April 27, 2011

Quick Guide: How to Use Lookout to Find a Lost Phone

Every day we rely on our phones to search for, store, and share important information.  For most of us, the thought of losing our phone is scary; not only are our smartphones expensive to replace—much of the data on the phone is invaluable and private!  For all our users who may find themselves scrambling to find their lost phone, we created a quick step-by-step guide of how to locate and secure your phone with Lookout. Share this with all your friends that have Lookout on their phone and stay tuned for a follow up blog post that explains what to do if you don’t have Lookout on your phone.

1) Log onto lookout.com from any smartphone or computer

Once you realize you’ve lost your phone your first step should be to go to the Lookout Mobile Security [www.lookout.com] website.  You can do this from a friend’s smartphone (no matter what type of phone it is, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, etc), an iPad or tablet or your computer. Select “login” (the login button is in the upper right-hand corner) and enter your username (the email address you used to sign up for Lookout) and your password.  Once you are logged into your account, you will see a dashboard with various options.  Select the tab “Missing Device.”  From the mobile website, you’ll see options to Locate or Scream your phone.

2) Remotely Lock and Locate your phone
This section updated on Oct 4th, 2012 to clarify changes in GPS capabilities
Under the “Missing Device” tab you will see four options: Locate, Scream, Lock and Wipe.  If you currently have Lookout Premium installed on your phone, you should lock your phone immediately.  This will ensure that if your phone falls into the wrong hands, no one will be able to access your phone but you — so you can keep your personal data (email, contacts, and photos) private. You can even create a secret code to unlock your phone once you find it.
If you don’t have Lookout Premium and haven’t gone through the Lookout Premium trial yet, sign-up for it from the website after logging in, then you can lock your phone immediately.  Next, you should select “Locate” and Lookout will do the detective work for you!  (In older versions of Android phones, Lookout may be able to automatically enable GPS on your phone to help locate it more accurately. Once Lookout uses GPS remotely, it will also turn it off to conserve your battery). Your phone’s location will appear in a matter of minutes on a Google map and typically the location will appear within 50 yards.  As long as your phone is turned on and within cell signal, Lookout will find your phone.

3) Make your phone Scream
Once you have traveled to the location on the map, use the “Scream” feature to sound the alarm on your phone.  From the Lookout website, click on the button “Scream.”  If you are on the mobile website, click on the Scream link. You will then hear what sounds like a police alarm that will slowly get louder and louder for 2 minutes. Follow the siren until you’ve found it!

4) Wipe your phone (if it’s gone for good)
In the unfortunate instance that you’re unable to retrieve your phone you should wipe the phone of all your data and private information.  This will ensure that if anyone were to find your phone, none of your information (pictures, contacts, passwords) would be jeopardized. With Lookout, the Wipe feature deletes all of your data, including data on your SD card, as well as logs you out of your accounts like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. If you have these apps and typically stay “logged in” this will ensure that your accounts won’t be compromised.

Before you wipe your phone, we recommend you use Lookout to do one last backup to make sure all your latest contacts, photos and calls are saved.  You can also do this directly via the Lookout website under the Backup tab.  If you don’t currently have Lookout Premium, and feel that $2.99/month or $29.99/year is worth the peace of mind, you can upgrade to the Premium version right through your account homepage!

*Have you ever used Lookout to find your missing mobile device?

Do you have an interesting story to share about how you used the “lock,” “locate” or “wipe” Lookout features?  If you do, please send us an email at: superusers@lookout[dot]com.  We may post your story right here on our lookout.com blog!

Comments are closed on this post. If you need help with your Lookout app, please email our support team at help [at] lookout[dot]com.

  1. Tone says:

    I downloaded lookout to day 🙂 and this is realy something for me ! 🙂
    .. but, I tried the “missing device, location and scream” today. And it worked only the first time! Is it so that I only can use it once a day, or something? Why can’t I make it work again?

  2. Philip says:

    Is there any way you can add the ability to power on a device that has been turned off / powered off? I would defenintly purchase the premium version if this option was available

    • Amy says:

      @Philip, thank you for your message-we appreciate your feedback! We are always interested in hearing customer suggestions about how we can improve our product. At this time, Lookout does not have the ability to power on a device that is turned off, but I will be sure to pass along your comment to our product development team and Lookout will keep everyone posted as we add features to our product. Thanks again!

