Did you know that you can remotely find and/or erase your iPhone? You can if you have a MobileMe subscription and have the Find My iPhone feature turned on.
[Update February 2013: Apple has now made Find My iPhone a part of the free iCloud service. The rest of this tip has been updated with the correct terminology and directions.]
First, let’s enable this feature on your iPhone. Turn on your iPhone and go to Settings. Go to the iCloud section, then turn on the Find My iPhone feature using the slider button.
Now, let’s test this feature. Go to http://www.icloud.com and login to your iCloud account. Click the green Find My iPhone button on the top row of icons. You’ll be asked to enter your iCloud password a second time. Apple is just being extra secure by asking for this information.
Wait a minute or so while your iPhone is located. I should mention that this service relies on the GPS chip in your iPhone so if the iPhone is off this won’t work. A map showing the approximate location of your iPhone will appear. This can help you determine if your iPhone is around the house, at your office, or if you forgot it at the restaurant last night.
Below the map you’ll see three buttons: Play Sound, Lost Mode, and Erase iPhone.
Play Sound lets you play an alert sound. This sound will play even if the phone is in silent mode. This sound can help you find the phone if it is under a couch cushion. Or it could help a waiter find it if the phone is under a restaurant table.
The Lost Mode feature lets you enable the lock so nobody can view your data or run-up your phone bill. It also allows you to display a message on the phone indicating how to return it to you. In my last blog article I recommended that you enable the lock feature on your phone all the time.
The Erase iPhone feature allows you to remotely remove all data from the phone. As long as you have synced or backed up your iPhone recently, then go ahead and do this. If you locate your phone eventually then you can restore all of the data by syncing it to your Mac.