What to do if you find a lost iPhone

As one of our amazing iPhoneHacks readers, you know that finding a misplaced iPhone is an opportunity to do a fellow Apple fan a good turn. Today, we’re going to look at how you can return a lost iPhone as quickly and easily as possible.

Is it locked?

Returning an iPhone might end up being more complicated than you think — particularly if the phone is locked with a passcode or Touch ID. If this is the case, you have two options: try identifying the owner with the help of Siri, or just keep the phone close at hand in case the owner realizes the phone is lost and calls it.

Identifying the owner

Finding out who the lost phone belongs to is the first, and perhaps the hardest part of this process.
If it’s an iPhone 4S or newer, hold down the Home button to invoke Siri and then say, “What’s my name?” If this works, you should be able to get the owner’s name and other details, which you can use to look up the owner or mention when you call contacts on the phone.

Ask Siri for owner information
Ask Siri for owner information

If Siri is disabled, or doesn’t have the owner information available, you can try looking up the phone’s contacts for the owner’s name:

  • Launch the Phone app from the home screen and tap Contacts.
  • Scroll to the top of the list and you should see My Number listed above the first alphabetized contact.
  • Make a note of the number somewhere, and then tap Keypad and enter the number.
  • The owner’s name should appear below the number, before you place the call.
  • Make a note of the owner’s name, and tap Contacts. Enter the name in the search field to look up the owner’s information.

Call someone

Whether or not you find the owner’s information, you can also try calling some of the recently-dialed contacts on the phone to see if you can get any help with finding the owner or alerting him/her about the phone. Just launch the Phone app, tap Recents and then dial any of the contacts with names on the list, to see if they help you get in touch with the owner.

Make it easy for anyone to return your lost iPhone

Even a day without our phones can be difficult to deal with, and that’s why it makes sense to use a safeguard to help us get our misplaced iPhones back. Here are a couple of easy ways to simplify your Good Samaritan’s quest to return your phone to you.

Use an emergency info wallpaper on your Lock Screen
Since the first thing someone needs when they find your iPhone is a way to contact you, it’s a good idea to make that information easily available. Here’s how you can create a wallpaper that displays your contact details right on the Lock Screen, using the Notes app.

  • Launch Notes from the home screen.
  • Tap Return 3-4 times on the keyboard to make room for the clock on the Lock Screen.
  • Now, enter your contact information, as well as any other contacts who might be able to help reach you in case you lose your phone.
    Make room for the Lock Screen clock in your note
    Make room for the Lock Screen clock in your note

    Protip: you can also include other emergency information, such as your blood group and any allergies, in case of an accident. This way, your phone could help others attend to you safely.

  • When you’ve typed in all your information, take a screenshot by holding down the power button and pressing the Home button. Your screenshot will be added to your camera roll.
  • Hop back to your home screen and launch Photos.
  • Find your screenshot (the last image that was saved) in your camera roll, and then tap the Share button at the bottom of the screen.
  • Tap Use as Wallpaper, and then pinch the screen to scale the image correctly to fit your screen.
    Find your screenshot using Photos and set it as your Lock Screen wallpaper
    Find your screenshot using Photos and set it as your Lock Screen wallpaper
  • Tap Set and choose Set Lock Screen.
    Your emergency info on your Lock Screen
    Your emergency info on your Lock Screen

Now, anyone who finds your phone will be able to see your emergency information without having to unlock your phone or access your phone’s apps.

Use Find My iPhone
Find My iPhone is a great feature that lets you track your phone to its current location on a map using a web browser (provided your phone is connected to the web with a Wi-Fi or data connection). With Find My iPhone, you’ll be able to get a serious head-start on the search for your missing phone. You’ll first need to enable iCloud and this feature on your iPhone:

  • Launch Settings from the home screen of your iPhone, and then tap iCloud.
  • Scroll down and toggle Find My iPhone on.
    Enable Find My iPhone in iCloud Settings
    Enable Find My iPhone in iCloud Settings

Once you’ve enabled Find My iPhone on your device, visit iCloud with any web browser, or launch the Find My iPhone app on any of your other devices and sign in with your Apple ID to spot your iPhone on a map.

Use iCloud's Find My iPhone feature to locate your phone on a map
Use iCloud’s Find My iPhone feature to locate your phone on a map

You can then make the phone play a sound to help you find it, turn on Lost Mode to display a message, or even wipe your data off the device.

That’s a wrap! Hopefully, with our tips you’ll be able to keep from losing your own precious iPhone and help others get theirs back too, if you find one. What are your favorite tips for returning or remembering to retrieve your iPhone? Let us know in the comments!