How to Find a Lost or Stolen Macbook | Digital Trends

Whether you accidentally left your laptop on the plane or it was stolen from its case when you weren’t looking, losing your MacBook is a terrible feeling. Luckily, Apple’s Find My network offers macOS, iPadOS, and iOS fans a safe and reliable way to recover these missing devices. And unlike certain brands that place advanced monitoring features behind paywalls, the Find My network is completely free – you just need to do a few things to set it up.

To make the process even easier, we’ve put together this step-by-step guide that shows you how to register your MacBook on the Find My network and how to use the software to find it in case your computer gets bigger feet and scurries away.

Setting up Find My on your MacBook

Before we show you how to use Find My to find a lost MacBook, let’s first look at how to set it up. For anyone who takes their MacBook with them to college, while traveling or commuting, or simply to the coffee shop, it is important that you activate this tool for your system. If your system is lost at any time, Find My is the best way to ensure guaranteed recovery.

Step 1: Enable location services for your MacBook by clicking Security and privacy within System settingsand then select that privacy Field.

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Step 2: Choose Enable location services You then have to make a selection Find mine.

The “Turn on location services” box on Mac.
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Step 3: In it, select the Apple ID icon System settingschoose iCloud tab and Find my Macand then press the Allow Crate.

Enable Find My Mac on Mac.
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Step 4: To turn on Offline search Select the feature (although it should be enabled by default). Options button within the Find my Mac Field.

Find My Mac offline search feature on Mac.
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Use Find My to locate a lost MacBook

If you already enabled Find My on your MacBook before it was lost, you have several options.

Step 1: Sign in to your iCloud account at iCloud.com/find on another device. Choose All devices Possibility.

Step 2: Wait for Location Services to track and present your MacBook.

Step 3: Once you find it, you’ll have a few options to choose from. Play sound will do exactly that if your system is nearby. You can also Lock out it or Delete It. The last two possibilities should be considered if it was stolen.

The Find My feature for Find My Mac via Apple's iCloud website.
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Use Find My on iPhone to locate a lost MacBook

If you don’t have direct access to a desktop or other laptop, or would prefer to use your smartphone instead, you can do this with the iPhone version of Find My.

Step 1: Choose Settingsfollowed by yours Apple ID above, then select your MacBook from the Available Devices section.

Choosing a MacBook using Find My on iPhone.
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Step 2: Select under the name of your MacBook Show in Find My.

The Show in Find My button on iPhone.
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Step 3: You should now be able to see your MacBook’s location, play a sound, and get directions to its location. You can also erase the entire device by pressing Delete this device Attitude.

The Find My tool on iPhone shows the location of a MacBook.
Image used with permission of the copyright holder

Find a lost MacBook that is offline

If your lost MacBook is in sleep mode, which more or less means it’s offline, Apple’s offline search mode can still find your system (via using Bluetooth signals with other systems).

However, there is one caveat: you need another device designed by Apple, such as an iPhone or iPad.

Step 1: Select on your other Apple device Settingsfollowed by yours Apple IDthen select Find mine > Find my iPhoneand then see if Find my network activated.

The Find My Network button on iPhone to enable offline search for lost Apple devices.
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Step 2: On the main Apple ID settings page, check to see if your device appears. If the MacBook is in a coffee shop or a place with other devices, there is a higher chance that it will appear even if the laptop is closed.

Ultimately, however, there is no 100% guarantee that you will be able to find a lost MacBook. With Find My enabled, your chances increase significantly, but you may still encounter setbacks that prevent you from retrieving it. In this case, you can report the situation to the relevant authorities, for which the serial number of your MacBook may be useful (found on the packaging and on the purchase receipt).

Of course, if you’ve lost your MacBook, you should immediately change all of your sensitive information, including your login information and Apple ID.

Consider the AirTag

The Find My feature may not return positive results if the device is not online, has been destroyed, etc. As an additional security measure, you can always use an AirTag, for example, storing it in your MacBook’s laptop case in case it is stolen or misplaced .

Is the Find My network free?

When you use the Find My desktop or mobile app, you end up paying only for the bandwidth the software uses to locate your lost item. But we pay for WiFi and cellular data every day, usually without thinking about it. Essentially, using data for the Find My service is the same idea.

How accurate is the Find My network?

Apple’s Find My Network is a highly accurate tracking tool that uses a range of wireless protocols to locate your lost devices. This includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS signals, and any Find My tweaks you have enabled on your Apple device.

Remember, you’ll get the best performance from software like the Find My app when both devices you’re searching are running the most up-to-date software. If your device is MIA, it’s actually a good rule of thumb to make sure all products in your Apple ecosystem are running the latest software versions.

This is to ensure that the device you are using the Find My app on is also optimized for performance and the latest Find My features.

Can I recover files on my stolen MacBook?

Let’s say you’re able to recover your stolen MacBook, but the thief who stole it deleted a number of your files. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to protect your data, but you need to put these defenses in place before your MacBook is lost.

One way to recover lost files is to use Apple’s Time Machine backup tool. You can also move content to a number of cloud storage platforms as well as external hard drives or SSDs.

If you’ve lost an iPhone or want to know how to find it for future reference, check out our guide on using Find My iPhone. We also have a detailed guide on how to use the Find My app itself on an iPhone.

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