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- Activation Lock is a feature on Apple devices that’s meant to prevent theft.
- To disable the Activation Lock on your device, you need to log into the device’s Apple ID account.
- If you don’t have access to the Apple ID account, you’ll need to ask Apple for help.
Activation Lock is a feature that has probably done more to prevent iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch theft than any other security measure. Once locked, it’s nearly impossible to use the device without knowing the right Apple ID password. You can’t even erase its data — it’s totally locked down.
But while this is great for protecting your data if the device gets stolen, it’s a problem if you legally own a device that’s still got an Activation Lock.
There are only two ways to disable the Activation Lock on your own, and you’ll need the Apple ID password for both. Here’s how it works.
Important: There are a variety of websites that claim they can unlock your device without the Apple ID password if you pay them. These sites are scams — don’t waste your money.
How to bypass the Activation Lock with an Apple ID or passcode
To do this, you need the Apple ID email and password for whatever account is associated with your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch. If you don’t have it, contact the seller or former owner to get it.
The screenshots below show how to do this on an iPad, but the steps are about the same on all devices.
1. Turn on the iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch and go through setup. When you see the Activation Lock screen, enter the Apple ID email and password.
Quick tip: If the original owner had two-factor authentication set up, you’ll also need to enter a code that gets sent to their devices.
2. Alternatively, if you’re given the option, tap Unlock with Passcode and enter the passcode that the device used to use. This lets you set up the iPad without connecting to any Apple ID.
Once you get past the Lock and have your device set up, you can disable the Activation Lock by heading to your device’s Apple ID menu and signing out of the account you’re logged into. Create a new Apple ID for yourself and log into that instead.