Having your Mac get stolen might seem like the end of the world, but there are some steps you can take to try and get it back, or failing that, make an insurance claim. Let’s have a look at what to do if your Mac goes missing.

Take Some Preventative Measures Now In Case Your Mac Gets Stolen

After your Mac gets stolen, it’s often too late to do much to protect your data and private information. This means you need to start protecting yourself now as a precaution.

File Vault lets you encrypt your Mac’s hard disk. This means that without your password, no one who has your Mac will be able to access your files; if you don’t have encryption enabled and someone has physical access to the device, they can read your files. It’s really important that you turn FileVault on to keep your data private.

Find My Mac is what allows you to track your Mac, lock it and send a message, or remotely wipe it when it’s stolen. We’ll look at it in more detail in a moment, but make sure to enable it by going to System Preferences > iCloud and toggling the “Find My Mac” option on.

On macOS, you can add a message to the lock screen. There’s a chance your Mac wasn’t actually stolen and that a good Samaritan will return it if they’ve got a way to contact you. Add a message with your contact details and offer a reward to your lock screen to make it easy for them.

Unfortunately, most stolen computers are never seen again. So you don’t lose any prized family photos or important documents, you should regularly back up your Mac with Time Machine. This way, if your Mac does get stolen, at least you don’t lose any data. You should also consider using a cloud back up solution like Backblaze for a truly brainless solution.

Using Find My Mac to Lock or Wipe Your Mac

Since your Mac doesn’t have a GPS chip or a permanent data connection, Find My Mac won’t always locate your Mac the way the similar feature can with an iPhone. Whoever has your Mac will have to connect it to Wi-Fi before you can use the Find My Mac features like locking it or permanently erasing it. However, if you’ve taken the right precautions, this means that they’re left with a largely useless, encrypted device that they won’t be able to sell and which, should they ever connect it to Wi-Fi, will notify you.

RELATED: How to Track, Disable, and Wipe a Lost iPhone, iPad, or Mac

Head to iCloud.com using any web browser, log in to your iCloud account, and then select the “Find iPhone” option. You can also use the Find My iPhone app on any iOS device.

Select the Mac you’re looking for from the list.

If there’s a location available, it will be displayed. Otherwise you can check the “Notify Me If Found” box to get an email if the Mac ever comes online again. It’s important to note, however, that you should never attempt to retrieve your Mac yourself. People have died trying to get their own devices back.

Otherwise you’ve got three options:

  • Play a Sound: Plays a loud sound that’s mostly useful if you’ve just misplaced your Mac somewhere nearby.
  • Lock Your Mac: Lets you remotely lock the Mac with a password and display a message with your contact details. The lock lasts even if the thieves try to wipe your Mac, so they won’t be able to reinstall macOS or even install Windows on it. If you offer a reward, there’s a chance the thieves will also just return it claiming they found it.
  • Erase Your Mac: Wipes all your personal data from the Mac. You should really use Lock Your Mac; Erase Your Mac is only really useful if you have unsecured private data you want to delete. It’s better just to set up FileVault before your Mac goes missing.

Contact the Police

Seriously, I can’t stress this enough. Don’t attempt to recover your own Mac. Instead, contact the relevant police department and file a theft report.

Depending on how and where your Mac was stolen, there may be very little the police can do. CCTV footage is much more useful as evidence after they have a suspect than as a means of identifying an unknown thief. Even though the police could well be unable to help, you will most likely need a police report to attempt to make an insurance claim.

Contact Your Insurance Provider

If you have your Mac insured for loss or theft, contact your insurance provider immediately. You’ll likely need to provide them with the police report and your receipt for the purchase for them to start processing the claim.

Even if you don’t have your Mac specifically insured, all might not be lost. Many home insurance policies cover gadgets like laptops, even when you take them outside your house. Dig out your home insurance policy and have a look. The deductible is likely going to be a lot higher than with a dedicated insurance policy, but you should at least still get something back if your Mac is covered.

If you’re not in your home country, your Mac might also be covered by any travel insurance you have. Once again, find your policies and read through the fine print. Remember, your credit card company might also offer automatic travel coverage. The deductible may be high and the claim limit low, but at least it’s something.

The sad truth is that if your Mac gets stolen, there’s a good chance you won’t see it again. Hopefully you can at least claim a good chunk of its value back from an insurance policy. And if not, the next step is to check out our guide on how to save money on Apple products.

Profile Photo for Harry Guinness Harry Guinness
Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like The New York Times and on a variety of other websites, from Lifehacker to Popular Science and Medium's OneZero.
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