Activation Lock prevents someone who illicitly obtains your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Watch from making it their own. Even after a device is erased, Activation Lock requires that the person setting it up enter the password for the associated Apple ID that enabled Find My.
However, when you intended to sell or give away a device, or you purchased one or received one you were entitled to use, this can be quite frustrating. There’s an easy solution, so long as the hardware’s owner retains access to their Apple ID account–and if they’re not you, if you can reach them.
Apple lets you disable Activation Lock through Find My via the iOS/iPadOS and macOS app or using Find My iPhone at iCloud.com. (It’s Find My Device, really, but labeled with “iPhone” on the site.) It’s an indirect operation: you won’t find a label that reads Disable Activation Lock. Instead, you select your device and set it to erase.
In iOS/iPad in the Find My app:
Select your device in the Devices list.
Tap Erase This Device.
On the Erase Device screen, tap Continue.
Skip entering your phone number since this isn’t part of a process to get your device returned to you.
Tap Erase and confirm.
In macOS in the Find My app:
Control-click or right-click your device in the Devices list at left.
Choose your device from the All Devices menu in the top middle of the page.
In the device information pane that appears, click Erase Device.
Confirm by clicking Erase.
Once you’ve chosen to erase a device, the next time it has an internet connection, the device receives the command and erases itself. You’ll receive a notification. To complete removing Activation Lock, return to a Find My app or iCloud.com and remove the device from your Apple ID-associated hardware:
iOS/iPadOS: Go to Settings > Account Name > Device Name and tap Remove from Account.
In macOS Mojave and earlier: Go to System Preferences > iCloud > Devices, select the device, and click Remove from Account.
In macOS Catalina through Monterey: Go to System Preferences > Apple ID, select the device in the left-hand list, and click Remove from Account.
In the upcoming macOS Ventura: Go to System Settings > Account Name, select your device in the pane under the Devices label, and click Remove from Account.
At the Apple ID site: Go to the Apple ID site, click Sign In and authenticate, click the Devices link in the left-hand list, select your device, and click “Remove from account.”
Follow confirmation prompts to finish removing your device. Only then is Activation Lock disabled.
This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by Macworld reader John.
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