How To Track an iPhone Without Them Knowing
Few feelings are as gut-wrenching and awful as the thought of losing an expensive new iPhone. Whether you left it on the bus or someone slid it out of your back pocket, our phones are so important to us that losing it makes you feel absolutely lost.
Most of us keep massive amounts of personal information on our phones, from personal conversations and emails to bank statements and location histories. There are security measures in place, but nobody wants to risk having all that information fall into the wrong hands.
In this article, I will show you how to find your lost or stolen phone.
Can you track an iPhone without them knowing?
- Can you track an iPhone without them knowing?
- Can I Tell if Someone is Tracking my iPhone?
- Is there an app to track someone’s phone without them knowing?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
Hopefully, you activated the Find My Phone feature of your iPhone when you still had it in your possession. If your phone doesn’t have service (and thus a connection to the Internet) or if you don’t have an activated and working iCloud account, then these solutions are not going to work for you.
Unfortunately, phone technology is advanced but it isn’t magic; if your phone isn’t talking to the network or if you haven’t turned on Find My Phone, then the technological solution is probably not going to work. (Seriously. If you have possession of your phone(s) then stop reading this article, pick up your devices, go to Settings and select “Find My Phone” (iPhone) or “Find My Device” (Android) and make sure they are toggled on.
Without further ado, let’s talk about tracking iPhones.
Can I Tell if Someone is Tracking my iPhone?
Usually yes, if someone is using the “Find my Phone” feature, it will display things on the iPhone screen indicating tracking. However, after many tests with the iOS 13 update, when tracked, the phone received no messages or indicators that it was being tracked. Unless the alert or ‘Play Sound’ options were activated, there were no tracking notifications.
“Find my iPhone” is the gold standard when it comes to locating your lost iPhone. Here’s how to use it to find your missing iPhone then track down your phone’s exact location.
Step 1: Open up “Find My iPhone” on a different device
It doesn’t matter if you decide to use your iPad, your laptop, or a friend’s iPhone – You can use the Find my Phone app.
If you are using an Apple product like another phone or an iPad, you can simply click on the app.
If you are using a computer (even a Windows PC will work), go to icloud.com then click on the “Find iPhone” icon.
Step 2: Login and Select ‘Find my iPhone’
Input Your Apple ID Credentials (they are the same as your iCloud info)
Since you are not using your phone, you won’t be automatically logged in.
After you’ve logged in to the app, select the “All Devices” drop-down option, and then find the device that you want to locate.
Step 3: Once You Select Your Phone, Options Will Appear
As soon as you select your device on the page, iCloud will begin to search for it. If the search is successful, you will see your device on a map, pinpointing its location. Before you sprint out the door to get it, there are some other options you should take a look at.
Once you select your device you will have three additional options in addition to seeing your phone’s location. These options are playing a sound, activating “Lost Mode” and erasing the phone.
Playing the sound is a great way to find your phone if you lost it somewhere around your house. If you click the option, an audio alert will go off on your phone which will hopefully help you find it. The alert will sound like a loud pinging noise alerting you that your phone is at home with you and not at the coffee shop you just visited. The sound will be activated whether or not your phone is on silent or vibrate, increasing your chances of finding it.
When enabled, Lost Mode will lock your phone with a passcode and will display a message of your choice. This can either ensure it will be safe until you can find it, or will alert the thief what you expect of them and that you know where they are. This mode can also enable location services on your phone too.
However, if things have gone too far and you think there is a very slim chance you will ever get your device back – perhaps your phone has already crossed an international border – the best course of action is to simply erase it.
Yes, this is giving up, but it also prevents your personal information from getting into the hands of someone who could abuse it. You can also call your carrier and have it “blacklisted.” This means that the phone can’t be activated again, and although you won’t get your phone back, there is justice in knowing it’s nothing more than a paperweight for whoever took it.
If you follow these steps, you should have your phone back in your pocket in no time. If you run into trouble, consult our article that is more focused on recovering your own lost iPhone.
