Apple AirTags are useful devices for locating commonly misplaced items like keys and wallets, but they can also be hijacked for more sinister purposes, such as tracking your whereabouts without your knowledge or consent.
For a rogue AirTag to reveal meaningful surveillance information to its owner, it must be traveling with you: hidden in a pocket, purse, or vehicle you drive regularly. In most cases, Apple should alert you if it detects an unknown AirTag with a notification to your iPhone (or iPad) like “AirTag Found Moving With You.”
How to turn on AirTag alerts
If you suspect there’s any chance you could be tracked—or want to know if unfamiliar accessories like AirTags and AirPods have made their way into your possession accidentally—make sure you enable unwanted tracking alerts on your Apple device.
Under Settings > Privacy & Security > Location Services, toggle Location Services on.
Scroll down to tap System Services and toggle Find My iPhone on.
Toggle on Significant Locations to be notified when you arrive at frequent destinations, such as your home.
Under Settings > Bluetooth, toggle Bluetooth on.
Under Settings > Notifications > Find My, toggle Allow Notifications on.
Make sure your device is not in Airplane Mode, which will prevent tracking notifications from coming through.
If you’re an Android user, the Tracker Detect app will look for devices on Apple’s Find My network.
How to find an AirTag in your car
If alerts are enabled as described above, you should receive a notification if an unrecognized AirTag is traveling with you. Tap the alert > Continue > Play Sound. AirTags will play an audio tone—though if you don’t hear it, it may simply be hidden well enough to muffle the sound.
Note that an AirTag will also beep after some time (three days) away from its paired iPhone or iPad, so if you hear that unexpectedly, you should also search around. On the flip side, if it’s within proximity of its owner, no tone will sound.
If you have an iPhone 11 or later, you can also use the Find Nearby function to precisely locate the unknown AirTag. Tap the alert > Continue > Find Nearby and follow the onscreen directions. You should see the distance and direction your iPhone has from the tag.
If none of this works, you may need to manually search for the AirTag. Pockets in your clothes or bags are good first stops, though you should consider that these devices are low-profile and could also be sewn into clothing. Check compartments in your car, under floor mats, in seat pockets, etc.
How to disable an unknown AirTag
Once you find a hidden AirTag, you can get more information about who owns it and then disable it from tracking. Hold the top of your iPhone (or any NFC-capable smartphone, which is most Android devices and all modern iPhones with recent OS upgrades) over the white side of the AirTag. Tap the notification that pops up, which leads to a website that shows the tag’s serial number and the last four digits of the owner’s phone number. Take a screenshot in case you need this information later.
To disable the AirTag, open the Find My app > Items > Items Detected With You. Select the AirTag, tap Instructions to Disable, and follow the prompts. You can also call local law enforcement and file a report.