How to track your stolen laptop without installed tracking program

laptop-thief

We’ve been getting lots of comments and emails from our readers about how they lost their iPhone or Android device and asking us for help and advice. So it seems that, unfortunately, quite a lot of people lose their smartphone. However, not only smartphones and tablets get lost or stolen, but also laptops. Although it’s rather unlikely that you simply lose a laptop, just because of its size, but an expensive gadget of that size can be easily spotted and taken away by thieves. Think about it, you’re working on your laptop in a cafe and you need to take a wee so badly. Sure, you can leave your stuff unattended you think. Only takes two minutes…That’s more than enough time for someone to take your stuff and vanish into thin air. If you haven’t installed any anti-theft program like Prey, you have a big problem.

So, if you are missing your laptop, don’t lose all your hope just yet. There are a couple of ways to track down your stolen laptop, even without any anti-theft software.

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Track your stolen Macbook with iCloud (Mac only)

If you set up and enabled iCloud back when you first started your Macbook (or at any later moment), you can use it to track your macbook. iCloud offers its own integrated anti-theft tool that lets you track your Apple devices, trigger an alarm sound, lock your device or erase all personal data. To get started, go to the iCloud website and log in with your Apple ID.

icloud-dashboard

 

After clicking on the “Find My iPhone” icon, you should see a map interface and a dropdown menu on the top. Use that menu to choose your missing Macbook. If your Mac is turned on and has an active internet connection, it should show up. In case it isn’t, you can tell iCloud to keep checking and send you a notification as soon as it tracks it down.

location-map

Use Dropbox, Facebook or Gmail to get the IP address (Mac & Win)

Some of the applications that constantly run in the background or websites you’re logged into automatically register and store your IP address. If someone uses your laptop and checks out your Facebook profile or emails, you have a good chance of getting the person’s IP address. The problem is that an IP address doesn’t mean that you can easily get the physical address, assigned to the IP. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have that information but they won’t give it away. You need a warrant for that. So, if you manage to get the IP address of the person using your laptop, go to the police and explain your situation.

Dropbox

The great thing about having Dropbox is that it syncs your data silently in the background (at least if no changes were detected). If someone took your laptop, he or she won’t notice it. Dropbox keeps track of all current and past sessions (or accesses) together with the country of origin and IP address. Log into your account on the Dropbox website, go to Settings and click on the Security tab. Now, you should see a list of the devices that accessed your Dropbox account in the past.

List of Dropbox sessions

One of these devices should be your laptop. Check the time it last accessed your account. Was it after you lost your laptop? If so, then the IP address possibly belongs to the person who took it. If you want to be sure, wait a while and keep checking for new sessions. If the IP address keeps being the same, you can assume that it belongs to the person’s place. If you have private files in your Dropbox account, I recommend that you change your Dropbox password afterwards. An alternative would be to download your private stuff onto another computer and remove them from your Dropbox account using the browser interface. Then you can continue monitoring the thieves activity without having to worry about any sensitive data.

Gmail

If the person with your laptop is curious enough, he or she might want to take a peek at your mails. As with Dropbox, Gmail keeps track of all the different IP addresses used to access your mails. Go to your Gmail inbox, scroll down and click on “Details” under “Last account activity” in the bottom right corner.

Gmail last account activity

A new window should pop up, displaying the ten last recorded sessions together with the used IP addresses. If you see that someone else accessed your Gmail, you better change your Google account password (after writing down the unknown IP address). You really don’t want someone else to mess with your Google account, especially if you’re using many other Google services.

Facebook

To get a list of your Facebook account’s sessions, go to Settings and click on Security on the left sidebar. Now click on the bottom item called “Where You’re Logged In” (<– or click this link). You should see an overview of the different devices and apps that last accessed your account. Facebook even tells you the city in which the session was established. If you hover over the city with your cursor, you can see the IP address. You can get an even more detailed lost of basically all past sessions. The way to get there is described in a recent article of mine.

facebook sessions

Got the location or IP address? Get help!

Should you be able to get the exact location of your laptop using iCloud or an IP address, don’t head out alone to rescue your laptop. You have no idea who’s sitting in front of it. Contact local authorities and let them check out the address or tell them to get a warrant to get the physical location from the thief’s ISP. If you successfully got your laptop back, please let me know and share your story in the comments!

Marc is an online marketer, avid blogger and technology enthusiast. His focus is on Android, tech and gadget reviews. He likes spending time travelling and reading all about what's going on in the tech world. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter.
  • MadCrain

    Dude, seriously can’t thank you enough, I was looking everywhere for my I.P, taking this to the cops, I’ll post if I get it back!

