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How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it

How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it

Windows 10 has been able to track the physical location of your device for quite a while in case it gets lost, which is particularly useful for laptops and tablets. Now, with the Fall Creators Update, the feature expands to help you track your pen as well.

Although it’s impossible for Windows 10 to know your pen’s current location (due to the fact that they don’t include GPS), because they connect to your device using Bluetooth, the OS can tell the last location you were using the pen, and saves that information to help you track it down.

In this Windows 10 guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to use the pen tracking feature included with the Fall Creators Update.

How to find your pen using the Settings app

In order to find your Surface Pen (or any supported pen) use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Click on Find my device.

Click the Change button, and turn on the Save my device’s location periodically toggle switch.

How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it

Once you’ve completed the steps, use the pen so that Windows 10 can start tracking its physical location.

Finding my pen

If you ever lose the Surface Pen, you can use these steps to track it down:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Click on Find my device.

Under “Where’s my pen?” click the Go here to track it link.

How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it

After completing the steps, the Maps app will open letting you know the last location that Windows 10 was able to record you using the pen.

How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it

Of course, this feature will only tell you the approximate location. You won’t see a message that says: “Your pen is under the couch.” So, you’ll have to do some digging. And this doesn’t take into account the pen being moved while you were away from said location, but it’s better than noting.

Also, note that enabling this feature, you’ll be giving Windows 10 permission to periodically record the physical location of your device as well. If your Surface or laptop ever get lost, you can go to https://account.microsoft.com/devices, and click the “Find my device link” for the computer you want to locate.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:

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How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it

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How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it

Windows 10 November 2021 Update is official, and it’s coming soon

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How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it

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Find My Device lets you remotely track, lock, and erase the data on a lost or stolen device. Here’s how to use it.

Need to know

  • Find My Device can locate lost or stolen devices on a map, lock them or erase all data, if necessary.
  • Apple devices, Windows 10 and Android all have a version of the Find My Device feature.
  • The feature only works if you've set it up. Do it before you run the risk of losing your device. 

If your smartphone, computer or tablet is lost or stolen, the Find My Device* feature can help you find, lock or erase it remotely.

Keep in mind that the location data isn’t pinpoint perfect – your device might only be in the general vicinity of where Find My Device says, or it may have moved on, so don’t go sending in the troops to a suspected thief’s address.

Some older products might also not support Find My Device. Make sure your operating system (OS) is compatible.

But if you’ve left something behind, these steps can help you recover it.

*For simplicity, we’re saying Find My Device which is what it’s called on Windows 10 and Android devices. However, on iOS, iPadOS, macOS devices the feature is called Find My .

Windows 10

OS version: 10565 and above

Find My Device works with any Windows 10 PC, laptop, Surface tablet or Surface Pen as long as the device is on, connected to the internet and has location tracking enabled.

However, Windows 10 PCs and laptops don’t usually have built-in GPS, so location tracking may not be precise. When we tried it, we got the right street but were a few houses off the mark.

For Windows 10 devices, open the Start menu, select Settings, Update and Security, then Find My Device.

How to set up Find My Device on Windows 10

From the Windows 10 desktop, open the Start menu, then go to Settings > Update & Security > Find My Device.

Click Change, then select the device you want to track.

You may be asked to turn on location tracking. To do this, select Turn on the location settings > Change.

To find your device name, go back to Settings, then select System > About and look under Device specifications.

How to find a lost Windows 10 device

On a computer or smartphone, go to account.microsoft.com and sign in.

At the top of the page, select Devices > Find My Device. Pick your device and press Find to see it on a map.

To lock your device, select Lock > Next.

After activating Find My Device, you'll be able to see the location of your device on a map.

Apple devices

OS version: iOS and iPadOS 13 or later, macOS 10.15 Catalina or later.

Find My combines the earlier Find My iPhone and Find My Friends features into one single app on an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, Apple Watch or AirPod .

Find My lets you keep tabs on your friends (with their consent) as well as your Apple devices, and it can improve your chances of finding your devices when they’re not connected to the internet.

The Find My app lists every device registered to you and shows their location.

How to set up Find My on a Mac, iPhone or iPad

Launch the Find My app and you’ll see three tabs at the bottom of the screen: ‘people’, ‘devices’ and ‘me’, plus a link to share your location.

