Can I Unlock My Device From a Previous Owner’s Apple ID?

So you purchased a used iOS device (iPhone, iPad or iPod touch) from somewhere other than Apple. In order for you to use this device, you have to make sure the device is no longer linked to the previous owner’s account (Apple ID). Without this, it is highly likely that you will not be able to use this device because you will not be able to activate it.

Activation Lock

This feature was introduced iOS 7. This means that if you bought a device using iOS 7 or later, when you want to set up this device, you may see the following message:

Activate iPhone / iPad

This iPhone (or iPad) is linked to an Apple ID. Enter the Apple ID and password that were used to set up this iPad (or iPhone). (k……@macreports.com).

Activate you iPhone or iPad

This is a security feature that makes it very hard for someone to use or sell a stolen device.

If you see this, you have to contact the former owner. Only the former owner can remove this. There are no other ways to bypass iCloud Activation Lock. If you call Apple, they will not help you. DFU restore will not fix this. This is because the previous owner’s Apple ID is securely stored on Apple’s activation servers and linked to his/her iPad or iPhone.

The previous owner of this device can remove this lock. He or she can do this remotely by signing in to iCloud with their Apple ID. Simply use the Find My iPhone app on iCloud.com. Then go to Find iPhone > Select the device > Remove from Account.

iCloud
iCloud screen. Select Find iPhone
iCloud your devices
All of your devices linked to your Apple ID. Select the device you want to remove.
your iCloud activation lock
Find My iPhone: Remove your account

Before buying a secondhand device

Enabling Find My iPhone also turns on Activation Lock. Make sure that you visit icloud.com/activationlock. Here you can check if Activation Lock is disabled or not. You need to enter IMEI or serial number. Go to Settings > General > About to find these numbers. You can also locate these numbers on the back of your device.

activation lock is on

If it is on, you should ask your seller to erase the device (Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings). Make sure you both are present. During the setup process, this iPhone or iPad may ask the previous owner’s Apple ID. Ask him / her to enter the password. If the owner is not present, you can also ask him /her to remove the lock by going to iCloud (see above).

There are a lot of bad people. Some people may be trying to scam you by selling a stolen device. Note that the current owner may change the status. For instance, lets say you check the status before you meet with the seller, and the status showed “off”. The owner may change this by turning on Find My iPhone while he or she posses the device without you knowing. So be careful; check this right before you get the device.

You are the owner but you forget your Apple ID or password

There are other situations where you may need to remove Find My iPhone Activation Lock. For instance, you may forget your your Apple ID. If this is the case, here are what you can do:

  • You can try to reset your Apple ID (more info)
  • If you are unable to reset your Apple ID using this website, call Apple. They may be able to help you if you can persuade them that you are the owner by presenting them proofs e.g., receipts etc.

In fact, I had this problem last week. My son created an Apple ID on his iPad and turned on Find My iPhone. Then later he forgot it. Since he did not remember anything (e.g. his answers to security questions), we could not use the Apple ID web site. But we called Apple, and they remotely unlock the device. This article explains how you can contact Apple for help.

Dr. Serhat Kurt worked as a Senior Technology Director. He holds a doctoral degree (or doctorate) from the University of Illinois at Urbana / Champaign and a master’s degree from Purdue University. Here is his LinkedIn profile.

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96 thoughts on “Can I Unlock My Device From a Previous Owner’s Apple ID?”

  1. ‘ I had this problem last week. My son created an Apple ID on his iPad and turned on Find My iPhone. Then later he forgot it. Since he did not remember anything (e.g. his answers to security questions), we could not use the Apple ID web site.’Can you tell me how the ipad got locked beacuse turning on find my iphone does not turn on activation lock?

    Reply
    • Hi did you manage to get into ipad please? I’m having same iPad forgot an old email password it’s linked to an desperate to get into my iPad

      Reply
  2. I bought an I pad 2 used. I have two Apple IDs associated with this device. Mine and guy I bought it off. It’s not locked. It works but I want his ID removed. Problem is he can’t remember his ID, and now I lost touch with him. What can I do. His ID keeps popping up all the time asking to reset this and that. I just put not now and it goes away temporarily. Will factory reset get rid of him?

    Reply
  3. Pls how I do remove activation lock from an iPad ,the owner can’t remember anything,she had amnesia ,she gave me the iPad ,now I can’t remove the activation lock ,what do I do

    Reply
  4. My elderly father just gave me his now-deceased wife’s 2 iPads to give to my two daughters. He gave us the home screen 4-digit password, her Apple ID, but doesn’t know the password that goes with the Apple ID. She had it written down but he is unable to find it. One of the iPads has an Activation Lock on it, but the other does not. Without the Apple ID password, it’s basically useless. Any suggestions?

