Stolen or lost: How to find your laptop again

Not only smartphones and tablets are stolen. Laptops and Macbooks also illegally change owners or get lost. If you want to be active instead of desperate, you can use a few tricks to find the location of your device. With the following four tips, you can do a detective search.

If the laptop has disappeared or been stolen, you should first report the loss or theft as soon as possible. Here it is important to enter the device number of the laptop. This is registered with the police and can, therefore, be compared.

If your Macbook has been stolen, call Apple Support, and report the device as stolen. The device number must also be specified here. If the thief wants to register with an Apple service with the device, you will be notified.

If the thief tries to sell the device to a dealer or through a platform that performs a device number check, you are registered as the rightful owner. So keep the original packaging and invoice of the device even after the warranty has expired,

The likelihood of getting a stolen device is generally rather unlikely. For laptops that are connected to the Internet, there are some ways to determine the location, even without previously installed anti-theft programs, such as find my laptop tracking software.

Methods to Find lost or stolen laptop:

#1 FIND MY MAC WITH CLOUD

Whether iPhone or Mac mini, by registering your Apple device with iCloud, you can find your device again. However, this only works if you have activated the “Find My iPhone / iPad / Mac” function before the loss. You can locate the missing device using Apple’s cloud service and logging in with your Apple ID.

FIND MY stolen mac location using mac location tracker

Not only can data be saved via the cloud, but there is also a tracking service from Apple. 

#2 IP ADDRESS: HOW TO FIND THE LOCATION OF THE MISSING DEVICE

Some services automatically register and save the IP address as soon as the user goes online, such as the cloud service Dropbox. Provided you use one of the services listed and have connected your device to it.

If you have not password-protected your account and a curious finder or thief is spying on your Facebook profile, you can also see here from which IP address was penetrated. You can easily track the laptop location using an IP address.

The same applies to a mail account with Google (Gmail). On the one hand, it is not wise to leave your account on the laptop unprotected and save passwords in the browser, on the other hand, the thief and thus the device can be found.

#3 FACEBOOK

If the thief searches your browser for accounts and passwords, every login to Facebook is registered and saved. This is particularly noticeable when someone logs in at a different location or even from another country. Under “Settings” -> “Security” you can see under “From where you log in” with which device or browser and in which place and country you logged in.

The popular social network also provides the latest records of access to a user account, which can be very useful to know if someone else has entered or hacked your Facebook account.

To access this function you must log in to your account from another device, click on the Options icon, and once they’re on the security tab. The first option “Login Alerts”  notifies the user when a person logs into your account from a new device or browser, sending messages through Facebook, via email or by SMS.

In the “Where have you logged in” section is to control from where a user account has been recently opened. This tab shows the latest locations from where the account has been accessed, both through the web version and the apps for Android and iOS or even through Facebook Messenger.

In addition to viewing the device, it is possible to see the more or less approximate location from which the access was made and the IP address, which is always useful to find a stolen or lost laptop.

In the event of suspicious activity, the best thing to do to protect your security is to click on “End all activities”, which will force you to enter the username and password the next time you log in from any location.

The best solution to prevent other people from accessing your Facebook account without permission is to activate the “Login Approvals” feature. In this way, every time you try to access your account from a browser or a phone that you have not used before, it will be necessary to enter a security code.

track laptop using facebook

If you move the cursor over “Location”, Facebook will display the device’s IP address.

#4 GMAIL

Google’s email account also registers every login and even reports logins from new devices via email. Log in to your account and scroll down. Click “Details” in the bottom right corner.

If a thief has the guts to turn on a stolen laptop it seems quite likely that he will try to open the email to snoop through his victim’s conversations looking for sensitive information like bank details or passwords to different services.

Gmail can provide some clues to the offender’s location to help the Police find and recover your stolen laptop . To do this you must open your email account in Gmail on any other device and go to the lower right corner, where you can see at a glance the latest account activity.

Clicking on “Detailed information” will display a box with all the accesses to your Gmail account, their IP addresses, the associated locations, the exact time and date.

Although IP locations are sometimes not very accurate, you can use a free reverse IP lookup service to try to verify the zone from which your Gmail account was last accessed.

To avoid unpleasant surprises, such as an unwanted person entering your emails, you can click on “close all open sessions on the web” to ensure that the next time you enter from another location it is necessary to enter the username and password.

If you see an IP address that you do not know, it is recommended to change the password to protect yourself from unauthorized access. To receive detailed information about unauthorized logins with your stolen laptop, a warrant is required, so you will need to contact the police.

find location of stolen laptop using gmail

If you notice any strange activity in your account, make a note of the IP address or take a screenshot and only then change your password.

If you do not have the email from your Gmail account synchronized or you do not use services such as Facebook or Dropbox often, you still have a good option to find your lost or stolen laptop using Google Account Gmail.

For this you must visit the Google security panel at this link, entering your email and password.

Within the Login and security section, you can review all the devices that have accessed your account.

In “last security events” you will receive notifications about access to your account from unknown locations or devices, registering the type of device, the exact time, and the IP address of the login, which could be useful in case of theft.

The tab “recently used devices” shows you the information of the latest accesses, leaving you the option to withdraw automatic access to your account, a good option for old phones that you have stopped using and that may one day fall into the wrong hands.

#5 DROPBOX

Another good solution to find your laptop if you have lost it or it has been stolen may be Dropbox, since many users leave this service synchronized. Thus, activity is recorded every time the device connects to the Internet, without the thief having to do anything.

To detect the IP address used by a stranger to access your Dropbox account, you must log in to another device, click on “Settings” and once there enter the “Security” tab.

This section shows the last browsers that have been logged in and the devices or applications linked to Dropbox.

Log in to your account and go to “Settings” -> “Security”. Past and current sessions are indicated with browser, location, date, time, and IP address. Under “Devices” you can see your connected device. If you touch “i” like information with the mouse, the exact location will appear under “Country” and the IP address under “Latest Activity”.

search dropbox login location

The IP address of the user is saved in the Dropbox settings as soon as he is online with the device.

In any case, private or other sensitive data and documents should be downloaded from the Dropbox or Gmail account and then deleted from the service. Check your account again and again and check whether Dropbox connected to the missing laptop. Don’t give up too quickly here, it’s worth being persistent and patient.

#6 WITH THE IP ADDRESS TO THE POLICE

With the IP address and your ad, you go to the police. A request from the provider of the IP address can lead to the exact location of the device. However, this takes a while and assumes that the new user was not smart enough to hide his IP address using VPN, proxy, or other services.

Find Stolen/Lost laptop location

detect laptop location

Prevent rather than cure. The recipe is also useful at this point, we highly recommend making an effort to protect the security of the laptop to avoid greater evils once lost or stolen.

As we mentioned at the beginning, it is always advisable to activate the access codes to be able to use the laptop’s operating system. In addition to being useful in the event of theft or loss, it is a guarantee for all kinds of people – including acquaintances and friends – who may feel the call to snoop on someone else’s computer.

In addition, a good idea is to activate location services similar to those that have recently been extended on mobile devices, with Google’s “Android Device Manager” or Apple’s “Find My iPhone” as the best examples.

The offer has recently multiplied for laptops, with services that promise to find a lost or stolen laptop – as long as the computer can connect to the Internet – in addition to being able to play alarms or send messages.

One of those options is Prey, which in addition to what is described above is capable of locking the computer or taking a photograph with the laptop’s webcam. The application is available for Windows 10, Mac, Android, and Linux, being free -with limited options- for the first three devices.

Finding a lost or stolen laptop is not usually easy and often dangerous, so the best advice is to go to the police authorities to file a complaint.