How to find tablet?

Table of Contents

Losing your smartphone or tablet could be a disaster, particularly if you rely on it for much of your daily life. Thankfully, smartphones and tablets use GPS and their exact location can be pinpointed thanks to some tools from the manufacturers.

This is how you can find it…

iPhone or iPad

You will need to make sure Find my iPhone is on for this to work. From the Settings Menu, tap iCloud and select Find my iPhone and make sure the slider next to it switched on. Make sure you’ve set a password so if anyone comes across it, they can’t stop Find my iPhone working.

Now to locate your iPhone or iPad use a web browser and visit icloud.com/find. Enter your Apple ID and password. A map of your location will be loaded. From Devices at the top of the screen, click the drop down menu and select which Apple device you want to find – if you have more than one they will be listed here – and its location will be pinpointed on the map.

mikroman6Getty Images

A pop up will appear in the top right-hand corner with three option. Play Sound will mean your iPhone or iPad makes a noise until it unlocked (great for tracking down where you’ve left your smartphone in the home). Lost Mode allows you to remotely lock the device, display a message on the screen for example with a number to contact if the device is found. It will also prevent access to any credit card details you have registered with Apple Pay.

Finally, Erase iPhone/iPad will allow you remotely remove all of your personal content from the device. To activate any of these, simply press the relevant option on the pop up.

Android smartphones and tablets

Google offers a similar service, known as Android Device Manager, for smartphones and tablets running Google Android. Switch this on by opening Settings and then tapping Security. Choose Find my device and enable protection. Allow Remotely locate this device and Allow remote lock and factory reset are switched on. You’ll need Remote Controls and Location services switched on.

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If you want to track your Android smartphone or tablet, open a web browser on a PC and head to google.co.uk/android/devicemanager. You’ll be asked to enter the Google account you use on your handset and the password. Once logged in, you’ll be taken the Device Manager Screen – a map of your location, with a box in the top left-hand corner. The name of your device is at the top of this box. If you have more than one Android device, click the triangle icon to the right of this name to activate the drop down and then select the device you want to locate.

You can either make the device emit sounds so you can find if it’s in close proximity, or you remotely lock the device or erase all the data by clicking the options.

Windows Phone

You can also track Windows Phone devices. The function is turned on by default and you can’t switch it off. However you can opt to save the phone’s location periodically so if it runs out of battery it’s easier to find. To do this, select the Settings app and then scroll down and tap Find my phone and tick box next to Save my phone’s location.

Now to track your device, visit account.microsoft.com/devices and sign in with your Windows username and password. From the list of devices displayed, click the one you want to locate and Press Find my Phone. Its location will be displayed on the map on the screen and from the left-hand side you can choose to ring it, lock it or erase the data on it.

Vodafone N9 Lite Vodafone Vodafone £99.00 Honor 7S Honor Very £89.99 Nokia 2 Nokia Amazon £80.00 Alcatel 3V Alcatel Argos £99.95 Honor 7A Honor Argos £119.95 Alcatel 1 Alcatel carphonewarehouse.com £59.99 Nokia 3.1 Nokia amazon.co.uk £109.98 Alcatel 1X Alcatel argos.co.uk £99.95

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Misplace your phone in your own home but it’s on silent mode? Lose a quiet tablet, but have no “Find My Device” app installed? There are a few ways to find your Wi-Fi enabled device if it’s lost inside your sprawling abode. The Super Users at Stack Exchange provide some tips.

I lost my tablet somewhere in my house and have been searching for hours. It’s an Android device, which seems to have Wi-Fi enabled (responds to pings), but doesn’t seem to react to cloud-based messages. Furthermore, I have Cerberus installed on it, but cannot connect to it. Is there a way of physically finding the device by measuring the signal strength from different locations in my flat? I know it’s theoretically also possible to triangulate a Wi-Fi signal, and even though I have four Linux based Wi-Fi receivers, I don’t know any non-commercial software that is capable of doing so.

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See the original question.

Plan B (Al Everett Comments)

Not a direct answer to your question, but Plan B is specifically for situations where you’ve lost track of your Android device and didn’t have any sort of “finder” app on it. Note: Plan B only works with Android 2.0 – 2.3.

airodump-ng (Breakthrough Comments)

I know you can get the signal reception using airodump-ng (part of the aircrack-ng tool suite) if you have a compatible Wi-Fi card and a Linux distro up and running. You’ll see something like this with the signal reception listed as PWR (in decibels). If you keep pinging the device throughout this, you should see the airodump-ng screen update much quicker with the MAC address of the device. You should then be able to move around with your laptop, trying to increase the PWR until you find the device.

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Homing Cone (Answered by Keltari)

Something that may work: Go to the hardware store and buy some brass mesh and build a cone. You’ll probably need to layer the mesh, then hold your phone in the middle of the cone. The brass mesh should block all radio signals, so if you get a signal, it’s coming from the direction of the open area of the cone. In theory, you can use this to home in on the device. FYI, the brass mesh is one component in building a SCIF.

