How to Find a Lost Friend

Three Parts:Gathering DetailsSearching OnlineSearching In-Person

Knowing how to find a lost friend can be a simple way to help you rekindle an old relationship. Whether you are looking to catch up on old times, make new memories, or take advantage of the connection and networking opportunity that a reunion can give, you can easily find lost friends by following a few simple steps. If you're looking for how to find someone who is lost or missing, go here.

Part 1
Gathering Details

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    Make sure you have their name. You'll have the best possible chance of finding a long lost friend if you have their full name, especially middle name. A more unusual name will make you search easier, because a name like Jimmy John Smith is going to turn up a huge number of people when you search.[1]
    • Remember that your friend might have changed their name. If they're a woman, it is even more likely that she might have changed her last name. Some places have maiden names, but not all.
    • Using a middle name in your search will help narrow it down, especially on the internet and make it more likely that you'll find the correct Jimmy Smith.
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    Remember as much personal information as you can. This means things like how you know them, whether it's through school, or work, or the army, any specific details are going to make it easier to locate them.
    • If you knew them when they were working, try to remember what it was that they did for work.
    • try to recall friends (especially mutual friends) and family members. Sometimes you can find your lost friend through a friend of theirs or of yours, or through one of their family members.
    • If you have an old phone number that you think might be there's try a phone reverse service to see if the number is actually attached the person you think it is. Phone reverses don't always work, but they can cut off a lot of search time if they do turn up the right name.[2]
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    Start with their last location. This is one of the details that hopefully you'll be able to remember. It can help to have a specific place to start looking, the more specific the better. If you can link a job, or a religious organization, or a school with the person it will help narrow down your search.
    • In you're using a search engine like Google, you'll be able to type in 'Jimmy John Smith, Xtown, North Carolina." If you have more information you could put something like 'Jimmy John Smith, Xtown, North Carolina, Xtown Baptist Church' which could give you some leads for who to contact.
    • If you know the town that your old friend might be living in, you can run a search in the Metacrawler White pages[3], an online search engine which uses Google searches, the yellow pages and the white pages to look for information and which could turn up a phone number or an address.

Part 2
Searching Online

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    Use a search engine. You could put their name into Google to see what comes up, although it is best to be as specific as possible. Full name, hometown, occupation, college, anything you think will help you locate them. There are lots of search engines that are entirely free, so you really shouldn't have to pay money for looking.
    • You could also try using a search engine like Pipl[4], which locates people by searching through lots of different public records databases. It can turn up documents like employment records, which can help you find someone.
    • A website like Peekyou[5] gives social networking results as well as news stories, business information, even blogs.
    • It's important to remember that these types of services might not have the information you're looking for. While they have access to a lot of different kinds of records, it doesn't always give you the results you're looking for.
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    Try finding them on social media. Sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook can be really helpful. On Facebook, you can track someone down through friends of friends, by high school, university, current location, or hometown. All these things can help lead you towards the right person![6]
    • Facebook has groups from people from colleges, high schools, social groups, religious groups, etc. You can use these Facebook groups to reconnect with people.
    • If you've found someone on Facebook that you think is your friend, send them a message asking if it's them and ask if you can friend them. You could even include a reminiscence or two to remind them why you were friends!
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    Use a networking site. There are lots of networking sites for friends, for different groups, for business people. You can use a variety of these in looking for someone, especially if you know the kinds of people and places they are more likely to be.[7]
    • Using a search engine like[8] you can find old classmates from basically any year. With a free basic membership you can look for old school, college, or military friends.
    • Friends Reunited[9] is mostly for people in the U.K. with some outreach to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Hong Kong. But it gives you access to ways to find people who you've have common school, university, military service, workplace, club, or a street address with.
    • A social networking site like BatchMates[10] is based in India, but has membership worldwide. You can search for friends by things like name, institute, or company and you can send them a personalized email once you've found them.

Part 3
Searching In-Person

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    Find them through family members. If you remember the names of your friend's family members, see if you can track them down, especially if one of them has a more unusual name.
    • This can be especially useful if the friend you're looking for was someone you knew when you were young. You may remember more useful details about his or her family, such as their parents' jobs or social affiliations.
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    Find them through mutual friends. Sometimes you know someone who knows someone who can get you back in contact with your old friend. It might be someone that you're friends with on Facebook, but don't talk to much.
    • This could be a work colleague, if the person you're trying to track down used to work with you, it could be someone in the same religious circle as you, or someone that you went to school with.
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    Find them through your old workplace, college or alumni records. Contact your workplace (or former workplace) to see if they can give you any leads. It's best to talk to someone you already know, since workplaces are unlikely to just give out people's information.
    • Utilize your alumni directory, or contact your high school or university. High schools often publish a directory of past students that you can purchase. Most universities or colleges track their alumni as well, and you can contact them for directory information or to find information on reunion events.
    • Access the directory of your fraternity, sorority or service organization to find alumni. If you don't have access log-in information, contact the national organization, provide your participation information (usually full name, dates you were part of the organization, etc.), and the organization can provide you with your log-in specifics.
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    Access public records. You can do this in a variety of ways, you can look for marriages and changes of name. You can look for deaths, or prison records. You'll need to know the person's full name and, preferably a hometown.[11]
    • For accessing public records you'll need to contact the National Center for Health Statistics in the U.S.[12] Otherwise, you'll need to find your local government's health agency, which should keep track of those types of records.
    • If you can't find anything about your friend, it might either be because your friend doesn't want to be contacted, or they might have died. In that case there isn't much more you can do to find them. Sites like familysearch[13] and tributes[14] can help locate a deceased person or an obituary.


  • Contact your old friend's parents if they are still alive and living in their old residence, and see if they can put you in touch with that person.


  • Sometimes people don't want to be found, so don't feel offended if the person you reach out to doesn't respond, or responds in the negative.

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