The Best Key Finders
Table of Contents
We’ve all experienced the frantic hunt for our keys. Ripping open cabinets and rummaging through draws only to find them in the freezer next to the ice cream. Or is that just me?
A key finder makes it easier and faster to find your lost car keys when you do lose them. Most operate using Bluetooth, though some use RF (radio) frequencies. Those ones don’t require a smartphone or app. Both variants have an inbuilt speaker that chirps to help you locate it. RF-based units chirp when you press a button that’s separate from the finder itself. Bluetooth units chirp when you ask them to via the inbuilt app. They often have other features like a rough location tracker.
The best key finders have a large range that allows you to find them anywhere in your house or car. They’re also compact, durable, and inexpensive. Here are some of our favourites:
1. Editor’s Pick: Tile Mate Essentials Package
- Network of users help find things out of range
- All-in-one kit
- Requires app
|Batteries:||Four lithium metal batteries included|
The best-known and most innovative key finder on the market comes from Tile. Its Bluetooth system is effective up to 200 ft. for the Tile Mate, as well as the Tile Slim, and the two Tile stickers have a range of 150 ft. Tile Mate is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and the Google Assistant so you can use those devices to activate the locator. The biggest pull of the Tile app is that it uses an extensive network of users to “ping” and help locate out-of-range tiles.
If a Tile device passes another phone with the app installed it notices. Later on you can use that feature to narrow down a rough search area for your missing keys, wallet, or phone. Tile Mate has a one-year lifespan on its replaceable battery and it's water resistant too. This is the one most people will use for their car keys. We like the Essentials Package because it has everything you’ll need, not just a tile for your key ring, and gives you options for the type of finder you want to use. However, there is another Tile option available if you don’t want to buy the whole set.
2. Runner Up: Tile Pro
- Large range
- Loudest ringer
- Requires app
|Batteries:||One lithium metal battery included|
Tile Pro is a step up from the kit above in that it offers the loudest possible ring in the Tile line-up and the best range, of up to 400 ft. This is the better option for those of you with bigger properties or garages. It has double the range of the Tile Mate and a much louder ring. It also utilizes the Tile network of users to help locate lost items attached to it, although in both cases you’ll need to subscribe to Tile premium services to access that feature. Like most Bluetooth-based units, it requires a smart phone app to use and operate.
Tile Pro is also larger than Tile Mate, and like its smaller sibling is only water resistant, not water proof. Still, if you need large-range and loudness from your key finder there is no better option on the market than Tile Pro.
3. Best RF Key Finder: Esky Wireless Item Locator
- Great value
- Doesn’t require an app
- Limited features
- Bulky tags
The radio-frequency-operated key finder from Esky is an affordable and effective solution especially for those of you with multiple sets of keys. Each kit contains four RF receivers with a speak built in and an RF transmitter to locate your keys with. The receivers are colour-coded so you can always find the one you need — assuming you remember which colour tag you put on which key ring.
The modestly sized tags ring at up to 80 dB, and the transmitter range is up to 130 ft. in open space and 98ft indoors. There’s an LED light on top of the transmitter to help illuminate your search. The tags take CR2032 batteries that are good for about a year and come preinstalled. The transmitter takes two AAA batteries but they are not supplied with it. There’s also a neat little transmitter stand so you don’t lose it. We like the low price, ease-of-use, and versatility of the Esky key finder.
4. Also Consider: Chipolo ONE
- Loud buzzer
- Long battery life
- App can freeze
- Mediocre range
|Batteries:||One CR2 batteries required included|
Even your neighbours will be able to find your keys thanks to the whopping 120dB of sound emitted from the Chipolo ONE keyfinder. Available in colours including blue, red, white, green, yellow, or grey, the cute little round key tab pairs with a Bluetooth app to give you easy search functionality for your keys, wallet or phone. You can also use the Chipolo tab to find your phone by double clicking the key tag. That will cause your phone to ring, even if it’s on silent.
This is a great value device that offers up to two years of life from the CR2032 battery on board and free out-of-range alerts when you leave it behind. It’s compatible with Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant, and the app will record recent locations for those times you need to retrace your steps to find your keys. Like some other lesser-known brands the app sometimes freezes for some users.
It’s a handy and clever little key finder with a range of great features, and the biggest draw back is a modest indoor range. On the plus side it works well in open air and is extremely loud. You can buy the Chipolo key finder solo, in a pack of four, or in a bundle that includes the slim-line wallet-sized tab.
5. Most Durable: Innway Tag
- Two-way locating
- Waterproof and aluminium
- Glitchy app
- Short battery life
|Batteries:||One lithium-ion battery included|
Innway’s Tag key finder allows you to find your keys using your phone, and your phone using your keys. This robust and waterproof aluminum tag connects via a Bluetooth app and regularly marks its location so you can find it, even when it’s out of range or out of battery. The party trick here is a neat little button on the tag that will force your phone to ring, even on silent mode, so you can find your phone without attaching anything to it.