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Ethernet & More (Answered by alexpotato)

Some Wi-Fi routers have a signal strength measurement on them. I know DD-WRT has this. If yours does, then you can do something like this:

  • Get a long Ethernet cord.
  • Plug one end into the router and one into your cable modem, internet connection, etc.
  • Move the router around your apartment and see where you get the strongest signal. (Keep in mind, water pipes, metal studs, etc. can all distort Wi-Fi signals.)
  • Another option would be to make your own directional antenna, kind of like this. You could also check out this page for some useful command line Linux Wi-Fi commands.

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Triangulate (Answered by JRobert)

One-story home? You can sort-of triangulate using signal strength alone. You have to assume that signal strength is proportional to distance from the transmitter, which isn’t very accurate, but it could be accurate enough to help narrow down the search space. How to measure signal strength from 3 points in your house:

  • On a floor plan of the home, mark your 3 points, and with a drawing compass, swing an arc across the flat with a radius proportional to the signal strength so that the arcs enclose a fairly small space within the home.
  • If the assumption we made were true (and your measurements and drawing were accurate), your tablet should be within the space between the arcs. It’s not quite true but hopefully not too far off either.
  • Start your search near that space. Hopefully its location will remind you of where you actually left the tablet. If not, search out from there, possibly repeating the above steps at a shorter distance from this location.
  • Multi-story house? Same idea, only now plotting is more complicated by the third dimension. Easier would be to repeat the above for each floor. Now you have two or three more spaces to search but that’ll be more information than you had before.

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Disagree with the answers above? Have your own expertise to contribute? Check out the original post, and see more questions like this at Super User, the Q&A site for computer enthusiasts and power users at Stack Exchange. And of course, feel free to ask your own question.

Find your lost Android device with Google’s Find My Device

Google’s Find My Device, previously known as Android Device Manager, helps you find lost or stolen phones and tablets.

The feature works similarly to other locator services, such as Lookout and Samsung’s Find My Mobile, but you get an app specifically for Android devices. Here’s how to get started with Find My Device.

Enable the settings

For most devices to work with Find My Device, it will need to be logged into your Google account, online and have its Location feature turned on. Some phones have security features that can prevent the erase feature of the app from working, though. Just to make sure, if you have a newer Android device, go to the Settings > Google > Security. Under the Android Device Manager section, the locator feature should be enabled by default. To enable remote data wipe, tap the slider next to “Allow remote lock and erase.”

On older devices you can go to the Google Settings app, and then tap on Android Device Manager. To enable remote data wipe, tap on the box next to “Allow remote factory reset,” then tap Activate.

Should your phone ever go missing, you can track its location and remotely lock or erase it.

Nate Ralph/CNET

Download the app

The Find My Device dashboard.

Google

To use Find My Device, go to the Play Store and install the Find My Device app on another device, such as another phone or tablet. There are several apps with similar names, so be sure to download the one that lists “Google Inc.” as the developer.

Next, log in with your Google account. You may get a prompt asking you for permission to allow Find My Device to use location data. Click on Accept to continue.

Once you’re logged in, a dashboard will pop up that shows you where your phone is and several options:

  • Location: The location of your Android device will appear automatically on the map, along with the battery level, information on whether your phone is online and when it was last located. You can zoom in and out of the map to check out the location.
  • Play Sound: The location data is an approximation and may not help you figure out if it’s hiding somewhere in your home. Instead of having someone call your phone to help you find it, you can choose to ring your device from the app by pressing the Play Sound option. This will cause your device to ring for 5 minutes at the highest volume, even if it’s set on silent or vibrate. To stop the ringing, tap the power button on your phone.
  • Lock: The lock option can be useful if you want to lock your Android device so no one can access your data while you’re trying to recover your lost device. To lock your device, click on the Lock option. Enter your new password twice, add a contact number for anyone who may find your phone and then tap the Lock button. Once the command is sent to your device, it will lock it immediately, even if it’s being used.
  • Erase Device: If you think you’ve lost your device for good and would like to force a factory reset to protect your personal data, choose the Erase option. This will erase all your apps, photos, music and settings from your device. If your device is offline when you send the erase command, it will perform the reset the next time it comes online. Once your device has been wiped, you will no longer be able to access it from the app. Also keep in mind that a remote factory reset may not wipe external SD memory cards.

Remember, if your device has been stolen, contact the police and let them do their jobs. With Find My Device, your data is safe, so make sure you stay safe as well. Don’t attempt to retrieve the device on your own.

Editors’ note, May 16: This post was originally posted on August 8, 2013. It has since been updated with new information.

Google I/O 2019

  • reading • Find your lost Android device with Google’s Find My Device
  • Dec 4 • Google’s cheaper Pixel 4 alternative with a great camera
  • Oct 21 • 7 of the best Android 10 features and how to use them (on your new Pixel 4!)
  • Oct 17 • Nest Wifi puts Google Assistant into your router
  • Oct 17 • New Nest Mini promises better sound, smarter features
  • • See All

I carry both my smartphone and my tablet with me on a daily basis. I can’t imagine what I’d do if one of those devices went missing, what with all the sensitive data contained on them—not to mention my library of precious photos and e-books.

