How to use the new Find My iPhone app

By , Sep 20, 2012

Yesterday, buried amongst updates to a slew of Apple developed apps, was an update to Find My iPhone. With the update comes a new look and feel, that’s similar to Find My Friends, and a new Lost Mode to help track down lost iCloud enabled devices.

Apple has made it really simple to go about tracking a lost device, protecting the data from prying eyes, and communicating with whomever may have found said device.

Check inside, as we go hands-on with the new Find My iPhone, along with a detailed video showcasing the new Lost Mode.

The nice thing about Find My iPhone, is that as long as you have the service enabled in the iCloud settings for each device, it’s easily trackable via another iOS device, or a web browser on the desktop.

That’s why it’s imperative to always be sure to enable iCloud and Find My iPhone whenever you restore your device. It could be the difference between finding a lost device, or losing it and lacking the means to recover it, even if it lands in honest hands.

The basics

After installing the Find My iPhone app, sign in, and you’ll be presented with a list of all of the devices linked to your iCloud account. If you have a lot of devices, than that list can get pretty long.

Each device contained within the list has a bubble next to it on the left. If that bubble is greyed out, then Find My iPhone was not able to locate that device. There could be many reason for this, perhaps the device has exhausted its battery life, it doesn’t have an Internet connection, or the device was turned off.

If the bubble next to the device is green, then you’re in business. This means that Find My iPhone was able to track the device via GPS or Wi-Fi triangulation. Tap the device to load the info page for that device. This provides a map of the device’s location, along with several additional options.

Taking control

The info page allows you to perform a variety of operations on the missing device. First, you can play a sound to help track the device — this is good if you’ve just misplaced it somewhere around the house. You can also enable Lost Mode, or erase the contents of the device.

In the upper right-hand corner of the info page, is an option that allows you to adjust the map views. The view defaults to standard view, but you can switch to Satellite, or Hybrid, just like you can with Apple Maps.

The Play Sound option is very straightforward. Simply tap the Play Sound button, and the device will make an audible beep in order to help find it under a couch cushion, or what have you. Even if the device is muted, or its volume is turned down, the device will still beep loudly.

Along with the audible alert, a message appears on the device, notifying whoever finds it that an alert was purposely sent out. You’ll also receive an email sent to the email address used to create the iCloud account.

The erase feature, like the Play Sound option, is straightforward and to the point. Tapping erase invokes a popup verifying whether or not you actually want to erase the device. All of your content and settings will be erased, and of course this means that you can no longer track where the device is. I’d suggest only using this as an absolute last resort, or if you’re worried about sensitive data potentially being compromised.

Fortunately, you will must verify the erase procedure by entering in your iCloud password before proceeding. I’m thankful for this, because I inadvertently tapped erase on my iPod touch as I was preparing this article.

Lost Mode

Finally, let’s talk about the meat and potatoes of the new Find My iPhone — the Lost Mode. Lost Mode, enables you to protect, track, and communicate with your device, with the hopes of recovering it in one piece.

When you first tap the Lost Mode button, you’ll be prompted to lock your device by entering a passcode.

Next, you’ll be asked to enter a phone number where you can be reached. This will, in turn, be displayed on the Lock screen of the lost device.

Lastly, you’re asked to enter a message that will be shown alongside the phone number. That way you can alert the person who recovers the device as to your circumstances. This might be a great spot to state that there will be a reward for safe recovery.

It should be noted, that both the phone number and the message are optional, though it would probably be smart if you used them to your advantage. After Lost Mode is enabled, you should receive an email message to the email address assigned to your iCloud account.

The nice thing about Lost Mode is that once it’s on, you can always go back and modify the phone number or the message. This can be done by simply tapping the Lost Mode button, once your device is already in Lost Mode.

There’s also a provision to enable email updates when the location of the device changes; perfect for tracking down a stolen device. And if you give up on your search, you may also stop Lost Mode via this section as well.

Here’s a question, what if the lost device is powered off when you enable Lost Mode? The answer: the device goes into pending mode, and will be locked down as soon as its online and capable of being polled by iCloud; handy, indeed.

The conclusion

Overall, I found the new Find My iPhone app to be a good looking, and well performing overhaul to the original version. The new Lost Mode is simple, and easy to figure out, and most importantly, it’s accurate, and it works.