  • Matin

    This is all fine and the assumption is that the stolen device such as a Laptop doesn’t include a username and password. In which case, a thief will simply turn on the laptop, connect to his available internet and in which case, YES, something like MAC iCloud, would alarm you and tell you the general area (not exact), allow you to erase files, etc. Also, assuming and hoping that will try to log in to your Gmail. Knowing that they dont know the username and password. Or perhaps they are hoping you have a text file on your desktop saying my personal usernames and passwords (Which I hope you dont have and use a program like Keepass).

    The best thing to do is use a sleeve or small carry case and carry laptop and cell before you run for bathroom and make this into a habit. However, if you must have something to make you feel better, then I suggest, using a subscription based program called LoJack. LoJack premium covers up to a $1000 if don’t find and return your laptop within 60 days. The software installed is supposedly hard to erase. But I recommend calling them to be sure that formatting the hard drive does not erase their hardware (which I am not sure of that, as low level format erases most files) and a good thief is smart enough to erase all files before turning on the laptop. LoJack unlike other software, has a team of people who start monitoring for your laptop the minute you report it (unlike other program that have no human intervention). Once your laptop is online, via its IP address, they will they ISP servicing that area, call the ISP to get the exact address and then notify local police to retrieve the stolen device. I believe that if the laptop is stolen, the chances of you seeing it again is very low.

    However, the greatest benefit of software like iCloud, Prey, Gadget Track, and LoJack is not the ability to find your device, rather is to control the files your lost once online (assuming, there was no username/password or they know how to get around that without reformating the drive… once the drive is formatted, files are going to be deleted).

    But if your file or tax record is important to you.. then I suggest using encryption software like Trucrypt, etc. I use TruCrypt with AES 256 bit encryption.. watch on Youtube how to install and use.. make sure you know your password as if you forget it, you will never get the files back again.

    • Coach McGurk

      TL;DR – If you need to take a shit because of the highly caffinated coffee you drank, take your laptop and cell phone with you to the shitter or encrypt your shit (on the laptop and phone, not the deuce you left in the toilet).

    • Muhammad Goda

      all your alternative is good but what if the thief remove my hard drive, use it as external desk and erase every information and put it back, vola here is a new untraceable laptop.

  • Missy

    My laptop was just stolen, wish i could track it!!! 🙁

    • lolipop456omg

      My friends iphone 5 was stolen a weeks ago. I told her about this site and we both told her parents, then the parents did something with the police and we found it! Thanks. but what will happen if u dont turn on icloud???? What will happen then? Will u every get it back

      • Jerry

        did any one got your stolen laptop…..???
        let me know

  • abdul moiz

    i know my laptop ip and it is stolen can anyone help me immediately

  • Coach McGurk

    I lost my MacBook 2 months ago, finally got iCloud and Find My to show that it was now being used. I got the address as well as my revolver to go and get it back. Sure enough, I ended up shooting the guy but just in the leg. He told me who sold it to him and I’m currently on my way to meet the kid who originally stole it. Thanks Marc!

    • Kanika Kriti

      I lost my macbook 10 days back and it still shows offline on find my mac. I have filed a police complaint, locked my device, sent many messages. It has all my important documents that I never had the time to take a back up of. I just can’t afford to lose it. Tell me any way by which I can trace it please. Its constantly showing that its offline on find my mac. And I didn’t have dropbox and gmail. Neither did I have prey.

      Kanika

      • Basha Pulluru

        May I know how did you lost

      • Norbe_JamesCavs

        how the hell do you lose a laptop.. did it just fall out of your pocket??

      • Mark

        If you lock the laptop they cant use anything and you wont know where it is dumbass

      • El Vato

        Your pretty much fucked.

    • Edi

      You shot him? What the fuck man…

    • Wilfredo Santana

      Ok. Magnum PI, ha, ha, ha…

    • NotPublic

      Are you for real? Prison must be your life plan. And for usd1000? At least get more money… Rob a bank it is much more profitable… Same risk much more to gain.

  • shocker147

    I’d recommend Worth Ave Group. You can insure your laptop for a low price and if you install their tracking software they will waive the deductible in case of theft. Great company, strongly recommend.

  • zachary

    My laptop and two others including a mac book air were stolen yesterday, how can I track them?

