How to remove an Apple device from your iCloud account without the device

If you lose or sell the device or it’s stolen, you can remove it from your iCloud set remotely.

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iCloud is a convenient hub for syncing a large array of personal data, some of it secret—like passwords. But if you lose or sell a device or it’s stolen, you can wind up potentially exposing your information in large and small ways. Apple does protect your device’s data by requiring a passcode, password, or a Touch ID/Face ID requirement for accessing the hardware, and that’s enough of a barrier most of the time, coupled with Apple prompting for a password or other validation when you try to make purchases at its various media and app stores.

But even if you can’t get access to the device, you can sever its connection to your iCloud account, which can reduce some of the impact.

For a lost or stolen device, you want to start with Find My: you can lock, mark as lost, or even erase an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or iPod touch via Find My, and that might be the best course of action. You can also track its location when its connected to a network, which might let you find a missing item or give law enforcement a lead on finding a thief.

If that’s not the right choice, remove your device from your iCloud account. You have four different paths to carry that out.

In each case, change your iCloud password after removing the device to ensure the greatest level of security.

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Apple offers many ways to remove a device remotely from an iCloud account. Clockwise from upper-left: Big Sur, iOS 14, Apple ID site, and Mojave.

Remove via iOS/iPadOS

  1. Open Settings > account name.
  2. Swipe down to see associated devices.
  3. Tap the device to remove.
  4. Tap Remove from Account and confirm.

Remove via macOS Mojave and earlier

  1. Open the iCloud preference pane.
  2. Click Account Details.
  3. Click Devices.
  4. Select the device to remove.
  5. Click Remove from Account and confirm.

Remove via macOS Catalina and later

  1. Open the Apple ID preference pane.
  2. Select your device from the list at the bottom of the left-hand side of the pane.
  3. Click Remove from Account and confirm.

Via the Apple ID website

  1. Log in to your Apple ID account at appleid.apple.com.
  2. Scroll down to the Devices section and click the device’s name.
  3. Click Remove from Account and confirm.

This Mac 911 article is in response to a question submitted by Macworld reader Caroline.

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