How to Remove Activation Lock on an iPhone

The lock screen on an iPhone XS.Hadrian / Shutterstock

Locking activation makes the iPhone less attractive to thieves. When you set up an iPhone, it is associated with your iCloud ID. Even if someone steals it, it can not configure it and use it unless you remove the activation lock.

Unfortunately, criminals are not the only ones frustrated with the activation lockout. If you buy a used iPhone and do not realize that it's locked, for example, your new phone may get stuck. Here's how to get around it.

What is the activation lock?

When first activating your iPhone, Apple will note the unique identifier of the device and your Apple ID. It then associates the unique identifier of your iPhone with your Apple ID. This prevents any other Apple ID from using the device. Without the combination username / password associated with your Apple ID, your iPhone can not be reset and used by another person.

You probably will not notice the activation lock before resetting your iPhone or installing a major iOS upgrade. At this point, you must sign in with your Apple ID to verify your identity and activate the device.

The lock screen activation on an iPhone, an iPad and an Apple Watch.Apple

This security feature is closely related to another called Find My iPhone, which Helps you locate a missing device. If you activate Find My iPhone on your device, you also enable the activation lock. By default, both are enabled on all iPhones and must remain so.

If you want to see if Search my iPhone (and activation lock) is enabled, go to Settings> [Your Name] > iCloud> Find my iPhone or connect to to see the current location of your device.

Although users most often encounter activation lockup issues on used iPhones, this feature is also available on iPad and Apple Watch. Like on iPhones, Activation Lock locks an iPad or Apple Watch on the Apple ID used to configure it.

How to recover your Apple ID password

To activate an iPhone, simply sign in with your Apple ID. You must know your email and password. If you are using two-factor authentication, you can press "Unlock with PIN" and type the one-time PIN code that Apple sent you.

If you do not know your Apple ID email address, you can find it on Apple's iForgot website. If you do not know your password or want to reset it, you can also do it I have forgotten. In addition to activating your device, you must also have your Apple credentials to configure the App Store, FaceTime and iMessage calls.

The entry page on

If you can not reset your Apple ID password or retrieve your email address, call Apple Support. If you are in the United States, the phone number is 1-800-APL-CARE. And you do not need to Apple Care Plan call.

Have Apple remove the activation lock for you

If you still can not activate your iPhone, you can try one more thing. Apple will remove the activation lock from a device for which you have valid proof of purchase. You can do it in two ways:

Make an appointment at your local Apple Store. Take your device, your proof of purchase and your best smile.
Call Apple Support and explain the situation. Ask the representative to remove the activation lock from your device remotely.

We called our local Apple Store, and these two options were explained to us. The representative told us that removing activation lock devices (in-store and over the phone) "usually falls under our free services", so you should not need the Apple Care.

We fully understand that you want to remove this activation lock. This article explains how to disable iPhone activation lock and also provides links if you need to reset the password of your Apple ID.

– Apple Support (@AppleSupport) May 23, 2018

The representative will warn you that there is a good chance that your iPhone will be erased during this process. The support staff we talked to said that not all iPhones were erased, but that you had to sign a release for any work done by Apple.

This is one of the reasons why you should always have an iPhone backup.

Avoid activating the lock when buying a used iPhone

One of the main disadvantages of Activation Lock is its impact on opportunity sales. Many people do not realize that their devices are locked on their Apple IDs when they sell them. Likewise, many buyers ignore it when they buy an iPhone for the occasion.

If you buy an iPhone via a service such as eBayYou should be covered by the protection of the buyer for everything you can not use. Unfortunately, this protection does not extend to face-to-face transactions. Here are some ways to avoid buying a device that you can not activate:

When you turn on the iPhone, the "Bonjour" configuration screen should display to invite you to "Configure your iPhone" for the first time. This means that it is enabled and not locked by another Apple ID.
If the device requests a password, it has not been deleted. Ask the vendor to access Settings> General> Reset> Clear all content and settings, and then clear the device. Then the "Configure your iPhone" screen should appear.
If the device requests an Apple ID and password, it is locked and worthless for you in its current state. Ask the seller to sign in with their Apple ID and password to activate the device. It will also need to go to Settings> General> Reset> Clear all content and settings to clear the device. Once again, if this is done, you will see the "Configure your iPhone" screen.

If the seller refuses to do any of the things above, stay away from the sale. Once you are sure that the device is unlocked (and is working), proceed with the sale.

Be especially careful if you decide to buy a used iPhone over the Internet, especially from classified sites such as Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji and GumTree. These websites offer little or no buyer protection. You are therefore much more likely to find yourself with an expensive paperweight.

Ask a seller to disable remote activation lock

If you've already bought a locked iPhone, all hope is not lost! In a perfect world, the seller simply forgot to disable it or did not realize that the functionality existed at the beginning. Fortunately, the seller can remove the device from his remote account.

For this to work, you must contact the seller. Do not burn your bridges too soon if you feel ripped off. To separate the device from the Apple ID of the previous owner, the seller must follow the following steps:

Sign in with his Apple ID to
Click "All Devices," and then select the appropriate iPhone.
If "Delete Account" is available, it must select it.
If not, she can click "Clear iPhone" and then "Delete Account".

The iPhone in question should no longer be locked on an Apple ID. You may need to restart the device before viewing the changes.

Third party services to unlock your device

Many third-party services will unlock your device for a fee. However, some do it to exploit the vulnerabilities of Apple's software, others are used by the police. None of them are official, and there is no guarantee that they will work.

Some "divorce" your Apple device to bypass the activation lock. This allows you to access the iPhone, but Apple will probably place it on a blacklist. This means that it will no longer receive iOS updates in the future, that you will not be able to use iMessage, make calls via FaceTime or download apps from the App Store.

The iCloud removal service website.

The only legitimate and reliable methods to unlock your iPhone are those described above.

Sell ​​your old iPhone? Disable activation lock

Before selling your iPhone, you need to do two things: disable activation lock and clear the device to the factory settings. The first ensures that the seller can use your device, and the second keeps your data private.

Follow these steps to disable activation lock:

In Settings, tap your name at the top of the list.
Tap "iCloud" and then "Find My iPhone."
Turn off "Find My iPhone", and then type your Apple ID password.

You can now follow these steps to reset your device:

Go to Settings> General> Reset.
Press "Clear all content and settings", confirm your decision, and wait for the end of the process.

When you see the "Hello" screen that says "Configure your iPhone", you can sell your device.

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