iOS 6: Using Lost Mode

| TMO Quick Tip

We've had the ability to locate, lock, and send messages on lost Apple devices for some time now. But with iOS 6 and iCloud, there's a new feature called Lost Mode, which'll let whoever is keeping your precious iPhone make a call to a specified number. You can also use this to remotely track an iOS 6 device—you'll be able to see its point-to-point movements across a map instead of just finding its current location. Neat! Terrifying in an Orwellian sort of way, but neat!

Obviously, you'll want to enable this before the sucker gets stolen, or else you're out of luck. To do this, go to Settings > iCloud, and toggle the Find My iPhone option on.

And now's a good time to note that the instructions and screen shots in this tip were made with an iPhone in mind, so if you're using Lost Mode with an iPad, for example, things'll be different. 

So then the phone is taken or lost. What now? Well, after your murderous, vengeful rampage, what you'll do is log in to and click on the giant Find My iPhone icon.

Then click on the Devices button, choose the one you've lost, and check out its info window that pops up.

Not only does it now show you the phone's remaining battery life (great, I can panic as I watch it slowly die), you'll see the new Lost Mode choice there. If you select that, will walk you through some steps. First, if you don't have a passcode set on the device, iCloud will make you pick one.

(If you already have a passcode set, iCloud will use that existing one to lock it down.)

Then you'll be given the option of adding a phone number where you can be called.

Finally, you'll get to type a message to display.

After that, the person who "found" your iPhone can actually call you from it instead of being locked out completely.

Also—and the paranoid should probably skip to the next paragraph—after Lost Mode is turned on, you can use to watch the progress of your phone as it travels from place to place.


Once you've found your device, either enter the passcode you set before to disable Lost Mode, or turn it off on by clicking the Lost Mode button again and choosing Stop Lost Mode.

Finally, know that you can also start Lost Mode from Apple's Find My iPhone app using very similar steps. The device that configures Lost Mode doesn't have to be running iOS 6, but you can't actually invoke it on one that's not. Make sense? Or are you both paranoid and confused now?

Sorry about that.

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This is a great tip Ms. Holt. But you’ve made me waste valuable time trying to find out who is using the 888 version of Jenny. (Resisting the urge to just try it!)

You’re toying with us geeks and its not nice smile


Thansk Melissa for the quick and to the point article. Another tip is to call your phone (if it’s not stolen) and see if it’s been found. That’s what happened to me at Macworld several years ago. And it worked.

Thanks again for your tips.



And if someone called you to say they had your iPhone…and suggested to meet with you at a certain address so they could return it to you…would you go?

I think people have to think a little bit about how they should respond to a response.


Problem with this is once someone sees that, they just turn the phone off or put it in a grounded metal box (faraday cage).

Best approach, I think, is (1) always have a passcode on the phone, (2) track carefully, and (3), call your phone: “Hi. I’m calling about the iPhone for sale?” (at least until you ascertain whether whoever has the phone is honest).

And if you know it’s been stolen, bring the police with you when you confront them.


Sure you would meet with them to get it back…..but just choose a neutral site with people at it, like a McDonald’s, or a police or fire station.  I did that once, worked well.

Melissa Holt

Thanks for the comments, everyone!

Ctopher, toying with geeks is, like, my job or something.



are my features still on when I turn on Lost Mode? i.e will my alarm still ring, will they be able to see my incoming messages etc?

Melissa Holt

Hi there denny,

It looks like the answer to that is no. I just set an alarm and a reminder on my iPhone, and then I put it into Lost Mode. Nothing showed up on the screen until I stopped Lost Mode and unlocked the device! Pretty neat.



I can’t get lost mode to engage.  I get a dialogue box but it won’t go the “Next” screen.  Is it because the lost/stolen ipad says “offline”

Melissa Holt

Hey Jan,

It shouldn’t be that—my phone let me engage Lost Mode even when I turned it completely off. just says “Pending: Lost Mode” and claims it’ll start when the phone is next connected to the Internet.

I’d try logging out and logging in again.

Was your iPad stolen? I’m sorry that happened. :(



Hi Melissa,

You can very well guess how i stumbled upon your post. I lost my few 8 hours ago. I got to log in icloud and track the thief’s changing location. I was able to set it to lost mode via the icloud.

