Find what you’ve lost with these little trackers
AirTags use ultra-wideband technology and Apple’s existing network of devices to help you track down lost or stolen items. Here’s what you need to know before you attach them to everything you own. This article describes how to set up Apple AirTags and how to use Apple AirTags to find lost items.
What to Know
- Use the Find My app to track AirTags by going to Items > your AirTag name > Find > following the directions.
- On iPhone 11 and up, Precision Finding uses Apple’s U1 chip and Augmented Reality to provide a better finding experience.
- Lost your item? Go to Find My > Items > AirTag name > Lost Mode > Enable > Continue > enter your phone number/email > Activate.
Which iPhones and OSes Work With AirTags?
Compatible iPhones and iPads can use the Find My app to identify the approximate location of a missing, AirTag-equipped item. However, in order to track an AirTag, you must be running iOS 14.5 or above on your iPhone or iPadOS 14.5+ on your tablet. (That update is compatible with iPhone 6s and up, including the first- and second-gen iPhone SE, and most iPads(Opens in a new window)). Update by going to Settings > General > Software Update.
However, in order to use Precision Finding, which can guide you to your device via on-screen instructions, you need an iPhone 11 or 12. These models use the camera, ARKit, accelerometer, and gyroscope for a more “directionally aware finding experience,” according to Apple.
How to Use Apple AirTags to Find a Lost Item
If you’ve lost an item that you were smart enough to attach an AirTag to, finding it should be pretty easy. Here’s what to do:
Open the pre-installed Find My app on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.
Tap Devices to see a list of all of your AirTags.
Tap the AirTag you’re trying to find.
To have the AirTag play a chime to help you locate it, tap Play Sound. If the AirTag isn’t nearby and you need directions to it, tap Find.
Find My tells you how close you are to the AirTag.
The Precision Finding feature (available on iPhone 11 and up) also points you in the direction of the AirTag, turns the screen green when you’re close to it, and triggers haptic feedback to let you know you’re close.
When you’re found the AirTag or want to exit finding mode, tap the X.
How to Set Up Apple AirTags
Setup is simple. Take the device out of the box and pull out the tab to activate the AirTag. Hold it near your compatible mobile device, which will detect the tracker and prompt you to set it up, similar to AirPods or a HomePod device. You can then name your AirTag after the device it will be in charge of tracking. The AirTag is then registered to your Apple ID—that’s it.
Before you can attach an Apple AirTag to an item you want to track, you need to set up the AirTag by following these few steps:
Make sure that you’ve signed into Apple ID and iCloud on your iPhone or other device and that Bluetooth is on and you’ve connected to the internet.
Hold the AirTag close to your device, and it will be automatically detected. Tap Connect.
Choose what sort of object you’ll track using the AirTag. Pick from the list or choose your own, then tap Continue.
Confirm the phone number or email address associated with this AirTag. People will use this information to return your lost item if they find it. Tap Continue.
If you choose to provide your email, the AirTag will show your partially masked phone number when someone else taps it with an NFC-capable device.
After a few seconds to finalize the setup, you’ll see the AirTag on a map and tips on using it. Tap Done. To see it on a map, tap View in Find My app.
Do I Need to Charge My AirTag?
No. According to Apple, the AirTag battery lasts one year before it will need to be replaced. Surprisingly, the battery isn’t some Apple-specific proprietary purchase; AirTags use a basic CR2032 battery(Opens in a new window), which can be purchased at various online and brick-and-mortar stores. Remove the battery by pushing down and twisting the AirTag’s back plate.
Does Apple Have a Tracking Device?
Yes. AirTags are Apple’s item-tracking device. They debuted in April 2021 after many months of speculation and rumors. AirTags are similar to and compete with Tile, Chipolo, and Cube products, among others.
What Are Apple AirTags?
Apple AirTags are small, light Bluetooth devices that can be attached to items you want to track. Apple’s Find My platform powers the tracking. It has apps for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, and a web interface. Find My is the same platform that powers Find My iPhone and similar tools.
How Does Apple Find Lost AirTags?
AirTags do not include a GPS chip like your iPhone. Instead, Apple has used its proprietary U1 chip with ultra-wideband technology to create a peer-to-peer network that taps into the 1.65 billion Apple devices(Opens in a new window) out in the wild to nail down the location of an AirTag.
What Are Apple AirTags Used For?
AirTags can be used to keep track of virtually any item that you need to find quickly. They’re probably most helpful in finding things you frequently lose, like keys, luggage, or pets (though, officially, Apple doesn’t recommend this). You can also use them to track the location of items that have been stolen (as long as the thief doesn’t see the AirTags and discard them, that is).
Apple AirTags Common Questions
Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Apple AirTags.
How Do Apple AirTags Work?
AirTags are Bluetooth low-energy transmitters that send a signal to indicate their location.
But, if you know Bluetooth, you know it has a range of only about 100 meters—so how can you find an AirTag that’s more than 100 meters away? That’s where Apple’s Find My network comes in.
Every iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad that has Find My set up is part of the Find My network. That’s almost 1 billion devices worldwide. All of those devices can detect the Bluetooth signal emitted by AirTags. When they do, they relay the location of the AirTag through the network and back to the owner. It happens privately and passively. No one has to do anything—the lost item just gets found.
AirTags have the Apple U1 ultra-wideband chip in them. This communications chip works with the iPhone 11 and up, which also has the chip. It enables Precision Finding, a feature to make finding AirTags easier and more accurate indoors and despite obstacles like walls.
AirTags Size and Weight
- AirTags size: 1.26 inches across and 0.31 inches thick
- AirTags weight: 0.39 ounces
To use AirTags, you need the following:
- iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 14.5, or
- iPad running iPadOS 14.5
- Apple ID and iCloud
You can configure up to 16 AirTags to work with a single Apple ID.
AirTags Charging & Battery
You don’t need to recharge AirTags. That’s because they have user-replaceable batteries. AirTags batteries are standard CR2032 batteries (similar to large watch batteries) that will last around a year.
How to Return a Lost Apple AirTag
If you find a seemingly lost item with an AirTag attached to it, you can help get it back to its owner. Hold the AirTag close to your iPhone or any other device equipped with NFC (Near-Field Communication). Doing this takes you to a website that lists the phone number or email address of the AirTag’s owner (if they’ve provided it during set up) and sends the owner a notification about their item’s location. You can then work with the owner to return the item.
How much do AirTags cost?
How do you attach an AirTag to an object?
Place an AirTag into a pocket or bag, or use an Apple AirTag accessory to connect an AirTag. For example, use an AirTag key ring, loop, or secure holder. Visit Apple.com to check out AirTag accessories, which come in a wide range of colors, and some can be engraved.
Can I personalize my AirTags?
Yes. Apple can engrave an AirTag with up to four letters or emojis or a mix of both. You’ll need to opt for engraving when you purchase your AirTags; you can’t send them back to be engraved later.
Are AirTags water-resistant?
Yes. While AirTags aren’t waterproof, they have an IP67 water-resistant rating, which means that, according to tests, they’ll still work after being dropped in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes. The IP67 rating also means they’re 100 percent protected against dust and sand.