Using Android Device Manager

Whether it's under the couch or in the hands of the bad guy, Android Device Manager will help you find or erase your missing phone

Android Central University — Security

While we hope you'll never need to use it, Android has a great native tool to help locate and remote wipe a lost or stolen phone. It's called Android Device Manager, and all you need is a Google account to set it up on your phone, and you can use any other online device to track it down or wipe it. The important thing, though, is that you need to have it set up and ready before anything bad happens.

That's where we come in. We'll help you get it set up and have a look at what you can do with it. In just a few easy steps you'll know all there is to know about Android Device Manager.

Installing Android Device Manager

Android Device Manager

This part is super-simple. Fire up your phone and open the Google Play app, and search for Android Device Manager — it's the first search hit. If you're reading this on your phone, I'll make it even easier: Download Android Device manager from Google Play. The app installs just like any other app, but you'll need to go to your settings and allow it to act as a Device Administrator. This way, it has permission to wipe or lock your phone. You'll usually find the Device administrator settings under security. Once that's done, you can fire up the app and get it activated!

Signing in to Android Device Manager and finding your phone

Android Device Manager

You'll need a Google Account to download the Device Manager app from Google Play, and you'll also need one to get signed into it. You can use any of the Google accounts that are on your phone, and you'll find them in a drop down list when you open the app. The password field wants your Google Password, and the blue sign in button does just what it says — signs you in.

Unless you have more than one device signed into Google, you'll probably see a map with your current location, and the make and model of your phone listed below. You'll also notice it tells you when you located it last, and where it is — in your hand. If you have multiple devices and have set up Android Device Manager on them, you'll find them in the drop down list at the bottom.

Android Device Manager

You may have noticed that there was an option for a "Guest" to log in to Android Device Manager when you first signed-in. That allows someone else to find, lock or wipe their device using the app on your phone. We'll talk more about that below.

Locking and ringing your Android over the Internet

Android Device Manager

When you've lost your Android, a method to find it is really only useful if it's on the web. The Android Device Manager website is a simple affair, and usable by just about every web browser out there. Fire up a computer or a tablet or a phone and click the link to the page. You'll have a few seconds wait to see if your phone can be located, and once it (hopefully) is, you have a few options.

Android Device Manager

The Ring option does just what you think it should do — rings your phone even if you have the ringer turned down or off. Click the button, and give the OK in the pop-up, and your phone will ring at full volume for five minutes, or until you hit the power button and quiet it down. Perfect once you use the map to get close to your phone. Or if your phone is lost under the couch.

Android Device Manager

The Lock option will allow to set or change a PIN or password on your device, as well as display a message on the locked screen. This is useful if you think someone else may come across your phone and you never set up a password. Or when that friend calls you and says "Dude you totally left your phone here last night, and I'm going to go on Facebook and post under your name!"

You can try both of these things with your phone in your hand by going to the Device Manager page on any computer. Or as we mentioned earlier, a friend can let you sign in as a guest on his or her Android Device Manager app. Give these a try before you need them so you know what to expect!

Wiping a phone that's gone forever

Android Device Manager

I once left a phone at a Denny's in Schenectady New York, but i didn't realize I left it until I was in Virginia. It sure would have been nice if there was a way to remotely wipe that phone just in case someone figured out how to get around my password. I called the phone, and the people working at the Denny's were happy to mail it back to me, so it all worked out — but often we're not that lucky and need to wipe out a phone that we're just never going to get back.

You do it just like you set a password or ring it. Be aware that everything is gone when and if you do this, and your phone is back to the same settings it had while it was brand new in the box. This means that the Android Device Manager app isn't installed nor signed it, and you won't be able to track it any longer.

This also works when the power is off. Google gets a push message ready to go and as soon as the phone is on and connected to the Internet it will shut down and factory reset itself. It's the last-ditch effort, for when you need a last-ditch effort.