    Reply
  5. I have been trying to give an old iPad to a friend. I have reset it to factory settings. I have deleted the iPad from iTunes, deleted it from the iCloud, and still when she tries to set it up, it says that the iPad is blocked and I need to enter my Apple ID and password. But then the Apple ID and password aren’t recognized?

    Suggestions?

    Reply
  6. I bought my first i phone 4 from a Chinese gentle man 4 days ago but have not been to use it because of the id and password. Honestly we were unable to complete all the changes needed to unlock the phone because he didn’t know English and am poor at Chinese. He helped change settings in Chinese to English but we forgot the id. I can’t get him now bse phone number he gave me to keep untouched hasn’t helped. He left me a copy of his passport since had long lost his receipt. If I submit the details of his passport to confirm genuine transfer of ownership can I be helped?

    Reply
  7. i bought an iphone 8 on hand,it happen to be icloud locked i have the owner icloud email and his phone number but he doesnt want to unlock it for me,what should i do.is there any way i can reset it using the email and phone no?

    Reply
  8. My partner passed away earlier this year his house mate tried to get into his ipad shortly after and now it is locked , my partner never gave me his password so i need to be able to get rid of the activation lock please help

    Reply
  9. My cousin gave me an iphone 6s plus and the phone has an icloud account and the previous person does not remember the pw. I reseted the phone and in order to activate it i need the pw. Am i still able to unlock the phone??? Please anyone helpp!!!

    Reply
  10. Hi
    I have an old 4s given to me. I don’t want to use it as a phone, but as an iPod. I use Android as phone. Mac for computer. Broke the screen of my iPod touch.
    I did a recovery, loaded music via library but I can’t see why I need an apple id just to be used as a music player.
    Don’t want to make calls.
    Anyways to bypass this?
    Thanks

    Reply
  11. So I have an iPhone 6 Plus that I haven’t used in 3 years and forgot the passcode. The phone is now disabled and says connect to iTunes. I don’t remember any of it because it’s been so long plus it’s deactivated. Can I enable my phone without a computer?

    Reply
  12. So I have an iPhone 6 Plus that I haven’t used in 3 years and forgot the passcode. The phone is now disabled and says connect to iTunes. I don’t remember any of it because it’s been so long plus it’s deactivated. Can I enable my phone without a computer?

    Reply
  13. i phone 4s activation lock how to remove & unlock any idea,
    iphone 5s only show in apple logo what a problem how to solved.

    please share any idea &`breaking software linkes.

    Reply
  14. somebody sold iphone to my sister and when she try to unlock .. she found out owner has not remove his account .. he just rest and sold her .. she dont have contact of the owner what to do .. how to ulock it

    Reply
  15. Haven a find iphone s6 and there is an icloud activation lock account so please what should I do to do remove those icloud activation lock?

    Reply
  16. well, i just bought an iphone 6s from whatsapp group.so the main problem is the iphone is still locked.i’m just thinking to destroy the iphone..can someone tell me how to reset it? because i already reformat it and its can’t be activated

    Reply
  17. i got an iphone5 from my mother’s employer’s child but its locked and no one remembers the passwords…..im so frustrated pls help

    Reply
  18. I purchased iPhone 5s from store and i the phone is on icloud lock. i have the invoice how can i unlock i mean how can i contact apple

    Reply
  19. USELESS!!!!! Nowadays, many people are selling iPhones, iPads in estate sales. The original owner is dead. We need to know how to unlock these devices.

    Reply
  20. I have an iPhone 6 with icloud activation lock…I do not know the previous owner who is from another continent…how do I remove it…???
    Please help me

    Reply
  21. Hi there. iActivate is a perfect program for users who have an activated iPhone or iPad mini with Apple ID but who have forgotten the password. The tool can bypass Apple ID account.

    Reply
  22. I have an iPhone 6 with icloud activation lock…I do not know the previous owner who is from another continent…how do I remove it…???
    Please help me

    Reply
  23. Dear’s,

    i want to know how should i can activate unlocked ID while i am using in 2 phone one phone pay bill is available for another phone don’t have, its possible to deactivate unlocked id in the second phone as per first iPhone pay bill, please reply, now both phone is working in good condition.

    Your prompt reply regard the above would be highly appreciated.

