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Have you ever lost your phone? When you did it, was it ever located? If not, has there ever been a case where someone with bad intentions could find that phone, break into it, and… well, you know the rest of that story.

The only positive outcome of such a scenario would be for the person who found the phone to return it to you. I’m not saying it won’t happen, but the reality is that you have to plan for it.

One of the first things you can do for this is to register your phone with the Google Find My Device feature. It’s free and the benefits you get from it are very significant.

As for what you gain from the feature, the list is quite short but very sweet. Once your phone is enrolled in Find My Device, you can:

In the past, you could also change a device’s password. But due to new features, such as biometrics, this is no longer possible. Even without this feature, the peace of mind you can get from performing a factory reset on a lost phone is worth the few seconds you’ll spend activating the feature.

It’s true, it’s very simple. Let me show you how.

Also: 5 Quick Tips for Better Android Security Right Now

What is Find My Device and how to enable it for your Android phone

It will work on devices that run Android 8.0 and later. So these steps should apply unless your phone is more than two years old.

The first thing you need to do is open the Settings app, which can be done by swiping down twice for the notification shade and tapping the gear icon, or by opening the Settings app at from the app drawer.

In the Settings app, you’ll see an entry for Security. Tap this entry.

The list of Android security settings.

The security option is easily accessible from the settings.

Image: Jack Wallen

On the Security page, you should see a list for Find My Device. Tap on this list.

The Find My Device list in Security.

To activate the feature, you must first tap Find My Device.

Image: Jack Wallen

In the resulting page, press the ON/OFF slider for Use Find My Device until it is in the ON position.

Also: The 6 Best Android Phones

The Find My Device ON/OFF toggle.

Enabling Find My Device in Android 13.

Image: Jack Wallen

Once you’ve turned on Find My Device, open a web browser on your desktop or laptop computer and navigate to https://www.google.com/android/find. Give the service some time to register your device and it will appear. When you see it listed, consider yourself attached to your phone whether you know where it is or not.

The Find My Device sidebar.

My Pixel 7 Pro listing in Find My Device.

Image: Jack Wallen

When to use Find My Device

This is a difficult question for everyone to answer. The truth is, we all lose our phones from time to time. More often than not, however, these phones can be located fairly quickly because you simply misplaced them. But if you’ve been browsing your home, car, and workplace, now might be a good time to hop on the website above and take some action.

If you think you know where the phone is, but you can’t get to it right away, I highly recommend that you at least go to the website and secure your phone. If you’re pretty sure it’s been stolen, I’d definitely erase the device. And this last point is essential – do not hesitate. Even if you erase it and find it again, you can still simply sign back into your Google account and some (but not all) of your data will be restored.

The Find My Device feature should be considered a must-have. Make sure your Android phone is connected to the service, so if your phone is lost or stolen, the option to wipe it is just a click away.