That function is powered by the smartphone app, which is clever but some users report occasional glitches with it. The battery life on the tag is also only three months, and while the app does have a battery meter on it to keep you from surprise failure that’s a shorter period than most other options here. We like this product because it’s well-built and offers two-way communication.
6. Best High End: Nutale Focus Key Finder
- Two-way communication
- Low indoor range
|Batteries:||One CR2 battery included|
Just because you lose your keys sometimes, doesn’t mean you can’t be fashion forward. This set of elegant his-and-hers key finders from Nutale is a tile with style. The kit contains a black and grey finder as well as a white and gold finder with an intricate textured pattern. These finders are another two-way option, and you can press them twice to cause your phone to beep if you lose it.
They also feature real-time tracking in the built-in map found on the app screen, so you can retrace your steps if you end up out of range of the loud, 90dB beeper. It offers an impressive 164 ft. of range in open air but drops to a sub-par 66ft of range indoors. This is also a large square key tab compared to many others that are 4cm x 4cm.
The aluminum and polycarbonate construction promise durability and longevity, and the CR2032 battery offers 10 months of life. It’s also easily replaceable. Choose this set if you have need two key finders and want your key set to look as good as the rest of your ensemble — just be prepared to pay for the fashion statement.
7. Best Indoor RF Finder: Vodeson Wireless RF Key Tracker
- No app required
- Long indoor range
- Limited features
- Transmitter is small
|Batteries:||Three CR2 battery included|
Find your device even through cushions and walls with Vodeson’s powerful RF key locator. This kit includes two colour-coded radio-frequency triggered beeper tags and a two-button colour-coded RF transmitter. We love this set for its reliable 100 ft. of indoor range that promises to work even through walls and cushions. The 80 dB buzzer is loud enough for most households, and the RF transmitter system requires no app or smart phone. Press a button on the finder and it will work. On the downside you don’t get any tracking or leave-behind warnings.
The buttons are large and clearly marked, though the transmitter itself is small and compact. That makes it easy to store but easy to lose as well. Losing the finder button for your key finder is a special type of irony. Another benefit of RF type devices is long battery life, and the CR2032 supplied with these will get you two years of reliable key location.
8. Honourable Mention: Ldcx Remote Finder
- Great value
- Doesn’t require an app
- Limited features
- Awkward looking tags
|Batteries:||Four lithium ion batteries included|
Ldcx offers another handy RF-powered key finder with colour-coded buttons and locators at an inexpensive price point. Very similar to other RF options here, the quartet of key tabs each have their own long-life CR2032 battery and offer up to 115 ft. of range and 80dB of volume. They key tab is small and unobtrusive, and the finder is an appropriate size that’s easy to see and control. It comes with its own remote stand, but you’ll most likely tuck this away in a top draw. It also has an LED light on the top so you can use it to search for keys in the dark.
This is equally as good as other RF options on our list in this segment, but lists have to go in order, that’s just how it works. The choice between this and other four-receiver kits here comes down to personal preference for style, and perhaps the difference of a few dollars, depending on the day.
How Do Key Finder Tracking Systems Work?
All the options on this list are powered by radio frequency waves or by Bluetooth connections. The radio versions are simple, the transmitter sends a signal to the speaker in the tab and it beeps. These only communicate when you tell them to, and so you get longer battery life. But you also don’t get passive step tracing, nor any alerts when the two ends of the system get out of range.
Bluetooth options are more complicated, and you need to connect them to an app. The Bluetooth signal sends and answers continuously, which is how they notify you when they’re out of range, and the signal drops. It also allows them to record a rough trace of your key location, by recording its proximity to your phone as you go throughout your day and plotting that on a map.
Some advanced Bluetooth options allow your tile to be pinged by any phone with the appropriate app installed. Those pings are all recorded on a central server, so you can use the network of users to help find lost or stolen keys, wallets, or phones. A less-common and less effective key finder is a whistle or clap type. These beep and flash lights when you whistle at them or make a loud clap. They can be activated accidentally by loud noises, which makes them less useful outdoors, in crowded areas, or in urban environments. They’re often much, much cheaper than Bluetooth or RF types.
Are There GPS Key Finders?
Not really, no. The reason is that GPS requires a subscription of some type. Your smartphone provider pays the GPS fee and allows you to use that function. If you wanted one for your keys you’d need to pay a separate fee.
Also, GPS is less effective indoors and when obstructed. A GPS antenna that works in those conditions would have to be much larger than is practical. That’s why the best key finders use Bluetooth or RF to find your stuff.
Leave a Comment
We're always looking for more feedback! How do you keep track of your keys? If you’ve got a great way to keep tabs on yours, we want to hear about it. Please leave a comment below.