I highly recommend that everyone who owns an iOS device, or a Mac, enable the Find My Device option in the iCloud settings. Chances are, you’ll never need to use it, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

What do you think about the revamped Find My iPhone? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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  • Andy Low

    I don’t think this is useful for some country. They most likely won’t return the phone to owner, but use / sell it.

  • Artur Gromulski

    When will be the winner of giveaway announced??

  • Johnny manidis

    Wow this is an amazing feature, i love it.

  • MrNiceGuy22

    I’d like to see a “How to use Passbook” tutorial…thanks guys!

    • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

      I actually posted that yesterday :)

      • MrNiceGuy22

        Yea i missed that one lol thanks

      • yo help out here

        hey jeff, i unlocked my iphone 5 through a service from ebay. but it asks me to restore for it to unlock. do u think there is any other way without having it to restore. thanks in advance

  • http://twitter.com/Tommysmalz Tom M

    they willjust restore it.

  • chjode

    I wish the Lost Mode would also disable the ability to turn the iPad/iPod/iPhone off so it would stay on for the SWAT team to get there and crack some skulls.

    Also, will booting into DFU mode will still allow people to make use of stolen devices by wiping the firmware? I wonder if there’d be someway to protect against that, like an Apple “lost device” registry or something.

  • Sam

    My unlocked iPhone 4s was stolen yesterday. I reported a robbery to the police and showed then the iGotYa pics. They said that won’t help!! If iGotYa didn’t help, then Find My Phone is totally useless!

    • http://twitter.com/Jorgenekah Jorge Pozolinni

      I totally agree dude, I got ya or even ilocalis whis is the best applications are more helpful!

  • http://twitter.com/AlamarMarine Spencer B

    I’m still using ios5.1.1 on my 4S but accepted the Find My iPhone update via the app store last night. Since then the app will not open, it just crashes as soon as you launch it on the Springboard.

    • http://twitter.com/AlamarMarine Spencer B

      Fixed now. Uninstalled it and re installed it. Now it’s working :)

  • http://twitter.com/Jorgenekah Jorge Pozolinni

    Being sincere this is useless; normally 90% of the time who ever takes your Iphone,Ipod or Ipad will just shut it down and then do a simple restore and you will certainly loose your device. What would be interesting would be to be able to track the device even if it was turned off; that would be amazin!

    • http://www.facebook.com/burjoes Jason Burroughs

      itunes won’t do a “simple restore” because of the passcode. it will have to be DFU mode.

  • http://www.facebook.com/LethoeshatedadedicatedfatherGreen Keith Green

    Very cool update.

  • http://www.facebook.com/maliktanzilmunawar Malik Tanzil

    Hey jeff benjamin is there any tweak that does not allow the user to turn of Iphone or prompts for password to do so it would be quite handy if someone stoled your device and tries to turn it off.

    • http://twitter.com/_Bedal_ Byron

      Yeah there is…I use powerguard

  • Andy Low

    haha ! if punch him maybe really need to go police station already. But if Find My iPhone can use imei code to find, maybe it more reliable.

  • http://twitter.com/thedevicedr Brett John

    At this time, Lost Mode only takes a basic approach to device protection.

    First off, as other have said, it does not prevent a device from being powered off. But it DOES now track it’s location even when it lacks an Internet connection, so that it can report it back later via a path on the map in Find My iDevice.

    Second, the passcode lock it enables does prevent basic restore processes via iTunes (iTunes will say it couldn’t connect to the iDevice due to the passcode). This will also stop bad guys from signing out of iCloud or turning off the Find My iDevice feature.

    But this is where the protection provided by Lost Mode ends… Any knowledgable thief will know that they can power down the iDevice until they plug it into iTunes later and immediately force it into DFU mode and restore iOS. Apple designed DFU to aid in getting iOS reloaded back onto iDevices should something go awry for their legitimate owners, so locking down DFU mode isn’t a good solution.

    The best bet is probably to build in an additional step to have Lost Mode red-flag a Serial Number so that the software update servers (which iTunes contacts anytime it reloads iOS to an iDevice) will refuse to play along. It also wouldn’t hurt if Apple designed a way to prevent the iDevice from being powered down if Lost Mode were activated; this would prevent the tracking of the iDevice from being interrupted until the battery is fully depleted and would allow for more time to track – and hopefully recover – the handset.

