Use iPhone Lost Mode to Remotely Lock a Missing Device

Nov 19, 2013 - 11 Comments

iPhone in Lost Mode Lost Mode is an outstanding feature of Find My iPhone that allows you to remotely lock an iPhone with a passcode and an on-screen message, rendering the device unusable while in “Lost Mode” until the passcode is entered correctly. Making this feature even better is the ability to choose a contact phone number for the locked device, and calling that number becomes the only actionable item on the lock screen of the iPhone while in Lost Mode. Theoretically, this could mean the difference of having your iPhone returned to you or not, and it’s all very easy to use.

To use Lost Mode – or have the possibility of using it should you need to in the future – you must have a valid Apple ID with iCloud configured, and Find My iPhone turned on in Settings on the iPhone. Devices running iOS 6 and iOS 7 have full support for Lost Mode with remote locking, messages, the number call back, remote wipe, and mapping, while iOS 5 is limited to just locking. Assuming you meet those relatively basic requirements, here is how to use the Lost Mode feature to remotely lock down an iPhone with a screen message, call back phone number, and a passcode.

Enable Lost Mode to Remote Lock an iPhone with a Message & Call Back Number

Ready to put a missing iPhone into Lost Mode? Here’s what to do, or how to test it out yourself with your device:

  1. Open a web browser and visit, log in using your Apple ID
  2. Choose “Find My iPhone” from the icon list when logged in to
  3. Access Find My iPhone on iCloud

  4. Select “My Devices” from the top menu and choose the device to place into Lost Mode, or select the device on the map shown onscreen
  5. Select missing iPhone from My Devices list

  6. Choose “Lost Mode” from the three button options
  7. Put the iPhone into Lost Mode

  8. Enter a phone number you are able to be contacted at – this will become the only option available on the iPhone lock screen (other than unlocking it with a passcode)
  9. Enter a call back number for Lost Mode

  10. Choose “Next” and enter a message to appear on the lock screen of the iPhone in Lost Mode
  11. lost-mode-message-iphone

  12. Now choose “Done” to activate Lost Mode, remotely locking the device with the aforementioned message and contact phone number

The iPhone will now be placed into “Lost Mode”, with the message entered in the last step shown on the lock screen. The phone is now unusable except for two options: someone can tap “Call” to dial the number entered in the previous step, or someone can swipe to the passcode screen and enter the passcode of the device if they know it (like you, assuming you’ve found the device that was lost). Here is what a Lost Mode iPhone will look like if someone turns on the screen:

Lost Mode iPhone lock screen

The device remains locked until the proper passcode has been entered. The passcode required will be the same that was setup by you during the initial lock screen passcode setup process.

iCloud and Find My iPhone will also send you email updates if the device has been placed into Lost Mode with the time and date of when it was first enabled, and you will also receive updates if the device has been successfully unlocked with the passcode:

Lost Mode iPhone enabled email

You can continue to monitor the iPhones physical location on the mapping feature through Find My iPhone with, it will be visible so long as the device is turned on and within GPS or cellular range. If you lost the device and you notice on the map that it is in a place where you recognize, you can use another feature to make the iPhone play a loud ‘pinging’ beep sound from the speaker, helping to find a device that has gone missing from something like being wedged in a couch cushion or dropped behind someones desk. Note that even if the device goes out of a coverage area or the battery dies and is then recharged or rebooted, the iPhone will stay in “Lost Mode” until the proper passcode has been entered.

A final safety precaution exists if you believe the iPhone (or other iOS device) will not be recoverable, either due to theft or due to being lost in a unique situation: remote wipe. Using remote wipe allows you to remotely delete everything off the iPhone (iPad/iPod), which basically destroys all personal data and apps from the device, preventing unauthorized access to your personal stuff, emails, notes, photos, etc. Remote wipe is extremely handy if needed, but because it clears off everything it is really best reserved for extreme situations, like a device theft.

This is really an excellent way to protect and help track down a missing iPhone, and it makes for a worthwhile anti-theft tool as well. Though primarily useful for the iPhone, it works almost identically for the iPad and iPod touch as well, though the latter two devices will be without the “Call” feature since they do not have a cellular phone ability. Nonetheless, they retain the ability to remotely lock the device and track it on a map if the device is near wi-fi, and also have the ability to remotely destroy their data if deemed necessary.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Pranav says:

    What if the thief knows the password. Can we change the password from iCloud?

  2. Martin says:

    if I lost my IP and its battery is dead then how can be displayed the lost message for the finder because the phone without unlocking the passcode cannot access the internet.

    • DHT says:

      The iPhone must have some battery charge, any electronic device without battery isn’t going to work to access the internet or do anything else.

      • Martin says:

        yes, I mean if the finder charge it and turn it on then the passcode will be required. Since he doesnt know the password how will he possibly receive lost message without internet? Or can the phone access the internet even without unlocking the passcode?

  3. Dena says:

    If your phone was stolen and they do not know the password, is there any possible way for them to unlock the phone?

  4. cathy says:

    hey,what if you the battery dies while the “lost mode” and “play sound” is on;will they be able to reset and sell?

    p.s. i know the address it was last located

  5. knowledge says:

    guys understand this, even if you physically remove the battery and out it back or put another one it doesnt make any difference, it will remain locked. the only message it displays is the one u would have put remotely.

  6. Cris says:

    i put a lock on it and put it in lost mode(from icloud) then wiped it. does the wipe take the lock and lost mode off?

  7. Jo says:

    This is a good idea, however if the “thief” knows the password, then the whole thing is useless. This would be better if you could set a passcode.

  8. Ben says:

    Someone stole my contract phone and put it on lost mode then i erased it from find my i phone app…. I got a new phone with my new contract sim but everything came back execpt my pictures, can anyone see my pictures on my stolen my or have the gone altogether? Thanks

  9. Charles says:

    You can reset a lost pin using an EMM, to address the previous comment. :)

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