Activation Lock helps you keep your device secure, even if it's in the wrong hands, and can improve your chances of recovering it. Even if you erase your device remotely, Activation Lock can continue to deter anyone from reactivating your device without your permission. All you need to do is keep Find My turned on, and remember your Apple ID and password.
Here's how it works
Each time an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch, or Mac computer that has an Apple T2 security chip or Apple silicon is activated or recovered, the device contacts Apple to check whether Activation Lock is turned on.
Activation Lock turns on automatically when you set up Find My.* After it's turned on, Apple securely stores your Apple ID on its activation servers and links it to your device. Your Apple ID password or device passcode is required before anyone can turn off Find My, erase your device, or reactivate and use your device.
If your device is lost or stolen
If you ever misplace your device — whether it’s lost or you think it might have been stolen — you should immediately use Mark As Lost in the Find My app.
Mark As Lost locks your screen with a passcode and lets you display a custom message with your phone number to help you get it back. You can also remotely erase your device if needed. Your custom message continues to display even after the device is erased.
While Activation Lock works in the background to make it more difficult for someone to use or sell your missing device, Lost Mode clearly shows anyone who finds your device that it still belongs to you and can’t be reactivated without your password.
If you forget your Apple ID or password
- Your Apple ID is the account that you use to sign in to all Apple services. Usually, your Apple ID is your email address. If you forget it, we can help you find your Apple ID.
- If you forget your password, learn how to reset your Apple ID password.
If you can't find your Apple ID or reset your password, you'll lose access to your account and might be unable to use or reactivate your device. To help prevent this, visit your Apple ID account page periodically to review and update your account information.
Check for Activation Lock before you buy a device from someone else
Before you buy an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch from someone other than Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller, make sure that the device is erased and no longer linked to the previous owner’s account.
On a device with iOS or iPadOS 15 or later that is protected by Activation Lock, you see an "iPhone Locked to Owner" screen when you turn on or wake the device. Don't take ownership of any used iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch if it's protected by Activation Lock.
If you don't see that screen, follow these steps to check if the device is ready to use:
- Turn on and unlock the device.
- If the passcode Lock Screen or the Home Screen appears, the device hasn't been erased. Ask the seller to follow the steps below to completely erase the device. Don't take ownership of any used iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch until it's been erased.
- Begin the device setup process.
- If you're asked for the previous owner’s Apple ID and password, the device is still linked to their account. Hand the device back to the seller and ask them to enter their password. If the previous owner isn't present, contact them as soon as possible and ask them to use a browser to remove the device from their account. Don't take ownership of any used iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch until it has been removed from the previous owner’s account.
A device is ready for you to use when you see the Hello screen.