I also got called the network to report the incident so they said they blocked the sim and the phone. Unfortunately, I did not get to wipe the data via icloud as the phone went offline. i’m seeing pending: erase iphone, and this worries me.

I just changed my email and social passwords.

would you know if—-

1. there are other ways to remotely wipe off data that would not require internet connection or for the thief to turn on the device? like requesting from apple or other agencies?

2. will this mean that if the thief connected the iphone to his computer, he will readily get to access my data without having to put a passcode

3. if i set the lost mode, will that automatically mean that when the guy tries to access the phone, all the data will be wiped out after 10 incorrect tries? or should I have had this set up initially before the phone got stolen?

I dunno if the phone went offline because it ran out of battery or if the network’s sim and cellular network’s deactivation took place

i recall seeing it had around 14%% when i tried to do remote swipe


Melissa Holt

Hi there Chris,

If I were you, I’d call your cell provider to ask them some of these questions. It sure sounds to me like they’ve cut off all cellular network access to the phone, which means you won’t be able to wipe it or track it. However, since you locked it with a passcode, what the thief will probably do is just clean your data off of it and start fresh. Your data will not be wiped after 10 tries unless you set that up beforehand.

As far as I know, there is no way (through Apple or otherwise) to wipe a phone that wasn’t set up to do that and that you can’t access through iCloud.

In any case, I would definitely call your provider and/or Apple and ask them about the possibility of someone recovering data off of a locked phone.




I think my 9 year old son lost his iPhone because it’s showing up as “offline”.  Is there anyway to locate a lost phone that shows up as “offline”?


Melissa Holt

Hey Mike,

As far as I know, there is no way to do that. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. :(



This is a good invention but can’t a thief just turn off find I phone when they Rob it and the whole thing is now useless

Melissa Holt

Hey Ciaran,

That can certainly be done, which is why you should always have a passcode lock on your phone for security’s sake.



I left my ipad in work on day and had someone hide it for me but just in case someone found it, i set it to lost mode so I could have all the info set up. My ipad was safe in the end however I have one problem. I cant seem to undo lost mode no matter what. I don’t have an option to turn off lost mode for some reason. Any suggestions?


Nevermind Melissa sorry to take up question space! Lost mode seems to be turned off already, what I hadn’t realized was that since my Ipad was not originally passcode locked and it created had me create a new one, I didnt realize that it was something I’d have to turn on and off in settings, I thought the code was part of the lost mode setting only, not in my general settings as well!

Melissa Holt

Hey Tara,

Glad you got things figured out. Happy New Year! smile



Hi Melissa

I stumbled across your post as yes we’ve lost the iPad!! well actually we know where it is (in the pocket of an airline seat!) but the airline are not cooperating with us in helping retrieve it!!!

The iPad is currently on airplane mode and is locked. I’ve activated the lost mode using my iPhone find my phone app (thankfully all my apple devices are linked via iCloud)

my question is will the lost mode message be shown even in airplane mode?

anything else I should be doing (other than calling the airline every day!!)

Thanks Beck


The iPhone that I have lost is in lost mode and is sometimes online and offline.  Currently online.  I also discovered that if they turned off location services, all that can happen is that you can see if it’s online or offline and watch the battery life dwindle.  And they seem to have switched SIM cards as the phone number that was assigned is now rolling to voicemail.

So you need to enable location services and lock that down in order to track it.

Melissa Holt

Hey Beck,

Unfortunately, if the iPad was in Airplane Mode and locked with a passcode, there’s no way for it to get the signal to show your message. :(

I can’t think of anything else you can do, aside from calling the airline. I’m sorry they’re being so unhelpful…that really, really stinks!


Melissa Holt


While I think locking down Location Services with Restrictions is an excellent idea, there are (sadly) ways around pretty much any theft protection. I sincerely wish that Apple would provide a way for us to prevent our devices being turned off—that would solve SO much of the problem!


