There’s only one thing worse than losing your Android phone, and that’s losing your phone when you have a lot of personal stuff on it. If the thought of somebody else accessing your apps, email or secret plans for world domination scares you silly, we have the solution.
If you have an older device you might also need to take these steps with the old version of Find My Device Android Device Manager.
- Look for Allow remote lock and erase and make sure it’s switched on.
- Enable the second toggle in Device Manager: Remotely Locate This Device
- Double-check that both settings are enabled.
Find My Device works for tablets as well, but if you have multiple user accounts, only the person set as the tablet owner can set these features.
How to find your Android phone:
Once you’ve logged in, Find My Device will attempt to locate your missing device. If it’s on and can get a signal, you’ll see the location on a map. You’ll also see three options: ring it, lock it or remotely wipe it. If the device isn’t on or can't get a signal, Find My Device will report its location when it switches on and connects to a Wi-Fi or cellular network. At that point, you can erase all the data from your phone, but we’d strongly recommend trying the less-serious options before you go nuclear and delete everything.
Before you do anything, make sure it isn't just lost:
Lost phones are often mislaid rather than permanently missing or stolen. You can use the Find My Device to make the phone ring loudly for a full five minutes. There’s a second non-nuclear option available to you: changing the lock screen so that when the phone is next switched on, your message is displayed is likely to be counter-productive, but a message, possibly backed with a modest reward, might just work.
If all else fails, erase your data:
You will have the option to erase your data, but keep in mind that data on SD cards may not be deleted, and if it turns out it wasn't stolen or permanently lost after all, then you will likely need your Google password to use it again after erasing. You also won't be able to use the Find My Device app after this process.
Choosing the erase option will remotely wipe your phone or tablet on some devices. That’s the same as performing a full factory reset, so it’ll delete all of your settings, your music, your photos, and your apps but of course, not the SD card. As with locking, if the missing phone is off then selecting this option will remotely wipe it once it comes back online.