Lost Your Fitbit? Use Your iPhone to Track it Down

| How-To

You can use Find My iPhone to track down your misplaced iPhone, but what about Bluetooth devices that don't offer a similar feature, like your Fitbit? You can track that down, too, with the help of your iPhone and a little luck. Read on to learn how.

Tracking down lost Bluetooth devices with your iPhone

I started the day with my Fitbit One in its sleep band, and didn't realize until a couple hours later I was still wearing the wristband, but my tracker was nowhere to be found. Most of that time was spent at my desk, but I had also been pretty much everywhere else in my place, and I took out the trash. That's a lot of ground to cover looking for something as small as a Fitbit fitness tracker.

Finding something so small can be pretty intimidating, but with a little planning and logic, there's a chance of success. Yes, I found my Fitbit, but not at all where I expected. Without some planning ahead of time, I never would've tracked it down.

It's really all about reducing the variables to trim down your search area. I started with some trial and error to figure out where my Fitbit wasn't.

I started by seeing if I could sync my Fitbit. The device specifications say you need to be within 15 feet for the Bluetooth connection to kick in and transfer data. Sitting at my desk where I spend most of my time gave me a successful sync, so I had a pretty good idea where to start looking. Unfortunately, my desk is along an exterior wall, so I couldn't rule out the route through the yard to drop off the trash.

I could sync even at the end of the yard farthest from my desk, but not beyond that. Based on the documented Fitbit sync range, that meant mine was most likely in the grass. Searching my route didn't turn up anything, so I went back inside to see where else I could sync. I figured once I was out of range again, I'd be closer to narrowing down exactly where to look.

And then I found a problem: I could sync from everywhere indoors. That meant either my Fitbit was at my desk, or its sync range was actually greater than 15 feet. Since I was certain my Fitbit wasn't at my desk, I needed something that would give me more Signal strength information.

One of my Twitter followers suggested I try BTLExplorer for the iPhone. It's a free app intended for testing Bluetooth devices, but it had just what I needed: the ability to track actual signal strength. Thanks for the tip, @jackbrewster!

Tracking down my Fitbit. -72 dBm is close, but still not there.Tracking down my Fitbit. -72 dBm is close, but still not there.

I was able to quickly figure out that my Fitbit really wasn't outdoors because the signal strength was too weak even though I was able to sync, so back indoors I went. Once inside, I stood in the center and corners of each room and checked the signal strength.

The higher the value, the better the signal. Outdoors, I was seeing around -95 dBm and indoors the signal jumped up between -88 dBm and -69 dBm until I got much closer.

Thanks to the signal strength feature in BTExplorer, I eliminated half of my space -- and it's all about reducing by halves when looking for something you can't find: First, I ruled out the yard, so I only had half as much space to search. Next I ruled out half of my indoors space.

Next, came the really meticulous part: walking a grid in each room looking for the strongest signal points. I finally narrowed my search to two rooms, and a quick jaunt back outside to check signal strength showed my Fitbit had to be in my bedroom.

As you narrow down your search area, you increase your search time because you move slower and look closer at every detail. It took about half an hour to focus my search on one quarter of the room.

-50 dBm means I'm really close.-50 dBm means I'm really close.

Unfortunately, the Fitbit One doesn't have a speaker, but it does have a vibrating alarm function. I set an alarm so I could listen for the vibrating motor and after about ten more minutes found my Fitbit along the wall behind a box. Total time spent Fitbit hunting: about two hours.

My Bluetooth signal strength when I was about a foot away from my Fitbit jumped to about -50 dBM, and when I was only inches away it climbed up over -40 dBm.

Here's the TL;DR version:

  • You need to have an idea where to start your search, so retrace your steps.
  • Always search in a grid pattern. Looking randomly almost always leads to frustration.
  • Keep working to reduce your search area by half, then reduce that area by half.
  • Use tools to make your search easier. In my case, it was a Bluetooth signal strength app.
  • If you can remotely trigger a noise on the lost device, do.

Had this been another Bluetooth device, like a headset or stylus, I could've used the same technique to track it down, too.

My patience saved me the $100 of buying a new Fitbit, and the pain of finding it on the floor later. Too bad I wasn't able to track all the steps I took hunting it down.

[Some image elements courtesy Shutterstock]

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How long does it typically take to get a signal reading in any one spot? As someone who has lost a FitBit inside a shopping center, I don’t relish the idea of having to spend 1-2 minutes every 30 feet to find the thing.

Similarly I wonder how well it works when the BlueTooth device is out of range.


