How To Install GPS Tracking Apps Remotely To Find A Lost Or Stolen Android Cell Phone

by Joe Mueller on December 8, 2011

Did you know that if you are using an Android cell phone you can download apps to your cell phone from the web? That is right, you do not even have to have your phone in your possession! This is an incredibly important thing for someone who has a lost cell phone because it means you can download and install a GPS tracking app onto your phone from your home or work computer. What you will find below is how to install Plan B, a free cell phone recovery app from the makers of Lookout Mobile Security, and how to start tracking your phone AFTER you already lost it.

How to Do I Install A Cell Phone Tracking App On A Phone I Already Lost?

  1. Go to the Android Market
  2. Log in using the GMail account that you set up your phone with
  3. Type “Plan B” in the search field and press the “Enter” key
  4. Click on the Install button
  5. A pop up will ask you to which phone you want to install the tracking app
  6. Click on another install button on the bottom of the screen
  7. Get the confirmation message that the app is being downloaded to your phone

The one thing that you have to keep in mind is that the phone does need to be on. To say the same thing twice, you cannot install an app remotely when the phone is off. You will only be told by the app store that your app will be installed shortly, so if the phone is off the only way that you will be able to tell is because you received no messages from Plan B on your Gmail account.

Installing Plan B App Store Affirmative

Another thing to think about is that when you install the app remotely the phone will receive a notification that the app has been downloaded. The app also sends an email once it has found your location to the GMail address associated with your phone – which means you will get an email notification on your phone too. Once the Plan B app is installed you will get the following on the screen of your cell phone:

All of these notifications are fine if the phone is simply lost, but it can be a tip off to a theif if the phone was stolen. This is one of the major drawbacks of using something like Plan B.

Once Plan B Has Been Installed: How It Works

After Plan B is installed it will sent emails to the GMail account associated with your phone. The emails that were sent to me looked like this:

Plan B Gmail Messages

This app worked even with my GPS turned off. When I checked the phone after the program was installed my GPS was turned back on.

Apps The Can Be Remotely Installed Successfully

As of right now we have only really tested Plan B as way to track a phone that has already been lost or stolen. Once we do some additional testing we will compile a list of all apps here. If you already know of one, please leave a comment letting us know.

Here is a list of app that I have tested and found to work with a remote install:

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Patti December 19, 2011 at 5:59 am

Brilliant post – and Plan B worked like a dream. Of course, the “precious phone” was in my house. But that’s a whole other Home Organizing post for another website…. Thanks!

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2 Joe December 19, 2011 at 10:07 am

Hi Patti,

I’m so glad it worked for you! If you are interested in having a more full featured lost phone finder you might want to consider Lookout Mobile Security. It is from the makers of Plan B and it is what I use on my phone. It give you the ability to make your phone scream, which is essentially a loud siren like noise that makes your screen flash. The app has helped me find my misplaced phone several times.

- Joe

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3 shadab pathan March 21, 2012 at 9:01 am

i want to know holl information about that number who i am finding

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4 juan silva April 2, 2012 at 7:30 am

lost my cell can u help me

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5 Joe April 13, 2012 at 4:25 am

Hi juan,

Unfortunately, other than providing the information that I already have there isn’t much I can do to help you find your cell phone.

- Joe

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6 Corey April 10, 2012 at 7:34 pm

How long does it take to recieve an email? i havent recieved one yet

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7 Joe April 13, 2012 at 5:27 am

Hi Corey,

I usually would get one within 5 minutes. If you don’t get one it means your phone is off, destroyed, or doesn’t have a workable signal.

Sorry.

- Joe

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8 Sara April 18, 2012 at 1:06 am

Just moved to a new location this weekend. Lost my phone shopping today. I just submitted my email report to the sheriff’s dept with the exact GPS location provided by Plan B, because my phone is definitely in a location that I was not at today. Plan B has given my hope when I thought there was none. (I really mapquested how far away my phone was and thought about driving by there but figured I better not or I might get myself in trouble.) I will let you know how the ‘search and rescue’ goes. I hope the Sheriff’s Dept will be willing to help me since it was over $400 and considered grand theft!
Sara

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9 Joe April 18, 2012 at 7:04 am

Hi Sara,

I really hope your phone gets recovered! And please let me know how this works itself out. I am very interested to hear about it.

