Most of us have misplaced our phone on occasion. It slides in between the cushions on the sofa, or you leave it in the pocket of the pants you wore last night, or at your girlfriend's house! Finding it might be as easy as having someone else call your phone, but if your cell is your only phone, getting in touch with someone to call you might be a problem. And if your phone is on silent, or it's been stolen, calling won't help at all.
Android Device Manager to the rescue!
Android Device Manager comes built in to every recent Android phone, but it's not something Google publicizes heavily, and many Android device owners don't seem to realize it exists. And while it's pre-installed, it is unfortunately not turned on by default. If you don't turn it on, it can't help you when you need it. If you have an older phone which does not include Device Manager, you can download it from the Play Store.
If you misplace your phone, or it's stolen, this tool can be a life saver.
First and foremost, let's make sure it's turned on. As with most things Android, exactly how to turn it on varies with the version of Android you have. You'll need to find the Device administrators page, in Settings. In most recent versions of Android, it will be within the Security options. Tap Device Administrators, and make sure Android Device Manager is checked.
So, now that you've turned it on, what can you do with it? First, bookmark the Android Device Manager web site
on a computer or on someone else's phone (NOT your phone. That won't help at all!) and log in with the same account you use on your phone. You'll see a screen similar to this one:
(If it says your phone can't be located, click on the compass icon to the right of your phone name.)
The map will normally be centered on the location of your phone, which will be indicated by a blue circle showing the margin of error. I've shifted the map to hide my personal location. If you phone has been stolen, you can provide it's location to the police, if the police in your town will even bother to investigate a stolen phone.
If the phone is close to you, press the Ring button. Your phone will ring at full volume, even if you've set it to vibrate or silent.
If your phone isn't near you, and you're concerned about who might have access to it, you can press the Lock button. Even if you've not set a lock screen, you'll be prompted for a password, and the lockscreen will be activated with that password. Optionally, you can display a message and a phone number so whoever has your phone will know how to get in touch with you. The finder will be able to call that number, and only that number, from your phone.
Finally, if your phone has been stolen, you can remote wipe it by clicking on the erase button. This won't help you get it back, but it will prevent the thief from accessing your personal information.
Of course, for any of this to work, the phone must be turned on and connected to a network. So if you lose your phone, search for it right away, before the battery dies.