Never Lose Your Stuff Again

Can’t find your keys? Left your wallet at home? Use these apps and accessories to keep track of your belongings.

You’re already late for work and now you can’t find your phone. We’ve all been there—the frantic searching, the rising panic, the feeling that you just saw your phone sitting right here a few seconds ago.

The average American spends 2.5 days each year looking for lost items, and more than half of Americans say they are regularly late for work or school because they’re searching for something they misplaced. Losing things costs more than just time. U.S. households collectively spend $2.7 billion dollars a year replacing the things we lose.

There’s a bunch of interesting science about how we search for lost items. Researchers at UC Berkeley found that when you’re looking for something really important—like your wallet, or you know, your child—your brain gets a turbocharge of visual processing power.

But if your brain cells aren’t getting the job done, you may want to try a more high-tech way to keep track of your keys, phone, wallet, laptop, pets, passwords, and even your parking space.

Lost and Found

Attaching a smart tracker to your frequently-lost items is a good place to start. There are several Bluetooth options on the market right now, like Tile and Chipolo. These small fobs connect with an app on your phone. Use the app to see your item’s location on a map, or press a button to make the tracker play a sound. The TrackR pixel has the same capabilities, plus Bluetooth-activated LED lights make it easier to spot on a cluttered surface or deep in your tote bag. The Pixie tracker is similar, but uses augmented reality to show the location of your missing item through your phone’s camera. Fancy, right?

All of these options are great as long as you’re within range of Bluetooth, which maxes out at about 150 feet. If you left your backpack in the Uber that’s already across town, you’ll need something with actual GPS capabilities, like the Samsung Smart Things Tracker. The Smart Things app (iOS | Android) lets you pinpoint your item’s location on a map, no matter how far away it is. Of course, the increased capability comes with a higher price tag.

Homeward Bound

Sometimes man’s best friend can be a little too adventurous. If Fido has a habit of digging his way out of the yard, you may want to look into a Whistle GPS collar. The Whistle app (iOS | Android) alerts you whenever your pet leaves a designated location and creates a “trip map” to show you exactly where they went.

Dude, Where’s My Car?

We’ve all been that person wandering the parking lot, searching for our car and looking like an idiot. Not anymore. Use Google Maps (iOS | Android) to save your parking space next time. Once you’ve parked (because safety first!), open Google Maps, tap your location on the map, and then tap “Set as parking location.” No more pressing the alarm button a million times until your horn goes off.

Forget Me Not

Security experts say you should use a different password for every app and account you log into. But who can keep track of all that? Use LastPass (iOS | Android) to securely save a list of the login details for every website and app you need to sign in to. You can store unlimited passwords across your phone, tablet, and computer for free. When you need to log in to an app or website, Last Pass auto-fills your password. So all you have to remember is your password for Last Pass. So that’s a password to protect your list of passwords. Have we reached password-inception yet? Where is Leonardo DiCaprio in all this?

Call Me, Maybe?

If you don’t have Find My iPhone or Google Find My Device set up, please stop reading and do that immediately. You use your phone for pretty much every aspect of life, and you need to have a simple, secure way to locate it in case someone steals it or you lose it in the couch cushions. These apps can help!

Back It Up

It sucks to lose your phone, but it sucks even more to lose all your photos and contacts. Back up your device so all your important stuff is safe, even if your phone is at the bottom of the pool. Set up iCloud if you have an iPhone, or Google Sync and Google Photos if you have an Android, and adjust your settings so your phone automatically backs up once a day.

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