If you’ve ever lost your phone for any reason, whether it was misplaced, stolen or even left halfway across the country at a relative’s house, you may have panicked a bit. Perhaps you were smart enough, before going into full-blown hysterics, to use an app like Lookout, Theftie or Google’s own Android Device Manager, from another device to find your phone. There is, however, a simpler way to find exactly where your phone is. As you can see above, it’s as simple as typing “find my phone” into the Google Search Bar or Chrome’s Omnibox. For security, the names of nearby streets and businesses have been blacked out in the screenshot above. Despite this, you can see the pinpoint accuracy displayed in finding the phone. Mind you, this is with GPS enabled – using only network location may render the service unable to get quite that close to its exact location.
Before Googling your phone’s location, however, there are a few prerequisites to be fulfilled. First, you must be signed into Google on your phone. If you use a custom ROM without Google’s apps, you’ll be unable to use this method; ditto if you have Google’s app suite, but never signed in. If you use things like the Play Store, GMail and Hangouts, you are likely already signed in. Your phone also needs to be linked to Google for backing up. A good way to check this is to sit down at your computer, Google anything on your phone, then pull up your search history on the computer. To do this, simply navigate to https://history.google.com/history . If your search shows up, you’re linked and ready to Google your phone, should it go missing.
You’ll also need to make sure that location services are activated on your phone. To do that, simply go into your settings, tap “Location” and check the boxes you want to check. Choosing an accuracy level will also help; the higher the accuracy, the closer Google will be able to pinpoint the phone’s location. Mind you, higher accuracy levels use more battery. If all of these prerequisites are in place, go to Google.com or type in Chrome’s Omnibox, “find my phone”, without the quotes. If you see a map, similar to the above, congratulations! You’re all set to use arguably the simplest method to locate a lost phone. As a bonus, if you click on the arrow next to the name of your device, it will show all the devices your login is currently active on and, if all the settings are correct and the devices possess the right sensors, should be able to find them as well. Be advised that this only works for Android devices. As a final caveat, if your phone is stolen and you find it using this service, do not under any circumstances attempt to retrieve it yourself – leave that to the police.