    • Angelo Ricardo

      do you have the mac address

      • Rahul Dwivedi

        I have have mac address of my laptop. How can i track my laptop. It is stolen and police is not doing anything

      • dsk

        Hi angelo I lost my bag containing my laptop and my Hard Disk that contained all of my daughters pics since her birth. I would be higly obliged if you help me find it. I have its Mac ID’s of all adapter, would it be any help

  • Maggie468

    What if you don’t have icloud on your Mac? Can you still track it?

  • philip

    can I track my laptop if i know the serial number

    • Peter

      Thieves broke into my living room three weeks and took away my notepad, tablet and TV Decorder

  • Kellyann

    My laptop was stolen on Tuesday evening last week, And only now am i thinking google can help me. I am dying to get it back as i cant afford to buy another.

    HOW can i trace it????? I have done the steps above and don’t get any info? PLEASE HELP

    • teddy

      my laptop was stolen from hostel on dec 2014. after worrying lot of times . i decided to go police. i got laptop mac address from laptop manufacturer . then i decided to contact police ..they asked to contact cyber crime branch. (police will track the stolen with laptop mac address–laptop can be tracked only if it is connected to network.).. then i was searching in olx website from day one it was missing.. In jan 2015 culprit has posted advertisement with images and specification in olx website.. then i told police about this, with help of police i got back my laptop.

      so kindly check in any advertisement or check in any other nearest laptop shop. also try this website. https://www.3gadgets.com may be helpful.

  • Aniket nimbalkar

    My laptop has stolen .but I have Mac Id so how can I trace ? .

    • Konvicted

      you can trace it in kali linux… #konvicted Hacker Team :

      • Aniket nimbalkar

        For that what can I do??

      • kaka

        i have kali linux how can i trace my laptop ? please

  • Priyanshu

    My laptop has been stolen someone plzz help how can I get it

    • teddy

      get the mac address from laptop manufacturer. then go to city cyber crime police department. (police will track with laptop’s mac address–laptop can be tracked only if it is connected to network.)kindly check in any advertisement website or check in any other nearest laptop shop.
      its my live experience .. i got laptop from olx website…
      Im from Tamilnadu , India

  • paulus lukas

    I lost my laptop a week ago…can somebody plz help me get it back…..I only know my serial number

    • teddy

      get the mac address from laptop manufacturer. then go to city cyber crime police department. (police will track with laptop’s mac address–laptop can be tracked only if it is connected to network.)kindly check in any advertisement website or check in any other nearest laptop shop.
      its my live experience .. i got laptop from olx website…
      Im from Tamilnadu , India.. not sure it will be helpful for you.. am sorry for your lost.

      • Bhaskar D

        Hi Teddy, I’m from chennai, lost my mackbook pro i have serial number is there possible to find out ?

        • teddy

          pls try to reach cyper crime police along with mac address. I got my HP laptop’s mac address through HP customer care. thn give that mac address to cyber crime police dept ..Laptop can be tracked with MAC address, if laptop is connected with network, it wil be tracked . also try to check near laptop shops or olx website in all location( bangalore,coimbatore so on,)

  • Marie Rasta

    My Laptop mysteriously disappeared and I’ve done everything above, can’t find it anywhere, pls help.

  • Ozz

    Got robbed yesterday morning at 03:58 am , 2 laptops and Vault were stolen from my showroom. I followed every method you mentioned but this fuckers didnt even open the Laptop nor connected to internet.

  • Nishant Suryan

    I lost my laptop. I know the serial number of my laptop. How can I track my laptop?

  • Becca

    my windows laptop was stolen on new years and it is connected to my microsoft account… i found out recently that they tried to sign in with an incorrect password last month and i have the ip address i dont have the approximate location but is there anything i can do? thanks in advance!!

  • Muhammad Kashif

    my hp core i5 laptop is stolen by someone can any one help me

  • Eric

    This would be more useful if it could track the distance away from me so i could find it in my hous each time my mom hid it and even more funny if they tried going on my laptop bevause it takes around the same time to turn on as to go to the bathroom and i wont actually use my windows 8 laptop any other place then my grandpas and my house but if i bring a laptop then it would be windows 7 which i cant use any web browser i even tried clicking a url in minecraft and clicked open and didnt work so yeah lol but this would be extremely useful so ill add it to my bookmarks on my phone

  • Bharath

    My laptop was stolen yesterday morning. It is Lenovo g510 core i5 ,can anyone please tell me is there a way to recover my laptop.