People

Contains your contacts that were in the Find My Friends app and your Apple Family Sharing group.

Clicking a contact brings up a menu with contact details, directions to them, and notification options. Once you’re set-up, any paired Apple Watch or AirPods will automatically activate their Find My feature.

Devices

Each device registered to you is listed here. It provides directions to each device, lets you mark any as lost and gives you the option of erasing them remotely.

Provides options for sharing and editing your location name and turning friend requests on or off.

Set-up for older devices

If you have an earlier version of iOS or macOS, the feature is called Find My iPhone and set-up is a bit different as it’s found under Settings instead of being a separate app.

If you don’t have the current macOS Catalina, you can still access all the features via icloud.com in any web browser. Simply log in with your Apple ID and choose Find iPhone.

How to find a lost Mac, iPhone or iPad

Open the Find My app or log on to icloud.com, then select your device to see its location.

If it’s nearby, select Play Sound. If not, click on Directions to help track it down.

You can also select Mark As Lost. This locks your device with a passcode and posts a message such as “This phone has been lost. Please call me” (along with your phone number) to the lock screen. Lost mode also turns off Apple Pay.

As a last resort you can remotely Erase This Device, which deletes everything including any payment information. But once you do, you won’t be able to use Find My to track your device anymore.

Note: If your device is offline, you won’t be able to find it. However, any request for its location, command to lock, or data erasure will activate the next time it connects to the internet.

You can use Find My to play a sound on your device, mark it as lost or erase it.

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How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it

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How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose itChris Hoffman
Editor-in-Chief

Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more.

How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it

Apple offers a “Find My Mac” service to track a lost or stolen stolen Mac computer. However, Microsoft doesn’t provide an equivalent service for Windows PCs — not even for tablets running Windows 8.

If you’re using Windows and want the ability to track your laptop should it ever become lost or stolen, you’ll need to install some third-party software. There are many paid services that offer this feature, but there are also good free options.

The Basics

All such tracking services work similarly. You install a piece of software on your device and set up an account with the service. If you ever lose your device, you go to the service’s website, log into your account, and you can view the device’s location and control it remotely.

Be aware that it will likely be more difficult to track a laptop than a smartphone. A smartphone will probably be connected to a data network and be in standby mode, so it can communicate its location back to you. However, if a laptop is powered off or just not connected to Wi-Fi, it won’t be able to report back to you. A tracking service can offer some additional protection should you ever lose your laptop, but it will be harder to locate a lost laptop than it is to locate a lost smartphone.

Installing Prey

Prey offers tracking software for Windows, Mac, and even Linux PCs. Prey also offers tracking apps for Android and iOS, so you could use this one service to track all of your devices.

This service has paid pro plans, but the basic tracking service is completely free. The free service allows you to have three devices linked to your account and store up to ten location reports per device.

After installing Prey, you’ll be prompted to create a new user account or enter your current user account details.

How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it

Once you’ve logged in, Prey will immediately be up and running. Prey runs as a Windows service by default. If you want to configure it, you can open the Configure Prey shortcut in the Prey folder in your Start menu’s programs group.

How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it

To have Prey check in more frequently so you’ll receive reports more quickly if you ever lose your laptop, select Options for Execution, and modify the Frequency of reports and actions setting.

How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it

Tracking Your Lost Laptop

You can now visit the Prey project’s website and log in with the same account details you entered on your computer. You’ll see your computer and any other linked devices.

How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it

If you lose your laptop, you’ll need to click its name on your Prey control panel and set the slider from “OK” to “Missing.” Prey only tracks your device when it’s missing, so it isn’t constantly tracking your laptop’s location. Be sure to also enable the Geo feature, which uses your laptop’s internal GPS hardware or the names of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots to report its location.

You can also have Prey perform specific actions, such as setting off an alarm — this is useful if you misplace the laptop nearby. Of course, it’s not as reliable as sending an alarm to a phone, because the laptop must be powered on and connected to the Internet to receive this message and begin the alarm.

Be sure to save your changes afterwards.

How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it

Once you’ve set your laptop to missing, its status will become “Tracked, waiting for report.” When the Prey software on your laptop checks in with the Prey server, it will receive a message that it has been marked as lost and generate a report. You’ll only receive an alert if the laptop is powered on, connected to the Internet, and the Prey software is still installed.