    Reply
  24. the phone for my dad and he died and it lock, and i take to flash and they flash it for me, and it still requesting the owner ID and password, abd dont know what to do

    Reply
  25. Hello my friend give me iPhone 6 in my birthday as like gift. When I start it need Apple ID when I ask him he sayid I forgot plz help me how to open my iPhone 6

    Reply
  26. I have an iPad and I don’t have the activation lock password and owners Ipad I’d how can I be able to unlock it

    Reply
  27. I purchased a second hand mini ipad that is asking for the apple id and password (activation locked).I have tried to call the phone number on the screen but it was saying invalid number. I have searched on line to find the country’s code but was unsuccessful. I need your help on what to do next.

    Reply
  28. hello please i bought a macbook air from someone and sent it with a 4pine icloud code on. i cant use the macbook, plese can you help?

    Reply
  29. ibought an iphone 5S but when i reset it it can’t be done because this already reported lost or stolen.then the girl selling to me i contacted her but she already blocked from online. pls.. help me how to activate this phone.

    Reply
  30. i brought iphone5s in website when i undate software in itune now is asking for the apple id and password previous owner icloud. plez help me the websits coustumer care officer have says your phone is active and clean plez learn it where i learn and what i do? plez bro help me

    Reply
  31. I purchased an iPhone 5s 32gb and i check imei number, cloud and find my iphone off
    and serial number ok
    after i turn on mobile for first time setting up
    i see the messege
    This iPhone linked to an Apple ID. Enter the Apple ID and password that were used to set
    up this iPhone
    i used my apple id and password the phone open and start
    what does it mean

    Reply
  32. Hi,

    I have a got a ipad from one of my friend’s friend. It is now showing activation lock please enter the apple id and password.
    Now I dont have any contact with that friend. So what should I do. Please help me out in this.

    Reply
  33. I got my ipad from my grandpa, when i opened it and reset it, i dont have the apple id or password because he is dead and noone in my family knows the password. so what do i do.

    Reply
  34. I purchased an iPhone 7 plus that is is asking for the apple id and password (activation locked). Is there a way to find the former owners email so that I can try to reach out to them and ask them to remove this for me? Your help would be much appreciated.

    Reply
  35. I found one of iphone 6S, but i cannot use it because iphone was lock by owner, can you help me to unlock iphone??? Please help me to unlock this iphone sir.

    Reply
    • Same thing here I got an iPhone 6s but it has an activation lock on it with previous owner iCloud n password what should I do with it please help me with this situation

      Reply
  36. I got my iPhone from a deceased friend, with an icloud lock, asking for user iD and password. Please can you help me unlock it.

    Reply
    • Your best bet would be to contact apple with proof of death (death certificate) and proof that the iphone was given to you (maybe copy of the will/statement from the executor of the will, etc). Even then you might be hard pressed to do so.

      It might be easier to try and get access to the email address used for the account and hope you know enough answers to obscure questions to be able to reset the password.

      I’ve heard of apple being given court orders to unlock an account/iphone and flatly ignoring it while stating “policy” is why they won’t. Frankly I think they don’t want to unlock what can only be described as the thin end of the wedge. If they start it, who knows what’ll happen if others get to cite it as an excuse to get an unlock on even shakier grounds. Good luck.

      Reply
  37. I just found my old iPod, I don’t know the email it was hooked up with. And I need the owner to unlink but i don’t know what to do

    Reply
  38. I bought a london used iphone 4s i never knew there was activation lock on it and i couldnt locate the previous owner, probably would be a white person and its now asking me for apple id and password please help

    Reply
  39. I brought Iphone 6 plus from other website. I asked previous owner about apple id and password also activation lock. The owner previous not give me information. What i do with iphone 6 plus. Please Please Please help me as so as possible.

    Reply
  40. We have an Iphone that is registered in our name. We gave the phone to our granddaughter and then had to take the phone away from her due to her wild living that we could not condone. Now we cannot use the phone due to the fact that she had her password and ID and she is not willing to give that info to us. How can we activate the phone and use it without her cooperation? We are still paying the bill and cannot use the phone. Thanks

    Reply
    • Same issue. For this reason alone, the iCloud lock is ridiculous. It hurts paying customers as much as the thieves. This is going to cause Apple to lose me as a long time customer. The phone I have that my son refuses to give me the log in to, is useless garbage that I paid $800 for. Apple you are really hurting customers with this. The police are there to handle thieves. Sell the phones. Stop being police. I am going back to android. At least they cost less and If I get locked out, I dont lose a grand.

