If you’ve lost your iPhone or iPad, how can you find your device? If you had the foresight to activate Find My iPhone, you should be able to locate your smartphone easily. However, upon logging in, you notice a problem: Find My iPhone is offline.
What does “Offline” mean for Find My iPhone? How can you still locate your device? And if it’s been stolen, how do you stop others from accessing your personal data?
We’ll answer all your questions below.
How to Activate Find My iPhone
So what exactly is Find My iPhone? The Find My feature helps you find your device if it goes missing. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve lost it while out and about or if you still think it’s somewhere at home. Activating Find My iPhone means you can log into your Apple ID on a PC or tablet and locate your device on a map.
You can also use Find My to remotely lock your iPhone, erase all content (in case you think it’s irretrievable), or play a sound to lead you to it.
All you need to do to enable this feature is open Settings, then tap on your name at the top. Next, go to Find My and make sure Find My iPhone is switched on.
It’s not possible to enable this setting remotely, so it’s better to be safe than sorry and turn it on as soon as you get your iPhone. It’s a wise idea to prepare for the worst but hope you never need it.
What Does “Offline” Mean for Find My iPhone?
The main advice for anyone who has lost their phone is simply not to panic.
To locate your iPhone with Find My, you need to sign in to your iCloud account using a different device. There are numerous iterations of the Find My feature, including Find My iPad and Find My Apple Watch. All of these use iCloud.
You can also open the Find My app on another Apple device signed in to your account, if you own one.
If it’s working properly, you should see an icon on a map to show where your missing device is.
In some cases, however, it reads “Offline.” It may also say “No location available” or “Location Services Off.”
There are a few reasons for this, but they all have the same meaning: your iPhone cannot check in to Find My. It doesn’t have access to Wi-Fi or cellular data.
Why Is My iPhone Offline?
Why is your iPhone offline? The most likely reason is that the battery has died. You could also have left it turned off. Either way, if your iPhone has no power, Find My won’t give you its whereabouts.
The app will only work if your device is connected to iCloud, of course, and signed into your Apple ID. To activate the feature in the first place, you’ll have already signed into these. However, it’s possible to switch both off, severing the connection to Find My.
Your device may also have Airplane Mode switched on. This cuts off all wireless signals like Wi-Fi and cellular data.
If your smartphone has been stolen, the thief may have removed the SIM card. This disconnects it from mobile internet, making it more difficult—but not impossible—to track.
There’s also the small possibility that your iPhone has been lost in a country without Find My support. This is because the feature needs to access Maps and Apple simply doesn’t have that capability in some regions.
How to Find an iPhone That Is Offline
When you open Find My, you’ll see three options.
While it may seem futile, click on Play Sound first. It’s unlikely this will work, especially when your iPhone shows as Offline. However, you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you do find your smartphone this way. (We’ll return to the other two options on this screen shortly. You need to look into other methods before using them.)
The main way to locate your device is, again, by preparing ahead of time. When setting up your device, you need to navigate to Settings, select your name, then go to Find My > Find My iPhone > Send Last Location. This sends the location data of your device to Apple when the battery is critically low.
This is your best chance of retrieving your device, but it won’t help if someone moved it to another location or if the function is switched off.
If you use Google Maps on your phone, you may be able to track its location via your Google Maps Timeline.
It’s also worth contacting your mobile service provider. If you have your serial number or International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, your carrier may be able to trace its position.
You can revisit where you’ve been recently and hope you find your smartphone without the need of further technology. Otherwise, you need to wait and keep your fingers crossed that someone finds and charges it. Keep signing in to Find My in case this does happen.
How to Protect Your Data If Your iPhone Is Offline
Let’s suppose that you still can’t find your device. You fear that someone has stolen it, or that whoever locates it could access your private information. What can you do to stop this from happening?
Even when Find My says your iPhone is “Offline,” you can still use some of its other functions. Most notably, Activation Lock comes standard when using Find My. This means that nobody can turn off Find My or erase your iPhone’s data without your Apple ID.
You also have two further options, detailed below. However, these modes only activate once your iPhone switches on and connects to the internet again.
What Is “Lost Mode” in Find My iPhone?
Lost Mode lets you remotely lock your device and present a custom message on the screen. You should include a means of contacting you to return the smartphone.
As an extra layer of security, this disables Apple Pay. Plus, notifications won’t show up, so no one can snoop on your activities. You can still receive calls and FaceTime calls, so you can still get someone to call your device to try to retrieve it; fortunately, whoever potentially has it won’t be able to access anything else beyond answering.
Someone will hopefully find your device and get it back online. Make sure you know what to do if you find a lost iPhone.
Once you get your device back, you can unlock it by simply using your passcode.
What Is “Erase iPhone” in Find My iPhone?
The Erase iPhone option should only be used in dire situations. It erases all data on your phone and removes your ability to track it.
Before you panic and take this step, remember that if you’re using Face ID and have a strong passcode, no one should be able to access your personal information anyway.
Erasing your lost iPhone is a final measure, not to be taken lightly. Try everything you can think of to find it again. If you do take this path, you’ll need to restore your iPhone from a backup when you retrieve it or you will unfortunately lose all your information. This is why it’s so important you backup your devices as often as possible.
Taking this option means you’ve entirely given up hope. It’s typically better to use Lost Mode. It doesn’t matter if you lost your phone 24 hours ago or six months ago. If someone finds it and turns it on, they will be able to see your message and hopefully return it to you. You may consider offering a reward too.
Should You Choose to Erase Your iPhone?
Hopefully, these tips have helped you find your iPhone, even if it says it’s offline. However, you may want to consider erasing your device if you really can’t find it.
Lost Mode is the safer option, so always leave it in this state for some time before even considering erasing all your data.
You must switch off the Find My iPhone function when you sell your device. Follow this quick guide to know why and how to do it.
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