Tracking or locating lost or stolen phone: Losing a smartphone can be the most stressful thing given smartphones literally run our lives. We store personal data such as photos, videos, and documents. Not to forget that auto logins to sensitive online services are also stored in smartphones.

How to find or locate a lost smartphone that is turned off using Gmail or Google's Android find my device
How to find or locate a lost smartphone that is turned off using Gmail or Google’s Android find my device/Photo


This means that if the smartphone lands on the wrong hands, such information can be used to the owner’s detriment. It is therefore imperative to take precautionary measures such as encrypting sensitive information or enabling security features.

Google’s Play Store teems with security applications that promise to help you find your lost device or remotely erase data on it. Nonetheless, Google have their own feature that can do the job just fine without the need to download additional applications.

The Find My Device feature enables you to see the approximate last seen location of your device. The feature also enables you to play a sound at full volume for 5 minutes, remotely lock or erase data. Data on an SD card may not be erased though.

To enable Find My Device:

  • Open Google Settings (from your phone’s app drawer or the settings menu).
  • Scroll down and select Security.
  • Select Find My Device.
  • Switch on the toggles for Remotely locate this device and Allow remote lock and erase options.

For the feature to work:

  • Your device has to be associated with a Google Account.
  • The device has to be turned on.
  • Location on the device has to be on.
  • The device has to be connected to mobile data or Wi-Fi.
  • Find My Device has to be turned on.

To remotely use the feature:

  1. Use your Google Account details to log in at the Find website.
  2. Select the lost device from the list (if you have more than one).
  3. Choose an action (play sound, lock or erase).
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While Google features and third party applications can help track your phone and erase data, it does not guarantee that tech savvy thieves won’t get to your data.

The best guarantee you can give yourself is to encrypt sensitive data or avoid storing it on your phone if you can.

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