Luis Trumper


My Ipad was stolen. I could succesfully put the ipad in Lost Mode but state that its disconnected and no location available. Why when the Ipad was in Lost Mode this location was not recorded in the Icloud? Now is not connected. But it was when was locked.
Now, once is in lost mode could get any wi fi network available? What about the password of the network. Even locked the Ipad ask for a password?
If not which is the deal with lost mode? We need a thief mode!
I know that they can restore the iPad, but I live in a small city in Argentina, assume they don t know nothing about itunes, etc. But if they do and connect to restore the iPad with iTunes, is it possible that at this moment the iPad connect to Internet and send me an email that allow me to see immediately the location ?



Hi Melissa:

Any insights?

Melissa Holt

Hi Luis,

I’m not sure why your iPad allowed you to put it into Lost Mode and then didn’t record the location. Poor network signal? The thief immediately turned it off?

In any case, if the person who took your iPad plugs it into iTunes and knows what he’s doing, I don’t think there’d be a way for your device to log its location before he could wipe it. And unfortunately, if the device wasn’t locked with a passcode before it was stolen, turning on Airplane Mode is a very fast way to disable any of the tracking features.

My guess at this point would be that it’s been wiped, so it won’t be trackable anymore, especially if it’s been a while since you lost it. :(


Luis Trumper


Thanks for your response. As soon as the Ipad was put in lost mode was locked, so the thief had no time to put it in airplane mode. Now, again muy question:

1) an Ipad in lost mode ask for a password when detect a wi fi network?This is key.Assuming the thief do it, inmediatly the Ipad will transmit its location.

2) When you connect the Ipad in lost mode with a computer to iTunes , the iPad connect to interent and transmit the location?

Thanks again

Melissa Holt

Hi Luis,

1. I don’t know if devices will ask to join networks when they’re in Lost Mode. Unfortunately, I don’t have any way to test this, as I don’t have any open Wi-Fi networks around me.

2. That’s a good question. I don’t think so, as a smart thief would quickly put the device into DFU mode for wiping it.

Sorry I can’t be more clear!

Cedillo K

Hi Melissa,

I just lost my Ipod Touch 4 somewhere in my house, and It’s run out of battery :(

Is there ANY way I can find it? It’s been lost for a few days now.

Melissa Holt

Hi Cedillo,

Unfortunately not. If your device’s battery is dead, there’s no way to track it or play a sound on it. :(


Cedillo K

Thanks Mellissa,

It’s ok, I found it under the couch pillows. Thanks for the reply though :D

Melissa Holt

Yay! Glad you found it, Cedillo. :D


So my question is (just had ipad wifi stolen and not pass locked :() if the theif wipes it and puts it on his account will I still be able to track it? Will apple do anything for me? Or should I not even bother contacting apple?

Melissa Holt

Hey John,

As far as I know, there’s nothing you can do once it’s been wiped. Apple says that they “don’t have a process to track or flag lost or stolen product,” unfortunately. If you follow the link below, though, you may be able to find your iPad’s serial number to provide to law enforcement:

I don’t think there’s any point in contacting anyone other than the police, though. :(



Hi Melissa, I’m still reeling from having my iPhone lost + stolen 12 hours ago. So forgive my question, as you may have clarified it in the article but I need to grasp it through my sadness…I have been able to put my phone on Lost Mode through iCloud, however, the phone is “offlline.” Does this mean that if my phone is ever turned on, my emails, pictures or notes can not be accessed by the Thief because I’ve placed the passcode on through iCloud?

Melissa Holt

Hi Roxanne,

Sorry that your device is gone. :(

Do you know whether your phone was placed in Lost Mode before it went offline? If you log in to your iCloud account and check out the phone’s status, does it say “Pending: Lost Mode,” or does it have an orange “Lost Mode” indicator on its description screen instead?

The thing is that if Lost Mode still shows as pending, the signal to make that happen didn’t get a chance to go through before the thief shut it down or turned on Airplane Mode. And if he’s using it with Airplane Mode on, he could very well have access to your data if you didn’t have a passcode set before it got stolen.

If it seems like Lost Mode is on, though, iCloud must’ve made contact with the phone to lock it. If it consistently shows as offline, the assumption I’d make is that the thief has wiped it, so your data is probably OK.

