Turn on Find my iPhone in Settings
Like many of the advanced features in iOS 8 Find my iPhone uses iCloud to store and sync data, so you’ll need an iCloud account to use the service. The chances are you already have one, as Apple prompts you to create one when you first setup your iPhone or iPad. To check go to Settings > iCloud and you should see your account name listed. If not just follow the instructions and set up an account. You just need to remember that Find my iPhone uses your Apple ID to associate devices with your account, so you’ll need to use the same one on all of them.
Turning on Find my iPhone itself is very simple. In Settings choose iCloud > Find My iPhone and then slide the virtual switch to the right until it goes green. This means that the feature is now active. Underneath the Find My iPhone setting you’ll also see another option entitled Send Last Location. This is a new addition for iOS 8 and means that your iPhone will send location data to Apple just before it runs out of battery.
Normally when an iPhone is turned off, or has a lack of power, the Find My iPhone feature can’t work as there is no signal being sent from the device. This could be heartbreaking if you’ve left your phone somewhere and the battery drains before you realise it’s gone. With Send Last Location you will at least know where it was when the power finally ran out. Slide the switch across to enable this essential feature.
One last thing to check is that Location Services have been enabled, as this allows your devices to be tracked by the Find My iPhone app. Go to Settings > Privacy > Locations Services to make sure.
Download the Find my iPhone app
Alongside the settings on your iPhone there is also an accompanying free app. Look in the App store for Find My iPhone, then download it to your device. The app is useful as it automatically shows you the locations of any devices using your Apple ID, so long as they have Find my iPhone activated. Once the app is installed launch it and you’ll be prompted to sign in with your Apple ID, then you’ll be shown a map, with your devices listed on the left. This is particularly useful if you’ve lost your iPhone, as it means you can use your iPad to find it.
Using the Find my iPhone app
When you’ve selected the device you have a few choices open to you. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see an icon for a car, this will take you to Maps and plot a route directly to your iPhone. Tapping on Actions instead will bring up three other options.
The first is Play Sound, which will do exactly that. This is most useful if you’ve lost your iPhone somewhere around the house, or are having trouble tracking it down when you reach the listed location. Tapping the icon will cause your iPhone to beep loudly, making it easier to find.
Lost Mode enables you to enter a passcode to remotely lock the device. This prevents anyone who finds your iPhone from gaining access to your data. You can unlock it using the same code when you finally recover the device.
The final choice is Erase Phone, which as the name suggests is something of a nuclear option. Tapping this will wipe all data from the device and should only really be used if you think it’s been stolen, or has particularly sensitive information stored onboard. As this deletes all information, including your Apple ID, once you press that button the device will disappear from your Find My iPhone list, and most likely your life.
Using Find my iPhone via the iCloud website.
If you don’t have another Apple device, that doesn’t mean you can’t track your iPhone down. The iCloud website gives you access to Find My iPhone, alongside various other features such as the iWork apps, Mail, Calendar, and the new iCloud Drive. To use it simply log in with your Apple ID, launch the Find My iPhone app and you’ll see a map with the location of your device displayed. Click on the green dot and when the device name is shown click the information icon on the right. Now you’ll have the same three options – Play Sound, Lost Mode and Erase iPhone or iPad – as you would on the Find My iPhone app.
Using Find my iPhone with Family Sharing
Another addition for iOS 8 is the ability to find other family members’ devices using Family Sharing. To enable this service you need to have Family Sharing set up on your device and for all the other members of your family group to have Find My iPhone switched on. Now, if someone loses their iPhone, the whole family can help track it down