Lost your phone? Here’s how to get it back
What do you do when your phone goes missing? You track it using Google’s “Find My Device” found under the Google Play Protect. You can find your missing phone in one of three ways:
From a computer:
Connect to the internet, open Chrome, and make sure you’re logged in to your Google account. Type “Where is my phone” in Chrome’s address bar. Google will automatically load a mini Find My Device window inside of the search results. The odds are it will ask you to sign in again so it can find your phone, so go ahead and sign in. This will bring up the Find My Device site and immediately start tracking your device.
From an Android Phone:
Assuming you have a second Android phone or tablet with you, install the app. It’ll let you log in with a quick tap if you’re on your own phone, but it also offers the option of a guest login if you’re using someone else’s phone.
From a non-Android phone:
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On a non-android phone, go to ww.google.com/android/find in a browser and log in. Once you’ve accessed Find My Device through any of these methods, you can use the list at the top to find the one that’s missing. Even if you don’t have location enabled, Find My Phone can ring, lock, and wipe your phone for you. There are a series of options just below the device location: Play Sound, Lock, and Erase.
The first option makes sense if you just need to find your phone at home. It will play your ringtone at full volume for five minutes. The other two options are crucial for cases when your phone is really gone. To make sure your personal data is safe and secure, you can use the “lock” button to quickly enable a lock screen password if you didn’t have one enabled before. Once the password is set, you can also put a recovery message on the locks screen, something like “Thanks for finding my phone! Please call the number below.” Then put a number in the box.
If all hope is lost, you can completely wipe the device with the “erase” command. This will factory reset the device, wiping all of your personal data, pictures, music, and all other stored files. It will also try to wipe the SD card if your device has one, but there’s a possibility (depending on Android version and manufacturer) that it may not be able to. Once the phone has been wiped, Android Device Manager will no longer work, so this is basically you saying goodbye to your phone. This is the point of no return.
Use Other ‘find my phone’ methods like call or text your phone to try to reach out to the person who might have it. You should also report your phone lose at the police station. Doing so will blacklist the IMEI of your phone and making things difficult for the thief. But don’t get your hopes up. The police aren’t going to launch a full investigation for every stolen smartphone.
Like everything else, Find My Device isn’t without limitations. For example, if your phone is stolen and the thief has already performed a factory reset, you’re out of luck. If the phone happens to be off, you can only hope that whoever finds it will put it on charge for you.
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