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Enable Find My iPhone or iPad
Find My iPhone used to be a paid service but it's now free and it allows you to locate your iPad (or iPhone) on a map when it's lost - or more likely, misplaced in your house, movie theatre or Chic-Fil-A.
First, log into your iCloud account or create a new one in Settings > iCloud > Account. Then slide the switch for Find My iPhone to ON. When you misplace your iPhone or iPad, use any web brower to access https://www.icloud.com/#find, log in and click the icon for Find My iPhone. From there you have several choices:
- Play Sound, which is super useful for finding it when it's lost in your house
- Lock Mode allows you to display a message on the lock screen with a contact number. Then whoever finds it can call you without accessing the rest of the information on your device.
- Erase iPhone, which completely wipe it of all information.
Find My iPhone will also send you email messages confirming your actions and notifying you of the status of your device.
Find My iPhone helped me recover my iPhone 4 when it was picked up by a stranger in Hollywood Studios Orlando and I've used it to find my parent's iPhones several times.
Bonus points: For extra security, you can prevent a saavy thief from disabling Find My iPhone by turning on Restrictions and locking changes to Location Services. Here's how to do it:
- Settings > General > Restrictions > Enable Restrictions (enter your passcode)
- If restrictions are not enabled, choose the 'Enable Restrictions' option and then create a 4-digit PIN code and confirm it.
- Then scroll to Privacy > Location Services and touch Don't Allow Changes
If you don't take this step, a savvy thief that takes your phone before the auto-lock engages can simply turn off Find My iPhone just as fast as you activated it. When Don't Allow Changes is enabled, the Find My iPad section of Settings > iCloud is greyed out and it can't be switched off.
Update: An important new feature called "Activation Lock" was added to Find my iPhone in iOS 7, which I cover next...
Enable Activation Lock in iOS 7
iOS 7 includes a new feature called Activation Lock, which makes it almost impossible for anyone to use or sell your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch once it's gone missing or has been stolen.
It starts working when you turn on Find My iPhone in iOS 7 Settings > iCloud > Find my iPhone (see previous Gallery item). With Activation Lock, your Apple ID and password will be required before anyone can:
- Turn off Find My iPhone on your device
- Erase your device
- Reactivate and use your device
Activation Lock has been heralded by big city police departments (like the NYPD) as a potential deterrent to the increase in "Apple Picking" -- snatch and grab iPhone thefts in the United States.
Activation Lock keeps the data on your device secure, even if it is in the wrong hands. It also improved your chances of recovery dramatically. Even if you erase your iPhone remotely, Activation Lock prevents another user from reactivating it without your permission -- effectively destroying its resale value.
To take advantage of this new feature, simple keep Find My iPhone turned on (Settings > iCloud > Find My iPhone), and remember your Apple ID and password. One word of caution: there's no way to override Activation Lock if you forget your password and are unable to reset it.
There's an Activation Lock overview and Frequently Asked Questions document in Apple Knowledgebase document ht5818. I also recommend that you read these tips on how to prevent Activation Lock from potentially bricking your iPhone.