Google introduced the Android Device Manager (ADM) last year to help users locate lost devices, and quell security fears. Not only will ADM show you the location of a wayward device, it will also let you erase the data on the device if you suspect the hardware has been stolen.

ADM is extremely easy to set up, so you have no excuse not to use it.

Getting started

The Android Device Manager will keep track of any phone or tablet you’ve linked to your Google account. It’s compatible with any device running Android 2.2 or later, and it works even if you don’t have location history turned on.

When you first get your phone, head over to the Android Device Manager page to ensure that Lock and Erase are enabled. Google will send over a test message to your device to ensure that it works. Tap “Activate” to enable the remote wiping features.

Find your device

In the future, if and when your phone does go missing, just head to the ADM site. From here, you can select any of the Android devices you have linked to your Google account.

If you think the device might be buried under a pile of couch cushions, select Ring and the device will blare its ringtone for about five minutes. When you find it, press the power button to stop it.

If you think you left your hardware in a taxi cab on the way home from last night’s escapades, you’ll want to lock it up to keep prying eyes from accessing your precious data. Select Lock and ADM will ask you to create a new lock screen password. There will also be an option to write a Recovery message that will appear over your lock screen. This is your opportunity to type a message to the person who may have found your phone.

If you think your phone might really be in the wrong hands, or that it’s long gone and you’ll never see it again, you can erase all of its data with Erase.

Use the app to find a device, too

Someone terrible ran off with your Nexus 7, and, frankly, that’s pretty awful. Before you do anything, contact law enforcement and file a report. Phone theft is an epidemic, especially in urban areas.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a second Android device in your possession, download the Android Device Manager app from Google Play to get access to all the same features available online. If you’re bored, waiting in a doctor’s office or something, you can also use the app to individually rename each of your devices.

Keep in mind that ADM won’t work with devices that are offline or powered off, so if a thief puts your device in Airplane Mode or the battery dies out, you’re out of luck.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our for more details.

How do you find your Android phone? Let us show you how.

There are a handful of phone recovery or anti-theft apps on the Google Play Store which can be a lifesaver in case you want to find a lost phone or, even worse, a stolen phone. But many people might only realize that there are such apps AFTER it got lost. Then it usually is too late and you have to face the ugly truth that the phone is gone for good.

To find a lost Android phone it usually still needs a working internet connection in order to transmit its location. To get the best location results it should have an active connection to a WiFi network. Whatever your situation might be, we’ll cover here the most common options as well as more out of the box approaches to cover also edge cases.

  1. How to locate your lost Android phone using Google and its own services
  2. Find your lost phone using third party tools
  3. Install a tracking app to find your phone in the future
  4. Answers to your burning questions

How to find your lost phone with Google and its own services

Find your phone using Google’s Find My Device (former Android Device Manager)

Requirements:

  • Your device is connected with your Google account.
  • Your device has access to the internet.
  • Allowed Find My Device to locate your device (turned on by default). This can changed in the Google Settings app.
  • Allowed Find My Device to lock your device and erase its data (turned off by default).

Find My Device is Google’s official and easy-to-use tool to track your lost Android phone or tablet. The best thing about it is that you don’t need to install an app to be able to track your devices. The only requirement is that your Android phone is connected to your Google account, turned on and connected to the internet. All you need to do is visit the Find My Device website while being logged into your Google Account. Once the site is loaded it will automatically try to track down your lost phone. If you habe several Android devices registered, make sure the right one is chosen in the menu.

In a recent update, Google implemented some of the features into their search results page. This means that you’re able to quickly locate any registered Android device right from the search results. By using the search phrase “where is my phone”, Google displays a little map above the search results in which it will try to find your lost Android phone. Once found, you can let it ring by clicking on “Ring”.

Although this makes it more convenient to find your lost phone quickly, it won’t offer you all the options you get with the full interface of Find My Device.

By using it, you are able to track your registered Android devices, let your phone ring and wipe your phone’s data (which has to be enabled on your phone). Besides that, Find Your Device doesn’t offer more options to remote control your lost phone. I hope that Google keeps improving it and introduces more helpful features, such as taking a selfie of the person using it in case it got stolen.

If there’s no laptop around when you lose your device, you can also use someone else’s phone to track it. Instead of using the mobile browser, you can also use the Find My Device app. You can sign in using the guest mode and your Google account credentials. Now you should be able to track your lost device, let it ring or wipe its data.

Are you not able to locate your lost Android phone this way? This can happen for several reasons. The one you should hope for, is that your device is simply not connected to the internet or turned off. In that case, simply keep trying to track it until it (hopefully) connects to Google’s services again.

Use Google Location History – now called ‘Timeline’ – to track your lost Android phone (even if it’s turned off)

Requirements:

  • Your device is connected with your Google account.
  • Your device has or had access to the internet (before it was turned off).
  • Location Reporting and Location History need to be activated on your device (can be done in the Google Settings app on your device).