There’s an “on-demand” mode where you can request a report immediately, but this feature is unavailable in the free version. If you can wait a few minutes for your report, the free version will work just as well.

How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it

Once a report arrives, you’ll see it on the Reports tab. The report includes the information you selected, such as the laptop’s geographic location, its network status and IP address, and a screenshot of the computer’s desktop and webcam capture of its user. This information may help you get the laptop back, or may be helpful evidence when you report the laptop as stolen.

How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it

If you don’t want to use Prey for some reason, you may want to try LockItTight, which is also free.

While Absolute Software’s LoJack for Laptops is a paid service, it’s worth a mention because it has the advantage of being integrated into many laptop’s BIOSes, which makes it more powerful and difficult to remove.

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How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek.
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How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it

Windows 10 is installed thousands of times a day on computers both new and old. But without a receipt, how do you prove that you actually own Windows?

That’s where your product key comes in. Your Windows 10 product key is a special receipt that shows you have an “activated” copy of Windows. Every Windows computer has its own unique 25-character product key, and it’s formatted like this: XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX.

Your product key is important for a few reasons. If you ever need to reinstall Windows, you might need to enter it. Same goes for major updates, like upgrading from Windows 10 to Windows 11.

Note: You can still use Windows without the key, but it’ll have some annoying DRM features.

Here’s how to find your product key — as well as see if you have a digital license.

Windows 10 product key vs. digital license

Every PC has a product key. But if you got Windows 10 by upgrading from Windows 7 or 8.1, or by buying it through the Windows Store app, you also have a “digital license.”

This digital license serves all the same purposes as the product key. Even better, it’s built into the OS — this means that if you need to reinstall or upgrade Windows, you won’t need to enter it.

If you have a digital license, when Windows asks you for the product key, click Do this later to skip the step. As long as you connect to the internet at some point later, you won’t be asked for it again.

To check if you have a digital license:

  1. Press the Windows key + I to open the Settings app.
  2. Click Update & Security, and then Activation in the left sidebar.
  3. If you have a digital license, next to Activation it’ll say Windows is activated with a digital license or Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account.

If you bought a digital copy of Windows 10 from the Microsoft online store — not the Windows Store app — your product key will be included in the confirmation email you received after paying.

How to find your Windows 10 product key using the Command Prompt or PowerShell

The easiest way to find your product key is using the Command Prompt or the PowerShell app.

1. Right-click the Windows icon in the bottom-left corner of your screen, and in the menu that appears, click Command Prompt (Admin) or Windows PowerShell (Admin).

2. In the pop-up that appears asking if the app is allowed to make changes to your device, click Yes.

3. Now you’ll need to enter a code. Type or copy in this (it’s case sensitive) and press Enter:

The 25-character code that appears is your product key.

How to find your Windows 10 product key on the physical packaging

If you bought your PC or copy of Windows 10 in a store, you’ll find your product key on the packaging.

You can find it in a few possible places.

  • Your computer case might have a “Certificate of Authenticity” sticker with the product key printed on it. Not all PC manufacturers put a sticker on the computer, though.
  • The packaging that came with the computer might have a Certificate of Authenticity sticker with the product key as well.
  • If you just bought Windows 10, the product key should be printed on a card or label inside the Windows 10 packaging.

If you can’t find your product key, contact the computer manufacturer for help.

How to track your windows 10 pc or tablet if you ever lose it

One of the more controversial things about Windows 11 has been the system requirements that have been put in place, especially with TPM 2.0.

Although the basic requirements are not dramatically different to Windows 10, Microsoft chose to not only drop support for many processors, but also to limit Windows 11 to computers with TPM 2.0 (Trusted Platform Module version 2).

While the vast majority of modern computers have this important security feature, it is not always turned on. If you’ve been having trouble installing Windows 11, here’s how to enable TPM 2.0 on your computer so you can upgrade to the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system.

1. Check out your TPM 2.0 compatibility

If you want to install Windows 11, you need to have a computer with TPM 2.0. You do not really need to know anything about this other than it is a feature that Windows 11 requires.

