Even if you don’t have a portable Mac, you should be aware that stuff happens, and even if you think that it’s never going to happen to you, thefts are not as unusual as you might think. I’ve been there, and I can tell you it feels awful having no way to access your computer at all after it’s been stolen, not even to say “hello” to its new owner.
There have been some theft-recovery apps floating around for a few years now, but it wasn’t until recently that Apple made its own service of the kind available. It’s called Find My Mac (or Find My iPad/iPhone), and today we’re going to be reviewing it along with a Mac client for the service called Sosumi.
What Is Find My Mac?
Find My iPhone/iPad/Mac is a free service that you probably have activated on all of your Apple devices without even knowing it. It works through iCloud, and its most popular use would probably be to recover stolen devices.
Once you set it up in your iDevices, you can access the service through your iCloud account via iCloud.com, where you can view in a map, where each of your registered devices is located with a fair amount of accuracy. You can then display a message to your device, change or set the password, or completely wipe its memory contents.
The service has been available in the iPhone and iPad for a while now, but it just became available for the Mac late last year. You can check if you have it activated by going to Preferences, the iCloud menu, and then checking off the “Find my Mac” service. Once you already have it active, you can check that everything is working correctly by navigating to your iCloud account and going to the “Find My iPhone” service. Congratulations! Now you have a way to access your computer or other iDevice, if it ever gets lost or stolen.
While the iOS devices have their own “Find my (Device)” apps, there isn’t really a dedicated client for this service on your Mac. That’s where Sosumi, a free open-source app, comes in. It’s a fairly simple way of checking up on your devices without having to open up the iCloud page on your browser, so that you can always have available data of where they are located.
The interface of Sosumi is very simple and you might not find anything new that you don’t already have at the iCloud service. The one big advantage it has over it is that it lets you have more than one account active, which means that if you have devices activated with more than one account, you don’t need to go around logging on and off with each of them, here you have access to all of them at the same time.
Inside Sosumi, and once you’ve logged into all of your accounts, you’ll find some information about each of your devices (including a green or red button if they’re active), a refresh button, a “View on Map” button, and a “Send Message” button.
You’ll also have a map, and if you double click on any of your devices, you’ll be automatically zoomed in to the known location of your device. If it’s available, you’ll also get some more information of the device, like its coordinates, the accuracy of its location, if it’s charging or not, the battery level and the time it was located at.
The map is powered by Google Maps, and you can evidently browse through it like you might on any other Google-powered map. Besides that, the app doesn’t do much. It actually doesn’t let you wipe your device or change its password, like the iCloud web service does. It’s purely a simple and quick way to check up on your devices, if you find yourself doing so constantly.
Find My Mac and the Competition
A while back I did a roundup on theft-recovery apps for the Mac, and I was very impressed with all of them back then. After having used them for a while, though, I can say that it’s very easy to forget about the paid services once it’s time to renew your plan.
You might be scared for a while of losing or getting your Mac stolen, but once that fear fades, these services will go to the back of your mind as well. I’m telling you this because it happened to me. I’ve gotten Macs stolen, and when that happened I swore I would do whatever I could to keep my new Mac safe. I got a one-year Hidden subscription, and when it was over a year later, I didn’t even bother to renew it (even though I did get an email telling me about it).
Find My Mac is more of a “set it and forget it” kind of service, as it doesn’t require you to pay, subscribe or keep up with it. It’s also included with your Mac, so I don’t think there’s really any other reason to keep using external paid services, other than their extra offerings like Undercover’s money-back guarantee. Besides that, I don’t think there’s any reason not to use a service like this, except perhaps if you worry about your security and you don’t trust a company like Apple (or even worse, one of the third-party app companies) with your location information.
The truth is, accidents do happen and your computer could very easily get stolen or lost with all of your sensitive information. Recovering it might seem like a very far off posibility, even knowing its location, but at least with services like these you can at least lock it or wipe it in case you can’t recover it physically. You know what they say, you can never be too careful.
Back when I did the theft-recovery roundup, I heard from a lot of people that worried about giving anybody permission to know their location or (with apps like Hidden), easy access to their webcam and other similar stuff. I get where they’re coming from, but I also think the security of having a quick way to access my devices when they’re gone far outweighs the conspiratorialist fears of some.
Sosumi isn’t exactly a big deal, it’s just a very simple client for a very simple service. It’s not necessary, but you might find it useful if you find yourself checking the location of your devices a lot.
What do you think? Do you have any successful recovery stories from services like Find My Mac? We want to hear them!