I hope you get it back very soon!


naresh chandra

I lost my iphone it was locked with complex passcode with 8 digit. Now i have enabled lost mode and last location was displaying in iclod. Now it is switchedoff.

My question is as it is locked with 8 digit passcode and lost mode enabled. If he connect to itunes with PC. Is there any chance wipe out data and reset settings. and is there any way to find the phone no based on IMEI no


So after may years of owning an iPhone, I finally lost my iPhone5 yesterday.  I immediately logged in the findMyPhone app and found my phone offline (battery was running low before I lost it).  I went ahead and set lost mode hoping it would turn up sooner or later.

Question:  I got myself an replacement phone using the same number so I would assume my lost iPhone sim is deactivated.  If so, would it still have the ability to phone home and report its location and receive “lost mode” data?  I’m hoping it does.  Also, in case a thief decides to wipe the phone clean using iTunes, would the phone report its IMEI number to Apple’s database and its location?

I would be interesting to know how the iPhone goes about reporting its location.


Naresh: I think you and I are wondering the same thing…

TaJuana Thomas Jackson

Hi Melissa. I stumbled on this article after searching since last night when hubby’s I5 was stolen.  Did all the things you suggested (before I read ur article) luckily. The thief turned it off immediately, but did turn it back on and we were momentarily able to see it LOCATING, the once the lock mode message came on and the sound it was immediately turned back off so we have been in wait mode til it’s back on. My question is since Apple knows that the phone can be turned off even if it has a pass code, why not make it so that NO functions can be done without that pass code? Isn’t that the purpose if the pass code? That’s just stupid stupid stupid to be able to do something as simple as turn it off and still have a pass code. I know they have this new kill switch but that’s not gonna help us now. Frustrated and want Apple to know they need to step it up. These phones cost too much for something so simple to not be addressed and fixed immediately! What a way to spend Father’s Day!!

Suzanne Tourtillott

I’ve lost track of my older iPad (iOS 5) today. The last place I know I had it was here at home, on my wireless network, up until 6:30 pm. I left the house thinking I had the iPad with me, went to a cafe, thought I’d left it in the car, went to car, no iPad, came home, finally remembered to use the Find My Phone app on my iPhone (iOS 6).
Find My Phone says the last known location was here at home at noon. But I was also home with it (and on my network, obviously) later in the afternoon. My question is this: why isn’t FMP remembering the later time of day for my missing iPad?
Fortunately, I’ve used passcode locks for my devices for several years now so if I never find it I think the data will be safe.

Steven Santoso

i’ve just lost my iphone5 3 days ago already.

im just wondering as i enabled the “lost mode” (the orange with lock pic was set)

does it mean my iphone5 is on lost mode and receiving the message i gave?
(play sound and lost mode was enabled at a day after it was lost)

and, can thief undo/abort/deactive the lost mode??

up until now im still waiting on the icloud hopefully i can find any clue about it.

thank you,

Shawn Neufeld

Or…you could just pull out the SIM card and bypass all this, pop in a new SIM card and u have a new phone! Until ios7 anyways.

Shawn Neufeld

You can bypass passlock, and findmyiphone if u put the phone in dfu mode, remove the sim and plug into a different computer and restore to a brand new phone in iTunes.

Steven Syme

A friend has ‘borrowed’ my iPad and isn’t really planning on handing it back, they know, as I do, the passcode to unlock the device.

I’m wanting to try locking them out of it soon if i dont get it back, but can I send a different, all new passcode to the device to unlock it rather than the one thats currently set? (...which they’d just enter and carry on otherwise)

Marianne Naz

Hello. My sister’s iphone is put on lost mode.,.. What happens when the thief connect it to a computer? Will they be able to reset it through itunes? I hope not. I feel sorry for my sister she loved that phone.

Becki Chandler

i have had my sons iPad stolen i have put it in lost mode but its saying iPad is offline. What if the thief knows the passcode?? Can i still track it and locate it??

Bart Gomerovich

You can find your Iphone using IMEI on this website or

Geety A

Hi, Melissa

I recently lost my iPad, and yes, it’s on Lost Mode. If I found it, would it be locked until I disable Lost Mode from Find My iPhone?

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