How To Track Your Lost Android Phone Without Installed Tracking App

There are a handful of phone recovery or anti-theft apps on the Google Play Store which can be a lifesaver in case you lose your phone or, even worse, it gets stolen. But many people might only realize that there are such apps AFTER it got lost or stolen. Then, it usually is too late and you have to face the ugly truth that the phone is gone for good.

How to track your Android phone or tablet after it got lost or stolen

But don’t burst out in tears just yet. There’s still hope for your phone to find its way back to you! There are a few ways to remote control and track your phone even if you haven’t installed a recovery app before it vanished.

Let’s have a look at the various ways to get your Android smartphone back to its rightful owner!


1. Track your lost Android device with Google’s Android Device Manager


  • Your device is connected with your Google account.
  • Your device has access to the internet.
  • Allowed Android Device Manager (ADM) to locate your device (turned on by default). This can changed in the Google Settings app.
  • Allowed ADM to lock your device and erase its data (turned off by default).

Android Device Manager is a Google’s official and easy-to-use tool to track your Android phone or tablet. The best thing about it is that you don’t need to install an app to be able to track your devices. The only requirement is that your device is connected to your Google account, turned on and connected to the internet. All you need to do is visit the Android Device Manager while being logged into your Google Account. Once the site is loaded it will automatically try to track down your phone. If you habe several Android devices registered, make sure the right one is chosen in the dropdown menu.

In a recent update, Google implemented some of ADM’s features into their search results page. This means that you’re able to quickly locate any registered Android device right from the search results. By using the search phrase “where is my phone”, Google displays a little map above the search results in which it will try to find your phone. Once found, you can let it ring by clicking on “Ring” at the bottom left.


Although this makes it more convenient to find your phone quickly, it won’t offer you all the options you get with the full version of Android Device Manager.

Using ADM, you are able to track your registered Android devices, let your phone ring and wipe your phone’s data (which has to be enabled manually). Besides that, ADM doesn’t offer more options to remote control your phone. I hope that Google keeps improving it and introduces more helpful features, such as  taking pictures in case it got stolen and you want to take a snapshot of the person who took it.

In case there’s no laptop around when you lose your device, you can also use someone else’s Android phone to track it. Instead of using the mobile browser, you can also use the Android Device Manager app. If you the other phone doesn’t have it, simply download it here. You can sign in using the guest mode and your Google account credentials. Now you should be able to track your lost device, let it ring or wipe its data.

Android Device Manager screenshot

Are you not able to locate your phone this way? This can happen for several reasons. The one you should hope for, is that your device is simply not connected to the internet or turned off. In that case, simply keep trying to track it until it (hopefully) connects to Google’s services again.

In case it got stolen, it’s possible that the thief has disconneced your device from your Google Account. If that happens, neither Android Device Manager nor any other tracking tool will be able to locate the device, since it’s necessary to be logged into your Google Account. This doesn’t apply to previously installed tracking apps but in this scenario there are none on the phone. However, there’s one last resort but more on that later.

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2. Remote control and track your smartphone with Android Lost

UPDATE: Due to Android API updates, Android Lost can’t be activated remotely on devices running Android 3.0 or higher.


  • Your device is connected with your Google account.
  • Your device has access to the internet.
  • You’re not running Android 3.0 or higher.

This is a more complicated way to track your phone. Basically, you need to install the tracking app ‘Android Lost’ on your phone and activate it by sending it an SMS (this can be done from any phone). How do you install something when you don’t have your phone with you? That’s very easy. You can install any app on all your registered devices directly from your browser through the Google Play website. Simply navigate to the Android Lost app and click the install button.

The remote installation process of Android Lost is very straightforward and only requires that your phone is still connected with your Google account. However, in case of theft, you have to hope that the thief doesn’t disconnect from your account.

So here’s what to do:

Step 1: Install Android Lost remotely

Install the Android Lost app remotely via Google Play in your browser and it will be installed on your phone remotely. As already mentioned, your phone still needs to be connected to your Google account. Otherwise, this won’t work.


Step 2: Activate Android Lost (not working on Android 3.0+)

If you are still in the possession of your smartphone or tablet then all you need to do is starting the app. But this is, obviously, probably not the case if you lost your phone. So, to register your device remotely, send an SMS with the text “androidlost register” to your phone. This SMS can be sent from any phone. This will trigger Android Lost to register itself using your Google account credentials.

If you own a tablet, SMS might not be an option. In that case, install “AndroidLost Jumpstart” before you install the actual Android Lost app. It will jump start the registration process when Android Lost is being installed.

Step 3: Log in to the Android Lost website

Visit the Android Lost website and sign in using your Google account. After doing that, you should have access to all remote control features such as the following:

  • Read the latest SMS on your phone
  • Force your phone to play a loud alarm with a flashing screen. Perfect if you misplaced your device.
  • Get the location of your device
  • Lock and unlock your phone
  • Wipe your entire phone so no private data falls into the wrong hands
  • Erase the SD card
  • Use the camera to make pictures (front or rear camera) to get a nice shot of the nice person who took your device.
  • …here’s the complete feature list

Note that it can take a while for the registration process to complete.

Android Lost is a great tool to get your phone back

I have to say that having the possibility to install and register this tool remotely makes it very powerful in case you lose your device. Unfortunately, The only negative thing I experienced is that the notification of a new app called ‘Android Lost’ could tell a potential thief about what’s going on. Unfortunately, activating Android Lost is only possible on Android Versions older than 3.0.

Here is a success story of a dad chasing down the man who stole his daughter’s phone with the help of Android Lost.


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