Track the location of Windows PCs, laptops and mobiles

Find lost or stolen Windows devices using location tracking

If you are running Windows 10 you can track the location of all your computers, tablets and mobile phones. You can find devices that are lost or stolen, or just monitor them for your own information.

Mobile phones are easily lost and they are sometimes left on buses, in taxis, in cafes, restaurants, hotels and so on. Sometimes we lose our laptop computer too, and it can be forgotten about when we get off public transport.

Wouldn't you like to know where you left your phone, tablet or laptop? You could then go and get it, and this could prevent a lot of hassle. You might even have work or personal files on the device that are irreplaceable or valuable, and finding it could save you from having to recreate the work or files. It could also prevent them from falling into the hands of a thief or hacker too, should they come across your lost device.

Talking of thieves and hackers, desktop PCs are not often stolen, but laptops, tablets and especially mobile phones, which can quickly be slipped into a pocket, are easily taken. You should take extra care when you are out travelling with mobile devices because thieves will target them.

If the worst happens and a Windows computer or device is accidentally lost or is stolen, if it is switched on and it gets an internet connection, it can report its location. There is a good chance that it will be turned on because it is one way to identify the owner of a lost computer or device. Thieves may try to use the device themselves or pass it on to someone else to use.

You can view the location and if it is lost, you could go and get it from wherever it is right now, such as a lost property office at a bus station, hotel or wherever. If it has been stolen, you could inform the authorities and pass on the location to them. They could then take steps to apprehend the thief and recover your stolen property.

Location tracking in Windows 10 is not automatically enabled and it must be turned it on. Press Windows+I to open the Settings window and click Update & security.

 

Select Find My Device on the left and on the right it shows whether this feature is turned on or off. In this case it is turned off.

 Windows 10 Find My Device

Click the Change button and an On/Off switch is displayed that enables the service to be turned on. The device's location is now being tracked.

 Windows 10 Find My Device

So who or what is tracking the location? The location of a device is stored in your Microsoft account when there is internet access. To see the location of all your devices, go to account.microsoft.com/devices in a web browser.

If you are not logged in, you will need to enter your username and password, the same one used for OneDrive, Outlook.com, Xbox and so on.

 Windows 10 Find My Device

You might have several Windows devices and each one reports its location or says that location tracking is off for that device. (I am running Windows 10 on an Apple Mac, which is why the computer name says Apple Inc, MacBookPro9,2, which is unusual, but many Macs are used to run Windows.)

Click the link, Find my device, next to the device you want to track. A map is displayed that shows the location of the computer or device.

 Windows 10 Find My Device

The usual map types are available, such as the standard, satellite and others. The view in the screenshot is called Bird's eye and there is a menu to select the view you want. There are also controls to zoom in and you can go right down to street level to see exactly where your computer or device is located.

Not everyone will want to track their computers and devices, so this is an optional feature with a simple switch to enable or disable it. It is up to you whether you use it.


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