  3. Brian says:

    @Tone – I noticed you’re in Norway and our SMS provider isn’t able to get our messages through to your carrier/phone. This may be a carrier incompatibility problem that we don’t have any direct way to influence or correct. The app will work to run locates and screams but only when it connects to our servers, not at the time the request is made by the user.

    We are working on another method of contacting devices to get around SMS incompatibility.

  4. TriniTing says:

    Do I have to have GPS in order to locate the phone or can it be done via wireless also

    • Amy says:

      @TriniTing, thank you for your question. Lookout actually uses multiple ways to determine the location of your mobile phone. When possible, we use the GPS location, which is the most accurate way to determine location and with GPS enabled, we can usually locate your phone down to a few meters. However, if GPS is not available, we can also use the location as determined by the cell tower (which is generally accurate to within 1000 meters) or as determined by your Wi-Fi connection. Thank you!

  5. TriniTing says:

    Can the phone be located over the WIFO or network location as opposed to GPS. I do not currently have a GPS plan but I am able to use several apps due to my network location and was wondering if this app does the same

  6. Rodger Smith says:

    please help john… even to get your system to locate my phone or atleast tell me where it is, please
    ps. im in south africa

    • Amy says:

      @Rodger, thanks for reaching out. If you’re having any trouble locating your phone, our support team will be happy to help. Please just send an email to support@mylookout[dot]com. Thanks!

  7. jayne says:

    My phone was stolen last night. I downloaded the program and located it in a nearby town but in a large apartment building. I locked it but want to try and locate again if it moves to a more precise location but don’t have access all the time to another cell to text. I tried locate from the pc but don’t get anything. Is there a way to continue locating from the pc?

    • Amy says:

      @Jayne, thanks for your question. If you are not longer receiving a map of your phone’s location when you initiate Lookout to locate your device from your mylookout.com account, it’s possible that your device may be turned off, or may no longer have a connection (WiFi/3G/4G). However, if you initiate Lookout to “locate” your device, you will receive an email notification as soon as your device is powered on/receives a connection. If you have any other questions, please feel free to reach us: support@mylookout[dot]com. Thanks!

  8. Jenna says:

    This is soooo awesome. I can locate my phone if its stolen and make it sound off. How much better can this get? I do wish it could work if the phone is completely turned off though. My phone would be completely theft-proof!

  9. Jeff says:

    If I want to test the Scream, how do I turn it off? Do I have to wait for two minutes while it goes through its routine?

  10. deborah says:

    Does lookout work for ipods and ipads?

    • @deborah, Lookout works for iOS devices like iPhone and iPad. The missing device feature will work on iPod touch when the touch has WiFi turned on. You can download the app from the App Store.
      best, RT

  11. Thornibro says:

    Hi I am trying to purchase the premium version of LOokout, but the site does not seem to recognise South African postal codes. This app works awesome I traced my stolen phone in a neighbouring country , I could locate it , and I sent a scream to it.

  12. kari says:

    Somebody that I know stole my phone but I’m not 100% I tried to use lookout location but my phone was.powered off. Is there any way that I can find it (as prove ) so that person can return it?

    • You can contact the authorities, and show them the location. Please use caution before approaching a suspected thief! If your phone is on, you can make it Scream, just log into your lookout.com account. Good luck, Kari!

  13. Viet Le says:

    I lost my Samsung S3 phone. At the first time when i “locate” the phone, it told me the location with accuracy is 29m: -37.969515,145.154983 (Lookout found your device. 10:25 am EST, Tuesday, October 2, 2012.Accuracy: 29 meters.). now it always few hundreds or thousands metter in accuracy. This is the last “locate” result: -37.9682748,145.1560461 (Lookout found your device. 11:06 pm EST, Thursday, October 4, 2012.Accuracy: 660 meters.)
    I already backup the contact list and call log which include my contacts and the thief’s contacts as well. There is anyway that help to improve the accuracy so i can get my phone back.
    As you said above, Lookout will automatically turn on GPS so the result should be more accurate.
    Looking forward to hear from you.
    Best regards,
    Viet Le

    • @Viet Le,
      I’m sorry to hear about your stolen device. Since this blog was posted in 2011, updates to the Android operating system mean that Lookout can no longer remotely enable GPS. I’m sorry for the confusion, and I’ve updated the blog post to reflect that change.

      If you’re relatively close to the location of your lost phone, you can log into lookout.com from any phone or computer browser to make your phone Scream to try to pinpoint the location.

      As always, you can email our support team at support [at] lookout[dot]com whenever you need help.