How to Remotely Control your Lost Android Phone using Android Device Manager

by Chetan Bhawani 20

Android Device Manager My Device

You cannot be the safest anywhere, and cannot keep your phone safe as well. There are times when your phone is stolen, there are times when the device is lost or you left is somewhere and the person who finds it, is not generous to return it back to you. It depends on your luck, but still for many, the phone is not very important. What they need is the content and personal data not to be checked by others.

Google, just like Apple, has its own way to keep a track of the phone and its whereabouts if at all an Android phone is lost. It is called as Android Device Manager, and it has to be activated on your account and the device, to be used to track and control the data on your lost phone.

First things first – What does the Android Device Manager do?

1. Remote Location Tracking: While the Internet connectivity either through Wi-Fi or data network is active on the device, the Android Device Manager will be able to remotely track the location of it. The accuracy is limited though, based on the network and GPS locking. The manager also shows when the device was last online.

2. Ring the Phone: This is not helpful only for the lost phones, but also for those who are sure the device is in the house itself, but are not finding it. Slipped in the couch, may be? From the Android Device Manager, the user can ring the device and the tone would play continuously for five minutes, unless you find the phone and stop it, or stop the ring manually from the Device Manager.

Android Device Manager Ring

3. Remote Lock: Remote locking comes handy when the person who might have found or stolen your device, has a limited knowledge and is trying to find a way to reset it and erase your information. By remote locking, you are presented with a new lock screen, and your current lock screen is replaced with a password lock. You can also set a Recovery message so that the person got got your phone, might find it alarming enough and return the device back to you.

4. Remote Data Erasing: This performs a factory data reset on your device. The data that gets deleted, includes apps, photos, music, and settings. So, while doing this, you might have to think about it twice because once the data is erased, the Android Device Manager will no longer work.

And, if the content was there on your SD card and not in the phone, that won’t be wiped off as the Device Manager is capable of erasing only the internal storage data.

Note: For all this to happen, the phone has to be connected to the Internet and have the device connected to your Google account.

Recently, the editor of one of the large Tech publications had lost her smartphone, and it was the Apple iPhone, where Find my iPhone feature works in a very similar way, and while trying to locate the device, she also started ringing the phone to check if someone around has it and is trying to hide it. She found it, eventually. The Android Device Manager works in the same way.

The only problem with Android Device Manager, is that it doesn’t collect the location history of the phone, and only the latest location is shown. The location data is deleted when you sign out of the device manager.

How to setup Android Device Manager?

Android Device Manager Options

Using the Google account that you used in the Google Play on your Android device, login to Device Manager’s website here.

Select “Setup Lock & Erase”.
Then you need to select “Send”, so that the manager sends a notification to the smartphones that are linked to your Google account. This will notify and ask you to turn the Device Manager “On”.

If you have multiple devices, you can set a name for each device by selecting the phone and then clicking on Edit icon just beside to the name.

Can I use the Device Manager controls from my Android Phone?

Yes, there is an app available in the Play Store, which you can download in your Android phone to control any other device of yours. The options are almost the same, as you find on the web.

If it is a friend’s device you are trying to locate and control, select the option “Guest” and have your friend sign in to their Google account, the one which they have used in the lost phone. The next steps are all the same as explained above.
If you don’t sign out from the friend’s account manually, it gets logged out automatically after five minutes of inactivity.

Android Device Manager Location

My lost Android phone’s Internet was turned off. Can I still control it?

No, sadly the Android Device Manager works only if the device’s internet is turned on. If it is off, there is no way you can control it and erase the data, because an active Internet connection is required.

I had hidden my Android phone in Google Play. How can I control it?

You will first have to go to Play Settings, and then change the visibility of the phone. Select the lost phone and beside to the name, tick “Show in menus” so that it can start showing in the Device Manager section. If it is hidden here, you cannot view it in the device manager.

Android Device Manager List of Devices

Of course there are some better apps which need only an SMS to be sent, for some remote controls, but if you have the Internet turned on before you lost the Android device, using this is beneficial in several functions, including ringing the phone if you are sure it is still around and you just lost it a few minutes back.

And as Google states as a big disclaimer: If you believe your device has been stolen, contact law enforcement. Don’t attempt to retrieve the device yourself.

Chetan Bhawani

Chetan Bhawani is a dentist, a tech blogger and a passionate writer in the field of technology. He keeps himself connected to the web for the entire day, of course except when he's dozed off! Add +Chetan Bhawani on Google Plus for more!

