way to search for it? Thank in advance.

  • Donna

    My iPad was stolen. I had the find my iPad app set up. It seems the thief turned the iPad off or the find my iPad feature off because all I get is the information for where it was last located and the time (which was in my house where the stole it from). Will I ever be able to track the iPad. I sent the email to the iPad and the play a loud sound.
    Is it possible they got in before I put the 4 digit code in and turned off the find my iPad feature?

  • Terry

    Donna, if it was wi-fi only then it won’t have Internet for the Find features to work.

    Even if they do work, it is easy for anyone to wipe it and start using it as if brand new. Happened to me. :(

  • marisa

    my daughter lost her ipad but not sure where but. i have airwatch and find ,icloud and all its say where she last use it but its been off. can we still track it once its back on or what should i do .i already filed a police report

  • Erin

    hi, i had my ipad stolen and i put a remote lock on it, does that mean that it can still be tracked? it has wifi and a 3g sim in it

  • Lori

    Hello… I had an ipad 3 for less that a month and somebody stoled it :( i allready did everything i could to located and i seems to be the last time i used it, i wiped my ipad too and now im wondering if whoever has it, can they still use it and plog it in to itunes, etc or what people can do with it after is locked (with the code i had put)

  • Lori

    Hello… I had an ipad 3 for less that a month and somebody stoled it i allready did everything i could to located and i seems to be the last time i used it, i wiped my ipad too and now im wondering if whoever has it, can they still use it and plog it in to itunes, etc or what people can do with it after is locked (with the code i had put) what do i need to file a police report? Thanks alot!

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  • urko

    My iPad was stolen today, i don’t have Find My iPad installed, what do I do now?

  • http://www.facebook.com/christopher.smith.1048554 Christopher Smith

    my ipad 2 was stolen thanksgiving right out of my house it wasnt till 4 days later that i found the website to track your ipad but it hasnt found anything yet can i track where my ipad has been

  • Arshiya Makin

    My ipad had lost can i know who can i find it? plz tell me

  • sindhu

    my ipad is lost it is in light pink colour it was stolen in dusseldorf germany woringer platz but i havent installed the find my ipad app if u guyz hav any idea on it plzzzz reply meeee i am in trouble and if u guyz find it plzz give it to the germmany head polis station plzzzzz !!!! :’(

  • kris

    my ipod was stolen today and I have it set to delete when it connects to wifi but the issue is…. How do I tell my parents?

  • jordan

    will the thief with my ipad be alerted that im locating it?

  • Lyn

    how do you use this app on macbook? macbook is connected to same photostream (and icloud?) as phone and ipad but it doesnt show up as a device that can be located. (ipad and macbook stolen but still have iphone)

  • lyn

    also in third world so 3g or internet is not very common so devices are not online very often..

  • Bn

    If my mini iPad is off or no charge can I still find it

  • Samm

    I had my ipad stolen and I didn’t know about my iphone and they connected it to a new computer and wiped it and now I cant seem to get it to wipe it again off my computer and restore it?? help plz