You’re at the 3rd bar of the night with a group of friends. You’re having a good time, and you’re half-past “slightly tipsy” already. You order your 5th whiskey and Coke of the night, and then it hits you. Panic sets in. You start sweating when you realize you’ve lost your phone at some point during Booze-Fest ’17, and now you’re not sure what to do. Well, first of all, don’t panic. A handy tool from Google, called Find My Device, can help you find your phone in these trying times.
What Is ‘Find My Device’?
Find My Device (formerly known as Android Device Manager) is a tool that lets you locate your lost or stolen devices. It can find more than just smartphones, as well. FMD is compatible with an array of Android devices, including tablets and smartwatches, and even Android TV’s. Hopefully, you’ll never have to actually locate your television. At least, you’ll have a shot at finding the slimy bastards who took it, if that day ever comes.
The tool is available in both browser form and in application form for phones and tablets. If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have have access to your phone, you’ll likely need to use the browser version. You can also log into FMD using a friend’s device using the app’s built-in ‘Guest Mode’. Just remember to sign out using the button in the top right-hand corner of the screen, if you do.
How Do I Use It?
Your lost Android device has to be on and have an active Google account to use Find My Device. It needs to have an active mobile data or Wi-Fi connection, and have GPS locations turned on. The device also has to have Find My Device turned on, and it needs to be visible on Google Play. Google has documented these processes, if you’re unsure on any of them. Lastly, you’ll need to install the Find My Device app. I’ve included a link to said app at the bottom of this post for your downloading pleasure.
I’ll cover the website a bit later in this post, but let’s take a look at the Android version for now. Open it up once you have everything installed and you’ve met the requirements I mentioned. You’ll see the screen above.
Here you’ll need to log in using your Google account credentials. Your account automatically shows up in the accounts section, or you can log in using Guest Mode. Hit the continue button and you’ll get a prompt to enter your Google password. This is a handy feature because it restricts access to Find My Device, even if someone breaches your phones’ default security features. (You ARE using some form of screen lock… Right?)
You’ll see your devices displayed as clickable thumbnails in the top left-hand corner of the app. In my case, you’ll see two tablets, two phones, my Moto 360 and my Android TV. I’m using the app on my tablet to locate my phone for the purpose of this post.
How Do I Find, Lock or Wipe My Device?
The app automatically attempts to locate your device. The results show up front and center in Google Maps-style results, once it finds your device. The bottom left-hand corner shows your device, along with information about it like battery level and the name of its current Wi-Fi signal, if applicable. There’s also a circular refresh button to… You know… Refresh things.
The bottom right-hand corner lets you perform actions like ‘Play Sound’, which makes your phone ring using its default ringtone at your device’s highest volume level. This works even if your ringer volume is off. It’s super handy for finding your phone when the couch swallows it. We’re not judging. It happens to the best of us.
‘Lock’ lets you remotely lock your device to keep prying eyes out until you get it back into your possession. You can optionally set a message to display on the locked device’s screen. You can set a contact number to display, as well.
‘Erase’ is a bit more drastic. It’s also permanent. This feature allows you to remotely wipe your device. When you find your device, you must sign into your Google account before you can use it again. Be sure to only wipe your device if you absolutely have to, because it erases all of your data. Everything. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Say goodbye to your photos, and any apps you had installed, also.
How Do I Find My Device From A Web Browser?
The answer to this one is simple. Head on over to the Find My Device page using this link. It looks almost identical to the Android app, and it offers the exact same functionality. The only difference here being the location of all the functions. They’re on the left, rather than at the bottom of your screen.
I hope you’ve found this guide useful. If there’s one thing that really sucks, it’s losing an expensive piece of tech. Hopefully you won’t have to go through that after reading this, because a lost or stolen device is never something you want to have to experience first hand. Do yourself a favor and take our word for it, rather than learning the hard way.
Download Find My Device using the Play Store link below. Then, stop back and tell us your craziest lost phone stories. We’d love to hear from you!