How to Remote Wipe an iPhone or iPad

Jun 5, 2012 - 36 Comments

How to Remote Wipe an iPhone or iPad

If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod, you can remotely wipe the device with the help of an excellent free service offered through iCloud called “Find My iPhone” (or Find My iPad, etc). This is perfect for situations where a lost device is long gone with no chance of recovery, because it erases anything that is personally identifying, be it emails, texts, contacts, apps, quite literally everything.

If you don’t have this configured yet and you don’t know how to use the Find My and remote wipe feature, set aside some time to learn, it only takes a few minutes.


Yes, the app is called Find My iPhone even if you’re using it to find an iPad, iPod, or Mac. We’re going to operate under the assumption that you already have iCloud configured properly, and that the Find My service is enabled. If not refer to the links in the requirements section and get that configured.

Use Remote Wipe on an iPhone or iPad to Erase All Data

This can not be undone, keep that in mind before beginning.

  1. Using a web browser go to, log in, and click on “Find My iPhone” or launch the Find My iPhone app in iOS
  2. You’ll now be at a Maps window, tap on “Devices” in the upper left corner and select the iPhone or iPad you wish to remotely format
  3. Tap the blue (i) icon next to the device name and then tap “Remote Wipe”
  4. Remote Wipe an iPhone or iPad

  5. Confim you want to erase all data on the iPhone or iPad by tapping “Erase All Data” – this is the point of no return, once you do this the device will be wiped completely
  6. Confirm Erase All Data on iPhone from Remote Wipe

  7. After this process has begun you will soon notice the hardware disappear from the Find app, indicating it was successful

That’s it, the lost iOS device will now be completely wiped free, erasing all personal data that it contained and leaving no trace of you as the original owner. The device at this point is effectively reset to factory defaults from afar.

Because Remote Wipe causes the iPhone, iPad, or iPod to no longer appear in Find My iPhone, it should be considered a last resort when you are absolutely certain you won’t get the iPad or iPhone back due to theft, loss, or some other situation. An alternative if you still want to track the device is to use “Remote Lock” instead, which locks the device down though it does not delete sensitive data from the device.

If you have a Mac or two setup with iCloud and Find My Mac you’ll find that you can remotely wipe a Mac using the same method.


Related articles:

Posted by: William Pearson in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Dede says:

    Hi I forgot my passcode.. if i erase my iphone would I be able to log back in and reset my phone and passcode as before please i need help asap

  2. Me says:

    How did this turn out

  3. Me says:

    What if the phone is completely disabled and can not connect to the internet? The erase would just be pending. Correct?

    • Oto says:

      That’s correct, if the iPhone is disabled and not online, or if it never gets online (prevented from online access or otherwise), it could not be erased this way because the request would not be complete. The erase and wipe request to an iPhone or iPad requires iCloud and internet access.

  4. Timr says:

    Is there any other way of wiping the phone out. Or can you only do it through find my iPhone?

  5. Courtney says:

    So my phone randomly went in to activation lock and I have no idea of the iCloud I used or password I have tried re setting it but I have forgot everything as I always made up one that wasn’t my actual email I have phoned apple and because I’m nt sure of all my security question they can’t erase the account for me to go on my phone is there anyway I can get this done at all ?

  6. jaclly says:

    Simple deletion can’t completely erase the data from iPhone, they still remain on your iPhone’s internal memory and easily be recovered. To permanently wipe your iPhone content and settings, I suggest try Safewiper for iOS to wipe your iPhone.

  7. lhee epollac says:

    guys how can may iphone be located or trace by using find my iphone if it is locked?i min it is disable.the wifi and location services is disable before i forgot the passcode..need help guys please..

  8. Ibrahim Deek says:

    I have iPhone 6 I forgot Apple ID and password you can help me

  9. Charlecoler says:

    My iPhone 4s has been resented and I don’t know my apple I’d or password anymore

  10. Thatoso says:

    I am trying to erase my iPhone, I have forgotten the passcode. It stops at Erase pending, how can I make it pass this stage.

  11. erika says:

    hi i got a new iphone 6s a few weeks ago, loaded all my photos and linked my email, then returned it! i didnt have icloud set up on it so i cant remotely delete through find my phone. is there another way to disconnect the email at least? thank you.

  12. David says:

    I lost my phone when it was off now I remember that I have pictures of my credit cards and social # :((( and I erase my phone from my friends phone on I find my iPhone but how can I be sure that ALL txt ,iMessages , apps ,notes are delete ? I need to know pleAse

  13. Realynn dagley says:

    My phone is a used phone and it has the women that had my phone, it has her icloud id on here and I don’t know the password and I don’t know the women and I can’t contact her cause she has died this year. Someone plz help me I can’t update my phone with her Apple ID on here cause I don’t know her password

  14. Sseasskk says:

    Go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase all content and settings

  15. alishah says:

    does erasing your iphone on find my iphone, erase your apps as well?
    i hope it does! please let me know! i had some personal apps on my phone and i recently hit “erase iphone”
    and i was wondering what content did it erase!
    please someone answer me !

