How to track a dead phone

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Bernard Perron
@bernardperron
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There was a time when locating someone was a lot of work. Today is not so difficult. But, instead of a government agency, it could be some random person with decent computer software and knowledge of how current technology works.

All modern devices give you the ability to track its location, a feature that can prove more than useful. For example, did you lose or have your device stolen? Or maybe you want to prepare your device for this situation just in case? Don't worry, you've come to the right place. Follow the steps below on how to track your phone in case you need to know where it is.



How to track an Android phone that is turned off

Even though it's much easier to find your phone when it's on, there are ways to do it if it's also turned off. However, the location you will get is the last location the phone was in before it was turned off. Here's how:

  1. Google android.com/find, or open the "Find My Device" app on a friend's Android phone.
    • The app will let you access the location of the phone you lost through your friend's device.
  2. Log in to your Google account (the one connected to your device).
  3. In the list of devices that appear, click on the missing one and its last location will be displayed.

Even though it may not seem like much, getting the last location of your device in some cases can turn out to be a good lead – assuming someone didn't recover it or it was stolen.



Use Google Maps to find your Android phone

Your phone must have the "Find My Device" app for this to work. The app needs to be linked to your Google account so you can see your phone's location history.

  1. Sign in to your Google account.
  2. Open Google Maps.
  3. Click on the “Menu” icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
  4. Select "Your Timeline" from the drop-down list.
  5. In the window that opens, enter the date you lost your device.

You will be allowed to access the list of the last locations where the device was reported.

How to Track a Dead iPhone

Apple devices use the “Find My” app to locate and track any devices you may have. We'll provide you with the app switching process in the Settings section, if you haven't already, later in the article. For now, we'll assume the app is enabled and you're trying to track your phone using a friend's device:

Notes: They will need to log into their iCloud account for the process to work.

  1. Have them open the “Find My” app on their device.
  2. Select the "Me" tab.
  3. Select the “Help a friend” option located at the bottom.
  4. They should now sign in iCloud.
    • If they're prompted to sign in using Face ID, select "Use a different Apple ID."
  5. Ask them to sign in using their iCloud ID and password.
  6. When asked to save the password, click "Not now" and they can use the app to find your device.
  7. A map will show either the device's last location (or, if turned on, its current location).
  8. When done, ask them to click on their name in the upper right corner and "Sign out".

How to Find Your iPhone Using an iPad

For owners of multiple Apple devices, the process may be a bit easier. For example, on an iPad:



  1. Open the “Find My” app on your iPad.
  2. Tap on the "Devices" tab and the location of the devices you have connected will be displayed on the map.
    • If a device is turned off, it will show up but with a black screen – this will be the last location your phone was in before it was turned off or turned off.
  3. Tap the device icon if you need directions.
  4. If the device is offline but not dead, tap on the “Play Sound” option to locate it.
  5. If it is turned off or powered off and not found, you can click the “Notify me when detected” option.
    • This sends a notification and location update to your iPad when the device is turned on.

How to find your iPhone using a computer

Another option, if you don't have an iPad, is to use your computer:

  1. Open iCloud on your computer.
  2. Sign in using your Apple ID and password.
  3. Click on "Find a phone".
  4. Click "All Devices" at the top.
  5. Choose your missing device.
  6. The map will show either the last location of the device (if powered off) or where it is currently located (if the device is powered on).

Setting up the “Find My” app on your iPhone

For anyone looking to avoid future misfortunes, here's how to activate the app to help you find your device in the worst-case scenario:



  1. Open "Settings" on your iPhone.
  2. Tap your name.
  3. Select "Find My" from the list below.
  4. Enable the “Share my location” option.
  5. Add the friends or family members you want to see your phone at the bottom.
  6. Then tap on “Find my iPhone”.
  7. Activate the option.
  8. Enable the “Find my network” option.
    • This allows you to find your iPhone even if it is turned off or turned off.
  9. Enable "Send Last Location" and you can see where the iPhone was before it turned off.

This should put you at ease knowing that you have done your best to prepare for the worst case scenario.

How to Enable Lost Mode and What It Means

This is the last option and the last step you will take if the device is lost and not found. When enabled, the option will lock your phone remotely and send you a message with a phone number where someone can reach you. Your Apple Pay will be disabled with most notifications. The device will still be able to receive calls and FaceTime messages.

This mode remotely activates your location services allowing you to locate the device in the “Find My” application. "Mark as Lost" requires your phone to be on battery power to work. But if the battery is flat, it is still possible to activate the option. However, the mode will engage when powered back on and connected to the internet or Bluetooth.

Follow the steps below if this is your last resort:

  1. Open the “Find My” app on your other device.
  2. Select the lost device.
  3. Under 'Mark as lost', select 'Enable'.
  4. Press "Continue".
  5. Enter a phone number where you can be reached in case the device is found.
  6. Tap "Next" in the upper right corner of the screen.
  7. Enter a message to display from the locked screen of the lost device.
  8. Tap "Enable" in the upper right corner.

Even if this step means you still don't know where your device is, try to take comfort in the fact that you've done all you can.

Not all prophecies come true

Nothing is black or white. While some people may think providing your location to a company may be misguided, we need to remember that in many cases it may be the only way to get your device back. The data – files, photos, videos and contacts – that we store on these devices means a lot to us and needs to be protected.

We hope this article has helped you prepare or avoid the worst case scenario. In case it finds you looking for a lost phone or other device, we wish you luck in your search.

Send us a message in the comments section if you found our work useful.

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