    Lost Mode is the next evolutionary step in aiding users whose handsets are lost/stolen. But there’s more that can be done. Until then, using this new feature in conjunction with eventually contacting the carrier and getting the IMEI blocked from network use, is currently the most effective way to recover a lost or stolen handset, or reduce its resale value.

  • kumar

    Hi,
    Since everyone is using this mode to find theft, but my situation is different, hope anyone can help me.. I am really stuck due to this mode.

    yesterday I upgraded iOS 6 on my iphone 4 and my son who was using ipad with same iCloude login found “find my iPhone” app and checked how it works, he could play sound on iPad from device list and but he tried on my iPhone to play same bip sound , my iPhone got locked. I can’t login/pick up any incoming calls.

    The “Find my iPhone alert” does not go away from my iphone screen. I don’t find any support from Verizon or Apple to resolve this issue.

    My company gave me this phone and they pay for me, so Verizon thinks I am a thief…

    Would appreciated if anyone can find me solution.

    • http://twitter.com/thedevicedr Brett John

      You should be able to disable Lost Mode from either the Find My iPhone app on the iPad, or by signing into the iCloud website using your AppleID via a web browser. I’ll test it and get back to you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alvin.ding Alvin Ding

    Hi there, I have just lost my iPhone, the evil person switched off my phone, so I set up the lost mode with passcode lock. I next detected my phone at certain location, and then the status changed to “Erased” shortly.

    I’m not sure what does that mean, there is no information on this at all. Assuming that whoever picked up the phone will not able to access my phone settings to disabled the pass code, what does “Erased” mean? My possible guess is that the person done a DFU restore, but are you able to help verify?

    Thanks!!

  • Ellen

    One of the features missing in this upgraded version is the ability to type a message when sending the audible sound. I would like to see that feature restored.

  • tcoast772

    I lost my password to the “Find My Iphone” app…. How do I recover or reset it? (I have not lost the phone, just the password to the actual app). I can not find this information anywhere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rickards2 Michael Rickards

    Get the imei number locked through carrier they will never be able to restore that I tried

    • Anastasia

      if ive locked the iphone trough carrier, would i still b able to use find my iphone?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jorge.atalah Jorge Atalah

    I can’t get off the screen the text “Find My phone alert” I read the articles below, but I do not know how to unlock my phone… please help…

  • jg167

    I don’t see the the screen/field to enter an email address for an alert when looking a an offline device using the icloud web interface. You can put it in lost mode, but then you only see the key code, phone number, and message screens. No email for notifications when it comes online (which when the device has been stolen is really needed, a text message maybe even better)

  • Lee@baselineconsultants.com

    I Would like for it to stay signed in all the time

  • Guest

    I have the find my iphone app and use it to check up on the teenager once in awhile. he gets an email every time i locate his phone. help!

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.fall.180 Joe Danno Fall

    i lost my iphone and have the Find my Iphone app! however if i didn’t have a passcode on my I device! would the person who stolen my I device delete my find Iphone app before i activated my lost mode! would the app still work? I have signed into to find my iphone app and it is not green and cant be located? Would the person would be able to use my phone still?

  • Jeff

    My was iPhone 5 stolen and I located it in an apartment complex…then the battery ran out. Play sound is pending…is there any way to turn that off? I’m hoping they’ll power it up again so I can try to track it but don’t want the sound to make them turn it off. Also, is there any way to refine the map result when located? I’d love to go right to the apartment the thief lives in rather than get the overall street address of the complex.

    Thanks in advance for any help!