    • David Lock says:

      Apps are deleted but are always restorable in iTunes or iCloud at the very least. Not all free apps are restored if you did not back up, but any purchased ones can be without charge. But if it was free app, they are always downloadable again.

      If things were backed up, then you will be able to restore. Eventhough it says it is erasing everything, it does not tell you that it restores everything after. Everything is erased, except original apps. Settings and passwords and texts etc are ereased until restored or whatever

  16. Napple says:

    Fifth amendment anyone? Oh well… I can’t believe that wasn’t the first thing said. Don’t surrender your rights to the government ever.

    • David Lock says:

      Absolutely in any country

      • Kevin G says:

        Police may need a warrant to search a cell phone.

        Parents and schools or their officials do not have the same requirements that police do.

        • KayCee S says:

          Passlock your phone (or fingerprint) and refuse to open it. I’m not supporting illegal activity, but I am for requiring people to get warrants for searches as is stated in the constitution.

  17. Dimitri says:

    Okay, so I got my phone taken away in school today, and it is now with the police as ‘evidence’. So, I went on iCloud and used the erase/clear data feature or whatever, it says my iPhone is offline, there is a pending erase, and that this iPhone will be erased when it connects to the internet. Okay, so I have 3g on my phone and all of that, why is it saying it needs to connect to the internet? I have to be at the police station at 4pm (it’s 2:45), and they’re going to ask me to open up the phone, but the erase is still pending. How am I going to be able to get the phone to be erased without manually doing it from the phone itself? the phone is saying it needs to be connected to the internet, how am i going to do that without manually connecting it to the internet? ugh help me, I’m stressing :(

    • jason says:

      maybe dont get your phone and yourself involed in illegal activity? that help?

      • David Lock says:

        We have our complete lives on our phones now. Now police can just seize your phone and rip you life apart ! I have many things on my phone that are private and could be construed as suspicious. I have nothing illegal on my phone, but others could strip it a way from me and turn it into something it is not. Nobody has that right. DO you really believe the cops have no way to get on your phone and get what they want anytime ? It took me 5 min to go on you tube and pass on what it said to do to help this person. I hardly doubt that a criminal would go online and plead for info on how to erase his phone. As soon as the phone has been turned on the info is gone and most if not all can be restored. I have personally done it 8 times and yes 3 because of police. Police need a warrant to check your phone and if they do not get one, than anything they steal from your phone is inadmissible in court. That does not mean they
        wont try or lie to you to try and bully you to let them in as it is much easier way to do.

    • Ian M says:

      Did your erase succeed?
      Hope your got caught for whatever it was you did.

      • Jon says:

        Hope you have a painful accident

      • Kevin G says:

        It’s funny how people put everything on their phone, good or bad, then get concerned when they get their phones confiscated.

        Don’t do stupid stuff then you have no worries. If you do stupid or illegal stuff, don’t record it on you phone or any other device and don’t be a complete jack-hole and post it online to youtube or any other social media site.

  18. Scott l says:

    What info does it actualy wipe of the phone
    Does it get rid of SMS messages ect

  19. Kiki says:

    Can anyone tell me if you can track the phone that wiped your phone? This is important and I need an answer ASAP!!!

    • Brandy says:

      go to icloud account click on device and leave a personal message how to contact you. message will display multiple times until right activation code is put in, this is how i proved Takia Folwer stole my mini-iPad and was returned after nearly 6 months

  20. Cathie W. says:

    I was wondering if there is anyway that we can get our information back on the iphone once it is wiped clean. We erased the information by mistake. Now my husband has lost all of his valuable pictures, texts and some of his contacts. I assumed that it was saved to icloud on the computer. When we plugged the phone back into our itunes account it did reload his cellular phone number but not all of the important data. Can someone please help? Thanks so much!

  21. da12k l0rd says:

    How can you cancel this feature ? Is there anyway I can cancel remote lock and remote wipe for my Macbook pro ? I just can’t sit with the thought that if someone hacked my apple id, then my macbook pro would lose all the data it had ..

  22. Anon A Mus says:

    The good news is that my friend gave me his iPhone 3G. The bad news is that Apple won’t allow iCloud to run on it. Are there any other remote wipes solutions?

  23. Tim says:

    It’s better than nothing — but for wi-fi only devices (like iPod or iPad with no 3G), it seems you are in a catch-22 to use this in that you’d have to configure it to automatically join any unsecured wifi network or hope that it is lost only in areas where you’ve already configured it to connect to a ‘known’ wifi network.

    If you’re really wanting to protect your device, you’d also need to configure it to have a complex passcode and set it to auto wipe after 10 failed logins.

    • Matt B says:

      I’m not so sure on the Delete Data function after 10 failed passcode attempts. Surely if the phone is stolen the thief can just keep trying passcodes (within a matter of seconds) until auto wipe is activated and then you can no longer us the Find My iPhone App to actually trace your phone and voila, the thief has a clean iPhone.

      I’d rather try Find my Phone first to get my phone back and then remotely enable Data Delete as a real last resort.

    • Kevin G says:


      If someone goes through iCloud to wipe the phone to factory default, does iCloud keep a record or log of that being done?

      Can I pull up the log to verify it was done remotely? Is there a notification that a wipe was performed?

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