Jeff, tried the app and it doesn’t appear to work on my iPhone 5 iOS 7.1.2

Any tips ?


Yep, had that lost Fitbit problem myself.

I put my Fitbit Flex band back on in a hurry after charging the device on a train.  The following day the app wouldn’t connect to Fitbit whilst out of the house - checked the band - empty :-(. 
First thoughts - its somehow escaped out of the band.  Second thoughts on returning home - phone connects to the device, and the reach is MUCH more than 15 feet.  Hmmm, set the alarm for two minutes forward….
Two minutes later, device found, still in the charging dock, where I’d left it.

Not tried the signal strength meter - looks like a good solution

Guilherme Verri

I had this same problem before and had the idea to create an app to help other people find their lost Fitbit (I lost two already). You can check it at http://appstore.com/findmyfitbit

Other suggestion is to buy a third party colored band like BitBelt. The original clasp from Flex/Force is known to be problematic.

Carl-Magnus Cedercreutz

Thank you! Just found my lost One!
The BTLExplorer helped me ensure It was lost outside along a 20 min walkpath… It takes about 5 sec to establish connection. After finding it I checked that the tool found the One before I reached it - about 5 m / 15 ft before when openly exposed. I saw it about 20away and stopped looking at the screen…


Wow. It really worked. I spent four hours using another app to try and find my Fitbit One. Then I read the mac observer and found it in the attic in a bag I had just put up there. Unbelievable. Thanks a million for the tip to move until the gauge says -50. I was going in the wrong direction. Toward 100. Yippee.

Sarah Kremin Sorenson

Tip: You CAN log those steps (in approximation) you took while searching! Just open your dashboard and click near the bottom of your recent exercise area (“See More”). Then add an “exercise” at the bottom of the next page (“Log Activities”).

Shabiha Sharmin

In recent, iphone is not only used for entertain or communication. You can used it as a tracking device. For this you have to do just a little thing. Install ikeyMonitor on your iphone. It works better.

Jana Lee

Thanks, Jeff!  This app worked like a charm!  I did exactly as you described and found my Fitbit flex on the floor of my closet, buried under some towels that had fallen off the shelf.  I would NEVER have thought to look there!

Christine Laakso-Berger

This works!!
After searching for an hour, I went on line to get help and found this app. I found my fitbit in 5 minutes!! Thanks for the info.

Lori Finkbeiner Knight

I tried using this with my iPhone 4…does not pick up any signal? Is it for the same reason my fitbit won’t synch with my phone? because it’s not a new enough iPhone? I installed the app, bluetooth was enabled and there was nothing showing up on signal strength and I know for a fact I lost the Fitbit upstairs so I am within 10-20 feet of it for sure? HELP! :(

Rachel Nortz

THANK YOU!! My husband thought I was crazy holding my phone like a “old time well water finding stick”, he was sure my
Fitbit was not syncing and I left it somewhere at the mall. I downloaded the app you suggested, I walked slowly around my house and found it within minutes! totally awesome!!!!

Pradeep Nair

Thank you for directing me to the BT app, I knew my fitbit was around the house as it was syncing. The app took me to it in 5 mins.

Robyn Muskat Frank

THANK YOU!!!!!! My fitbit was lodged between a drawer. Hard to explain exactly but I found it thanks to your tip. U have a clip and it musthave popped out. My husband and I were searching for hours on and off. Once I downloaded the BTExplorer app it was only a matter of minutes:-)

Greg Leff

So freaking awesome! My Fitbit was in the bottom of a box that was just about to be recycled. The app directed me to a corner in my house and then into the garage.

Janis Ploughman Altomare

Out doing fall yard cleanup.  Came in for lunch and no fitbit.  Found you from a google search and used the BTL Explorer app.  15 minutes later found it under the leaves

Mindy Ward

Thanks for explaining how to use the App and posting pictures. I was searching unsuccessfully until I read your article and then found my Fitbit within 5 minutes. Great to have it back!

Kristen Hassell

Can’t thank you and @jackbrewster enough for the idea to use the BTL Explorer app!  Only took about 10 minutes of using the app with your guidance to figure out my Fitbit was actually IN MY KITCHEN GARBAGE CAN.  (Can’t even tell you.)  I’m certain I never would have found it there before the garbage went out to the curb.  You saved me.  Thank you!!!

Jeff Gamet

I love that so many people have been able to track down their lost Fitbits!

MaryLou Cunningham

Found mine within 10 min!!! smile  I’m a happy camper now.  Thanks for the tips and great app suggestion.

ML in MN

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