How to Prevent Thieves From Disabling 'Find My iPhone'

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

Animated man with magnifying glass locating something on a large phone

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The Find My iPhone app is an excellent tool for locating a lost or stolen iPhone, but thieves can undermine it by turning it off. If your iPhone can't relay its GPS location, you might never be able to recover it.

While no foolproof method exists to ensure that thieves won't be able to turn off the Find My iPhone app, you can make it more difficult. Activating another option in your device's settings can give you more time to track down your iPhone.

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

How to Protect 'Find My iPhone'

To stop someone from turning off Find My iPhone, set up a restriction on your phone. This extra layer of security requires a unique password to disable the location services that the app uses.

  1. Open the Settings app.

    Settings app in iOS
  2. Go to Screen Time and then Content & Privacy Restrictions.

    Tap Turn On Screen Time to enable the feature if you don't see any settings.

    How to prevent turning off Find My iPhone
  3. Check that the switch next to Content & Privacy Restrictions is set to on/green, and then tap Location Services.

    How to prevent turning off Find My iPhone
  4. Tap System Services at the bottom of the screen.

    How to prevent turning off Find My iPhone
  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.

    How to prevent turning off Find My iPhone
  6. Locate Status Bar Icon at the bottom of the System Services page, and make sure the switch is off/white.

    Switching off this option removes the icon at the top of the screen that shows that an app or service is using your location. Someone who steals your iPhone won't know that it's sending its whereabouts when you locate it.

    How to prevent turning off Find My iPhone
  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.

    How to prevent turning off Find My iPhone
  8. Return to the Screen Time page, and then tap Use Screen Time Passcode. Enter a passcode you'll use for Screen Time settings.

    How to prevent turning off Find My iPhone
  9. After you've set a passcode, nobody can access the Content & Privacy Restrictions menu without it.

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.