Again, we certainly hope you never need these tools. But it's a great idea to get your Android set up and learn how to track it down or wipe it clean just in case you do need to.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • Zomg! That's a Samsung phone! TouchWiz is so slow that the bad guy would probably return the phone to you! Lawlz! TouchWiz is so bad that's why the phone was hiding under the couch! It's tired of doing basic tasks! Lawlz! TouchWiz comes into my room at night while I'm sleeping and sticks my hand in warm water and I wet the bed! Lawlz! Samsux wouldn't give me the notification anyway because more than likely my battery would be dead! Lawlz! I'm done. Posted via Android Central App
  • Lol Posted via Android Central App
  • -1 Posted via Android Central App
  • -nonexus Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 running Android L or Samsung galaxy S5
  • U MISSPELLED $AM$UX, LOL Posted via Android Central App
  • Hmmmmm, this must explain why Samsung has created the most popular phones in all of Android? X-9 = 2B^3
  • popularity =/= quality... (see: crApple, haha)
  • Haha I enjoyed reading this
  • Ha ha ha I couldn't stop laughing dipshit
  • Great article on a fantastic topic. Even if it's one we don't want to have to use.
  • Agreed.
    But don't put it off one more day. It saved my wife's phone already.
  • Oh OK, how ??? Posted via Android Central App
  • Is there a way to turn gps on using the manager. Posted via Android Central App
  • No, but you can (and a *whole* lot more) with this app:
  • People, please make backups of apps and important data before using the "Lock or Erase" functions.
    it will save you a lot of heartache.
  • You don't have to back up your apps. Those can just be reinstalled. If you store your data in the cloud, you lose nothing. But you will lose your pictures and texts.
  • Best place on cloud pls ??? Posted via Android Central App
  • Take a look in settings / backup and restore.
    It's already built into Android to back up your app data to your Google drive.
  • The apps can, but not the data in the apps, you lose all that, unless it's backed up to a cloud storage like Google apps.
    What ever you use to backup data and apps, don't use MyBackupPro, they rip you off charging insane prices to use their cloud storage, and only theirs. They will not allow you to use another storage like Google Drive. I needed 8 GB to save all my data and they totally ripped me off like $20-30 just for the 8_10gb storage, and that's monthly reoccurring if you don't cancel, which I did after the first week. And you have to buy the app which gives you something like 100 MB free, whoopee
  • Thanks for this. My Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 are all set up. I expect this to be useful next time my phone is lost under the couch. Posted via Android Central App
  • It's a great feature, because we're all dumber about this kind of thing that we'd like to think. The last time I had to use ADM to ring my phone, it was in the pocket of a pair of jeans I'd thrown into the laundry basket. That could've ended disastrously. Posted via Android Central App
  • Good timing for this article. I've been trying to get this to work for the past week without success. Device Manager doesn't locate my phone. Any help would be welcome. Moto X w\KitKat v4.4.3 I am signed in to Google+
    Android Location service is turned On
    Google Location reporting is turned On
    Google+ Location sharing is turned On (don't know if that's required) The Google map in Device Manager shows my location, but it says my phone is "Unavailable".
    Any advice to get this app to find my phone?
  • Check the Google account you are using is set as an . If you are using you will need to change it so device manager can find your phone. All you need to do is change the ending to as it won't make a difference to anything else other than fixing device manager
  • Thanks sacollins for the reply. Is a Gmail account required? I never set up Gmail in my Google+ account. Don't want it. Don't need it (until maybe now).
  • You don't need Google+ to use device manager (I don't use Google+ either because it annoys me)
    Android phones require a Google account when you set it up in order to use the phone, play store etc etc and that's the account I'm talking about. Go to your settings, then under accounts it should say the email address your phone is set up to use as default. If the email address is then device manager should be working, but if its then you'll need to change the ending to instead. Posted via Android Central App
  • Thanks sacollins. I have it working now. I did not originally use Gmail as my Google account email. I used my ISP email address. I just setup another Google account with a gmail address. Logged into Android Device Manager with that second account and it worked fine. So apparently (and sadly) you do need Gmail to make this work.
  • There is no longer a "Gmail" or "Google+" account. It's all just a "Google" account that comes with access to GMail. Most of Google's services require a Google account, since you have to be able to authenticate with their servers.
  • Yes that's true, but apparently the Google account has to have a Gmail email address or it doesn't work in this case. Prior to this, I had been using my Google account without a Gmail email address with no issues.
  • Hmm... OK. I wasn't aware that you could have a Google account without a Gmail address. Good to know. I'm guessing the reason it won't work without is because Google's "push messaging" system is someone using their email technology? Just a guess, but it's the only reason that makes any sense to me.
