When Apple introduced the free Find My Mac feature in 2011, Mac users who forked out a hefty sum for their MacBook Pros and iMacs were elated.
Mac owners’ thinking was that any thief making away with their precious Mac computers would soon be caught saving them the anxiety and stress over losing a valuable device.
As Wodehouse fans would recognize, it was like Bertie Wooster escaping the dreaded shackles of matrimony one more time! 😉
Alas, there are few perfect solutions in life.
Not So Fast
While the Find My Mac feature (which needs to be configured before the theft via Apple’s iCloud and Location Services) has some benefits, it’s by no means certain that it’ll get your stolen Mac back.
First, let me list some of the advantages of enabling the Find My Mac feature as soon as you get your new or used Mac.
If your Mac is stolen, there are four things you can do provided the Find My Mac feature has already been enabled:
1. Play a Sound on the stolen Mac
2. Display a message on the Mac
3. Lock your Mac
4. Erase all the contents on the Mac
While there are benefits to these four measures, they’re not the same as getting your pricey MacBook or iMac back.
But you can at least ensure that your precious data does not fall into the wrong hands and compound your distress.
Limitations of Find My Mac
The biggest limitation of Find My Mac is that it gives you only an approximate location.
An approximate location is no guarantee of recovery.
For instance, when I tested this feature for my Apple devices the map showed me the street but the area highlighted covered about a dozen houses.
Not a convenient way to recover my Mac.
If your thief lives in a 15-story apartment complex in a big city like Philadelphia or New York City, then Find My Mac is bound to get even more complicated even if you find the approximate location.
While the police might be sympathetic to your plight, they will not start banging down doors to retrieve your Mac.
There are things like “search warrant” and “probable cause” to be taken into account before the police go knocking on doors.
And policemen usually have bigger fish to fry like assaults, drugs and murder.
The other big limitation is that if your MacBook or iMac is connected to the Internet via ethernet and the WiFi is turned off then Find My Mac won’t work.
As Apple makes it clear:
You can locate a Mac that’s connected to the Internet using Ethernet only if Wi-Fi is also turned on (in Network preferences) and the Mac is within range of a “known” (that is, one it has connected to before) Wi-Fi network.
So if your thief is a tech savvy bloke and turns off WiFi on the device soon after laying his hands on your computer, you might as well kiss goodbye to all hopes of recovering your Mac.
Find My Mac is a nice thing to have in theory but it might not be the surefire technique to recover your stolen MacBook or iMac.
But I still recommend you set up Find My Mac the moment you get your Mac. In the event your Mac is stolen you can at least lock it or wipe out all the precious data on the computer.
Some protection is better than no protection where your precious Mac computer is concerned.