How to Use Google Find My Device

Find a Lost Smartphone with Google Find My Device

Google Find My Device
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Losing your Android smartphone or tablet can be stressful, since, these days, it feels like your whole life is on it. Google's Find My Device feature (previously Android Device Manager) helps you locate, and if necessary, remotely lock down your smartphone, tablet, and smartwatch, or even wipe the device clean in case of theft or after you've given up on finding it. All you need is to connect your device with your Google account.

Tip: The directions below should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

Setting Up Google Find My Device

Start by opening a browser tab, then go to google.com/android/find and log into your Google account. Find My Device will attempt to detect your smartphone, smartwatch, or tablet and if location services are on, will reveal its location. If it's working, you'll see a map with a pin dropped at the device's location. On the left side of the screen are tabs for each device you've connected to a Google account. Beneath each tab is your device's model name, the time it was last located, and the remaining battery life. There are three options below that: play sound and enable lock and erase. One enabled, you'll see two options: lock and erase.

Every time you use Find My Device, you'll see an alert on your device that it has been located. If you get this alert and haven't used the feature, then it's a good idea to change your password in case of a hack.

To remotely locate your device, you'll obviously have to enable location services, which can eat up your battery, so it's something to keep in mind. The device's location information is not required to lock and erase your device remotely. For obvious reasons, you must be logged into your Google account on the device as well. 

What You Can Do With Find My Device

Once you have Find My Device up and running, you can do one of three things. First, you can make your Android play a sound even if it's set to silent, if you think you've misplaced it in your house or office, for example.

Second, you can lock your device remotely if you think it's lost or stolen. Optionally, you can add a message and a phone number to the lock screen in case someone finds it and wants to return the device.

Finally, if you don't think you're getting your device back, you can wipe it so that no one can access your data. Wiping performs a factory reset on your device, but if your phone is offline, you won't be able to wipe it until it regains a connection.

Alternatives to Google Find My Device

Android users always have a lot of options, and this is no exception. Samsung has a feature called Find My Mobile, which is linked to your Samsung account. Once you've registered your device, you can use Find My Mobile to locate your phone, ring your phone, lock your screen, wipe the device, and put it in emergency mode. You can also unlock the phone remotely. Again, you'll need to have location services on to use some of these features. There are also a variety of third-party apps that can help you find your Android phone.