Unlike the Find Your Device tool, the Timeline feature of Google Maps doesn’t actually focus on tracking down a lost phone. You can use your location data for many different things such as looking up past travel routes. However, it is also a good way to locate your lost phone. As mentioned, if your Android device is turned off, you can use the location history data to identify the last recorded location. This means, even if your phone’s battery ran out you might still be able to find it.

Here’s what you need to do. Go to the Your Timeline (former Google Maps Location History) and make sure the current day is selected in the calendar. On the left sidebar, you can see a complete timeline of that day including the names all recorded locations. On the right, you can see all the locations visualised on a map.

Other than Find My Device, which also uses GPS for tracking, Your Timeline only uses cell tower IDs and Wi-Fi location detection to collect location data. This means that the accuracy can vary significantly. The advantage of Timeline is the ability to track your phone’s location frequently over a period of time. So even if someone stole it, you could identify often visited places, which could be the thief’s home or workplace. That might help you and the authorities to catch the person.

Use Google Photos to find your lost Android phone

Requirements:

  • Your device has access to the internet.
  • Enabled ‘Backup & Sync’ option in Google Photos.
  • Someone needs to take pictures with your lost device.

In case your device actually got stolen, you might be able to find it using the backup and sync feature of Google Photos. If you activated this option in the app, then all images taken with your phone will be uploaded to your Google Photos account. Why is that good news? Well, not just the image but also the location where it was taken is uploaded. So, in case the thief didn’t log out of your Google Account and tried out the camera on your phone, there might be some new images popping up in Google Photos. Obviously, this only works if your lost phone has an active internet connection and if you gave your photos app the permission to use your location. Please be careful in case you are able to identify the location of your lost Android phone, which might very well be the home address of the thief. Don’t try to find it yourself! Use that information and call your local authorities to take it from there.

Assuming all those requirements are met, what do you need to do? Here it is, step by step:

  1. Visit photos.google.com and log in using your Google Account in which your Android device is logged into.
  2. Check if any pictures were taken after your device was stolen.
  3. If yes, then click on the image.
  4. Now, click on the info icon on the top right corner.
  5. In the appearing sidebar you can now see the image’s information including the located where it was taken.

Find your lost phone using these third party tools

Use Samsung’s Find My Mobile

Requirements:

  • Your device has access to the internet.
  • You need to have a Samsung account and your device registered with it.
  • Find my mobile needs to be set up on your Samsung phone (enabling remote controls).

If you have a Samsung device, you might be able to find your lost phone using Samsung’s own tracking service ‘Find my mobile’. For this to work, you need a Samsung account and registered your device before you lost it. So try to remember if you did that.

You did? Awesome. Head over and sign in to the Find my mobile website. Check the left sidebar and make sure that your device is connected to your account. Now, all you need to do is selecting ‘Locate my device’ in the sidebar and click on the locate button. If your device is online and remote controls is enabled, you should see its approximate location. Find my mobile also allows you to do other things such as locking your device, letting it ring with a message and wiping its data.

7. How to use Dropbox to find your lost phone (Android & iOS)

Requirements:

  • Your device has access to the internet.
  • Activated “Camera Upload” in your Dropbox app.
  • Someone needs to take pictures with your lost device.

In case you’re device was stolen, Dropbox can be your last resort if all other approaches don’t bring you any closer to finding your lost phone. For this to work, however, Dropbox needs to be installed on your phone and the “Camera Upload” feature has to be activated. This way, every time your phone’s thief takes a picture, it automatically gets uploaded to your Dropbox “Camera Uploads” folder. So, if he or she takes a nice selfie you might be able to identify the thief. And if you’re lucky, you can make out the location by looking at the background of the uploaded pictures.

Should that be impossible, simply start a blog and show the world all the pictures your thief has taken. There’s one funny tumblr page sharing images of Hafid, the guy who stole the phone of the blog’s owner.

So far, that’s the only way Dropbox can help you. Dropbox doesn’t give you the IP address of mobile devices which are connected to your Dropbox account. This is only possible for Desktop PCs and laptops until now.

I hope you are reading this just out of pure interest and not because you lost your phone! But if that’s really the case, I truly hope that this article will help you track it down. Either way, I recommend installing a good tracking app BEFORE your phone vanishes. An app I recommend is Cerberus, which is available on Google Play.

Install a tracking app to secure and find a lost phone in the future

Although Google’s own tools are probably the best options, there are a few third party tools we recommend. They usually offer more remote control features and can add an additional layer of security.

Cerberus (free with in-app purchases)

Cerberus is our top recommended tracking app which features a large selection of remote control options. This includes basic location tracking, secretly recording audio or video, taking remote pictures, triggering an alarm and wiping your data. There are a lot more options which make Cerberus the Swiss army knife or tracking apps. What makes this app even better are some of the more advanced features. For example, you can hide the Cerberus app in your app drawer which makes it harder to spot and delete.

In case you have a rooted Android device, you’re able to use a flashable ZIP file to install it on your phone. This way, even if someone else resets your lost Android phone back to factory settings, Cerberus will still be installed on your device. For more infos on that, check out our article on Cerberus.