  • KB

    I have activated Lost Mode for my wife’s lost iPhone 5. I would like to enter our phone number in the option that says “Enter a phone number where you can be reached. It will be shown on your iPhone.” However, when I enter that number, it will not let me move past that screen with the NEXT button. That NEXT button is not greyed out, either, it just does nothing. I tried entering a domestic call back number to be displayed, and that did not work. My wife is visiting her family for the holidays in her home country of Peru. This is where she lost the phone last night (in a bar, she forgot her purse containing her iPhone 5, credit card, and debit card – great way to start the new year, heh?). I have already called Sprint and disabled all cell usage and data usage. I have used the “Find My iPhone” feature on her iCloud account. It fails to locate the phone on a world map, and it shows that the phone is “offline”, which I guess means it is either powered off or battery is dead. I called Sprint back and while I was on the phone with them, they re-activated cell usage and data usage, and I tried tracking the phone again through “Find My iPhone” on iCloud. Again, it could not locate the device, which is indicating to me that the iPhone is not powered on. To add fuel to the fire, we have AppleCare insurance, which of course does not cover lost/stolen phones (Android insurance plans do). I called AppleCare, and they are closed for the holiday, so I have to call them back tomorrow! I feel that the longer I wait, the less the chance of recovering this phone, although I think if someone found this purse in a Peruvian club, the chances were already minimal.

    If anyone knows how I can get past the screen in the Lock Mode feature of Find My iPhone, so that it will accept my phone number, I would be greatly appreciative. I have read on the internet that after that screen, there is another screen that lets you type a personal message to the person who has found the phone. Therefore, I am very, very eager for the person who has the phone, to read our call-back phone number, and I can write a personal message to them in Spanish, explaining that we will have a hefty cash reward for returning.

    Any help, advice, suggestions, is apprec…

  • Mark

    have found my Ipad and cannot erase the “Find My Ipad Alert” box and use my Ipad???

    • Saahil Jaffer

      Just go to find my iPhone and disable lost mode

  • nicole

    what if someone has the password to find my Iphone and they erase everything is it a way to know who deleted everything.

  • stacey

    when you use the erase part of find my iphone does it erase EVERYTHING including messages??

  • Secret

    My X-BF had his iPad registered on my Apple ID account.
    Well he just got his pad locked :D
    Awesome part is he has no idea what my new phone # is or where I live,
    mwahahaha…. Evil laugh for real.

  • Saahil Jaffer

    I don’t get an email everytime find my ipad is used why is this

  • Mary Luu

    Hi everyone,

    I accidentally pressed: “Erase” button on my own iPhone (Because I mistook it as a “Remove” button. It’s currently in black screen with a loading icon in the middle ò the screen. This has occured for 2 hours already and I don’t know what I should do now to restore my phone now…

    Will it return to its normal state after it’s finished erasing??

    I’m really worried right now :((

  • Mary Luu

    Hi everyone,

    I accidentally pressed: “Erase” button on my own iPhone (Because I mistook it as a “Remove” button. It’s currently in black screen with a loading icon in the middle ò the screen. This has occured for 2 hours already and I don’t know what I should do now to restore my phone now…

    Will it return to its normal state after it’s finished erasing??

    I’m really worried right now :((

  • guest

    I have the Find My iPhone app, and my device is online, but I don’t see a map? I’ve been waiting for 22 min. so I just activated Lost Mode. Help?

  • monica

    I downloaded the app on my iphone, but am very annoyed by the constant prompt to enter Passcode. How can I delete this feature?

  • http://www.facebook.com/sofie.n.vangsted Sofie Nathalie Vangsted

    I lost ny iPhone yesterday and used the lost mode and entered a random password. I was highly intoxicated, found ny iPhone today and dont remember the password!! What do i do???!

  • Joseph

    Hey there
    I have iphone 4 (5.1.1) unlocked with ultrasnow . Find my iphone show it offline its enabled in icloud the location is on i even reset the phone always nothing .find my friends is working perfectvly .
    Plz anyone can help

  • Clayton Newman

    Hi there maybe someone could help me !
    My brother was recently on my Icloud (how he got on there idk?) But he put my phone into erase mode. And now i dont know how to get it out of erase mode someone please help me !

  • Valery Maroto Castro

    Help me restart the pass word please !

  • Kushy Afghani

    Can anyone jailbreak through the phone on lost mode ? Like the trick that can be done with a regular locked phone through emergency call?

  • essenese sambury

    I had my iphone stolen I did everything u said and then everyone of my friends started calling me telling me I was posting nude pics , so my only choice ws to arase my phone. now I cant track it .please tell me what can I do

  • Duke

    If I have set my iphone with the lost mode/password lock, how do I get rid of the password lock every time I wake up or turn on my iphone as it is becoming a nuisance. I don’t seem to have the Stop Lost Mode feature on my Lost mode window in iclouds. I am using iOS 7.1
    Can anyone out there help?
    Thank you