Is there an app to track someone’s phone without them knowing?
What if you’re looking for someone else’s phone? I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but you are not allowed to track someone else’s phone without their knowledge. While there are supposedly apps that you can install on a target’s phone to track it and keep tabs on what they are doing, that is completely illegal and immoral. In addition to the moral issue, there is the practical fact that they could find the app which could lead to a very awkward situation, possibly one involving the police.
There are times when you want to find a friend’s phone and you have a legitimate reason, and (the important part) they have given you permission to find it. Just as when you were looking for your own phone, there is an app that can help you find the phones of your friends and family with ease. You may want to track your underage child to keep them safe and make sure they get to school safely. That being said, there are ways to track an iPhone.
The “Find My Friends” app used to be an extra download, but now it comes with the installed iOS, so if your friends have ever updated their phone, they should have it.
“Find My Friends” is an app that allows you to share your location with others and vice versa. It can be great for keeping track of where your kids are, knowing what your significant other is doing, or just keeping tabs on your friends. It can also help them find a lost phone (as long as you have “Shared Locations” with them). Here is how to set it up:
Step 1: Open the app on your phone and the phone of the person you want to be able to share locations with.
Step 2: Click your profile on the bottom left of the screen.
Step 3: Enable “Share My Location” and make sure AirDrop is enabled on your own phone.
Step 4: From there, your friends and family will be able to search/add you to share your location with them and vice versa. You each will need to accept the “Shared Location” request from the other. Now, you can just click on their profile in the app and keep track of them.
Sharing Location – iMessage
One little known feature for Apple users is sharing the device location via iMessage. Let’s say your child is lost getting home from a friends’ house and you’re trying to give them directions to get home (trust me, this is a real-life scenario). You’re talking to them on the phone and you need to know exactly where they are. Tell the person you’re speaking with to follow these instructions:
- Go to the iMessage app and tap on a conversation they’ve had with you
- Tap on the ‘i’ with a circle around it for information
- Choose ‘Send My Current Location’ or ‘Share Location’
Once this has been toggled on you will have access to see the exact location in real-time and help your friend or loved one get to where they need to be.
In the scenario of children; it’s best to have their iCloud password and username, and have a backup locator such as Life360 which is free to use, and lets you set up school and home arrival alerts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it illegal to track someone’s phone without them knowing?
This is one of those questions that’s best answered by a local attorney because every state and situation is different. In most cases, tracking someone’s location isn’t legal if they don’t consent.
But, there are some cases when tracking someone’s device might actually be legal. If the device belongs to you and a child is using it, for example, this might be acceptable in the eyes of the law. If you have employees using the phone and need to track its location, it may be alright. Ultimately, it’s best to check with your local state laws and regulations before tracking any phones.
What do I do if someone is tracking my phone?
If you’re concerned there’s someone tracking your device without your knowledge or consent, deciding what to do next can be difficult. Depending on who is tracking you and why will determine whether you’d like to get your local law enforcement involved but for the purpose of our article you have two options.
First, you can head to the ‘Location Settings’ in your phone and toggle the application’s location permissions off. Second, you can simply long-press the app and uninstall it. Both of these options mean the other person will no longer be able to track your location assuming they’re using a third-party app.
If you suspect someone is checking your location using iCloud, change your password and be sure that your two-factor authentication is turned on and the contact information is up-to-date.
As you likely realized while reading this article, it is a much better idea to be proactive than reactive when it comes to tracking phones. If you set up “Find My iPhone” and “Find My Friends” before your phone gets stolen or lost, it will save you a lot of potential hassle down the road. While it may be a bit worrisome to have someone see your location at all times, it can really save you once your phone goes missing and you need to track it down. It is obviously best to pick someone who you trust not to take advantage of the information an app like “Find My Friends” can provide them.
No one deserves to have their phone stolen or go missing, but thankfully, there are some ways to find it, or at least have the information deleted. Hopefully, this guide helped you be able to find your phone or the phone of your friends and family or at least prepared you for when it may happen.