Apple offers iPhone users one built-in way to track their devices via iCloud. But sometimes the Cloud isn’t a viable option, and that’s when other tracking methods come in handy. For these occasions, you should know how to track an iPhone without iCloud.

What iCloud Does For Your Phone


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iCloud provides many useful services:

  • You can use it for remote storage of music, photos, and other items from your devices.
  • It serves as a backup source for your phone’s data. That way, if your phone gets damaged or you lose it, you can download from the Cloud to a new phone all your important stored information, such as photos, calendars, and contact data.
  • You can also use iCloud to connect your various devices so that you can work on a single project across all of them.

Find My iPhone

woman thinking


One of the most useful iCloud tools is called Find My iPhone. Once enabled on your phone, this built-in service provides a way to track your phone’s location via a map. If you’ve left your phone somewhere unsafe, you can use the Find My iPhone tool to lock the phone and even erase it, making it useless to a potential thief. Or you can post a message on the phone to anyone who finds it about how to return it.

When iCloud Might Not Work

locked icloud

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Sometimes, however, you might have trouble with iCloud. One of the most common problems people have with iCloud is sign-in difficulty, such as when you forget your login or password. Or maybe you’re signed in to different iCloud accounts on numerous devices, which can also challenge your ability to use iCloud. Apple provides suggestions for dealing with a host of login problems including the following:

  • Authentication failure
  • Unsupported Apple ID error
  • Lack of administrator privileges
  • Unverified email
  • Incorrect username or password

In addition to having login difficulties, you may experience any of four other common types of iCloud problems:

  • One problem with iCloud is an unexpected outage or temporary service-related shutdown. You can find out if this is the problem you are experiencing by visiting the Apple System Status Page.
  • Some people experience difficulty with iCloud when they haven’t installed the latest version of iOS.
  • If you have exceeded your storage limit, you will also have trouble using iCloud.
  • Finally, iCloud is not available in every country or region. So, if you are traveling, you might find yourself suddenly unable to access the Cloud.

With this range of possible problems, you’re likely to experience iCloud trouble from time to time. But what if your iCloud troubles coincide with misplacing your phone?

Fortunately, there are numerous other phone tracking options. We will explore six ways how to track an iPhone without iCloud.

Call Your Phone

man holding his phone


Okay, this one is obvious. Lose your phone? Use another phone to call it. Maybe someone who has found your phone will answer and help you out or, if your phone is close by, you will hear it ringing.

What if you don’t have another phone to use to call your lost one? Download Viber to your computer or use Google Voice to phone from your tablet or Mac.

Use Google Timeline

Google Timeline maps the locations your phone has visited, such as wherever you lost it. You first have to enable the service on your phone. Then, when you track your phone on another device, log into the same Google account.

To set up Google Timeline, choose Settings on your phone. Then select Privacy. Tap Location Services. Select Google Maps and enable Always.  

Now click the Google Maps app on your phone. Select Menu and choose the settings gear icon. Select Personal Content under Account Settings and scroll to Location Settings. Turn Location Services on.

Google will begin to track where your phone goes. And that means you can see when logged into your account on another device where your missing phone has been. To view your history, click the Google Maps app, select Menu, and choose Timeline.

Use Apple Watch

Apple Watch will provide you with the same kind of iPhone tracking as Google Maps. Swipe up on your watch to bring up the menu screen. Find the iPhone icon at the bottom. If you tap it, your phone will ping to alert you of its whereabouts.

For this to work, you must first make sure to enable Bluetooth on both your devices and to pair your watch and phone.

Use A GPS Tracking App

You can choose from a healthy list of GPS tracking apps available for iPhone in the App Store. All of these apps use the Global Positioning System, which relies on satellite communication. The way it works is your device emits a signal to the satellites, which determine its originating location. Read more about GPS here.

The trick with many of these GPS apps is to make sure that your friends and/or family members have the apps installed as well and that you connect with them in the same group. That way, when your phone goes missing, all you have to do is ask one of them to look up your phone’s location on their app.

Here are some current GPS tracking app options. You can find these in the Apple App Store.

  • Family Tracking: This one works on both iOS and Android, which is good if your family or network use different platforms. The developers also claim it is extremely energy efficient and won’t drain your battery.
  • FollowMee: You can use this app for free to track the three-day history of everyone in your network, and you can access the tracking map via your computer.
  • Geozilla: The developers claim their tracking app has the lowest battery consumption. The app also provides an instant messaging service to use with people in your chosen network.
  • Glympse: This app, which offers the oomph needed for business users, may include more than you need. But you might enjoy the feature of sharing your location and estimated arrival time even with friends or family who don’t have the app.
  • GPSWox: Choose from five pricing tiers ranging from free to “White Label.” The free version does not store history but only tracks your device’s location live. It’s brandable if you want to use it to track employees.
  • Life 360: This one is free and easy. Use the app to save favorite locations that it will then identify by name when you or someone in your network goes there. You can also “check in” with the people in your network.
  • Phone Tracker: Although free, this app limits your connections to two users. For $0.99, you can connect up to ten people.
  • Safe 24: Although this app supports eleven languages, which is a nice feature, the developers say it may drain your battery even if the app is not open.

Assess each option for the price, support, and ease of use. It’s a good idea to make sure that you can log in online to the service to track your device if it goes missing.

Join Tile

Tile is a tracking device that you attach to your phone (or other items). If you misplace your phone, you push a button that you have installed somewhere else, and your tracking device will make a sound to help you locate it. If you are not close enough to hear it, you can turn to the Tile community of users to help you find your device. Tile refers to their users as “the world’s largest search party.”

Join Prey

Prey is a security system that can help you locate any connected device. All you do is install the app on any phone or tablet you want to track. Then, if one device goes missing, you go online to see where it is. As with Find My Phone, you can use Prey remotely to lock your phone, retrieve your data or erase it, and ring an alarm.

You choose a plan with Prey. A free basic plan gives you control over three devices in what they call a “control zone,” or a defined area where you regularly use the device. Upgrading to $5 per month gives you three control zones for your devices.

Final Thoughts

You now know how to track your iPhone without iCloud. Whether you decide to opt for Google Timeline or your Apple Watch, to download one of many available GPS tracking apps from the App Store, or to sign up for a security tool or services like Tile or Prey, you’ve got backup.

Remember, however, that the easiest way to track your phone is still through the iCloud-based Find My Phone app that comes pre-installed on your iPhone. You want to enable this service first. Then explore the other options we’ve covered here for the one you want to be your auxiliary system.

With two methods in place, you can move through the world relatively carefree, at least regarding that electronic device that you carry in your pocket or purse wherever you go.

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