Find My iPhone Activation Lock

Find My iPhone includes Activation Lock—a feature that's designed to prevent anyone else from using your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple Watch if it's ever lost or stolen. Activation Lock is enabled automatically when you turn on Find My iPhone.

With Find My iPhone Activation Lock, your Apple ID and password is required before anyone can:

  • Turn off Find My iPhone on your device
  • Erase your device
  • Reactivate and use your device

This can help 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 iPhone turned on, and remember your Apple ID and password. And with watchOS 2 and later, you can use Activation Lock to protect your Apple Watch too.

Here are answers to frequently asked questions about Find My iPhone Activation Lock on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

How does Activation Lock work?

When you enable Find My iPhone on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, your Apple ID is securely stored on Apple’s activation servers and linked to your device. From that point on, your password is required before anyone can turn off Find My iPhone on your device, erase your device, or reactivate and use your device.

Activation Lock is enabled automatically when you set up Find My iPhone.

What steps should I take if I misplace my device?

If you ever misplace your device—whether it’s just lost or you think it might have been stolen—you should put it into Lost Mode immediately with Find My iPhone.

Lost Mode locks your screen with a six-digit or four-digit 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, and your custom message will continue 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 indicates to anyone who finds your device that it still belongs to you and can’t be reactivated without your password.

To put a device into Lost Mode, sign in to from a Mac or PC or use the Find My iPhone iOS app.

You can learn more about what to do if your device is lost or stolen.

Do I need to turn off Find My iPhone before giving away my device?

Yes. Before you give your device to someone else, turn off Find My iPhone to ensure that the other person can activate and use the device normally. The best way to do this is to sign out of iCloud and then erase all content and settings from your device before handing it over. This completely erases your device, turn off Find My iPhone, and remove the device from your Apple ID account.

  1. Tap Settings > iCloud. 
  2. Scroll down and tap Sign Out, then tap Sign Out again.
  3. Tap Delete from My iPhone and enter your password
  4. Go back to Settings.
  5. Tap General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.

You can learn more about what to do before selling or giving away your device.

Do I need to turn off Find My iPhone before having my device serviced?

Yes. If Find My iPhone is on, technicians might not be able to perform service on your device.

What if I forget my Apple ID password?

If you forget your password, you can reset it at your Apple ID account page or you can contact Apple Support and verify your identity.

If you forget your password and can't reset it, you'll lose access to your Apple ID 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.

What if I buy a device that is still linked to the previous owner's account?

Contact the previous owner as soon as possible and ask them to erase the device and remove it from their account. Learn how to remove a device from a previous owner's account.

How do I check for Activation Lock before I buy a used device?

When you buy an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple Watch from someone other than Apple or an authorized Apple reseller, it is up to you to ensure that the device is erased and no longer linked to the previous owner’s account. Follow these steps before you buy the device:

  1. Turn the device on and slide to unlock.
  2. If the passcode lock screen or the Home screen appears, the device hasn't been erased. Ask the seller to completely erase the device by going to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. Don't take ownership of any used iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch until it's been erased.
  3. Begin the device setup process.
  4. After choosing a language, choosing a country or region, and connecting to a network, the device will begin activation. 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, they can remove the device from their account by signing in to Don't take ownership of any used iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch until it has been removed from the previous owner’s account.

You will know that a device is ready for you to use when you're asked to "Set up your iPhone," “Set up your iPad," or “Set up your iPod” the first time you turn it on.

Does Find My Mac include Activation Lock?

Activation Lock works only with iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 7 or later and Apple Watch with watchOS2 or later.

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