How to get a separation alert if you forget your iPhone, Mac, iPad, etc.

How to get a warning if you forget your Mac, iPad, etc.


How to get a separation alert warning if you forget your iPhone, Mac, iPad, etc.
Here’s how to get a separation alert if you leave behind your Mac, iPhone or other Apple gear.
Image: Cult of Mac

With iOS 15, your iPhone can warn you if you’ve left your Mac at the office. Or in a hotel room, restaurant, plane… wherever. Separation alerts are one of the better features of Apple’s operating system upgrade.

It’s easy to set up these up. Here’s how.

Making full use of Apple’s Find My system

You probably already know you can use the Find My application to locate all your Apple devices. This feature has been around for years, and lets you, for example, track down a misplaced iPhone with a Mac. The computer can be lost in the sofa or in Sweden.

And with iOS 15, Apple takes it up a notch. Find My can automatically notify you if you get too far away from one of your devices. You’ll quickly get an alert open your iPhone and/or Apple Watch that you’ve left your iPad behind, for instance.

You can also set up separation alerts with AirTag or other item trackers that supports the Find My network.

Don’t be concerned you’ll be bombarded with unneeded alerts whenever you go anywhere. You can tell Find My to not alert you when you leave a computer or tracker at home, office, etc.

I’ve tested this feature all summer with the iOS 15 beta, and it’s wonderful. Not because I often leave things behind, but because it gives me confidence that I absolutely will not. I regularly bring my iPad into restaurants so it won‘t be stolen from my car. With Find My’s separation alerts, I can relax and eat without worrying that I’ll forget my tablet.

How to set up separation alerts on iPhone

I keep talking about iOS 15, but Apple built separation alerts into macOS Monterey, iPadOS 15 and watchOS 8. But I’m going to use the iPhone for this How To because that’s the device most people have.

First off, you must have Find My iPhone activated. Go to Settings app and tap on [USER NAME]. That’s the very top item, right under the word “Settings.” Then tap on Find My. At the top of the resulting page, toggle on Find My iPhone. This is just in case, as you probably have this activated already.

Next open the Find My application, then tap on the Devices icon at the bottom of the screen. This will open a map showing the Apple products you have connected to the Find My network. From here, you can locate a misplaced item when you need to.

But to set up a separation alert, tap on a device (like your iPhone) on the list shown below the map. On the resulting pop-up screen, scroll down to Notify When Left Behind and tap on it. On the next screen, activate the Notify When Left Behind toggle switch.

Below this is a Notify Me, Except At section. If you’d prefer not to be warned that you’ve left your iPhone at home, tap on New Location and choose that address.

How to set up a separation alert warning on your iPhone
Choose the device to set a separation alert for, activate the alert, then set an exclusion zone.
Image: Cult of Mac

It’s just a suggestion, but I have a separation alert to remind me whenever I leave my Apple Watch at home because that’s never supposed to happen. But I don’t have one for my iPad because I often don’t always take it with me. I do have an alert for the iPhone because while I sometimes leave it at home most of the times it’s supposed to be with me.

AirTags: Of course

Of course you can also set up a separation alert for an AirTag, Chipolo One Spot or other tracker that supports Find My.

The only difference is these are located in the Items section of the Find My application, not in Devices. Other than that, the setup process is the same.

As a comparison, Tile item trackers, an AirTag rival that doesn’t use Find My, can also alert you if you leave one behind, but this feature requires a $29.99-per-year Tile Premium subscription.

My experience with Separation Alerts

As mentioned, I’ve tested Find My separation alerts all summer. I’m satisfied that it’s doing everything it’s supposed to. I get the warnings I expect and I can remember only a single false alert, which isn’t bad for beta software.

I can’t tell if this feature is putting any extra drain on the batteries of my devices because I‘m using beta software. The betas for iOS 15, iPadOS 15, etc. are a terrible strain on their relevant batteries because Apple’s pre-release software almost always is.

Still, I can urge you to go into Find My turn on separation alerts for your various Apple gear as soon as you can install iOS 15, macOS Monterey, iPadOS 15 and watchOS 7. You’ll be happy you did the first time you don’t accidentally leave your Mac in a hotel room.