The Ultimate iPhone User Guide: Find My iPhone

What’s that you’ve gotten yourself a shiny new iPhone? Our comprehensive guide to getting the most out of your iPhone will have you up and running in no time.

Find My iPhone

Find My iPhone was around well before iCloud but Apple dragged it into the iCloud umbrella when it launched iOS 5. It does just what it says: enables you to find your iPhone on a map if it’s lost or stolen as well as perform a few other functions like push a message to the iPhone’s screen enforce a password lock play a sound (which happens even if the iPhone is on mute) or delete all of the data on it. After any of these tasks are completed you’ll get an email to the email address registered to your Apple ID confirming that it has taken place.

You can turn Find My iPhone on from Settings > iCloud (scroll to the bottom of the screen to see the Find My iPhone setting). To use the Find my iPhone feature you can either log-in to iCloud from a desktop web browser or use the Find my iPhone app from a friend’s Apple device. It plots the location of your iPhone with quite a high degree of accuracy on Google Maps and you can refresh the map to follow its progress if it’s on the move.

There are certain situations when Find my iPhone doesn’t work: when it doesn’t have a data connection when the phone is turned off when the Find my iPhone option is deactivated and when the iPhone has been restored to factory settings. The latter is the kiss of death as far as Find my iPhone goes but the other situations can be worked around. At the very minimum Find my iPhone needs a working data connection to work and this can be achieved either through 3G or Wi-Fi. Assuming the Find my iPhone feature is still active (and it will be even if the thief has changed SIM cards or is using a different wireless network) you’ll  be able to play a message or sound enforce a password or remotely wipe your data – even if location services isn’t active. But the opposite doesn’t apply – if there’s no data connection then you won’t be able to see your iPhone’s location.

When it can’t find your iPhone (either because there’s no data connection or your phone is switched off) you can still click the options to play a sound or message remote lock or remote wipe and Find my iPhone will enforce those actions the next time your iPhone comes online (assuming your iPhone hasn’t been restored to factory settings in the mean time). There’s also an option for it to email you when your iPhone goes online.

Need to know more? Check out the rest of our Ultimate iPhone User Guide right here.