Lost Android (free with in-app purchases)

Lost Android is quite similar to Cerberus and offers a lot of different remote control options including tracking your lost phone, wiping its data and taking pictures remotely. Don’t judge the rather basic look of the Lost Android website which functions as the interface from which you can locate and control your device. It does its job well and even the developer behind the app states on the site that he’s an engineer and not a web developer.

The installation is pretty easy. After installing the app via the Play Store, open it and give it device administrator permissions. Done. Should you lose your phone, visit the Lost Android website, log in with the same Google Account as on your phone and choose one of the available tracking features.

Prey Anti Theft

Prey is known for it’s anti theft tools not just for smartphones but also laptops. The convenient thing about Prey is that it offers up to three devices you can track with their free account. Although it doesn’t offer as many remote control options as Cerberus, it covers all basic and most important features such as GPS tracking, taking pictures remotely and even scanning nearby WiFi networks for better tracking.

Frequently asked questions

With the large number of questions people posted in the comment section, we figured it makes sense to address the most asked ones. That way, this guide is much clearer and you can focus on finding your phone instead of posting your question or sifting through the comments for an answer you’re looking for. The answers below might also bring some people back to reality, because in some cases it’s just not possible to locate a lost phone.

Can I still find my lost phone if it’s turned off / in airplane mode / the battery is dead?

This is a common scenario. Your phone is lost and its battery won’t last forever or a potential thief might have turned it off. What now? Except you’re working for the CIA, there no way to get in contact with your device. It needs to have an active internet connection to send its approximate location. However, you can use your phone’s location history to see where it was located before its internet connection stopped. For this to work, location history needs to be activated on the phone. If you didn’t do that, you don’t have another choice but wait and hope that someone turns it on and connects to the web.

–> Google Maps location history guide

I changed my Google account password. Can I still locate my Android phone?

Changing your Google password after you losing your phone is a totally logical thing to do right? You don’t want someone else have access to all your emails, drive documents etc. You can go ahead and change your password without losing the ability to track your device. Methods like Android Device Manager will still work. Shouldn’t you be able to locate your phone with ADM then I suggest you check the last recorded location using your phone’s location history.

–> Find My Device guide

–> How to use Google Maps location history to find your phone

Can I track my lost phone if someone made a factory reset?

That’s an easy one – No. As the name already implies, resetting a phone brings it back to its factory settings. The most important thing you need – connection to your Google account – won’t be there anymore. If you haven’t installed a tracking app with root access, such as Cerberus, then you won’t be able to locate it anymore.

Can I find my phone using my IMEI number?

Locating your lost Android phone with its unique IMEI number isn’t really possible. In some cases, the police can work together with a phone’s provider to locate it using its IMEI number. But don’t think you can just walk into a police station and expect them to do that. A more realistic thing you can do is to block your phone so that no one can use it to make calls, send texts or use the web. To do so, the best thing is to contact your provider.

By the way, you can find out your phone’s IMEI number by dialing *#06#. This code should work on most phones. Don’t have your device at hand? Here’s how to find the IMEI without having the phone.

Can I locate my device if someone changed the sim card?

Even if someone puts his SIM card in your phone, you might be able to locate it. Changing SIMs doesn’t disconnect it from your Google account, which is a good thing. It means that tracking tools like Android Device Manager or Android Lost should still work. The only needed thing in this scenario is that your phone keeps an internet connection.

–> Find My Device guide

My phone doesn’t show up on Find My Device. Why is that?

This can have many reasons. Your phone could be off, disconnected from the internet or your Google account. Keep in mind that changing your Google account password will automatically disconnect it from Google. Also, trying to locate a device with Find My Device doesn’t always work. I recommend that you keep trying to locate your lost phone every half hour or so. Your phone might have a bad connection or someone else turns it on and connects to the web. But if you changed your Google password, then Find My Device won’t be able to track it.

–> Locate your lost phone using Find My Device

Do you still have unanswered questions? You’re more than welcome to post your question in the comments!

Things you should do ASAP if you find your device or end up getting a new one

We received a lot of emails, tweets and comments the last months from people that found their lost phone thanks to this article. Unfortunately, the majority of the readers isn’t that lucky. Either way, if you found your lost phone or plan to buy a replacement, you should be well prepared before something like that happens again. Below are two fundamental steps you should take to quickly track down your device should you lose it again.

Activate Find My Device and Location History

Make sure that both Find My Device and Location History are activated. Both tools can be a great help when you lose your device. With Find My Device you can track your device, make it ring and erase its data. Location history shows you the last recorded locations on a map. If someone stole it, then this could help you (and local authorities) to track down the thief’s home address, for example.

To activate both services, select “Google Settings” in your app drawer. Select Security and make sure both options below “Find My Device” are enabled. Now, go one step back and select “Location”. Click on “Google Location History” and turn it on. Now you’re able to use the tool to track your device and Location History to see its last recorded locations.

Set a lock screen pattern or password

Quite a lot of people already use lock screens to keep unwanted people from accessing private files like images, texts or videos. For some people, unlocking a phone countless times a day can be quite annoying, but it’s worth it. This extra layer of security not only keeps your friends and colleagues from secretly checking out your latest images or texts.

