How to bypass the Activation Lock on an iPhone or iPad

Activation Lock is an iOS feature that has probably done more to prevent iPhone and iPad theft than any other security measure. Once locked, it’s nearly impossible to use the iPad or iPhone without an authorized Apple ID and password. The device can’t be erased, reset, or otherwise modified to get it to work.

Unfortunately, this can be a problem if you somehow legitimately find yourself with an Activation Locked device. The most common reason this happens is you’ve bought or inherited an iPhone or iPad that came locked, and the original owner failed to unlock it for you.

There are only two practical remedies: You either need the Apple ID and password, or, with sufficient proof of ownership, you might be able to get Apple Support to do it for you.

How to bypass the Activation Lock on an iPhone or iPad

If you’ve been able to get the Apple ID and password from the original owner of the iPhone or iPad, regaining access to the device is very straightforward.

The screenshots below depict how to do this on an iPad, but the steps for doing this are the same on both the iPhone and iPad.

1. Turn on the iPhone or iPad. When you see the Activation Lock screen, enter the Apple ID password.

activation 1To use an Activation Locked iPad, you’ll need to enter the Apple ID password.Dave Johnson/Business Insider

2. When the iPhone or iPad finishes starting, you will want to disable Activation Lock:

  • If the iPad or iPhone is running iOS 10.3 or later, start the Settings app, tap the username at the top of the screen, and then tap “Sign Out.” You’ll need to re-enter the password, and then tap “Turn Off.”
  • On an older device, start the Settings app, tap “iCloud,” and then tap “Sign Out.” Re-enter the password, and then tap “Delete from My iPhone.”
activation 2After you gain access to your iPad, be sure to sign out of iCloud and reset the device.Dave Johnson/Business Insider

3. Tap “General.”

4. Tap “Reset,” and then tap “Erase All Content and Settings.”

When the device restarts, you’ll have a like-new device reset to its factory conditions, without an Activation Lock.

How to bypass the Activation Lock using iCloud

If the person with the password is not close enough to enter the password into the iPhone or iPad or give you the info, you can still bypass the Activation Lock, but the password owner will need to use iCloud’s Find My Phone feature in a web browser.

1. The password owner should go to iCloud’s Find My iPhone page and log in with the Apple ID password.

2. Click “All Devices” and select the device that needs to be unlocked.

activation 3You can bypass Activation Lock by erasing the iPad remotely.Dave Johnson/Business Insider

3. Click “Erase iPad” or “Erase iPhone” and confirm by clicking “Erase” again.

4. Click “Remove from Account.”

The device should now be unlocked, and it has already been reset to factory conditions.

Ask Apple to bypass the Activation Lock

If you simply can’t get access to the Apple ID password, then unfortunately you don’t have a lot of other options.

It’s possible that Apple will unlock the device for you. You’ll need to have some proof that you are the legal owner of the device (like a receipt or an email that confirms the previous owner has transferred ownership to you). Then contact Apple support and request assistance.


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