How to Remotely Disable iCloud Activation Lock from an iPhone
iCloud Activation Lock is a feature that allows users to lock down an iPhone (or iPad) and require the entry of an Apple ID before the device becomes usable again. It’s part of the excellent Find My iPhone service and is extremely useful for many reasons, but it can also be a real pain if you or someone else obtained an iPhone that has another Apple ID attached to it and is then ‘locked’ to that account with an activate request, because until that activation lock is removed it will be prevented from general usage or login with another Apple ID.
So what should you if you longer have possession over the iPhone, but you still want to remove the Activation Lock and disconnect it from your Apple ID and iCloud account? Or what should you do if you bought an iPhone from someone else, and it has an activation lock attached to their Apple ID?
Fortunately you don’t need to worry, because there is a pretty easy way to remotely disable Activation Lock from an iPhone or iPad using iCloud.com, though, fair warning here, you must remotely erase the iPhone to complete the process. Yes, that means anything on the iPhone will be lost in the process, so you wouldn’t want to do this with a device that has stuff on it you want to keep without backing it up first.
The iCloud based locking feature is most often encountered with an iPhone, but it applies to the iPad and iPod touch as well.
Disable Activation Lock on iPhone / iPad from iCloud
You (or whoever has the Apple ID) will need access to a web browser and the internet to be able to do this, they do not need physical access to the iOS device to remove the iCloud lock with this method:
- Go to iCloud.com and log in with the associated Apple ID
- Go to “Find My iPhone” and wait for all devices to be found / located
- Select the iPhone in question that you want to disable Activation Lock for*
- Choose “Erase” and enter the Apple ID
- Confirm to erase the device – there is no turning back if you confirm this, everything on it will be removed
- When the phone is finished erasing, choose “Remove from Account” to completely disable iCloud Activation Lock and to remove that device from the Apple ID iCloud account – this is important do not forget to choose “Remove from Account”
* Note: if the iPhone / iPad / iPod touch has already been erased or is offline and shut off, it will appear as greyed out and offline in the Devices list shown on iCloud.com. If that’s the case, simply select it and choose the “Remove from Account” option, the device won’t need to be erased twice.
With the iPhone erased, and, this is important – removed from the Apple ID account – it will set itself up as new and allow anyone to enter a new Apple ID and use the device as new.
The great thing about this method is that it can be done remotely. This means that if you bought a used iPhone online or from someone that later locked down the iOS device for some reason or another, you can simply contact them and walk them through the unlocking process with iCloud. They don’t need to do anything with the actual device since it’s all handled online through Apple’s iCloud service.
Of course if you know the Apple ID holder in real life, you can just have them log into the associated account directly on the device to unlock it that way too, but obviously that’s not going to be as convenient unless they’re nearby. If you go that route, be sure they proceed further to either reset iOS to factory settings or just toggle the switch to disable Find My iPhone in Settings.
How Do I Disable Activation Lock if I Don’t Know the Apple ID Password?
If you (or whoever has the Apple ID) don’t know the password to the Apple ID account that is tying the iPhone up with the iCloud Lock, you (or them) will need to reset the password associated with the account. This is also easy, it’s just a matter of answering a few questions to confirm the identity of the account holder first.
To get that process started, simply go to https://iforgot.apple.com/ and enter the appropriate details to reset the password associated with the Apple ID. Once the password has been reset, you can then log in to iCloud.com with the new Apple ID password to disable the activation lock using the sequence outlined above. This can also be done remotely.
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