Ask LH: Will Find My iPad Work After The Fact?

Hi Lifehacker, I have a question. My sister bought my mother an iPad (so they can communicate cheaply) ,and it is registered in my sister's name. Mum's iPad has gone missing, and we are unsure if it has been lost (seems unlikely) or stolen. So I did some research into the Find My iPad app and feature on the Apple site.

The way I read it, this can be added to any iOS device and then retrospectively added to the missing iPad in order to find the lost item. My sister read the same thing and and disagrees, saying that this only works if the missing iPad already had a "Find My iPad" app loaded onto it. Who is correct? And why do the instructions for setting it up seem so difficult to follow? Any advice appreciated.

Thanks Can't Find Mum's iPad

Dear CFMI,

Your sister isn't quite right, but she's closer to the truth: the option to use the 'Find My iPad' service (or the equivalent 'Find My iPhone') will only work if you have enabled it under the iCloud settings on that iPad. You can't set it up remotely after the fact.

What makes this all slightly confusing is that you can install the 'Find My iPhone' app on another device, and use it to help locate a different missing iPhone or iPad. However, that will only work if the device you're looking for has the service switched on in the first place. The app is just one way of accessing the service; you can also use it online via a browser.

The lesson here is that enabling the 'Find' option it should be one of the first things you do after acquiring a new iPad. Not good news for you, obviously, but worth reminding everyone else of. And it's not a difficult thing to do under iOS 5. To enable it, go to Settings, choose iCloud, and make sure 'Find My iPad' is switched on. There's more detail on the Apple site, but that's all that's essentially involved.

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    The best thing you can do in this situation is report the serial number to the police as lost or stolen. If you don't have a record of the serial number then you should be able to access it from the associated support profile (see here http://support.apple.com/kb/ht2526).

    Apple generally isn't interested in hearing about a lost iDevice from customers but it is possible that the police will recover or receive it and then do a check against reported serial numbers.

    What I love about having an Android device is remote app installation. I have Prey on both my phone and tablet but if I forget to install it and my stuff gets stolen, I can go to the marketplace on my PC, install a program like "Plan B" and within minutes I have reports being sent to my Gmail of where my device is.

    Of course this doesn't help CFMI, but it's a compelling argument to go and get an Android device.

      Or have something like wheres my droid preinstalled.

    note to self: turn "find my ipad" off when I steal this thing next time.

      Good point about switching off find my iPhone. People should know that it is possible to password protect the removal and switch off of the find my iPhone app. Go to restrictions in settings. Find friends app is another option.

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