How to Erase your Device Remotely using Find My

There may be a time when you need to erase your iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch, but your device is either lost, stolen or no longer functioning properly. When your device is lost or stolen, Find My allows you to delete everything from the device remotely. This step insures the information you have stored on your device remains secure.

Find My’s primary use is to help you when your device is lost or stolen by:

  • Helping you find your device.
  • Erasing your personal info from your device.
  • Locking your device to insure that it can’t be used by someone else.

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However, you can also use Find My to erase your device remotely for other reasons. For example, when you send in your device to Apple for repairs, you should first erase the device. If your device is not functioning properly – maybe the screen no longer works – then it may be impossible to factory reset the device on the device itself. In this article, we will tell you how you can remotely erase your iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch using Find My.

See also: iPhone 11 Screen not Responding to Touch? Get it Replaced for Free

Erase your Device Using Find My

Before you Erase

First of all, in order to use this method to erase your device, you will need to have enabled Find My for your device. Make note of the following before your erase your device:

  • If you are trying to find a lost device, you will not be able to track your device using Find My after you erase it.
  • If you have marked your device as lost, your Activation Lock will remain on after your device has been erased.
  • If you remove your device from your account after you erase it, Activation Lock will be turned off.
  • Everything is erased from your device. Also,
    • Apple Pay is disabled for your device.
    • Your device is removed from your list of trusted devices for Two-factor authentication.

You may, depending on your reason for erasing your device, want to create a backup for your device before erasing it. For iPhone and iPad, backups can be made to iCloud or to your computer using Finder or iTunes. Your Mac can be backed up to an external disk.

Erase using Find My

  1. In order to use Find My, you will need to sign in to iCloud.com.
  2. Select Find My iPhone. Enter your Apple ID password.
iCloud menu
  1. Click on All Devices near the top, above the map. Select the device you want to erase.
  2. Click Erase [device].
erase device
  1. Enter your Apple ID password. If you’re not using your own computer, you may have to answer security questions or enter a verification code that will be sent to one of your trusted devices.
  2. If you are erasing a Mac, you will have to enter a passcode. You will need this passcode to unlock the Mac again, so make sure to save this code.
  3. If you are erasing a lost device, you may enter a phone number or message. The phone number and message will be displayed on the lost device’s Lock Screen and can be useful in getting your device returned to you in case your device is found.
  4. Your device will now be erased, provided it is online. If it isn’t online, the erase will begin the next time it comes online.

Cancel an Erase

If your device was not online when you initiated the erase, you may have the opportunity to cancel the erase.

  1. Go to iCloud.com, click on Find My and then on All Devices.
  2. Select your device from the list.
  3. Click Stop Erase Request, then enter your Apple ID password.

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Dr. Stacey Butler is a tech writer at macReports covering news, how-tos, and user guides. She is a longtime Mac and iPhone user and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Here is her LinkedIn profile.

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