The Mac Security Blog

Apple

Complete Guide to Apple AirTags: How to Use Them, How They Work, and What to Track with Them

Posted on May 13th, 2021 by

Apple’s new AirTag allows you to track items almost anywhere, leveraging the network of nearly one billion iOS devices around the world. You can use them to track your keys and luggage, your musical instruments and your tools, or even your bicycle or skateboard.

You can use the Find My app to locate your tagged items, and, as you get close to them, if you have an iPhone 11 or later, you can get precise directions until you find your lost item.

Here’s everything you can do with AirTags, with links to articles we’ve published that go into more detail.

Setting up and using AirTags

AirTags are easy to set up. Unpack an AirTag and hold it near your iPhone. You’ll see a card pop up offering to connect to the device.

Follow the instructions, name the AirTag, and you’re set.

You can use the Find My app on your iPhone to locate items, and get directions as you get closer.

Read Hands On with Apple’s AirTags: Find Lost Keys, Bags, and More for more information about setting up and using AirTags.

What you can track with AirTags

Aside from the obvious things – keys, a purse, a backpack, etc. – AirTags can be used to track some less common items. You could stick one under your bicycle seat; you could put one in a musical instrument case; you could even tape one to a remote that you misplace often (though that’s a bit clunky).

Read 24 Things You Can Track with Apple’s New AirTags for more ideas how to use AirTags.

Tracking AirTags is very efficient

One of the most common uses for AirTags will probably be to find your keys. Most people misplace their keys from time to time, and this can be quite stressful, if you think you’ve lost them. You’ll be able to use the Find My app to see if you left your keys in the office, in the car, or at a friend’s house.

AirTags leverage the huge network of iOS devices around the world. We did a test to see how well we could track an AirTag by mailing one. We found that there are enough postal employees with iPhones to keep tabs on the AirTag across a 150-trip, from pickup at a mailbox to delivery.

Read I Mailed an AirTag and Tracked Its Progress; Here’s What Happened.

AirTag durability

Some AirTags will be used in harsh conditions. If you want to keep one in your gym bag, and put it in the trunk of your car, it could get very cold in winter, and very hot in summer. You may forget one in a pocket and put it in the wash. If you have one attached to your keys, it’ll get scratched. And you may drop an AirTag from time to time.

We stress-tested AirTags, subjecting them to heat and cold, put one in a washing machine and dryer, and took one and ran over it with a car, then stepped on it on a gravel surface. They all came out fine, though the later is a bit worse for wear.

Read How Tough are AirTags? We Froze, Washed and Dried, Ran Over, and Put Them in the Hot Sun to find out how robust they are.

 

How can I learn more?

Each week on the Intego Mac Podcast, Intego’s Mac security experts discuss the latest Apple news, security and privacy stories, and offer practical advice on getting the most out of your Apple devices. Be sure to follow the podcast to make sure you don’t miss any episodes.

We discussed AirTags and more on episode 185 of the Intego Mac Podcast.

You can also subscribe to our e-mail newsletter and keep an eye here on Mac Security Blog for the latest Apple security and privacy news. And don’t forget to follow Intego on your favorite social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

About Kirk McElhearn

Kirk McElhearn writes about Apple products and more on his blog Kirkville. He is co-host of the Intego Mac Podcast, as well as several other podcasts, and is a regular contributor to The Mac Security Blog, TidBITS, and several other websites and publications. Kirk has written more than two dozen books, including Take Control books about Apple's media apps, Scrivener, and LaunchBar. Follow him on Twitter at @mcelhearn. View all posts by Kirk McElhearn →