      Reply
    • Um polly and unhappy if you have proof that you purchased the device apple will unlock it for you the whole only that person can unlock it is a myth you really think apple would allow someone to lock them out of their own product they just got tried of dealing with people I mean shoot u want it unlocked and their lessons learned file a police report theft of service is a crime and them not allowing you to use the service you pay for is that’s right theft of service either way if you can prove you are the owner of the device apple will unlock it and unless you bought it off craigslist and got screwed you should have some proof of purchase bank statement billing statement debit or credit card verification this is apple where talking about if you bought it they have a copy of it and if the info you give matches theirs boom iPhones unlocked but all the data on the phone will be gone or like me I repair phones and if I repair and they don’t pay I go and get a judgement of surrender basically stating the courts say I own the phone I’ve literally gotten probably 50 iCloud locked phones unlocked next time be a little smarter if u buy anyone any phone and do not put a key logger on it before u give it to them your stupid and I don’t mean that rudely but if you don’t know how to safe guard yourself with items that cost hundreds you have no business getting it in the first place

      Reply
      • How did you get it unlocked!?!? Helpppp! It’s been proven not stolen by apple…. bought a locked phone and need this help so we have our gps to get us through our 12 hour drive to get our daughter for Christmas!!! Thanks in advance

        Reply
  41. I bought an iPhone and she is the previous owner but doesn’t know the icloud password. It has an activation lock and I have no idea what to do or how to get rid of it.. help?

    Reply
    • If you just do not know password even email address u can still set it up but if u remember previous or current users user name …go to icloud apple saport .com try to log in (try to forgot ur password reset it …u would be asked some security questions but do not worried .it can be activated viva email address or reset ur forgotten password …was this suggestion help full (yes or no)

      Reply
  42. i was given an iphone by my aunt, but it seems to be icloud signed in on the phone, with find my phone switched on. my aunt no longer has access to this apple id anymore,, she has actually open a new id, and no longer has access to the mail, i tried with the question reset, but she can only remember one answer. please how do i remove the apple id/icloud/find myphone. Thanks

    Reply
  43. I have bought iPhone 5 used one from my cousin in Saudi Arabia around 3years before.it was running very nicely.but because of my cousin I’d I can’t update app.for updates need psd and I called my cousin for psd but unfortunately he has forgotten pad.i reset through I tunes but now showing activation I’d and psd.we now about I’d but forgot pad.how can we get psd for that I’d.need help.Javed Sulaiman.

    Reply
  44. Iphone 6 Showing Activation ID and PSW. Do you know if where is a way to find the owner and email of previous owner? How i could get this unlocked or just return to the owner ?

    Reply
  45. My ipad mini is locked out. I bought it in 2013, set it up with a new email account and then the email account was closed and deactivated. Now, even though I am the owner of the device I cannot get it reactivated because my account can’t be verified. I might as well throw it in the bin!

    Reply
    • I can totally relate:/ Did you just let it go or did you find the solution? It is such a waste. The worst thing is that I am actual owner but I purchased it long time ago there is no way of having the proof:/

      Reply
      • Yes that’s true It also happen to me now I’m the owner but Apple won’t help you unlock unless we have proof of purchase I feel so upset & sad

        Reply
  46. My iphone 6 is locked to another icloud account. Do you know if where is a way to find the owner and email of previous owner? How i could get this unlocked or just return to the owner?thanks

    Reply
  47. I found iphone 5C with brokene screen. i charged it and i saw that iphone is locked to another icloud account. Do you know if where is a way to find the email of previous owner? How i could get this unlocked or just return to the owner?thanks

    Reply
      • just because you cant do it does not mean it’s impossible there is a lot of ways you can bypass the activation,,e.g with tools like jailbreak , without tools by reconfiguring.
        the DNS etc….
        stop deceiving them.

        Reply
      • Thats what happened to me! the guy i bought it from bought it from a guy on craigslist, and this guy then sold it to me an this iphone 6s i have is locked and idk what to do with it now since its locked.

        Reply
        • Believe it or not just because the phone is locked doesn’t mean you cannot be unlocked do you usually is if he will go to a little mom and pop cell phone store depending on what state do you live on in New York they will definitely unlock it I’ll get it unlocked one way or another either way it’s good for parts at worst

          Reply
          • Looking for suggestions Purchase an ipad the seller swore it was disabled When I contacted her she blocked me. Help please

    • They will never tell you don’t use this account. they will give you information that is very likely scripted but its in their perfect world. We are not in a perfect world when certain things started happening to me I mean things stolen from me these website and or browsers such as google chrome, bing, edge, internet explorer, is absolutely bull

      Reply

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