Google Find my Device

Google’s Find My Device app is an incredibly helpful tool that every Android device should have activated on their phone. Everyone, every single day, is moving about with their lives and, occasionally, they lose their Android device.

It could have been left on a table, a bus, or hiding in your house. By using Google’s Find My Device app, you can rest your weary soul and, at least, have the knowledge of its location.

To know this information can lead to many important decisions. For example, let’s say you forgot your device at a restaurant. When you notice it missing, you use the Find My Device app, or website, to pinpoint its location.

When you see that it’s not where you left it, but most likely in the hands of another person, you could send your Android device a message for the person to see, and possibly get in touch with you. If this is ignored, you can have the police involved.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg on what you can do with Google’s Find My Device app. You can keep tabs on your kids or find your phone when it decides to play Hide-and-Seek inside the house. The possibilities are limited by you.

How to Enable Google’s Find My Device

Installing the Find My Device App:

1. Locate the device’s Settings app. It’s icon is the shape of a GEAR. You can usually find it on the Home screen, but if not, check in your App Drawer where all your currently installed apps are housed.

You can locate the Settings app in the Quick Settings Menu. To find it, tap the dashboard at the top of the screen or tap and swipe down to expand your dashboard into your Quick Settings Menu. You’ll see a GEAR icon. Select it.

2. In your Settings menu, locate and select Google. It will redirect you to a number of options. Select Security from the menu. You can find it near the bottom.

3. In Security, choose Find My Device and then select Find My Device, again. You’ll get redirected to the Find My Device app information page.

4. Select Install, which will immediately download and install the Fine My Device app directly onto your device.

Enabling the Find My Device App:

1. Launch the Settings app, either from your Home screen or inside your App Drawer.

You can locate the Settings app in the Quick Settings Menu. To find it, tap the dashboard at the top of the screen or tap and swipe down to expand your dashboard into your Quick Settings Menu. You’ll see a GEAR icon. Select it.

2. In your Settings menu, locate and select Google. It will redirect you to a number of options. Select Security from the menu. You can find it near the bottom.

3. In Security, choose Find My Device.

Find my device

4. By default, Find My Device is turned on, however, it can be overridden if you’ve chosen to disable Location on your device. You’ll notice just under ‘Find My Device won’t work,’ a tag that says, ’Location is off.’ To turn it back on, select Find My Device won’t work.

Turn on Find My Device

5. When prompted by the new window, tap TURN ON. It will redirect you to your device’s Location settings.

6. Move the slider, at the top, to the right to enable your location.

Location mode high accuracy

7. Next, choose Mode or Locating method. You want High Accuracy activated for the best results.

  • High Accuracy mode will use every feature to mark your device’s location: GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and your cellular data.
  • Battery Saving mode will only use Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and your cellular data to mark your device’s location.
  • Device Only mode will only utilize your device’s built-in GPS.
  • In some models and versions, it may actually be labeled as Improve accuracy and come with a slider. Go ahead and move the slider to the right to activate it. It will turn blue.

8. With Google Play, you can get a list of Android devices that are connected to your account. Make sure the box under Visibility has been checkmarked.

With that out of the way, if your device happens to get lost or stolen, and you did every step right, you’ll have the power to locate your device with Google’s Find My Device app. Head down to the section “Locate your Device with Google’s Find My Device App” to learn how.

Locate your Device with Google’s Find My Device App

The key to finding your device is by having the foresight to make it discoverable if, or when, the situation called for it. Unfortunately, there’s a very short list of traces that can be used to find your device. The simple fact is this: if you didn’t bother to install the Find My Device app on your device, the chances of you finding your device are grim. However, here are a few possible leads:

  • If you were logged into your Google account when your device disappeared, and it’s turned on, you can still find it.
  • Of course, if the Find My Device app was installed and working.
  • You can find your device if Wi-Fi or your mobile data is currently linked to the internet.
  • You had the foresight to enable Location in your Settings.
  • You enabled Visibility in Google Play

When your device went missing, and none of the above leads were used or enabled, there isn’t much hope. But, if you had the Find My Device app enabled, here’s what you do:

1. Launch the Find My Device app. It’s icon is a green and white smartphone against a white and green backdrop. If you recently installed it, you should find it on one of your Home screens, however, if you don’t, look in your App Drawer. All installed apps are located there, even if they aren’t on your Home screen.

Or, alternatively, if you’re using a computer to locate your device, head over to Google Find My Device. It’s just like the Find My Device app, but as a browser instead.

2. Sign into the Google account that’s associated with the device. You can’t use the Find My Device app without it.

If you’re using another device to locate yours, chances are you’re logged into someone else’s Google account. Double-check the account you’re using by tapping the profile picture in the top right corner. Select Sign out if it isn’t the right account.

play sound, secure device, erase device

3. If everything went according to plan, you’ll see a menu as well as an exact location of your device on Google Maps. You have a few options to play with: Play Sound or Secure Device or Erase Device.

  • PLAY SOUND will play a sound on repeat for 5 minutes (you can keep playing the sound if you fail to locate it in that amount of time). When you’ve found your device, press the Power button to turn the sound off.
  • SECURE DEVICE will give you the opportunity to create a password, if you don’t have one, as well as display a recovery message and a phone number–just in case a good Samaritan finds your device and decides to return it.
  • ERASE DEVICE will do exactly as advertised. All the information like data, personal information, apps–everything–will be completely purged from the device. Once you’ve chosen it, you won’t be able to find it afterwards. This is a last resort if all your attempts to locate it have failed. However, the device does have to have access to a network connection. If you choose to erase it, it will send the command once the device has secured a network connection.

Using the Option: Play Sound

If you lost your device inside the house, then all you really need to use is the Play Sound option. It’s very loud and will play the sound regardless of your volume settings.

Using the Option: Secure Device

If the map indicates that your device is on some faraway land, then it’s time to secure your phone with the Secure Device option. And while you’re at it, send a helpful message on how to get in touch with you. Hopefully, someone will see it. In fact, you should send a helpful message, along with a phone number (optional) and then afterwards, use the Play Sound option to alert anyone around it.

Using the Secure Device option may actually be the perfect opportunity to get the police involved. For example, if you’ve already sent a helpful message for someone to get in touch with you, and you see your device has been retrieved, you can use that information. Pass the information off to the police and have them handle it.

Using the Option: Erase Device

This option is best saved as a last resort. When everything fails, then it’s time to make peace with the lost of your device and erase everything. Nothing good comes from a device–that’s housing a lot of your personal data–to be broken into and used against you. That is a recipe for disaster many don’t come back from.