How to find your lost or stolen devices with Windows 10 or Windows 10 Mobile

The first major update to Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile, named Anniversary Update, has introduced a couple of new features, including one that was first introduced by Microsoft in the world of Windows Phone devices. It's called Find My Device and, when it is turned on, it allows Windows to regularly check and store your location and then help you find your device if you lost it or if it gets stolen. Here's how to turn it on and how to use it to find your lost or stolen devices with Windows 10 or Windows 10 Mobile:

What you need before moving forward?

In order to be able to recover your lost or stolen Windows 10 mobile computers and Windows 10 Mobile smartphones, you need to enable the Find My Device feature when everything is well and you are using them regularly. You can't enable this feature remotely, after you have lost your device. Just as in many other cases, being proactive pays off. In order for this tutorial to work, you need to have the latest Windows 10 updates installed. Also, you need to use a Microsoft account on your device and your device must have a GPS chip, a cellular connection or other capabilities that will allow Microsoft to locate it for you, when needed. You won’t find this feature on traditional desktop computers. You will find it on tablets, hybrid devices like the Surface Pro, laptops and smartphones with Windows 10 or Windows 10 Mobile.

How to set Find My Device on tablets, laptops and hybrid devices with Windows 10

First, you need to open the Settings app in Windows 10. If you don't know how, read this guide. Then, click or tap Update & security.

In the left-side column, click or tap Find My Device. On the right you will now find settings related to this feature. You can also view the current status of this feature in the line of text highlighted below. By default, Find My Device should be set to Off.

In order to enable this feature, click the Change button in the Find My Device section. Then, set the switch named "Save my device's location periodically" to On.

Now you can close the Settings app and resume your normal computing activities. This feature is now activated on your Windows 10 device.

How to set Find My Phone on smartphones with Windows 10 Mobile

First, you need to open the Settings app in Windows 10 Mobile. To do that, tap the Settings shortcut in the Apps list or swipe down from the top of the smartphone and then tap the All Settings button. In the the Settings app, scroll down and tap Update & security.

Tap the Find My Phone option.

You are shown a description of this feature and a switch or two, depending on whether the feature is disabled or not. If it is currently disabled, you have one switch, for enabling this feature. Set the switch to On.

Now you see a second switch for saving your smartphone’s location more frequently. This is useful if you tend to lose or forget your smartphone a lot.

Set the second switch to On, if you want.

Close the Settings app and you are done.

How to find your device

When you need to find your Windows 10 or Windows 10 Mobile device, open a web browser on any computer and go to account.microsoft.com/devices. Sign in with the same Microsoft account that you are using on the device that you want to find. You will now see a list with all your devices that have Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile installed, including desktop computers for which this feature is not available. For each device, you see the name you set, the device name given by its manufacturer, the serial or the IMEI (for smartphones only), as well as the operating system that you are using. On the right side of each device, you see a list of links, which differs, depending on the device type.

Click the Find my device” or “Find my phone” link for your device with Windows 10 or Windows 10 Mobile.

In a couple of seconds, the Find My Device feature will display the last known location of your device and a map to help you locate it better. You will also be informed about when it was last located in that place.

If locating your device doesn’t work, it most probably means that it is turned off, that it doesn’t have an internet connection available or that it has been reset by the person who stole it.

Conclusion

The Find My Device feature is a welcome addition to computers and smartphones with Windows 10. We believe that everyone should set it up for their laptops, ultrabooks, tablets, 2-in-1 devices and smartphones. You never know when you need this feature turned on and, when you need it, it can be quite the savior. Try it out on your devices and let us know how well it works for you.