Access Keys:
Skip to content (Access Key - 0)

How to remotely Find Lock or Erase your iOS device via iCloud

IS&T does not officially support the use of iCloud to find, lock, or wipe your iPhone (or other iOS devices). This how-to is for informational purposes only. Unintentional wiping of your device, and accidental loss of data is your responsibility. We recommend backing up your iOS device via iTunes on a regular basis.

This is an alternative for users not using MIT's Exchange service.

On this page:


Find My iPhone helps you locate and protect your iOS device in case it is ever lost or stolen. With iOS 7 or later, Find My iPhone includes a new feature called Activation Lock, which is turned on automatically when you set up Find My iPhone. Activation Lock makes it harder for anyone to use or sell your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch if it’s ever lost or stolen. With Find My iPhone set up on your device, you can:

  • Locate your device on a map
  • Play a sound on your device to help you find it
  • Use Lost Mode to lock and track your device
  • Remotely erase all of your personal information from the device


  1. First, you should make sure your iOS device is up to date. To do so, go to Settings > General > Software Update directly on your device. In case you need to update your device, you will be prompted to install the latest update over-the-air (OTA). iOS updates require an active Wi-Fi connection.
  2. You will need to add an iCloud account to your iPhone. To do so, please use the following directions from Apple found here.
  3. Once you've setup the iCloud account and activated the Find My iPhone feature, you can now remotely track, lock, and wipe your iPhone in case you misplace or lose your iPhone, or in the event your iPhone is stolen.
  4. Various remote iCloud options discussed:

NOTE: In order for iCloud's Find My iPhone to work, your iOS device needs to be online. An iOS device is online if it is turned on and is connected to a data network, such as EDGE, 3G, 4G, or Wi-Fi. If your iOS device goes offline, Find My iPhone will display the last known location for up to 24 hours. While the device is offline, you will not be able to initiate any remote security features however, the Activation Lock feature will require your password before anyone can turn off Find My iPhone on your device, erase your device, or reactivate and use your device.

Locating your iOS device

  1. Sign in to with your Apple ID and click the Find My iPhone icon.
    iCloud on Safari
  2. Find My iPhone will search for all devices associated with your iCloud account. If your device is online and can be located, its approximate location will be shown on the map. The green circle around the device indicates its location (the smaller the circle, the better the accuracy).
    Searching on Find My iPhone Safari
If your iOS device was stolen, we do NOT suggest trying to confront the individual(s) but rather contact your local law enforcement and supply them the location information.

Play Sound on your iOS device

In case you've misplaced your iOS device and think it is nearby, play a sound on it to help you find it.

  1. On the top, click All Devices, then select the device you want. In the device’s Info window, click Play Sound. If the device is online, the sound plays immediately (for two minutes). If the device is offline, the sound plays the next time it is online.
    Play sound

Lost Mode

If you can’t find your device, use Lost Mode right away to lock it with a passcode, display a custom message on the screen, and keep track of its location. (Lost Mode is available with iOS 6 or later.)

  1. Click All Devices, then select the device you want to track or lock. Select Lost Mode and follow the onscreen instructions. You will have the ability to activate or set a passcode, enter a number where you can be reached, or enter a message indicating that the device is lost or how to contact you. This message will appear on your device’s locked screen.
    Lost mode Enter contact number Enter message
    Lost mode enabled

Erase your device

Before you erase your device, try to locate it or play a sound on it. After you erase it, you will not be able to use Find My iPhone to do either of those.

If your iOS device is lost or stolen and you have exhausted all other options to recover it, you can erase it using Find My iPhone. Just click Erase iPhone.
Erase device

IMPORTANT NOTE: Once the remote wipe has been initiated, it cannot be stopped. Therefore, use this function at your own risk. If you were to find your iPhone after it had been wiped, you can always plug it back into iTunes and restore your data, or restore your data using iCloud's backup functionality, assuming you've made a recent backup. If you need help on making a backup of your iPhone, please read and

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

August 04, 2016

Get Help

Request help
from the Help Desk
Report a security incident
to the Security Team
iphone iphone Delete
ipad ipad Delete
security security Delete
locate locate Delete
wipe wipe Delete
ipod ipod Delete
c-iphone c-iphone Delete
icloud icloud Delete
find find Delete
Enter labels to add to this page:
Please wait 
Looking for a label? Just start typing.
This product/service is:
Easy to use
Difficult to use

This article is:
Adaptavist Theme Builder (4.2.3) Powered by Atlassian Confluence 3.5.13, the Enterprise Wiki