If you lose your phone, you can call it or locate it with GPS. If you lose other important things like your keys or wallet, however, you’re usually out of luck. The Tile keychain and card gadget trackers aim to solve that by letting you call your valuables from your phone.

What Is Tile?

Tile is a Bluetooth-enabled device tracker that pairs with your smartphone. It comes in two forms. The Tile Mate ($25) is a small, square keychain that’s not much bigger than a quarter. It has a hole in one corner so you can attach it to your key ring, purse, or backpack. There’s also the Tile Slim ($30), which is a thinner square than the Mate, but wider. It’s as tall as one credit card, and as thin as two or three. It can fit neatly inside your wallet or notebook without adding extra bulk.

While each Tile is a little expensive on its own, you can get bundles to save money, like this 4-pack with two Tile Mates and two Tile Slims for $90. On top of that, you can earn points by inviting friends to get free Tiles. If you invite two friends, you can get a free Mate, and four friends earns you a free Slim. Not a bad deal, if you know a lot of forgetful people.

You can pair your Tile with your phone, allowing you to locate it whenever you’re nearby. If you’re within Bluetooth range, you can open the app, find the object you’re missing, and tap “Find” to make it ring. The Tile will then play a loud ringtone. Then you can follow the sound to discover that you left your keys on the kitchen counter, right in front of you like an idiot.

When you’re not within Bluetooth range, the Tile app can show you the last known location of your keys or wallet on a map. On top of remembering where you were when your phone was last near your valuables, Tile also uses the community of Tile members to find your stuff. So, for example, if you left your wallet at the bar and there are other Tile users nearby, your wallet’s location will continually be updated as long as someone else is in range. This is particularly handy if your wallet gets picked up or taken somewhere. Tile’s community isn’t a guaranteed way to track your stuff, since there aren’t a ton of Tile users everywhere, but it’s better than relying solely on your own phone.

As a bonus, Tiles also include a small button inside each keychain or card. When you double-click this button, the Tile will ring your phone, even if it’s on silent. So, if you’re heading out the door and you have your keys but can’t find your phone, you can ring it with a couple clicks. Turns out it was in your back pocket. Of course.

How to Set Up a New Tile

To set up your Tile, you’ll need to download and install the Tile app for Android or iOS. When you first open the app, you’ll need to create an account, if you don’t already have one, and log in.


You’ll need to make sure that Tile can access your phone’s Bluetooth and your GPS location. If you’ve turned off either, the next page will ask you to turn them on. You’ll also need to keep in mind that Bluetooth and GPS are necessary to locate and track your Tiles. If you ever need to turn them off to save battery, you won’t be able to ring your Tiles.


Your phone will be added as the first Tile device on your account. Even without a Tile Mate or Slim, you can use the app on the web to find your phone. Click “Got it.”

Tap the plus symbol at the top of the screen.

If you haven’t confirmed your email address, you’ll need to do so before you can add any Tiles. You’ll receive a six-digit code to the email address on your account. Enter it to continue.

Next, choose the model of Tile you have to add it to your account.

For the next step, grab your Tile and click the button in the center underneath the logo. Put your Tile next to your phone to pair it. The app will also demonstrate on your screen.


Once your Tile is paired, you should see a bright blue screen saying that your Tile has been activated.

NOTE: after this point, you won’t be able to add your Tile to another account without contacting Tile. For security reasons, Tile only allows you to hide a Tile from the app or transfer it to someone else’s account (which you have to email support to do). If you want to delete your Tile entirely, you’ll need to contact Tile support and the Tile won’t be able to be used again. This is to help ensure that a thief can’t easily remove Tiles from your account in case your stuff gets stolen.

Next, you can pick what you’re going to use your Tile on. You can choose from some preset categories like keys or wallet, or choose your own custom label. Tiles still work the same way no matter what you choose, but this helps you easily spot the thing you’re looking for from a list.

On the last screen, you can test your Tile by tapping the green Find button. This will make your Tile ring until you click the logo on it.


You can repeat this process for as all the Tiles you need.

How to Find Your Stuff With Your Tile

There are two ways you can use your Tile to find your stuff. You can either use your phone to locate your Tile, or you can use your Tile to locate your phone. For the former, open up your app.

Here, you’ll see a list of all the Tile objects (including your phone). The icon on the right will show you the connection status of your Tile. A solid green line will indicate that your phone is connected to the Tile. A dotted green line indicates that your Tile is nearby but hasn’t connected yet. This can help you find your Tile when it’s in the house, but you’re not sure what room it’s in. Walk from room to room until the line turns solid. A grey line indicates that your Tile is not nearby. If that’s the case, use the map feature to find where your Tile was last seen. Tap the Tile you want to find to continue.

On the individual Tile screen, you can see your options for finding your stuff. If you’re within range, tap the green Find button to ring your Tile. If you need to see a map of where your stuff is, tap Options then choose “View on Map.”


The “View on Map” button will show you where your Tile was last seen on a map. You can pan around and zoom to see where it is. If another Tile user finds your device, the location should update. It’s not a guarantee, but you may get lucky.

You can also use your Tile to find your phone. Double-click the button inside the logo and your phone should start ringing, even if it’s on silent. When you find your phone, you’ll see a notification for the alert. Tap Found It to turn off the ringing.

Ideally, once you set up your Tile, you’ll forget about it most of the time. Tile isn’t a perfect way to find your stuff if you ever lose it outside your home, but it can help you realize when you forgot something at the bar or find your keys in the couch cushions. It’s a little piece of mind that can help you out when you need it most.

Profile Photo for Eric Ravenscraft Eric Ravenscraft
Eric Ravenscraft has nearly a decade of writing experience in the technology industry. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, PCMag, The Daily Beast, Popular Science, Medium's OneZero, Android Police, Geek and Sundry, and The Inventory. Prior to joining How-To Geek, Eric spent three years working at Lifehacker.
Read Full Bio »