  • If you have a Google Account, you have a Gmail Account, And a Youtube, and a google voice, and a google+, and every one of Googles services. (Username) . I did once have a youtube account using a Yahoo E-mail account, but I registered it before Google bought that too.
  • Hi there,
    i've a similar problem and cannot get through to google (.. if you have any advice on that, too, it's welcome). I bought two tablets and one doesn't appear in the list of devices that can be located
    Now .. I turned on Location, Location reporting .. any kind of authorization .. nothing. The device is reported in play store list, i can perform remote installation, its details are correct but simply it doesn't appear on the locator.
    Any idea?
  • It's important to note that the account you're using on your phone must be an email address. Using makes device manager useless as it won't locate, wipe, or remotely do anything with your phone. Posted via Android Central App
  • I've set a password remotely before through device manager but never figured out how to remove the password after setting it. anybody know how? Posted via Android Central App
  • Unlock your phone with the password and then under settings disable it??? Posted via Android Central App
  • Yes, go to your phone settings--> Lock screen --> select none
  • The way Apple addresses this is definitely better. That said I'm sure Google is working on something to combat this. Posted via Android Central App
  • Great article. Thanks Jerry. Just installed it.
  • That works pretty nicely. I was able to quickly find and ring my Galaxy Nexus and my Nexus 7 (2013) with no problem. I found that using my Lookout app for comparison, I couldn't find the N7 tablet. I wonder if there is any Google Chrome app or extension available to find the Android devices? I couldn't find any. That would make it easier to quickly deal with a lost or stolen Android device when an alternative Android device isn't close at hand.
  • Did something about this change? To my knowledge, you do not need to download the Android device manager app to be able to use the Android device manager website. I used it just the other day to ring my wife's phone, and I know for a fact that she didn't install the app. The only setup step that I know of is enabling the ability to lock or wipe the device from within the Google Settings on the phone, if you want those features available.
  • +1 you DON'T NEED THE APP. just need it to be available through device administrator in settings. John Hancock
  • Where is that setting pls guide ?? Posted via Android Central App
  • Go into the GOOGLE SETTINGS app on your phone, then select Android Device Manager.
  • Switched it off on all devices a week ago. Too much wakelocks and battery drain with ADM enabled. My private data is among others aes-256 secured enough too lose device without stress And everything always recently backupped. Posted via Android Central App
  • I don't think I'm familiar with what you mean. How is your private data secured exactly? Posted via Android Central App
  • Concerning data protection:
    With strong algorythm encrypted containers mounted r/w as local folder in Android with EDS (€ 4 or 5,-.). Set to auto-dismount period unused, etc. Containers interchangeble and compatible to use with Windows/Linux/OS X. Also just folders and files can be encrypted off course. And smb-support.but have not tried that.
    Some private cloudfiles and folders with Boxcryptor Classic (Free). (Not other version, is for companies with key saved on Boxcrypto-server instead of own memory, because sharing keys among lot of employees is unmanageble). With Boxcryptor Cl. local folder/file encryption possible too. One can also open and use containers in cloud with EDS.
    A very east way to encrypt files might be 7-zip a file with aes-256 encryption. For instance with Zarchiver or Arc File Manager in Android and 7zip on PC.
    Posted via Android Central App
  • Oh. That old trick! Posted via Android Central App
  • Where do you backup very new to this thanks Posted via Android Central App
  • I have 2 Samsung Galaxy phones on ADM, a S2 and a Note 3. I loaned my S2 to someone, realised later I didn't fully reset it properly, just cleared cache, so I used ADM to lock it when it's turned on, and left a screen message to contact me so I can direct them to reset it via Recovery. I checked my Note 3 a few days later in a coffee shop, and instead of just pinpointing where it and I were on a map, it actually said "Just now. In your hand", which it was. So was that just default terminology by the app to personalise it, or does it use and record accelerometer and gyro readings to know I was holding it, instead of my using it while lying on a table, as I normally do. Conundrum!
  • Definitely downloaded the Android L Keyboard. I love it.
  • Bunker Hill? Howdy to the Eastern Panhandle from the Northern Panhandle! Posted via Android Central App
  • Why install the app when the Web Version works exactly the same? John Hancock
  • Web version ??? Posted via Android Central App
  • Yes Web version as in same thing as this app, same capabilities but only it's not an app, it's a web page Posted via Android Central App
  • Note: ADM may NOT actually lock the phone. Here's how: 1) Settings|Security|Power button instantly locks = OFF
    2) Automatically lock is set to some extended period of time (e.g. 10 minutes). Result:
    Log into ADM on web browser, send LOCK command and set new PIN.
    Phone appears to lock, screen changes and message is displayed.
    Press the "back" button on phone.
    It's now unlocked.
    Booyah. tested on Moto X.
  • The Android Device Manager drains your battery badly if it's enabled. I have the AVG Anti Theft enabled and its much better on battery life. Posted via Android Central App
  • Heyy can anyone plz help me. I dropped my s5 in the pool and the back covee was slightly open . It went 5 cm down in water before I removed it. It was turned off . I didn't try to turn it back on . I just removed all the parts and placed it in the sun to dry. Can it be fixed or im screwed? ??
  • Leaving it in the sun was either a really good idea or a really bad idea. I've always towel dried and left sitting in a box of rice for a week. Posted via Android Central App
  • This. Remove the battery, wipe off any and all water that you see. Place the opened-up phone into a sealed container with at least a pound of uncooked rice. 48 hrs is usually enough time. Install battery and back cover (all the way on this time!), power on.
  • I much prefer Cerberus because it can do so much more. Posted via Android Central App
  • Yeah, about 100 times more! X-9 = 2B^3
  • Device manager has helped me find my phone or tablet so many times. When I just had a tablet, I used to use Android Lost which can do more but Device manager is more reliable and so easy between the tablet and the phone. Fortunately I've never needed to try the remote lock or wipe features.
  • Awesome! Thanks for the guidance! Always nice to have a refresher course on how to protect your information. This is a great tool as well, I don't often use a password to protect my phone since I have kids and it drives them crazy for me to have to unlock it for them when they want to watch a show or play games etc (currently we don't have a tablet or other device for their use), and they are also really good at leaving things places they shouldn't. Great way to have that last ditch protection you need, just in case! Posted via Android Central App
  • will it work if it is reset?
  • Recently lost my phone. I'm devastated. Tried the ADM location option, but it says location unavailable. I used the lock option to put an alternate phone number on the screen, and now I'd like to try the 'ring phone' option as a last-ditch effort to make sure it's no where in my apartment. But if it's not here, I don't want it to ring for 5 whole minutes at full volume for fear that it will kill the battery, and no one will see the alternate number on the screen. Is there a way, once I've clicked "ring phone" to stop it from ringing from my computer? Or is the only way to stop it from the device itself?
  • My device manager keeps saying that it cant find my location "location unavailble"
  • mine too :(
  • ADM is the flakiest app Google has ever made. Back of the envelope it works maybe one out of 7 or 8 times. The rest of the time 'location unavailable'. It's free and you don't have to install gorp ON the phone but it's really a piece of junk.
  • Can we get some clarity here? "Activating...Erase the phones data without warning..." This sounds uncontrollable by the user. No mention is made as to having gps on to be able to find it. And of course it would have to be online, right?
  • Hi. Found this very helpful. I got a question though. My phone was stolen from me and no chance of having it back. I want the data in it to be wiped out. Does the Android Device Manager still works if you changed the password of the Google account you signed into it when the incident happened?
  • im in the exact same boat i changed my password for security and the saw the last seen date as the date i lost the phone and did the remote erase set for next time its powered up. i really hope that will still work as i have changed my password and the device wont be able to connect to google. hopefully its still done by imei or other device recognition as things like that were recorded by google's location services for that device. i would love to know that this wipe will still work though with the password change??
  • I have a question about data wipe scenario: My device is offline, I did a reset from ADM, then I changed my account password. Will the reset still work when the device is back online?
  • I'm trying to unlock my phone by using the lock option because someone changed my password and i cant get in my phone. When i follow instuctions select lock, new password, etc the end result is that after under those buttons i receive the message saying my password request is done i get.a message saying that google has detected that my phone has a screen lock and my new password is not needed!!!! What do i do?!?! Help please anyone
  • It wont allow me to change my code so my phone is still locked :-(
  • Were you able to get your phone unlocked? I am experiencing the same problem.
  • HELP! I can not get my phone unlocked. I entered the password twice when Locking it. And the phone confirmed it was locked. There is a place to enter a password, but I get the same reply...incorrect password. I phoned Verizon, transferred to Google, transferred to Nexus for support with ADM but since I have a Galaxy S4 they transferred me to Samsung. Total time on the phone patiently retelling my story 3.25 hours. The last person made it sound like once you USE the Lock feature it is not reversible, since this is primarily in place for people who have lost their phone. But I can't believe this. If so, shouldn't there be a warning on the ADM screen...Do NOT lock phone unless you are prepared to restore to factory settings. AND why is there a Enter Password place on the phone if it can't be unlocked. I am SO upset. I really hope a wonderful technical person can assist me in understanding what is going on!