  • zsazsa

    Hi Marc. My laptop was stoeln from my room by an ex flatmate. However, I did not install dropbox or any application to track my macbook. I have installed it on my iphone and ipad. However, could you find a way in which i could track my stolen macbook. it would be really helpful.Thanks

  • Priya

    sir….my laptop was stolen….how will a find it? please help me…

  • Samantha Rose Delaney

    I agree. Did you also know by using a VPN Service your ISP wont even know what you are doing online. Find the best ones at http://www.anonymousvpnsoftware.com

  • tracy leonsey

    For getting IP address for Mac and Win you can also use a vpn which is best for the purpose and millions of internet users using for online privacy

  • If you are using VPN service and your laptop’s browser has still configured with VPN setting then you can track its IP from your VPN account. Then you can find IP location by some hard efforts you can do.

  • Dan Franklin

    My laptop was stolen February 21st 2015. I stepped out of my apartment to make a call and this guy and his friend set me up for a trap and they stole my computer. And now I hear he’s in Los Angeles California. What’s the best way to track my computer and get it back and catch the thief who stole it?

  • Gandi Kranthi

    i have lost my dell laptop 20days ago i know my laptop serial number.how can i get my laptop can some one help me

  • Dijohn Davis

    Can anyone help me , today morning I lost my Dell laptop , I know my IP ADDRESS, but I don’t know how to trace with that . May be if they have change the IP address,what should I do ? Can anyone help me . My study materials are all in that laptop . Kindly request for a help .

  • Nishant Suryan

    My laptop got stolen. I know MAC Address of my laptop. Can anybody help me tracing my laptop. Thanks in advance.

  • Ataylor

    My boss bought a brand new MacBook and before he even SAW it, someone stole it. It was delivered, put away, and then it was gone. We think we might know who did it, but since it was still in it’s box, never been touched, is there anyway that he can track it???

  • rachel

    It took 3.5 months, but police have recovered my stolen macbook using the Dropbox method! There are lots of privacy laws where I live so police had to get several warrants signed by courts, including to get the information from the internet service provider. They were worried it would move from the location due to the length of time it took to get the information from the ISP, but thankfully it didn’t. Thanks so much for this post, I would have never thought of using Dropbox, since I didn’t have Find My Mac installed.

  • William Odianga

    i lost my windows 7 laptop i have tried to trace it back but all in vain

  • arunbharathram

    i lost my hp pavillion p-206 tx notebook can some one hel me???? 🙁

  • sandra

    my chromebook and notebook were stolen hours ago off my living room couch (went to the garbagethrew garbage out ) i called the police left a message?? no one has contacted me how can i render them both useless someone called anonymous and hung up must be the thieves called on the one notebook with my magicjack hooked to it am a female living alone on the ground floor freaking out now and worried about the information on my the police jsut came took my little information you think after 3 yrs you dont need the serial number or receipt but you do…now spending the night looking for the receipt if in fact i have them in all my papers ickk pleaseeee help

  • Piyush Kumar Srivastava

    my laptop is stolen and I know the ip address of it is (59.165.151.3) what can I do now

  • Jamil Sarip

    i need help, i got the ip address of my stolen laptop. anyone can help me?

  • vinay

    some body stolen my laptop i have that mac address with please help to find out my laptop and my mail id is bairivinaykumar1 [at] gmail [dot] com please Help me to trace my laptop

  • Maryam

    my laptop was stolen from my apartment while I was in the shower. I have no tracking apps installed. However I have the serial number and IP address.. What can I do to retrieve it? I have 2 suspects and I was wondering if they can access my laptop even though its password protected.

  • Rizwan Khan

    hey there some one stole my laptop hp envey X360 i know ip, product id so some one help how i get the laptop back

  • Abhishek

    Please help tracking my stolen laptop
    on 18th Oct’15

    Please help me tracking my stolen
    laptop and help us in breaking one of the most organized crime of
    stealing laptops and phones in my city Bangalore, India.

    Below are the details:

    Laptop model: Dell Inspiron 15 5548
    Service Tag: 4Y2L2J22
    Mac ID: 3417EB8089D2
    Network Card: D07E3560525C

    I have already informed the police, but
    they are highly inefficient and incapable.

  • Saeed

    I have my laptop ( MacBook Pro ) stolen last night and I have all my decument for school work on it, and I don’t have ICloud on it, how I can get it back ?I do have my gmail, Dropbox and Facebook on it. I do have the serial number.
    I’m offering $1000 for who can help getting back my laptop in my hand.

    Thanks

  • Sharan Kumar

    i have no infos about anything but i do have a email address, and i need to find someone using that can i do that???

