So you’ve lost your phone. We’ve all been there. It was just in your pocket a minute ago — and now it’s gone, lost to the phone fairies, forgotten between the seats of your couch, or misplaced somewhere during your busy day. Maybe it’s just in your other coat, or maybe it’s already in the hands of someone who found it on the sidewalk. Either way, all you want to do is get it back.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to get a hold of your missing phone. If it’s a smartphone (or even a tablet) running iOS, Android, or even Windows Phone, chances are good it already has the software needed to hunt it down — or there’s an app you can remotely install to find your phone. Here’s our guide on how to find your phone or similar device, including the old-fashioned way if you still own one of those flip phones:
If your lost phone happens to be a smartphone, all three of the major smartphone platform providers (Apple, Google, and Microsoft) now include phone retrieval technology in your smartphone, in case you ever end up losing it, but forget to install a “find my phone” app. Usually, the way these apps work is through the account associated with your device. For Android devices this is your Google account, for iPhones this is your iCloud account, and for Windows Phones this is your Microsoft account. All three allow you to remotely lock and wipe your phone, ring the phone, and set up special messages to alert whoever finds it.
Of course, these features are only as good as your phone’s battery. If the smartphone dies, it’s about as easy to find as your wallet or anything else you might misplace.
We also recommend caution when communicating with anyone who has found your smartphone. Be careful to avoid giving away any personal information, such as your home address, until you know you’re dealing with someone you can trust. Stick with sending phone numbers or email addresses to communicate how the good Samaritan can return your phone. Here’s how each of the three different OSes work in order to find your smartphone.