I bought a used iPhone 4. The previous owner re-set the phone, but did not remove the device from their iCloud. It is asking me for their iCloud information when I try to set-up the phone. I don't have contact with the previous owner anymore. Is there a way to remove the device from their iCloud so I can use a new one?


5 Answers 5


Official steps to turn off Find My iPhone Activation Lock are documented by Apple at https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201441

In a nutshell, the various ways to remove iCloud Activation Lock include:

  1. Apple will remove the lock if they can verify the original purchaser is requesting the action.
  2. Self-service removal if you can authenticate as the iCloud account that placed the lock on that device.
  3. Business using DEP can often use their MDM to remove the lock as a self-service action without needing Apple to be involved.

For consumers, you will likely need to make an appointment at an Apple Store and provide the Genius on-hand proof of purchase (to show you're the authorized owner) along with proof of identity and they will reset Activation Lock, giving you access to the device.

For businesses, it depends if you are enrolled in DEP - Apple's Device Enrollment Program or just want to provide copies of the original purchase listing serial numbers to verify ownership.

If you bought the device second hand, stole it, found it or came to possess the device by some means other than buying it from Apple directly, then you will probably need the original owner to show proof of purchase, etc. They will then transfer the device to your account or simply disable Activation Lock.

The only self-service way to remove the lock if you can't type your password into the device itself is to authenticate at https://icloud.com and remove the activation lock when the device is not connected to the internet.

  • 19
    @sam What if by cutting off the value of stolen phones, the value of legitimate used devices goes up as supply drops? Also, when "buying speakers from guys in a white van" some of the responsibility is on the buyer's shoulder, don't you agree?
    – bmike
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 23:00
  • 10
    @user72071 iPhone users CAN sell their devices. They simply need to disable activation lock first. Recent versions of Android have a similar kill switch, though it must be enabled by the user. If it is, however, the device would be useless if it isn't disabled before being sold. Just like on iPhone.
    – tubedogg
    Commented Mar 3, 2015 at 18:54
  • 2
    I'm going to flag your rollback for another moderator to rule on. I feel strongly that the answer needs to be updated with factual details on how MDM can undo activation lock. Would you reconsider allowing my edit to stand?
    – bmike
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 14:49
  • 1
    Rolled back, locked and created a room to talk this out: chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/22335/…
    – Ian C.
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 17:21

You cannot do anything technically to get past it. Your only method is to get back to the seller. If they have disappeared, then perhaps you might want to entertain the possibility that you have been sold a stolen iPhone.

In this instance, then rather than have a very expensive paperweight, you might want to report it to the Police. There is a slim chance that it has been reported as stolen, and they may be able to reunite it with it's true owner, in which case there is also a chance that they may reward you in some way to make up for your loss, or (perfect scenario) they will have already replaced it on insurance, and will simply unlock it for you and let you keep it.

To confirm, there is only a human solution to this problem, by getting the owner of the registered Apple ID to unlock it.


You can't just bypass it.

The very nature of Activation Lock is that it is impassible so that the device can still be tracked by the owner if it is lost/stolen. You can't bypass it — the only way to remove it is by deleting the device from Find my iPhone on iCloud.com or logging in using the Apple ID that was used to set up Find my iPhone.

You can read more about bypassing (or not) Activation Lock in the following question:

  • 3
    I'm interested in your thoughts on meta: meta.apple.stackexchange.com/questions/1943/… I think this might be one of the ones we should keep open and close others against. Your flag on another question might need to be revisited as I dismissed it and have second thoughts now.
    – bmike
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 19:24

Yes, but with some limitations

Checkm8 Software, while awkwardly named, is able to bypass the Activation Lock Screen by exploiting its namesake vulnerability. Note that the software can only temporary bypass the activation lock and thus provide one-time access to the system. You need to follow the developers' how-to guide, which requires you to run the software between Step 3 and 4, to get a permanent (persists between reboots) bypass.

The limitations are, citing their own words:

Unfortunately, deleting Setup.app will force your device to get the baseband activation status to UNACTIVATED so the following services won’t work on your device:

  • No SIM signal (no service issue)
  • No iMessage
  • No Facetime
  • Not able to add new iCloud account
  • Not able to use with iTunes (it will show device activation screen in iTunes)

Honestly, I didn't expect it to work, so I was amazed after successfully bypassed the activation lock on my iPhone 5s running iOS 12.4.4.


You can use this method to bypass the iCloud activation (it works only for iPhone 4) http://www.unlockboot.com/2014/03/bypass-ios-71-activation-lock-jailbreak.html

  • 2
    This is a dead end. There are a number of ways to actually boot into the device but for the most part, it will always remain inoperable. In the link you provided, cellular calls are not possible. Moreover, once Apple's servers pick it up on the grid, it will get bricked again, cellular calls aside. Once the actual device is blacklisted on Apple's servers, they will chase it to the ends of the earth making sure it will stay lock or remain inoperable. There is absolutely no true way of bypassing AL.
    – user10355
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 4:47
  • This is a official method that is provided by apple insiders. This solution will disable the Find my iPhone option & give you FULL access to the device & ability to add new iCloud account to your device.
    – Stephan
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 22:40
  • You are aware that disabling Find my iPhone requires a password right? Do you honestly think Apple would have allowed iCloud Activation Lock to be disabled so easily? They have gone through great lengths to ensure it cannot be disable unless by them or by the original user. The blacklist is server-side. Do you know what that means? It means it is beyond the control of the user. All this stuff is snake-oi used to lighten the weight of ignorant people's wallets.
    – user10355
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 22:33
  • Some highlights from the linked "solution": "Now upon every reboot, you need to connect iPhone to the computer and select 'tethered boot iOS 7.1', as it is not an untethered jailbreak'." Update 1: Bypass iCloud activation lock tool works on iOS 7.1.2 and iOS 7, but if your phone is reported as stolen you won't be able to make calls." Commented Dec 14, 2016 at 13:10

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