Put a phone number on your login or lock screen to help people reach you when they find your lost device.
Your road warrior gear likely includes one or more mobile devices. To protect any sensitive data loaded on your devices, you've probably already activated the login passwords or passcodes required to access each device.
But if you accidentally leave your mobile device somewhere, perhaps in the back seat of a taxi or at the airport security line, do you have a way others can easily contact you and return your property when it's recovered?
Granted, there are full-featured security programs that can report your device's GPS position, take periodic photos with its camera, and play audible alerts to attract attention, but there's one simple thing you can do to increase your odds of recovering a lost mobile device: Put a phone number on your device's login or lock screen.
The message I use for my devices is, "I'm lost! Please call <mobile number> to find my owner."
Here's how to do this on a variety of popular operating systems.
If you use a laptop with Windows 7, open Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Local Security Policy. Then select Security Options and scroll down to the entry labeled "Interactive logon: Message text for users attempting to log on." You may need Administrator privileges to access this information. Here you can type in a message with your mobile phone number that will be displayed along with the login window.
Mac OS X
If you own a Mac laptop running Mac OS X Lion or Mountain Lion software, open System Preferences > Security & Privacy. In the Security & Privacy window, click the General tab and then click the box next to the line that says, "Show a message when the screen is locked." You may need to click the lock at the bottom of the window in order the change this setting. Click the "Set Lock Message" button and type in your message to be displayed on the lock screen.
For your iPhone or iPad, you can use a unique photo or image for your lock screen. You can use an image editing program to create an image that is 640×960 pixels and type in your contact information, or you can simply take a picture of a piece of paper using your device's camera. With that photo loaded on your iOS device's photo app, tap the export or "send to" icon in the top-right corner, tap "Use as wallpaper," then "Set Lock Screen."
In most versions of Android, you can set your device's wallpaper from within the default Gallery app for photos. Browse to an image you want to use for your wallpaper (again, taking a photo of a piece of paper with your contact information is the easiest method), tap it, then tap "More." From the list of options, tap "Set as" and then choose Wallpaper. You'll need to crop the dimensions of your photo and then tap the Save button. I can't speak to all versions of Android, but earlier variants do not distinguish the lock screen image from the regular wallpaper, so it will be used for both.
Of course, you don't need to go through the steps of customizing your device's lock screen with your contact information, but it is a helpful option. After all, taping your business card or a label with your phone number is probably just as effective in helping honest people reach you when they find your lost device.