Imagine you’ve just misplaced, or worse, lost your device. First things first: change the password to your Microsoft account. In an ideal world you noted the serial numbers of your device upon purchase (located on the bottom of the laptop on a sticker that also includes a barcode).

In addition to these tactics, there’s also a reliable Windows feature you can use in the event of theft, loss, or simple absent-mindedness: Find my device.

What is Find my device?

Find my device is a feature introduced in the 2015 Windows 10 update. As the name suggests it allows you to locate your Windows device if it goes missing. The best part about Find my device is that it’s completely safe to use, and automatically included in Windows 10.

How does Find my device work?

Now that we know what it is, how does it work?

Log into your device with your Microsoft account to get Find my device up and running. Click on the Start button, then click Windows key + I and select Accounts to open the Settings page.

Screenshot of Windows Settings page

If you see your information at the top of the screen, all is well: you are signed into your Microsoft account.

Screenshot of Microsoft sign in page

If not, select the link that says Login to your Microsoft account.

You must be running Windows 10 and be signed into the lost device through a Microsoft account for which you are the administrator. If you are using a work or school account, and you are not the administrator, Find my device won't work.

Once you have logged into your Microsoft account, go back to the Settings menu, and select Update & Security.

Screenshot of Update & Security page

Select Find my device and confirm that it’s set to ON. You can change the setting by clicking on the Change button.

Screenshot of Find my device page

Lost your device? Now what?

Go to account.microsoft.com/devices to see all your devices that you have signed into with your Microsoft account.

Select the device you have misplaced, then select Find my device.

Your device does not need to be powered on for Find my device to work. However, to send its location, your device must be connected to the Internet, have enough battery power, and use GPS.

Screenshot of Find my device GPS map page showing location

Select Lock to ensure that the only person who can sign into your device is you.

It’s never fun to find your possessions unaccounted for. And posting a “Lost Computer” poster can feel futile.

Find my device lets you take action in the case of loss or theft, and in doing so, find peace of mind.