- Joe

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10 Jude David April 20, 2012 at 8:51 am

I keep trying to download Plan B and I keep getting this response?

You haven’t accessed the Google Play Store app (the white shopping bag app icon) on your device with this email account.

How do I find out what Gmail account was on my phone as I have 3

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11 Joe April 20, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Hi Jude,

There is no way to tell other than to try to log into each one and see what happens.

- Joe

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12 Connie June 6, 2012 at 7:19 am

This worked perfectly as described! We were able to locate our lost phone and just in time as the battery was nearly drained. Thanks so much!

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13 Nar June 21, 2012 at 10:26 am

I lost my cell phone and I will like you to help me

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14 bir prakash June 30, 2012 at 10:07 pm

I lost my phone today, please help

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15 bir prakash June 30, 2012 at 10:08 pm

sorry my cell phone no.is 0272220542

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16 James Lewis July 15, 2012 at 2:00 am

jameslewis530@gmail.com This Is Smart. I love it. THANKS.

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17 sudeep August 4, 2012 at 8:16 am

someone has stolen my mobile pls find it

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18 Marge August 27, 2012 at 7:23 am

This post is informational only. Lost my phone 3 days ago. First call to Sprint learned about Plan B, which gave me a location where I had never been, but said it could be within a mile of there. Second call to Sprint learned about Family Locator, which gave me a location where I had driven after leaving the phone on top of my car, again with a radius of a mile. They also had me call Asurion, who manages their insurance claims. They have a locator as well. It gave me the same location as Family Locator, also with a radius of a mile, but you can only use it once. Walked and walked along that road scanning the roadside brush but alas, no luck. I do think that area is probably where my phone is, tho. Tried Plan B again on Day 2. It gave me a completely different impossible location where the other was consistent. Also had Lookout installed on phone, and Lookout says it can locate within 8 meters, but I didn’t have that function turned on, as I get very little battery time and I thought it would cause too much drain. I think Lookout should be able to turn that on remotely. So Family Locator has it all over Plan B or Asurion Device Locator. Lookout probably works much better than any of those, but you have to leave the locate function on all the time.

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19 Lashea August 30, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Is there any way to use the app when the phone is off?

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20 Sheldon September 4, 2012 at 10:58 am

Lost my band new phone while hunting in a hundred acre soy bean field. After hours of searching came home and contacted my carrier, who informed me there was no way to get gps coordinates off of a lost phone. Refusing to give up I searched until I found Plan B. Within minutes I had the exact location (within 3m). With the use of a handheld gps and the coordinates supplied by Plan B, I found my phone within minutes of re-entering that huge feild. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to whomever made this software available. Plan B saved the day.

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21 sarah November 1, 2012 at 2:42 pm

i have had my phone stolen and am trying to download plan b but i think that hey keep on deleting the instalation so what can i do please help dont have money to pay my insurance deductable……all my pictures of my children were on there which really hurts…………

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22 Joe November 8, 2012 at 5:05 am

Hi sarah,

I am so sorry for you. Did you have Google+ app installed? It can automatically back-up your pictures and videos as you take them, which is really awesome.

If you can’t get Plan B to work then I am not sure what you can do to find the phone. You might contact your cell phone carrier and ask them if they have a tracking service that you can use. They can be less than reliable since they often use cell phone tower positions even if a GPS signal is available. What makes you think they keep deleting the installation?

- Joe

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23 praveen November 14, 2012 at 8:53 am

I have lost my bb handset how to find it as it was new set and sim is there and its ringing but not traceable. Pl suggest me.

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24 Carlus December 15, 2012 at 3:44 am

My phone was stolen…I installed Plan B from my computer and it send the map image….but this place was closed today and it says within 2056 meters!!? https://maps.google.com/?q=35.7446986,-81.3009579&z=16&ll=35.7446986,-81.3009579

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25 Joe Mueller December 18, 2012 at 8:03 am

Hi Carlus,

Bummer. There is a good chance your phone is close to that location, and may even be right there – there just isn’t any way to tell for sure without going there. Hopefully it turns up and you get your phone back!

- Joe

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26 bhaskar reddy November 24, 2013 at 6:33 am

sir
i lost my mobile few days back(HYD, A.P) .CAN U HELP ME??????????
TO FIND MY MOBILE
plz reply

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27 bhaskar reddy November 24, 2013 at 6:34 am

if u help me iwill send IMEI no!!!!!!!

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