  • Hi Carrie,
    I was able to get my phone unlocked... I don't know if this will help, what happened for me was I had a numerical lock on my phone, and then implemented the device remote lock as a "test" but gave it a different pin to unlock it. Google recognized that I had already set a lock in place, so the remote lock pin did NOT override. I had attempted the unlock on my phone using the NEW soon as I gave the orig one a try, it unlocked right a way. I don't know if that is anything like what you are dealing with, but hope maybe it will help. Good luck.
  • How I wish this would work. But I didn't have a screen lock originally so I have nothing to attempt like you did. I am still amazed that the Google support, Samsung support and Verizon support staff all acted as if I was the only one they had ever had ask for this kind of help. I turned to this community as it seemed it was the only place to get some ideas.
  • I have the same problem Carrie!
    I lost my phone (well, someone stole it), and once i got home i locked it.
    After a few days, police found my phone but now it's locked and the password i set doesn't work.
    I tried locking it again with a new password, and it doesn't work :(
  • How did the Police locate the person that stole your phone?
  • 1. On a computer or other mobile phone, visit:
    2. Sign in using your Google login details that you also used on your locked phone.
    3. In the ADM interface, select the device you need to unlock (if it isn’t already selected).
    4. Select ‘Lock’
    5. In the appearing window, enter a temporary password. You don’t have to enter a recovery message. Now click ‘Lock’ again.
    6. If it was successful, you should see a confirmation below the box with the buttons Ring, Lock and Erase.
    7. On your phone you should now see a password field in which you should enter the temporary password. This should unlock your phone.
    8. Now, before you go on with your life, go to your phone’s lock screen settings and disable the temporary password.
    9. That’s it!
  • it cant locate my phone :(
  • i want to unlock my samsung galaxy note 4 from google device manager.
  • Hi
    My phone (GALAXY GRAND 2) has Locked using Android Device Manager
    when I am unlocking its showing wrong PIN
    can anyone help me out to unlock
  • But this is really appalling! I didn't lose my phone, simply swapped my SIM...then my phone got locked with privacy protection password. I cannot remember the password, but I have access to my gmail, and can "ring, erase and lock" my phone...but not unlock! aarrrggghhh!! I've been on this for 3 days!
    How come google didn't deem it fit to make it possible to unlock the darn thing from the web??????
  • added a second (new) Android to my Google account and now trying to locate that phone, but the Device Manager keeps searching for the old phone. HELP!!!
  • This is the shittiest thing ever, I lost my phone so I locked it and when I found my phone I used the password to unlock it but it didn't work, so I changed it to something else just in case I forgot it and it still didn't work, I repeated this many times and now all my data is deleted, and no, if you put in the pin and its incorrect many times, it doesn't ask if you forgot it. Android Device Manager is such ****.
  • I was robbed and I didn't get a chance to erase my phone. I have cancelled my sim, blocked the handset via IMEI, changed my passwords. I have sent a message to erase the phone. Will this erase work if the phone is turned on, even if I have killed the sim, blocked the handset and changed my google password?
  • My phone just got stolen yesterday ! How did you block your handset via IMEI ?
  • I had the imei number from when I bought the phone. I rang my phone company, gave them the imei number and asked them to block it
  • My cell phone just got stolen yesterday. Tried to locate my phone via Android Device Manager. It says Location Unavailable and Last online on Mar 10th rather than Mar 12th when I last used the phone. I think the last online is not accurate it is off by 2 days. Why location unavailable ? Anyone knows ? Must the phone connected to internet for Android Device Manager to work for it to locate the phone ? I tried to call my phone so many times, but went to voicemail. I suspected the thief turn off my phone. Thanks.
  • Before you can use Android Device Manager to locate your device: Your device's location access need to be turned on and be signed in to your Google Account. Android Device Manager won't work for devices that are turned off or that don't have a mobile data or Wi-Fi connection.
  • How can I unlock my Phone? I was trying Android device manager
  • Hi, my email was hacked and during this time, my tablet was locked using the Android Device Manager. I have recovered my email... but I still need to recover my tablet. How can I unlock my tablet using the Android Device Manager through my email? Thank you.
  • The unlock feature only works if the flux capacitor equilibrium is jacked to the nuron defibrillator. Of course it has to be done via the perpendicular cross section torso thus creating a time warp in section a b and c I believe.
  • I lost my phone then locked it. With the andriod device manger. Now icant get in my phone
  • I Like Blue