  • Shanky Yadav

    well I am using it since past two years but honestly I was not able to do all things with it as I don’t know all the features but after this it changed my mind and also I was not able to do all things after reading this I have just tried and woo it’s working now I want know one more thing that really if we delete our all data remotely help to find out our smartphone faster?? let’s see

  • Shashank Chourey

    Android Device Manager, I feel, is an incredibly useful App/service for tracking and finding your lost or stolen phone. But one thing I want to mention that, when you factory reset your phone everything is gone, and your phone is back to the same settings it had while it was brand new in the box. This means that the ADM app isn’t installed nor signed it, and you won’t be able to track it any longer. So beware. Also, with the new update, when you go to forcibly lock a phone you own, you can add both a message and a phone number for the person with the phone to call you with (from both the web and the app). When somebody turns on the screen of your phone, the lockscreen will display a bright green button that can be used to automatically dial the number you’ve entered. This will make it a lot easier for a good Samaritan to reach you and coordinate the return of your device.

  • Shashank Chourey

    Sharing this article on FB, Twitter and G+, so that all of my friends get the info.

  • DEFINITELY could have used this when my little sister left her phone at the playground! Just another excellent innovative security measure made by Google. Im proud to be an android owner as they are always looking to create incredible helpful tech! Thanks for the tips on how to use! Il definitely look into this and try to keep my device protected. And do you think there wil be an addition of location history collection??? That would be very important you can see the route your phone is taking and the next likely location!

  • im sure they will thank you for the info you gave them. This will provide quite the increase in safety if they dont already have a phone tracker!

  • Thanks for the tips! Factory resetting is usually a last resort for people. Its usually when they no they wont likely be able to get their phone back, accepted it, and want to keep their personal data private by getting rid of it before its seen. Its honestly not the best choice when you can just as easily do your second tip. Lock the phone from use and add a reachable l number and a thank you message for a good Samaritan and a threatening message for a thief! At the same time if someone knows how to use an android they can just factory reset it themselves!

    • Shanky Yadav

      but what we will do if the phone get hacked as in us most of the users know how to hack

  • it probably wont it really will just protect your information and identity while giving up the search for the phone. What will find your phone faster is a custom lock screen with a return message and a phone number, a police search, and location data, especially if its location history. This will shorten your search from all three corners!

    • Shanky Yadav

      thanks man I was not really know this thinks but let’s see it will or not

  • Suraj Racharla

    This is amazing initiative by google and another reason to buy an andoid phone. It is amazing how you can do this all remotely and it is the the service that will save your device before it gets in someones’ elses hand or the data reaches their hands. The this an incredibility useful service because many people have lost their phones and also the data with it. This service not only gives you the power to find where your device is but to also wipe of data of it before any get their hands on it. This is also another great service because when you lose your phone around the house you can ring to it and you will find out where it is. Google is doing great right now taking steps to make smartphones a safer thing and i would expect google to make Android the most secure Phone to use in 2015. Thanks Phone radar for informing us about this service and i honestly didn’t know about it.

  • Suraj Racharla

    im a sure they all will verythankful. This is an amazing article about the service google is offering and i garentee alot of people will be using it

  • Naresh Landam

    Google’s Android Device Manager helps you to remotely locate your device and wipe your phone’s data, if it is lost or stolen. It also provides protection to your lost phone by enabling remote locking.

  • Suraj Racharla

    Yes I know that is amazing. I think every company should take notes on this and take steps toward safety. Google had shown that they care about safety and released this simple to use safety service. I am noa expecting one from Samsung and the Cupertino giant APPLE

  • Suraj Racharla

    Wow you sure do know some things about it. Have you used it before and if yes does it work well?

  • Suraj Racharla

    Wow I dont know Google had this feature since the past a years and it is amazing to see people.finally use this feature. Phone radar has helped regonize this feature and taught me something new. Nice to see you use the feature now on your device!! Does it work well ?

  • Jugal Mudoi

    Despite its few limitations android device manager has been the greatest security service for android consumers and hopefully if some needed improvements are added in future then I can say that would be quite agreeable to the needs of consumers. By the way I didn’t know before read this article that there’s also an app of this… That’s awesome. Thanks for the great article. 🙂

  • Honestly nothing you can really do about a hacker phone security isnalwayd supposed to be finite and more measures are made to increase it like data encryption. They are your best bet but if hacker knows their way around everything, sorry man security only goes so far.

  • Your welcome I honestly overlooked these features too I never though I would need it because I never lose or damage my phone I’ll look into this

  • That us an amazing thing about technology, its so amazing how it can control your data through a mere wufi connection and access it to delete it. This is so powerful its scary!

  • Suraj Racharla

    Yes to the consumers this is very important. I also like how it is very easy to use it!! Very consumer friendly!! There next step is to make it widely avalablle and tell people about it. PHONE RADAR has done a good job but it would be nice to see if google will do the same!!