How to find a lost or missing Android cell phone

Has your Android been lost or stolen? Here is a really cool trick that can help you locate your missing Android cell phone.


This guide is to be used as a reference to locate a missing Android smartphone. If your cell phone has been stolen then I highly recommend that you leave the recovery of your cell phone in the hands of local authorities. If you cannot recover your lost or missing phone then I also recommend that you call your wireless carrier and report it lost or stolen. Your phone company can blacklist that specific phone and in most circumstances preventing it from receiving wireless service ever again making it worthless as a cell phone while at the same time discouraging future cell phone theft.

That being said… let’s see if we cannot locate your lost or missing Android.

Using your Google Account to locate your lost Android

Unless you had the extreme foresight to install an application designed to track the phone before it was lost, which in most cases is highly uncommon, then your best bet at locating a missing Android smartphone is going to be to use the Primary Google Account associated with that device.

When you start up an Android for the first time the phone asks you to setup a Google Account for that device. This Google Account is then used for many things including email, automatic and manual backups, as well as your ID for downloads and purchases on the Android Play Store.

If you were to buy an app through the play store and then chose to uninstall it or if you had to reset your phone for whatever reason and lost that app then you could log back into your Primary Google Account (the first Gmail account added to the phone) and re-download the app without having to pay for it again. The Play Store recognizes that you already purchased the application and allows you to download it again at no charge. If you have ever downloaded an app to your cell phone from the Android Play Store then your cell phone has a Primary Google Account associated with it.

Along with these great features your Gmail account has yet another tool that many people don’t even know about. This tool is the Google Dashboard which allows you to manage your Google account information including your Contact lists, Calendar information, Gmail, Play Store Downloads, Tasks, but the most important feature included is a section to manage the active devices associated with your account. Your Android smartphone should be listed as an active device and this tool may allow you to active the GPS on your device and get an approximate location as to where your phone is located. You can also force your phone to ring in order to help you locate it once you have traveled to that area. Provided that your cell phone is powered on and functioning properly of course.

Using the Google Dashboard to locate your Android

Let’s start from the very beginning and go through each step that you will need to take to utilize this amazing tool.

I prefer accessing this tool through a computer but this can be done on any device with access to the World Wide Web. If you are going to go mobile to find your lost phone then you could use a mobile phone with internet capability to help you more efficiently. If you have another Android device available then you can also download the official “Android Device Manager” app from the Google Play Store if you don’t want to do this through a browser. Any smartphone should allow you to access this page though as long as it has a working data connection.

Since this is a likely circumstance the following step-by-step instructions will demonstrate how to access the Dashboard using the web browser of an Android smartphone.

Open up a web browser and in the site address bar where it tells you which webpage you are currently visiting, type in and press Go to go to that web page (the “Go” or “Enter” key is often located in the bottom right hand corner of the keyboard).

Type in the Email account name and its Password which you had originally setup on your Android smartphone.

Important Note: Many people setup their Google account when they first get their phone or someone sets it up for them and it never gets brought up again. If you fall into this category and you have no idea what your password is or even what the email address is then there is hope in recovering that information. If you need help recovering your primary Google account then click on the “Need help?” link on the webpage. Choose the option that best describes your circumstances and then try to proceed with the recovery process. Once you have recovered your Gmail account information go back to and use your account information to log into your account.

If you cannot recover your Google Account information or for some reason never set up a Primary Google Account on the phone at all (which is extremely uncommon) then you will not be able to utilize this phone tracking feature to locate your cell phone.

Once you have logged into your Google Account you should see your accounts Dashboard with a list of options.

Note: It may be a little hard to see on a mobile phones display. If you need to you can zoom in by pressing down on the section of the screen that you wish to make bigger with two fingers and then dragging those two fingers away from each other (the opposite of trying to pinch the screen).

Look for a section of the screen labeled “Android” and then tap on that option to extend it and see more details.

You should see a list of information about the cell phones associated with your account and hopefully you should see the device which is currently missing.

Tap on the “Manage active devices” link to open up some additional options.

You may be presented with an option to locate the device or your phone might automatically try to locate your device for you. When this happens you will likely see a “Contacting your device…” notification message.

When your phone has been found you should see a pretty accurate GPS location displayed on the screen. Note: you may want to run the search a few times if the first location that you receive seems a little too broad. I have found that though accurate some search results are slightly more accurate than others.

Once you have the location of your phone you will know where to start looking.

Locating your lost phone by forcing it to ring

Once you are in the approximate location of your cell phone if you are having difficulties locating it then you can force it to ring through your Dashboard as well.

Press the “Ring” option on the bottom of the window.

You should see a confirmation screen letting you know that by choosing this option “Your device will ring at full volume for 5 minutes. Press the power button to stop the ringing.”

Press the “Ring” button again to confirm the action and then listen for your cell phone.

