How many times have you lost your phone? No, not really lost it, but lost it in your home. You know you had it last night, but this morning when you get up, you cannot remember where you left it. Is it under the bed or the sofa? In the lounge or the kitchen? Has the dog picked it up, drooled all over it and dropped it in his basket? Android Device Manager can locate it for you.

This free app from Google is a useful tool and it has several functions that help when devices go missing. This could be due to theft or because you have simply mislaid it and forgotten where you put it.

The app is only useful if you have at least two Android devices or have a partner or kids that have Android devices. The app does not have to be installed on all your Android devices and it can locate a device that doesn’t have it. However, you don’t know which device will go missing, so it is best installed on all of them so you can quickly open the app on any of your other devices to locate the missing one.

The screen display is slightly different depending on the device it is being used on. However, the functions are all identical. Here is a Google Nexus 7 tablet running Android Device Manager.

Android Device Manager . Android Device Manager

The view on a smartphone with a high resolution screen is slightly different, but the features are the same. Here it is on a Samsung Galaxy S4.

Android Device Manager . Android Device Manager

You, or anyone with a Google account, signs in to Android Device Manager with their email and password. There is a menu that lists all of the devices that are linked to that account and you can select the one to show. Its location is then displayed on a Google map.

There are three functions – Ring, Lock and Erase. Ring will cause the selected device to play a ringtone at maximum volume for five minutes, or until you find it and press the power button to stop it.

Lock and Erase are useful if your Android phone or tablet has been lost or stolen while out. Lock enables you to set a password to lock the device and enter a message to display on the screen. This could be instructions for returning it if found, a reward or whatever you want to say. Erase can be used to prevent anyone from accessing any of the information stored on the device by destroying it. Google backs up account information, email, photos and so on online, so you won’t lose much, if anything important.

Set up remote services

Although you don’t need to install an app to use remote locating, locking, and erasing, you do need to enable it in Android on each device you use.

Go to the all-apps screen on the device and open Google Settings.  Turn on Remotely locate this device, and Allow remote lock and erase.

Google Settings

In addition to running Android Device Manager to locate, lock and erase devices, you can do it on the web using a computer too. Go to the Android Device Manager web page.