If you’ve ever lost your iPhone or iPad, you probably know how incredibly useful the native Find My iPhone app can be.
You can “ping” your device if it’s simply misplaced around the house. But the app has other features that come in handy if you actually lose your device when out-and-about — including accurate location tracking, a “Lost Mode,” and a remote data wipe feature.
But, of course, Find My iPhone is only useful if you have it enabled and it’s working properly.
Read on to find out what to do if it isn’t.
- 1 What If You Don’t Have The Device?
- 2 Device Isn’t Showing Up on Find My iPhone
- 3 Device Shows Up, But is Offline
- 4 What If None of This Works?
What If You Don’t Have The Device?
Unfortunately, none of the steps below will work if you don’t have physical access to your device.
If your device is lost or stolen and not showing up on Find My iPhone, its battery may be dead or it may have been intentionally powered off. Alternatively, Find My iPhone could be disabled.
The best you can hope for is to activate Lost Mode. If the device reconnects to the internet, it will display a Lost iPhone message which you can tailor with a contact number or other information.
If you’re particularly concerned, you can also remotely wipe your data. But, again, the device will need to be connected to the internet for that to work.
But, truthfully, there aren’t really many options left. You should file a report with your local authorities, spread the word around social media, and hope for the best. (Police may ask for the serial number of your device — find out how to find it here.
Because of this, it’s strongly recommended that you get Find My iPhone fixed as soon as you notice a problem with the feature on a device.
Device Isn’t Showing Up on Find My iPhone
With the bad news out of the way, if you do have access to your iPhone and you notice that it isn’t showing up in Find My iPhone, you can take steps to fix it.
Sign Into iCloud
First off, if you have access to the lost smartphone, check to see if it’s logged into the proper iCloud account.
Tap Settings and then your Apple ID card. Check to see if the email is the same as the one you’re attempting to use in Find My iPhone.
If you tap Settings and see a pop-up that asks you to sign into your device, enter your Apple ID and password. (If you weren’t signed in, this was the problem.)
Check to See If It’s Enabled
Next, you should check to see if Find My iPhone is even enabled. You may have skipped configuring Find My iPhone during setup, or it may have been turned off for some reason.
- Go to Settings.
- Tap your Apple ID card (it should say your name).
- Find and tap iCloud.
- Finally, tap Find My iPhone.
Here, Find My iPhone should be enabled. If it isn’t, switch it on.
Device Shows Up, But is Offline
In other cases, your device may actually be listed in Find My iPhone — but the platform will say that it’s “offline.”
If you have the device with it and it’s clearly powered on and connected to the internet, it’s probably a cellular settings issue.
Make sure your device can access the internet
If your device is “offline,” you should first check to see if your device has an internet connection.
Macs, Apple Watches and certain iPads will only show up on Find My iPhone if they are currently connected to a Wi-Fi network.
On the other hand, iPhones and cellular-enabled iPads should show up in Find My iPhone if you’ve enabled it.
If you have access to the device, check to see if there are any signal bars or dots in the upper-left hand corner. If it says “No Service,” then go to Settings –> Cellular and make sure that Cellular Data is enabled.
Make sure cellular is enabled for Find My iPhone
In a recent case that the writer of this article experienced, Cellular Data was somehow disabled for Find My iPhone. It may have been inadvertent or some sort of software bug. But, thankfully, this is easily fixable.
- Open Settings.
- Tap Cellular.
- Scroll down and locate Find iPhone.
- The toggle should be green. If not, tap on it to enable it.
If that doesn’t fix it, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Find My iPhone says a device is “offline” when it’s been 24 hours since a location was sent, the battery has run out, or if cellular data or the device itself is actually powered off.
Additionally, Apple advises that Find My iPhone is not available in some countries — due to local regulations or technical limitations.
What If None of This Works?
If you have your device and none of the above steps remedy any Find My iPhone problems, then there might be a deeper issue.
There could be damage to the device’s antenna array, GPS chip or other components, for example. Presumably, a severely degraded battery could also cause issues.
In any case, it might be worth setting up an appointment at a Genius Bar or with an Apple authorized service provider. If it’s a hardware issue, they should be able to repair your phone for you.
Mike is a freelance journalist from San Diego, California.
While he primarily covers Apple and consumer technology, he has past experience writing about public safety, local government, and education for a variety of publications.
He’s worn quite a few hats in the journalism field, including writer, editor, and news designer.