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.

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

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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?

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  7. 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
  8. 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

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