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My father in law has recenly bought himself an iPad Pro and an iPhone X. He would like to give his grandsons his old iPad 3 which he hasn't used for over a year. Wanting to wipe it, I came up across the Activation Lock.

Try as we might we can't work out the username nor the password to be used. The fact that my father in law tends to create new accounts at Gmail with each new device (!) doesn't help, because we can't even work ouy which email address was used to lock the iPad. It could be any one of the following, or something completely different:

john.doe@gmail.com
jdoe@gmail.com
j.doe@gmail.com
john.doe50@gmail.com

and so-on!

The iPad is only showing that we need to use the email address 'j*****@gmail.com' to unlock it.

We have managed to log into two different AppleID accounts on the web using addresses we have managed to work out, and in both cases had to change the AppleID password in order to log in, but:

  • neither shows the iPad in question in the list of devices, we have found the new iPhone X and his old iPhone 6
  • these email addresses with the newly created passwords don't let you log in to Activation Lock on the iPad (the iPad is connected to the internet)

I therefore have four questions:

  1. Will the iPad definitely appear in the AppleID devices section of the correct account?
  2. Is there a way to identify the precise email address used to lock the iPad, either:
    • through trial and error? (perhaps different error messages indicate that it's the wrong address, while others indicate it's the right address and the wrong password) or...
    • via a tool that is able to extract this information over USB? (I'm not looking for tools that crack the iPad)
  3. Is it the account's original password or is it the account's current password?
  4. Do incorrect password attempts on the Activation Lock screen cause Activation Lock or AppleID account to be locked, either permanently or temporarily?

Sorry for what are probably stupid questions, I come from the Android side of the fence, so this is all new to me!

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The easiest way to unlock your device that you’ve forgotten the Apple ID to is to take the device to an Apple Store along with proof of purchase and ID.


The iPad will definitely appear in the list of devices for the Apple ID that the iPad is asking for. If the device had been removed from the account, the iPad would no longer ask for that Apple ID as part of checking activation lock.

There is no way to identify the full email address the iPad is asking for. This would provide a means for a thief to conduct phishing for the owner's iCloud credentials.

The password asked for is the current iCloud password. You are performing the sign in over the network with Apple, requiring current credentials.

Incorrect password attempts may lock your Apple ID. The device will not become permanently locked through Apple ID login attempts.

After multiple unsuccessful attempts to unlock your account, your Apple ID will remain locked and you can try again the next day.

https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT204106

  • Thanks for answering all the questions and providing some clarity on what is and isn't possible. As you and others have said, taking it to the Apple Store is the best approach. I also need to convince my father in law to only have one email address! – Rich Oct 28 '19 at 8:26

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