Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Gadgets and Digital Lifestyle

This chapter is from the book

Find a Lost Device

Losing a digital device can be a traumatic experience. While the devices themselves are expensive to replace, the information on them is all too often irreplaceable. Fortunately, the same technology that makes these devices so useful can also be turned toward bringing an errant device home—even if it had only fallen between the couch cushions.

Enabling Find My iPhone/iPad/iPod/Mac

The good news is that most of the devices that you might misplace come with ways of locating themselves. iPhones contain GPS chips, while iPads, iPod touches, and Macs can all locate themselves based on nearby Wi-Fi networks.

To take advantage of this feature, you’ll need to activate Find My iPhone (or iPad, iPod, or Mac, depending on which device you’re using), the service that reports in on the devices’ locations (4.37). On iOS, this is in Settings > iCloud; on OS X, the service is called Find My Mac and is located in the iCloud preference pane of System Preferences (4.38).


4.37 Activating Find My Mac in Yosemite


4.38 Activating Find My iPhone in iOS

When you activate the service, you’re asked to allow the device’s location to be reported via the service; tap or click Allow. (If you enabled Find My [Device] when you set up the device, it’s already running.)

iOS devices also have one additional option once the service is activated: Send Last Location. When your device’s battery runs low, it’ll send its last known location to Apple’s servers—that way you should be able to locate your device even if it’s out of juice.

Finding a Device

The most important thing to do when you lose a device is stay calm. As soon as possible, try to access the Find My iPhone service and locate your device.

If you have an iOS device available—either yours or somebody else’s—use Apple’s free Find My iPhone app to locate your errant gadget. (Don’t be fooled by the name: It’ll help you locate iPads, iPods, and Macs too, as long as you’ve followed the above steps to enable the service on those devices.)

  1. Launch the Find My iPhone app, and enter the iCloud account and password with which the missing device is associated. (On somebody else’s device, you may need to tap the Sign Out button and sign in with your iCloud account.) You’ll see a map and, if you have more than one machine registered with the service, a list of all the available Macs and iOS devices, along with when their location was last reported (4.39). By default, their locations are shown on the map.


    4.39 It’s right there. I’m pointing right at it.

  2. Select any single device to see just that device’s location and status.

Once you select a device, you have a number of options.

  • To quickly plot driving directions via the Maps app, tap the car icon at the bottom left of the map.
  • Tap Actions to bring up a toolbar of other options, including Play Sound (which works even if the device in question is muted), the ability to erase the device, and either activating Lost Mode (for an iOS device) or locking the machine (for a Mac) (4.40). Play Sound is usually sufficient for us to find where the device has run off to.


    4.40 Options for finding a lost device

If you don’t have an iOS device handy but do have a computer, you can perform all of these functions from Apple’s iCloud Web site. Just go to, enter your username and password, and select the Find My iPhone icon. You’ll find the same options as you would have on an iOS device (4.41).


4.41 Find My iPhone at

Lost Mode

If you’ve truly misplaced your iOS device or suspect that it may have been stolen, activating Lost Mode can help you track it, as well as lock it so that it’s inaccessible. Use the Find My iPhone app or iCloud Web site to turn Lost Mode on.

Once you’ve activated it, you can optionally enter a phone number, which is displayed on the iPad. (If it’s your iPhone that you’ve misplaced, remember that you’ll want to use another phone number, such a friend’s or family member’s.) You’ll also be asked to enter a message that’s shown along with the number (4.42, on the next page).


4.42 Lost Mode

Once you tap Done, your iOS device is placed into Lost Mode: The device is immediately locked if it’s currently active, and the lock screen permanently displays the message you entered, along with the phone number you provided (4.43, on the next page). If the lost device is an iPhone, a Call button on the lock screen lets someone quickly contact you at the number you specified.


4.43 Not all who wander are lost—except this iPad, which is clearly lost. Please help it find its way home.

While in Lost Mode, your device’s movements are also tracked and reported in the Find My iPhone app and Web site. Whenever its location is updated, an email is sent to your address with the last known location.

You can update the phone number or message by selecting the device in Find My iPhone and tapping Lost Mode again—you can also use that screen to turn off Lost Mode once your device has been located. Unlocking an iOS device with your passcode or via Touch ID automatically terminates Lost Mode.

Tip If you suspect your device was stolen, and you locate it on the map, don’t attempt to retrieve it yourself. Call the police. Security also applies to keeping yourself out of harm’s way.

Lock Your Mac

Much like Lost Mode, locking your Mac provides a way to prevent anybody from using your computer if it’s misplaced. You can activate it once you’ve selected a Mac in Find My iPhone on an iOS device or on the Web (4.44).


4.44 Locking a Mac remotely

When you lock your Mac remotely, you’re asked to enter and confirm a four-digit code, as well as provide a message that is shown on the Mac. Once you’ve done that and locked the Mac, the lost computer is restarted and you’re sent an email notifying you that the computer has been locked to a passcode—the passcode itself, however, is not provided, so make sure it’s one you remember or stored in a secure location.

Once the Mac restarts, you have to enter the code you created before you can log in; entering the pin will unlock the Mac. Keep in mind, however, that if your disk is not encrypted with FileVault, someone could boot the machine from an external drive to get access to that information.

Erase Device

If there’s really no hope of recovering a lost device, you may want to consider erasing it, which ensures that any information stored is inaccessible. Be aware that erasing a device is irreversible, and once you do so, you won’t be able to play a sound, lock it, put it in Lost Mode, or locate it via Find My iPhone (4.45).


4.45 Erasing a lost iPhone

In theory, erasing your device shouldn’t be too much of a concern, as long as you have a current backup, either via iCloud Backup or iTunes for iOS devices, or Time Machine or one of the many other third-party solutions on the Mac. You do have a backup, don’t you? (See Chapter 6.)

Selecting a device and choosing Erase Device prompts you for your Apple ID password and, as with Lost Mode or locking your Mac, also asks for a phone number and a message that will be displayed on the device after it’s erased. In the case of your Mac, you’ll also be asked to create a passcode that will be needed to unlock it.

How soon the erase takes effect depends on whether the device is currently online; if it is, the remote wipe starts working immediately. Otherwise, erasure begins the next time the device connects to the Internet. The process of erasing can also take some time: a Mac, for example, can take up to a day.

If you erase a device with cellular service, keep in mind that you will likely want to notify your service provider to suspend the device, just in case someone attempts to use it.

Third-Party Tools

Find My iPhone can only do so much. If you’re looking for a tool to help track down the person who stole your device, you may wish to consider a third-party option.

Orbicule’s Undercover ( not only helps you locate a stolen Mac, but it can also use your computer’s built-in camera to take and send pictures, perhaps helping you locate or identify the perpetrator, as well as logging their keystrokes and taking periodic screenshots.

Hidden ( is another OS X app that, similar to Undercover, can track your stolen Mac, take photos with the camera, snap screenshots, log keystrokes, and let you remotely wipe your computer. It also allows you send messages that your computer will speak aloud, create a reverse secure connection, and more.

Prey Anti Theft (, which runs on both iOS or OS X, is a free option for up to three of your devices. It helps you locate your missing device, as well as providing you with information about the device’s use.

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020