It also prevents thieves of changing any major settings such as disabling mobile data or disconnecting your phone from your Google account. As you learned, both a working connection to the web and a connected Google account are needed to get your Android phone’s current location.

Have you been able to get back your mobile device after it got lost? How did you get it back? Share your experience with us in the comments.

Note: In case you’re actually missing an Apple device, head over to my guide on how to track a lost iPhone or iPad. For windows phones, check out this post.

There’s no doubt that Surface devices are both light and portable. That’s part of what makes them such great computers for people on the go. Unfortunately, that portability also makes it easy for you to misplace your Surface or for someone else to snatch it while you’re not looking.

So, what can you do about it?

  • Be vigilant with your Surface. Don’t flash it in areas that could make you a target for theft and make sure you always put it back in the same spot when it’s not in use.
  • You can install some anti-theft tracking software onto your Surface. That way, hopefully, you can find it if it gets lost or stolen.

Find Your Surface: Anti-Theft Software Overview

Anti-theft tracking software is software that runs quietly in the background and send updates to a server regarding your Surface’s location. This allows you to log into the server and see where your Surface has last reported in. A lot of tracking software also give you additional options, such as locking the screen or deleting your files remotely.

Unfortunately, none of these programs are perfect and just because you have one installed, it’s not a guarantee you’ll be able to find your Surface in the event it gets lost or stolen. In addition, the software can only function when the device is turned on AND it has a network connection.

Finally, you should be aware that a clever or knowledgeable thief can probably disable the software, so the device can’t be tracked.

I can hear what’s going on in your head. You’re wondering “But if it’s not a guarantee, why should I bother”, right? The answer is simple: because it’s better than nothing.

You should treat it as a second chance at finding your lost or stolen Surface, nothing more. It’s not always going to work out for you but, it might get you out of a unhappy situation.

OK, now that you know about what anti-theft software is, I’m going to help you sort through the dozens of options by recommending three software for you to consider. The first (Prey) has a free version, so your “second chance” won’t cost you any money.

The second (LoJack) will cost you at least $39.95 USD a year but it’s a good and reputable program that’s been around since 2000. In addition (if you’re in the US, Canada, or Australia) they will (partially) reimburse you if your Surface can’t be recovered – that’s a nice bonus.

While the first two options will work with Windows 8.1 (if you’ve been holding out on upgrading to Windows 10), the third option only works with Windows 10. It’s part of the Threshold 2 update Microsoft just released and brings the same “Find My Phone” functionality that Windows phones have enjoyed for some time.

OK, let’s get started…

Find Your Surface: Prey

The Prey Project (or just Prey) is an open-source and cross-platform solution that offers a free option. It has a lot of great features (some that you would only expect to find in pay-for software), such as the ability to lock the screen remotely.

Click for a larger version…

Despite being a free product, it looks very attractive and is very easy to install and use. After creating an account and installing the software on your Surface, all you have to do is visit their website from another computer to see where your device last checked in. In addition, you can also send your device a command to sound an audible alarm (it will automatically turn up the volume to max), send a text message that appears on screen, and lock the screen with a password to make it difficult to use.

I really like the alarm feature for 2 reasons:

  • If I misplaced my Surface around the house, with the alarm I can find it again. Essentially, it’s like having a friend call my phone, so I can locate it. Who hasn’t done that?
  • If it’s been stolen, you might draw attention to the thief and he/she may ditch your Surface out of fear that someone noticed them.

Here’s a list of the pros and cons for Prey:

PROS CONS
Free Can be easily disabled by a knowledgeable thief
Easy to use Software won’t survive a device reset
See your Surface on a map The paid version is a bit expensive
Ability to send an audible alarm
Ability to send a text message to the screen
Ability to lock the computer with a special password

It’s a bit expensive but you can upgrade to a paid version (as little as $5 USD/Month) and gain the ability to remotely delete your files just in case you have something on your Surface you don’t want other people to see.

GET IT HERE: PREY PROJECT

Find Your Surface: Absolute LoJack

Absolute Lojack doesn’t have a free version (though there is a free 30 day trial) but it’s generally the product IT folks think of when you mention tracking software. As said before, it will run you$39.95 USD/year but it offers a couple of unique features for the price.

For example, Lojack is difficult for a thief to remove because most newer Surface models (SP3, SP4, and Surface Books but NOT Surface 3’s) support what they call Persistence Technology. Basically, it installs a small program into the firmware which will automatically reinstall the Lojack software if someone resets or formats the device.

Click for larger version…

In addition, the company has a team of folks who, they claim, will work with law enforcement to help track down the device. These features make it more difficult for a thief to get away with stealing it.

Also, if they can’t locate your device within a set time (usually about 3 months) the company will reimburse you between $200 and $1000 depending on how old your Surface is. It’s not the same as a replacement and it’s not quick but it’s something.

