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Quick Tip: The Ins and Outs of Find my iPhone

Find my iPhone is a free Apple-built app that can be used to locate, wipe or erase a misplaced iOS device.

(Apple’s terminology is a tad confusing. The app is required to take action on other devices via the service. Enabling the Find my iPhone service can be done in Settings–> iCloud–> Find my iPhone. This allows the device to be found via the web or app on another device.)

Once installed, the Find my iPhone app can be used to locate your opted-in devices on a map. Additionally, it can be used on the web, via iCloud.com, or another device to pinpoint the lost phone or tablet on a map:

Find my iPhone online

Once located, the device can be commanded to play an alarm (even if it’s on silent). If the device is online, the sound plays immediately for two minutes. If the device is offline, the sound plays the next time it’s online.

An iOS device can be placed into Lost Mode, which allows you to enable a passcode remotely and display contact information on the screen. Additionally, Lost Mode can keep you updated if the device is moved.

If lost or stolen, a device can be erased completely. If the device you’re erasing has iOS 7 or later, enter a phone number and message. The number and message will be displayed on the screen after the device is erased, so if its found by a do-gooder later, it may be recovered.

Beyond locating a lost device, Find my iPhone can be used to protect a device against re-activation.

On iOS 7 and higher, Find my iPhone makes it so than your Apple ID and password are required before anyone can:

  • Turn off Find My iPhone on your device
  • Erase your device
  • Reactivate and use your device

Find my iPhone is a great utility. It’s easy to use, powerful, and free. The best quick tip I can give on the subject is to Apple: This app should be installed by default on iOS devices.