Why install third-party apps when Android has a device locator built in? This guide will show you how to keep track of any phone or tablet you’ve linked to your Google account using Android Device Manager.
When it comes to protecting your missing Android device, there are plenty of apps available in the Google Play Store. But why install third-party apps when Android has a free device locator built-in?
For a long time, Apple iPhone users have enjoyed the luxury of having a native way to remotely track their phones when it goes missing with the Find My iPhone service. This essential feature had been missing from Android up until last year, when Google finally released the Android Device Manager to anyone with version 2.2 and above.
Whether your phone fell between the couch cushions or you left or tablet on the bus, this essential tool lets you remotely locate your Android device on a map and perform various tasks like having your device ring extremely loud for 5 minutes, change your lock code, or even perform a factory reset.
Setting up and using the Android Device Manager is extremely simple, so there is little reason why you shouldn’t give it a try.
Android Device Manager Setup
By default, the Android Device Manager is turned off. To enable it, navigate to Settings > Security > Device Administrators. Select the box labeled “Allow remote lock and factory reset.” You will be prompted give Android Device Manager permission to erase all data, change the screen-unlock password, and lock the screen. Once the Android Device Manager is activated, you can begin managing it from the Android Device Manager website.
You can access the Android Device Manager web portal by going to https://www.google.com/android/devicemanager and logging in with the Google account associated with your device. The first time you access the service you will have to give the Android Device Manager permission to use location data. Click on “Accept” to continue.
How to locate a lost or stolen Android device
After logging into the Android Device Manager web portal, the service will immediately attempt to locate your phablet on the map. If location settings are turned off (or out of range) on your device, the Android Device Manager will not be able to find it.
Using the Android Device Manager is incredibly simple. Just as you would expect, you can zoom in and out of the map and drag it around to check out the location. Overlaid on the map is a small control panel displaying your device name along with where it was located, when it was last used, and when it was last online.
Your device name is displayed in the upper left hand corner of the control panel. If you have multiple devices associated with a Google account they will be displayed in a drop down menu here. To choose a custom name, click the pencil icon located in the opposite corner. Clicking on the target icon located next to the pencil will manually locate your device on the map.
Below your device information are three buttons: Ring, Lock, and Erase. These are your main controls for performing remote functions on your device.
If you are in a rush to leave your home and can’t find your phone, the ring function can come in very handy. Clicking on this button will cause your device to play a notification for 5 minutes at a very high volume, even if it is set on silent or vibrate. When you find the missing device, press the power button to stop the ringing.
Remotely locking your smartphone should be the first thing you do if you think it has fallen into the wrong hands. This option allows you to change your lock key remotely while you are trying to recover your device. It is particularly useful if you suspect the person who has your device knows your lock code.
To lock your device, simply click on the “Lock” option. You will be prompted to enter your new password twice, along with an optional recovery message. Whatever you type in the recovery message textbox will be displayed on the lock screen, allowing you to send a message to anyone who might be trying to use your device.
If all hope is lost, you always have the nuclear option: erasing all of your personal data. To wipe your device remotely, click on the “Erase” option. This function will perform a factory reset and will delete all of your files, apps, and settings.
Your Google account will be removed in the process, rendering the Android Device Manager useless. There is no turning back. If your device is offline when you try to erase it, the operation will be executed the next time it goes online.
As you can see, the Android Device Manager is can be a great asset if you ever misplace your phone or tablet. But if you are serious about device security, you should consider Android Device Encryption.
Bear in mind that the Android Device Manager will not be able to locate your device if it is offline, powered off, or has been reset. If you have multiple Android devices, download the Android Device Manager app from Google Play to access all of the same features found online across all of your devices. This makes it really easy to track down a device in real-time.