Activation Lock for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

Find My includes Activation Lock – a feature that's designed to prevent anyone else from using your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch if it's ever lost or stolen. Activation Lock is turned on automatically when you set up Find My on your device.

Activation Lock helps you keep your device secure, even if falls into 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 else 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. 

With watchOS 2 and later, you can use Activation Lock to protect your Apple Watch. And with macOS Catalina or later and Mac computers that have the Apple T2 Security Chip or Apple silicon, you can use Activation Lock to protect your Mac too.

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 is turned on automatically when you set up Find My.* After it's been turned on, Apple will store your Apple ID securely on its activation servers and link it to your device. Your Apple ID password or device passcode will be required before anyone can turn off Find My, erase your device or reactivate and use your device. 

* Find out how Activation Lock works for devices enrolled in Mobile Device Management

If your device is lost or stolen

If you ever misplace your device – whether it's lost or you think it may have been stolen – you should immediately use Mark As Lost in the Find My app.

Mark As Lost will lock your screen with a passcode and let you display a custom message with your phone number to help you get it back. You can also erase your device remotely if needed. Your custom message will continue to be displayed even after the device has been erased.

While Activation Lock works in the background to make it more difficult for someone else to use or sell your missing device, Lost Mode will clearly display to whoever finds your device that it still belongs to you and can't be reactivated without your password.

Find out what to do if your device is lost or stolen.

If you've forgotten your Apple ID or password

Your Apple ID is the account you use to sign in to all Apple services. Usually, your Apple ID is your email address. If you've forgotten it, we can help you find your Apple ID.

If you've forgotten your password, find out 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 may 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 Authorised Reseller, make sure the device has been erased and is 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'll 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 haven't seen that screen, follow these steps to check if the device is ready to use: 

  1. Turn on and unlock the device. 
  2. 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 erase the device completely. Don't take ownership of a used iPhone, iPad or iPod touch until it's been erased.
  3. Start the device setup process.
  4. 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 with you, 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 a used iPhone, iPad or iPod touch until it's been removed from the previous owner's account.

When you see the Hello screen, this indicates the device is ready for you to use.

Before you give away your device or send it in for a service

Make sure you turn off Find My on your device before giving it away or sending it in for a repair. Otherwise, your device will be locked – anyone you give the device to won't be able to use it normally and Apple technicians won't be able to perform service repairs. Just sign out of iCloud and then erase all content and settings. This will erase your device completely, remove it from your Apple ID and turn off Find My.

In iOS or iPadOS 15

  1. Tap Settings > [your name].
  2. Scroll down and tap Sign Out. 
  3. Enter your Apple ID password and tap Turn Off.
  4. Go back to Settings.
  5. Tap Transfer or Reset [Device] > Erase All Content and Settings. 

In iOS or iPadOS 14 or earlier

  1. Tap Settings > [your name].
  2. Scroll down and tap Sign Out. 
  3. Enter your Apple ID password and tap Turn Off.
  4. Go back to Settings.
  5. Tap General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.
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