Once you have found it, press the power key to stop it from ringing and enjoy your no longer lost cell phone.

Having problems?

Still having problems locating your lost cell phone? Here are a couple of reasons why this might not work as well as some suggestions on what else might be done…

Dashboard doesn’t show GPS Location

If the Google Dashboard will NOT load a GPS location for your cell phone then there are some possible reasons why this could happen.

The phone is powered off

If the cell phone has run out of battery or has been powered off then the Google Dashboard will not likely be able to contact the device and as a result will not be able to get or show the approximate location of that device.

The phone has been reset

If for some horrible reason your cell phone was taken by someone who then performed a hard reset on the phone then the hard reset will have removed all of the user data from the cell phone including the screens unlock pattern as well as the Primary Google Account associated with the phone. Since you are using the Google account to locate the phone and it is no longer on the phone it probably isn’t going to be very successful.

The phone has been damaged

If your phone is lost because it fell out of a vehicle while that vehicle was being driven then there is a high probability that the device was damaged in some way shape or form. I found such a cell phone on the side of the road in front of my house once with a shattered screen. While the display screen and touch screen were no longer functional the phone was ringing constantly. The person who lost the phone was trying to call it hoping that someone would answer it so that they could recover it.

Using the advice above would have helped this person out perfectly. Unfortunately there was no way to answer the call because of the damage to it so I ended up taking the phone to the closest store for that phones carrier and just hoped that they would return it to the person that it belonged to. Unfortunately the representatives at that store didn’t seem to enthusiastic about trying to return the phone to the owner, which is truly unfortunate; but I digress.

Poor or no service

If the phone was lost in a remote area or off the beaten track where there is little or no service to the device much less a data connection then the GPS feature on the phone may not be an available option. The phone may not even be able to send the information to the Google Dashboard after it had been requested simply because there is no service to do so with.

You might need to try again later

I have tried locating my phone, or tried to show another person how to locate their phone before and even though everything was done properly the Dashboard just refused to locate the device properly. After 30 or so minutes we tried again and it located the phone without a problem… If this happens to you then you might need to wait for a while and try again.

If it doesn’t seem to want to work at all no matter how long you wait or how many times you try then one of the possible reasons listed above might have occurred and you may not be able to use the Dashboard to find your lost cell phone.

Cannot log into the Primary Google Account

If you cannot log into the Primary Google Account that was on the phone when it was lost then you are not going to be able to use the Dashboard to locate your lost cell phone and unless you had installed an app on the phone previously which would allow you to locate your cell phone then finding your cell phone may not be possible.

Cannot locate a lost or stolen cell phone

If you cannot find your lost or stolen cell phone for any reason then make sure that you call your wireless carrier so that they can tag that phone as lost or stolen. This helps prevent phone theft as the carrier black lists that specific phone and prevents it from using wireless phone services from that point on. Even if the person trying to use the phone replaces the SIM card when the phone tries to connect to a wireless network the network will see that specific cell phone as being lost or stolen and will prevent the phone from accessing the network.

This can also help prevent you for being liable if the person that has your cell phone tries to make purchases using that cell phone. Make sure to always report a lost or stolen cell phone right away.

Hopefully your cell phone doesn’t fall into any of these unfortunate circumstances though and I am optimistic that you were able to use the advice listed above to locate and recover your lost or missing cell phone.


I hope that you have enjoyed this guide on how to try and locate a lost Android cell phone. If you liked this guide and found it informative or instructive then don’t hesitate to show me that you liked it by leaving a friendly remark in the comment section below. Feel free to also share it through the Google +, Facebook Like or other social networking methods below this guide as well.

Thanks again for visiting and I hope you enjoy your newly found cell phone.



How to find a lost or missing Android cell phone

Thank you for your information. I've tried to put it to work only to notice that my phone will indeed ring very loudly under the condition it is connected to the internet. In my case by wifi. I did not see any mention of this proviso in your guide.

Whereas to the position/location of my phone (in fact on the table just next to me) Google was unable to find it. Too bad ! Is there something I've missed in your instructions?

Regards from France.

Locating your Google device through the Google Dashboard

Hi William,

I have found that every once in a while when trying to locate my Android smartphone using the Google Dashboard it just does not want to work. Even under pretty much the exact same conditions I have successfully used before it is just unable to find it for no particular reason what so ever.

So this might be what is happening for your phone but there are a few things that you can check for good measure. Try going into your phones Settings and checking your Location services to make sure that the Access to my location is switch ON and on my Samsung I have the Use GPS satellites and Use wireless networks options active/checked as well.

You can also consider going into your Apps and opening the Google Settings app, and then Location to make sure that the Access location is active there as well. Oh, and check out the Security features under that app to make sure that the Remotely locate this device setting is active too.

Checking these location settings might help to get the Dashboard to locate your cell phone properly but like I said sometimes you just have to try again later.



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