  • Aoun

    I lost Microsoft what do I do

  • sarvesh

    Please help tracking my stolen laptop
    on 15 dec 15

    Please help me tracking my stolen
    laptop and help us in breaking one of the most organized crime of
    stealing laptops and phones in my city pune, India.

    Below are the details:

    Laptop model: Dell InspironN 5010
    Service Tag: 4Y2L2J22

    please help to find out my IP address &Network ID

    I have already informed the police, but
    they are highly inefficient and incapable i lost all my hope .

    please help me …
    please contact me 7276199558
    .

  • sarvesh

    Please help tracking my stolen laptop
    on 15 dec 15

    Please help me tracking my stolen
    laptop and help us in breaking one of the most organized crime of
    stealing laptops and phones in my city pune, India.

    Below are the details:

    Laptop model: Dell InspironN 5010
    Service Tag: HMZ48BS

    please help to find out my IP address &Network ID

    I have already informed the police, but
    they are highly inefficient and incapable i lost all my hope .

    please help me …
    please contact me 7276199558

  • Krystal Jung

    does anyone know how to track a chromebook? there was an app that could help u track it but it’s gone now.. plz help

  • Preeti tiwari

    My laptop today stolen.Please help tracking my stolen laptop. How to track my laptop?i have serial no.

    My email id: tiwaripreeti21 [at] gmail [dot] com
    . Plz help me…

  • Preeti tiwari

    yesterday my laptop was stolen. my documents and every imp information stored in laptop. how i can track my laptop ?I have serial no. Of laptop. Plz help me find out my laptop.laptop is password locked.

    tiwaripreeti21 [at] gmail [dot] com

  • RAJ KAMAL KUMAR

    I have lost my laptop on 14/01/2016. I have my serial no.5CB24535KO.Please help me to find my laptop. Email. rjkashyap1234 [at] gmail [dot] com

  • ivy

    i lost my LG 10 inch laptop have the serial number its 001qtys017162 please help

  • khasim

    I lost my Dell Laptop 20 days back and it still shows offline on find my Lap. I have filed a police complaint, locked my device, sent many messages. It has all my important documents that I never had the time to take a back up of. I just can’t afford to lose it. Tell me any way by which I can trace it please.And I didn’t have dropbox. Neither did I have prey.

    • Harsha

      how did you lock your device

  • Rajeshkumar

    I Have lost my laptop on 6/02/2016. I have my serial No – NXRUNSI003223005AA6600. Please help me to find my laptop. my email id:- onlyrajeshks [at] gmail [dot] com

  • Rajeshkumar

    My laptop stolen plz help tracking my stolen laptop. How to track my laptop. I have serial no – . my email id:- onlyrajeshks [at] gmail [dot] com

  • Funn Shiro

    Lost my MacBook Pro on last week Saturday which was on the 05.03.16. Bought it for only 2 months . How can I find it

    • Konstantina Fifli

      how finally find it? i lost my surface book which i had for 1 month

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  • Joe Jhonson

    Hai! I just lost my laptop,was stolen. They break my car glass such an asshole. I use gmail details as explained. But my laptop has password to get in the windows. How the way to track if they sell it then format it without log in. Means they never get in. The way i left it before was in sleep position. Means if the led open. My laptop will ask for password. Is there any other way to find out? I have not change my password of my gmail. In case they could get in to my windows. My files so important inside. I need serious help. Really

  • subhash

    i have lost my laptop 1 month ago how i can trace it please say to me what is procedure for finding

  • Dipak M Salve

    My laptop was stolen from My House on 15th april 2016 , My laptop is of Sony Vaio Brand , How can I recover my laptop? Can you help me to resolve this issue? Please guide me if possible.

  • Aspadistra Pronk

    Thank you so much. I’d heard that there was a way of finding lost iPads, but didn’t know for certain.

    My DH is a stroke survivor. Mislaid his device and I’d hunted high and low…

    I followed your instructions and logged onto iCloud for him and then hit ‘play sound’. Heard a faint noise,followed it and found the iPad had fallen down the back of DH’s nightstand, behind the drawer.

    Thank you so much – he was getting really stressed.

  • Dustin Spencer

    What if they factory restore it before conecting online, does that mean youe jus shit outta luck?

  • Jailene Juarez

    My laptop Acer aspire R14 got stolen in late March-April 2016 and I would like to recover it, my grandmother gave it to me as my birthday present (she never gives me anything expensive) cause you know we don’t have that much money I even receive food stamps, I saw how my grandma worked her but off to surprise me with this amazing gift (I used it for school) so please help me tell me what to do!!

  • xylin

    if a laptop has been format is there a way to track the laptop back