You could track down the manual for your computer or motherboard to see if it has TPM 2.0, but this is not necessarily an easy option. Thankfully Microsoft has provided a simple tool that can help you to find out if your computer has TPM 2.0; you can download the PC Health Check app to perform this test here.

2. Using the app

After downloading PC Health Check, launch the app and then click the ‘Check now’ button in the ‘Introducing Windows 11’ section.

When the app finishes its tests on your computer, you’ll be told whether or not your computer is able to run Windows 11 – all being well, you will be told that you have passed!

If you click the ‘See all results’ button, you can see mor details about the areas in which your computer has passed and failed. Included in this list is an important reference to TPM 2.0 which will tell you if it is enabled on your device.

3. Checking security

What can be confusing about TPM 2.0 is that while your computer may have the feature, it may not be enabled. It is with this scenario in mind that Microsoft has provided instructions to help you determine whether this is the case or not.

The first method is to open ‘Settings’ in Windows 10 and head to Update & Security > Windows Security > Device Security.

Look in the ‘Security processor’ section and ensure that the ‘Specification version’ is 2.0. If you see a different number here, your computer is not compatible with Windows 11, but if you don’t see a ‘Security processor’ section at all, it could be that you simply need to enable the feature

4. Using Microsoft Management Console

Another method to check the availability of TPM 2.0 is to make use of the Microsoft Management Console. To do this, press the Windows key and R at the same time to call up the Run dialog.

Type tpm.msc and press Enter. If you see a message informing you that TPM is available and ready to use but the ‘Specification Version’ under ‘TPM Manufacturer Information’ is less than 2.0, you are out of luck.

However, if you see the message reading ‘Compatible TPM cannot be found’, it is possible that your PC has a compatible TPM that is disabled.

5. Getting into BIOS

If you are in the somewhat fortunate position of having a compatible TPM that is simply disabled, the next thing to do is to enable.

In order to do this you need to access your computers; UEFI BIOS; the precise method of accessing this and the layout and wording varies slightly from one computer manufacturer to another.

However, Windows 10 provides an easy way to access these settings if you open up Settings and go to Update & Security > Recovery. Click the ‘Restart now’ button under the ‘Advanced startup’ heading

6. Using the Troubleshoot section

When your computer restarts, select ‘Troubleshoot’ followed by ‘Advanced options’. You will then need to select UEFI Firmware Settings > Restart before looking for a sub-menu in the UEFI BIOS labelled Advanced, Security or Trusted Computing; this is something that varies from one computer to another depending on the manufacturer.

The setting you need to then change or enable may be called Security Device, Security Device Support, TPM State, AMD fTPM switch, AMD PSP fTPM, Intel PTT or Intel Platform Trust Technology.

7. Check again

Having taken this action, you can run the PC Health Check tool again to ensure that your computer is now deemed compatible.

Boot back into Windows 10 and run the tool once again. Assuming you have been able to successfully enable TPM 2.0 on your system, you should hopefully now see a message informing you of this fact as well as confirming that ‘This PC meets Windows 11 requirements’. You can now go ahead and upgrade to Windows 11, but do not lose heart if you have not been able to manually enable TPM 2.0; all may not yet be lost.

8. Update your motherboard

Some motherboard and computer manufacturers have released BIOS updates which will enable TPM 2.0 on systems that have the feature.

While this is not an option for a computer that is fundamentally incompatible with Windows 11, it is a great alternative to hunting through BIOS settings, particularly if for anyone who is uncomfortable with the more technical side of their computer.

Many motherboards come with a software updater than can be used to check for updates, and it’s also worth checking the website of the company in question to see if there is anything to download. Asus, for instance, has TPM 2.0-enabling updates available to download.

Sofia is a tech journalist who’s been writing about software, hardware and the web for nearly 20 years – but still looks as youthful as ever! After years writing for magazines, her life moved online and remains fuelled by technology, music and nature.

Having written for websites and magazine since 2000, producing a wide range of reviews, guides, tutorials, brochures, newsletters and more, she continues to write for diverse audiences, from computing newbies to advanced users and business clients. Always willing to try something new, she loves sharing new discoveries with others.

Sofia lives and breathes Windows, Android, iOS, macOS and just about anything with a power button, but her particular areas of interest include security, tweaking and privacy.