How to Find and Return a Lost Apple AirTag to its Owner

November 26, 2023

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Have you ever come across a stray Apple AirTag and wondered how to get it back to its owner? AirTags are useful devices that allow Apple users to keep track of important items like keys, wallets, and more. But what should you do if you find an AirTag that isn’t yours?

Whether you’re an iPhone or Android user, this guide will walk you through the steps to identify, locate, and contact the owner of a lost AirTag so you can return their lost item.

What is an Apple AirTag and How Does it Work?

Airtag Ease Of Use

An Apple AirTag is a small, round tracking device that pairs with the Find My app on Apple devices. AirTags use Bluetooth and Apple’s vast Find My network to transmit their location so owners can track missing items.

AirTags are designed to be attached to keys, bags, wallets, and other possessions. When in range of an Apple device, the AirTag sends out a secure Bluetooth signal that relays its location back to the owner via iCloud.

Even if no Apple devices are in direct range, the massive Find My network made up of hundreds of millions of iPhones and other Apple devices allows owners to locate AirTags far outside of Bluetooth range. However, connection issues can occur that prevent tracking. AirTags do not require WiFi to work.

How to Identify a Lost AirTag

AirTags are small, silver, and round with Apple’s logo etched on one side. Most owners will attach an AirTag to keychains, luggage, or slip them into a wallet.

If you find an AirTag not attached to anything, it’s likely been separated from the owner’s possessions. AirTags removed from their battery case will also play a sound periodically to alert anyone nearby.

AirTags are designed to be attached to keychains, bags, and other items.

Airtags Bags

If you hear an AirTag making a sound nearby, use the Find My app on an iPhone to pinpoint its location. Android users can download a third party app like Tracker Detect to scan for lost AirTags.

Once you’ve located the AirTag, inspect it closely for a serial number, any engravings, or contact info added by the owner. Owners may attach AirTags in all kinds of ways, like to a bike, golf, water bottle, and more.

Locate the AirTag Owner on iPhone

If you have an iPhone, it’s easy to identify and contact the owner of a lost AirTag. Just follow these steps:

  1. Wake your iPhone and bring it near the found AirTag.
  2. Hold the top of your iPhone near the white side of the AirTag until a notification pops up.
  3. Tap the notification to open the Found AirTag information in Safari.
  4. On the Found AirTag web page, you’ll see the serial number and any contact details like phone number or email address added by the owner.
  5. Use this info to get in touch with the owner and arrange returning their item.
Found Airtag Information

If the owner enabled Lost Mode on the AirTag, you may also see a custom message from them with info on how to contact them about their lost item.

Alternatively, open the Find My app and tap the “Items” tab. Choose “Identify Found Item” and scan for the AirTag to display owner information.

If you are unable to contact the original owner or want to claim an unclaimed AirTag for yourself, you may be wondering if it’s possible to change ownership of an AirTag that has been separated from its pairing.

Find AirTag Owner Details on Android

Android users with NFC-enabled devices can also identify a lost AirTag and contact its owner. Just follow these steps:

  1. Wake your Android phone and open the NFC/contactless payments app.
  2. Hold your phone near the white side of the AirTag until it’s recognized.
  3. Tap the notification to open the Found AirTag info in your browser.
  4. Look for the serial number and any contact details left by the owner.
  5. Get in touch with the owner via their preferred contact method.
Find Airtag Owner Details On Android

If your Android phone doesn’t have NFC, you can still help by reporting the found AirTag’s location to Apple. This will notify the owner of its general area so they can attempt to recover it.

What to Do If You Find an AirTag Tracking You

While extremely rare, there have been some cases of AirTags being misused to track people without consent. If you ever feel an unknown AirTag may be moving with you, your iPhone will automatically notify you.

Follow these steps if you find an AirTag tracking you:

  • Play a sound on the AirTag from the Find My notification to locate it. Inspect bags, coats and compartments.
  • Once found, disable the AirTag by removing the battery so it stops tracking.
  • Contact local law enforcement if you feel unsafe. Provide them with the disabled AirTag as evidence.
  • Document the incident and report suspicious activity to Apple support.

AirTags have various safeguards to detect and deter tracking without consent. But it’s important to know what to do in the unlikely case it occurs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Lost AirTags

How long does an AirTag battery last?

The user-replaceable battery in each AirTag lasts around one year before it needs to be replaced. So there’s a good chance a found AirTag still has juice. See AirTag battery life for more details.

Can lost AirTags still be tracked?

Yes. As long as the battery hasn’t run out, owners can track lost AirTags through the Find My network. The location updates whenever another Apple device gets close. Learn more about AirTag location history.

Do lost AirTags always make a sound?

AirTags separated from their owner will make a chirping noise intermittently to alert anyone nearby. But this sound can be muted by pressing the center.

What if I can’t contact the owner?

If there’s no contact information for the owner, you can take the AirTag to local police or an Apple store. Or dispose of it responsibly if you’re unable to locate the owner.

Can Android phones track AirTags?

No. Only Apple devices paired to the owner’s iCloud account can view real-time tracking info and play sounds for their own AirTags.

So if you find a lost Apple AirTag, don’t worry if you’re an Android user. You can still help get it back to the owner with NFC or by reporting the location to Apple. Following this guide will ensure lost AirTags are safely returned.