How to Prevent Thieves From Disabling 'Find My iPhone'

Learn how to keep your iPhone-finding hopes alive a little longer

Illustration of a man locating something on a large phone

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The Find My iPhone app is a great tool for locating a lost or stolen iPhone, but what good will it do you if a thief just turns the feature off? If your iPhone can't relay its GPS location, you might never be able to recover it.

While there isn't a foolproof way of ensuring that savvy thieves won't be able to turn off the Find My iPhone app, your goal isn't to make it impossible but just really difficult. Hopefully, that will provide you with more time to track down your iPhone.

Please don't try to recover your stolen iPhone without the assistance of law enforcement. It's a bad idea and it could potentially be very dangerous.

How to Protect 'Find My iPhone'

To stop someone from turning off Find My iPhone, you can set up a restriction on your phone so that a unique passcode has to be used to disable the location services used by the app.

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Go to Screen Time and then Content & Privacy Restrictions.

    Don't see any settings in Screen Time? Just tap Turn On Screen Time to enable the feature.

  3. Open Location Services.

    Find My iPhone service on an iPhone

    If restrictions aren't yet enabled, tap the toggle button at the top of the Content & Privacy Restrictions page to enable it.

  4. Scroll to the very bottom of the page and tap System Services.

  5. Make sure Find My iPhone is turned on (the button should be green). If it isn't, toggle it to the on position by tapping the button to the right.

  6. Locate Status Bar Icon at the bottom of the System Services page, and make sure it's disabled. In other words, if the button is green, tap it to make it white so that it's disabled.

    What this does is basically puts your phone into a stealth mode so that the person with your phone won't know that the phone's location is being tracked.

  7. Tap Back at the top of the page to return to the Location Services page. Scroll to the very top of the page and tap Don't Allow Changes.

    Immediately, the options on that page will be greyed out.

    iPhone Screen Time password settings
  8. Tap Back a couple times to return to the Screen Time page, and then tap Use Screen Time Passcode.

    If your phone is already using a Screen Time password, you can, of course, skip the rest of these steps.

  9. Enter a passcode you'll use just for Screen Time settings. This is what the thief will have to know in order to disable Find My iPhone.

  10. Now, when you exit the Screen Time settings and then try to repeat Step 2 above, you'll be required to enter the Screen Time passcode. This is what the attacker will need in order to change any location settings.

To make your phone even harder for a thief to compromise, consider making a stronger iPhone passcode instead of the default 4-digit number.

The more time a thief has with your phone, the more likely they are to circumvent your security. The above measures will at least put up a few roadblocks for them, giving you some additional time to track down your iPhone.