This poor soul on the Apple discussion forums has just lost his iPhone, in Bangladesh of all places. He’s asking how to block the thieves from accessing his personal data.
Unfortunately for him, he didn’t have Find My Phone enabled on the device. He’s out of luck, in Bangladesh of all places.
You, though, you’re lucky and now have warning: iPhones are among the most stolen items in urban areas. Here’s how to keep your personal data safe on a stolen iPhone or iPad.
First off, you’ll need to enable Find My iPhone (or iPad, or Mac) on your iOS device of choice. Tap into Settings, then tap iCloud. Scroll to the bottom and toggle Find My iPhone to ON.
Now, either on a different device, or at icloud.com, login with your Apple ID credentials. I used my iPad to demo this.
Once in Find My iPhone on the non-lost device, you’ll see your device on a map at its current location (provided the iPhone is on and online). You can tap on the My Devices button in the upper left if you’re using the iPad app to see a list of all Find My… devices that are enabled.
Tap (or click, if you’re on the web) on the lost device, and you’ll have several options. Tap on the Car icon to get mapped directions to your device. Tap on the Play Sound button to have your lost device beep loudly. I use this more times than I care to admit to find my iPhone in my own home.
If your device is truly lost or stolen, you can place it into Lost Mode. There’s some logic to not enabling Lost mode if the device is truly stolen, so you’ll have decide whether alerting potential thieves is what you want to do.
If you decide to enable Lost Mode, you’ll have the option to add a phone number and message that appears on the lost device’s lock screen, giving nice people a chance to call and arrange a return of your device. Once you get it back, it will unlock with your regular passcode (which you enabled already, right?).
If you truly believe it’s stolen, and don’t plan on recovering it, you can Erase your stolen device. Tap on the Erase iPhone trash can icon (in the lower right corner if you’re on an iPad), and then confirm with a tap to the red Erase iPhone… text there. You cannot undo this, so it should probably be a last resort.
Note that if you do not have a passcode assigned to your iPhone or iPad in the first place, potential thieves already have access to your device and can restore it with a fresh install of iOS, after having pulled all the data they want off of it. Passcode (or Touch ID) that iPhone, please!