Here’s a list of the pros and cons for Absolute Lojack:

PROS CONS
Reasonably Inexpensive You have to pay extra for the Service Guarantee and it’s slow
Software will survive a device reset Only offers paid options
Easy to use No audible alarm for finding a misplaced Surface
See your Surface on a map Persistence feature doesn’t work with Surface 3 devices.
Ability to send a text message to the screen
Ability to lock the computer with a special password

GET IT HERE: ABSOLUTE LOJACK

Find Your Surface: Find My Device (Win 10)

Following the Threshold 2 update, assuming you’re running Windows 10, your Surface has a “Find My Device” option.

You can find it under Settings > Update & Security.

You can use this feature of Windows 10 track your Surface via GPS and location services, if you lose it. In addition, you can also tell Windows 10 to periodically send your Surface’s location to Microsoft. That will allow you to see its last known location.

You might be wondering why not just use this feature and not bother with the other options. Well the answer is quite simple. it does not offer the same features as the other options. So, no remote locking, wiping, or alarm. The only thing it can do is locate your device on a map.

On top of that, if a thief is knowledgeable, much like the Prey project option, he/she could wipe your device with a USB recovery drive (assuming Bitlocker is off) and simply rebuild your Surface then turn the option off under settings.

Here’s a list of pros and cons for the built-in Find My Device feature:

PROS CONS
Free Requires Windows 10
Easy to setup Can be disabled with a device reset and some configuration changes
See your Surface on a map

So, if you’re worried about losing your Surface to theft or your’e simply tired of tearing up the house looking for it, you have a trio of options to consider.

None are a guarantee that you will be able to find a lost or stolen device but they might give you a chance.

Joanna

Joanna is a former IT Director for a major public university, who gave up a high paying career to blog full time. She is proud to be a professional geek. Joanna loves all things technology and Surface tablets are her passion. She and Tim created LoveMySurface.net to help others be more productive using these awesome tablets.

How do I upgrade the version of Android on my tablet?

Cupcake, Donut, Éclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean. Either we’re talking about a stash of confiscated food items from a Weight Watchers group picnic, or we’re about to spend some time discussing Android operating system (OS) upgrades. Thank goodness it’s the latter of the two.

Whereas Apple computer OSes get named for man-eating felines (Mountain Lion, Snow Leopard) and Microsoft chooses a seemingly incoherent assortment of letters, numbers and words (XP, 7, Vista), Google’s Android line goes for a subtler, tastier approach. But don’t let the friendly naming distract you; the company’s schedule of releases is as aggressive as it gets. Those eight versions were released between 2009 and 2012.

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That speed causes a common problem for tablet users who are prone to comments like this: “My hardware is running on Honeycomb (version 3.0). Can I upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich (version 4.0), or can I leapfrog right to Jelly Bean (version 4.1)? Can my tablet even handle it?”

Those are all great, common questions. But before we even talk about upgrading anything, take a few minutes to back up your entire tablet using Android’s built-in tools. It’s easy enough. Just go to Settings, then Privacy and check the boxes for “Back Up My Data” and “Automatic Restore.” This way, if the upgrade goes badly and you have to reset your OS, at least everything from photos to apps and settings will be saved off your tablet.

Now that we have that formality out of the way, we’re ready to talk about upgrading your Android software.

Find My Device

Features:

  • Track your phone via GPS
  • Erase your phone remotely
  • Remotely play a sound
  • Lock your phone remotely
  • Works with tablets and smartwatches, too

Google’s Find My Device app is a must-have for Android users and one of our favorite Android apps. If you added a Google Account to your Android device, then Find My Device is automatically turned on. You can check via Settings > Security & lock screen > Device administrators, or Settings > Lock screen and security > Other security settings > Device administrators on a Samsung Galaxy, where there should be a tick next to Find My Device.

The app makes it simple to locate your lost device, all you have to do to get started is . After you install the app, it will ask you to log in, and to make sure Location is turned on. You should take a look in Settings > Location, or Settings > Connections > Location on a Samsung Galaxy, and make sure it’s set to High accuracy for best results. Once the app is installed and running, you can locate your device, as long as it’s turned on and connected to Wi-Fi or mobile data.

To track your device, go to android.com/find in any browser, whether on your computer or another smartphone. If you’re logged into your Google account you can also just type “find my phone” into Google. If your lost device has access to the internet and location is on you’ll be able to locate it. One of the great features here is that you can lock the device and write a message with an accompanying phone number. That way if someone finds or has your device, all they have to do is press the Call Me button on the screen to call the specified phone number. You can also choose to play a sound or erase the phone remotely if you have no other choice.

Remember that if you track your phone using a browser, you will have to log in to your Google account. If you logged in from someone else’s smartphone or desktop browser, then you’ll want to log out of all your accounts when finished. If you leave your account logged in, anyone with access to that computer will be able to track your smartphone. The app only takes a minute to install and set up, and because it’s so easy to use, it should be your first choice for finding a lost Android device.

Google Play

It’s embarrassingly easy to lose your phone by putting it down somewhere in your house and forgetting where you placed it. This can be frustrating if it’s time to leave for work or some other appointment and you’re frantically scrambling around your home looking for it.

