What is Find My Device and how to enable it for your Android phone

Woman texting on Android.

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Have you ever lost your phone? When you did, was it ever located? If not, did it ever happen that someone with bad intentions could find that phone, get into it, and… well, you know the rest of the story.

The only positive outcome of this scenario would be if the person who found the phone returns it. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, but the reality is that you need to plan accordingly.

One of the first things you can do for this is to register your phone with Google’s Find My Device feature. It is free and the benefits you get from it are very important.

As for what you get with the feature, the list is pretty short but pretty sweet. Once your phone is registered with Find My Device, you can:

Once upon a time, you could also change a device’s password. But because of new features, such as biometrics, it is no longer possible. Even without that feature, the peace of mind you can get from factory resetting a lost phone is worth the few seconds of time you’ll spend activating the feature.

That’s right, it’s very simple. Let me show you how.

Also: 5 Quick Tips to Improve Android Security Right Now

What is Find My Device and how to enable it on your Android phone

This will work on devices running Android 8.0 or higher, so these steps should apply unless your phone is more than two years old.

The first thing to do is open the Settings app, which can be done by swiping down twice to the notification shade and tapping the gear icon, or by opening the Settings app from the app drawer.

In the Settings app, you’ll see an entry for Security. Tap that entry.

The list of Android security settings.

The security option is easily accessible from Settings.

Image: Jack Wallen

Within the Security page, you should see a list of Find My Device. Tap that list.

The Find my device list in Security.

To enable the feature, you must first tap Find My Device.

Image: Jack Wallen

On the resulting page, tap the ON/OFF slider to Use Find My Device until it is in the ON position.

Also: The 6 best Android phones

The Find My Device option ON/OFF.

Enabling Find My Device in Android 13.

Image: Jack Wallen

Once you’ve turned on Find My Device, open a web browser on your desktop or laptop and go to https://www.google.com/android/find. Give the service a little time to register your device and it will appear. When you see it in the list, it’s considered connected to your phone, whether you know where it is or not.

The Find My Device sidebar.

My Pixel 7 Pro listing in Find My Device.

Image: Jack Wallen

When to use Find My Device

This is a difficult question for everyone to answer. The truth is, we all lose our phones from time to time. Most of the time, however, those phones can be located very quickly, because you simply misplaced them. But if you’ve gone through your home, your car and your workplace, it might be a good time to go to the above website and take action.

If you think you might know where the phone is, but can’t get to it right away, I recommend you at least go to the website and secure your phone. If you’re pretty sure it was stolen, I’d wipe the device without hesitation. And that last point is key: don’t hesitate. Even if you delete it and find it, you can always sign back into your Google Account and some (but not all) of your data will be restored.

The Find My Device feature should be considered a must-have. Make sure your Android phone is signed in to the service, so if it’s lost or stolen, erasing is just a click away.

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