Settings check: is Find My enabled?

Is Find My enabled on your Apple devices? You should definitely double-check that now. Having it enabled before it gets lost or stolen greatly increases your chances of recovering it. This has been an extremely valuable tool for many of my customers, and has helped many of them save hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

I remember a meeting I had with a client the day she returned from a trip. As soon as she got to her car at the airport garage, she realized she had left her iPhone in the airplane seat pocket. I showed her how to use the Find My app on her Mac to play a sound on her iPhone and display a message to call her husband’s cell phone. Within about five minutes she got a call from an airport employee who arranged to get her iPhone returned. This is far from an isolated success story.

There are many reasons Find My might be disabled. It could have been accidental. It could be that you opted not to enable it because you didn’t understand what it was or had privacy concerns. It could be that you took your device in for service and they disabled it but didn’t re-enable it afterwards.

What is Find My?

Location tracking. Find My is a service that allows you to locate just about any Apple device should it be lost or stolen. This includes iPhone, iPad, Mac, AirPods, and AirTags. By utilizing Apple’s vast network of devices across the globe, even devices without internet access can be located if there is another Apple device within about 30 feet.

Activation lock. In addition to being able to locate a lost or stolen device, Find My also reduces the value of stolen Apple products by rendering them useless to anyone but the owner. iPhones, iPads, and recent-model Macs cannot be activated by another person until they are removed from your Find My list. Even some parts are unable to be reused if they are registered to you in the Find My system.

Why do technicians disable Find My?

Because having a device registered to your account renders it useless to anyone else, repair technicians require you to disable Find My in case they need to replace parts or replace the device. If Find My is enabled, that keeps them from being able to refurbish your old parts for other repairs. The problem is that I have never seen technicians remember to turn Find My back on when they return your device.

How do I check or enable Find My?

  • iPhone or iPad: Open the Settings app > tap your name > Find My > Find my iPhone (or iPad)
  • Mac (macOS 13 Ventura or later): Click the Apple menu > System Settings > Click your name on the left panel > iCloud > Show All > Find My
  • Mac (macOS 12 Monterey or earlier): Click the Apple menu > System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud > Find My Mac

I recommend enabling all of the Find My features you see on those screens to make your device easier to find. For further details on these steps from Apple visit their help article.

Be aware that if you have multiple user accounts on your Mac, only one is able to have Find My enabled.

Don’t forget to enable Location Services as well

If you see the message “Location Services is off“, that means you have at some point disabled Location Services preventing your device from knowing where it is. This leaves Find My mostly useless. Your device will be locked to your account but you will be unable to see its location and it will be unable to provide the location of nearby devices. I strongly recommend following the steps to turn Location Services on. Each individual app will still need to request access to see your location.

How to use Find My

For details on how to locate a lost or stolen device, visit Apple’s support article on the subject.

Further Help

If you are an existing customer who needs help with this or if you have other questions, or if you are in San Francisco and interested in becoming a client I invite you to book an appointment with me. Otherwise, you may wish to contact Apple Support or find a local Apple consultant.

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