If you own a Google Home speaker, you can use Google Assistant to help find your phone. Your Android phone must be logged into the same Google account as your Google Home speaker, you must have linked your Google account and voice to your Google Home via the Home app, and your phone must be turned on and connected to the internet either via mobile data or Wi-Fi. You will also need to have Find My Device turned on, which you should absolutely activate for any Android phone you’re using.

As long as your phone is still on and connected to the Internet, all you need to do is say “okay Google, find my phone,” and Google will confirm which device you want to find and then turn the ringer on — even if you have your phone set to silent. With Google Home’s multi-user support, everyone in your home can use Google Home to find their phones if they’re lost as long as they’ve linked their Google Accounts to Google Home using Voice Match.

Find your phone with 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.

Family Locator

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 have 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.

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

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.

Sign in

The one piece of technology millions cannot live without these days is their Android phone. With our daily demands, we look to these devices to help us with tasks, store personal data and stay connected with others. Because we regard this piece of technology with such value it is understandable why one becomes distraught when (s)he loses their Android smartphone.

Here’s the distressing situation; one minute your device is safely tucked away in your pocket, the next minute it goes M.I.A. and you begin wondering where you could have misplaced or lost it. You also contemplate the worst case scenario; someone stole your Android phone. Regardless of how it was lost, there are a few clever ways to find your device.

Using Android’s feature Find My Device you can track your lost phone or tablet. Although Find My Device is automatically enabled when you sign into your Google account on your device, it is suggested you review settings to ensure it is on.

Setting up Find My Device

With the variety of settings on an Android phone, it is easy sometimes to overlook whether specific settings are toggled on or off. To confirm Find My Device is running requires only a few steps.

Open Settings and tap on Lock Screen and Security, this option may be labeled differently, such as Security & Location, depending on the make and model of your device. Scroll to Find My Device option and tap on it. If the feature is set to On you are good, otherwise, toggle to the right to turn it on.

One last step. Open your browser and go to play.google.com/settings. Locate your device on the page and make certain the visibility box next to it is checked. Without this option marked your Android phone will not show in Find My Device.

It is necessary that your location setting is turned on for Find My Device to function correctly. Note: If the location is turned off on your device, Google cannot display real-time data on your phone’s location.

Finding your lost phone using Android’s website

One way to locate your phone is by going to android.com/find, using any browser, and sign into your Google account if you are not logged in. The search engine will disclose the last known location of your device on a map. Google will also display your device’s remaining battery life.

The website will provide you three options to help you find your phone. If you believe your device is somewhere near you select Play Sound. This option will cause your phone to ring for 5 minutes, even if the gadget is set to silent mode.

The two remaining options are to help protect your Android. Selecting Secure Device locks your phone and allows you to display an optional recovery message and a contact phone number in case your phone is found.

If you are concerned about someone stealing your Android device and putting your personal information at risk, Erase Device is an option. Be warned, choosing this option will erase all content on your phone. While this prevents anyone from stealing your info, it also prohibits Find My Device from locating the phone.

Tracking down your device using Google search

Android’s website isn’t the only method of locating your device. Here is how you can perform the search using the Google homepage:

Go to google.com and in the search bar type in ‘find my device’ or ‘find my phone.’ Google will instantly show you the device’s last known location and allow you to ring the phone with a tap of a button.

Another option offered using this approach is to Recover. Selecting Recover will present additional information regarding your Android phone including recent security events.

Detecting an Android phone’s location using Find My Device app

If you happen to have a secondary device, you may want to search for your lost phone using the Find My Device app. Similar to locating your phone using the Android website, the app will require you to sign into your Google account.

As with the Android site method, the Find My Device app offers the same three options ring, secure or erase the phone.

Tracing your lost device using Google Maps

Think your Android phone was taken? Don’t despair. Luckily, Google Maps may be able to help trace your phone. For this feature to work your device must be turned on, have access to Wi-Fi or cellular data and location services must be enabled.

Open Google Maps and sign into your Google account. Click on the menu icon in the upper left corner and select Your Timeline.

Once in your timeline, you can choose the date, month and year to view the location history for the day you lost your device.

Locating an Android phone using Lookout Security & Antivirus app

Using the Lookout Security & Antivirus app is an additional option if you are concerned about your Android device being in the hands of a thief. Once downloaded and installed from the Google Play Store, this app can locate your phone and sound an alarm, even if the device is set to silent mode.

Lookout Security & Antivirus can also send you an email with your device’s location, plus a photo of the person who may have stolen it. Its Signal Flare feature will send the email, even after your phone dies. Although these services are included in the free basic account, there is a Lock and Wipe feature available similar to the Google option with a Premium account.

After downloading and installing the Lookout Security & Antivirus app, sign up for a free basic account and sign in. Then, give permission to access your files, location, and phone and you can tap continue.

Once in the app, you can turn on Locate and Scream. If your device is ever stolen, you can log in to Lookout.com to locate your device. Allowing the app to run in the background will identify where your device is even when it has been sleeping for long periods.

Remember to confirm your settings are enabled and these features or apps are turned on before you venture out. That way they can help find your phone in the event it is lost or stolen. Never attempt to recover your phone by confronting the thief if it was stolen, notify authorities.