How to Erase Your iPhone Settings and Data

Remove some, or all, of your settings and files

A smiling man proudly shows his newly purchased iPhone 6.
Artur Debat/Getty Images

Delete the settings on your iPhone to remove a specific set of settings without restoring your whole phone. Or, from the same place in the Settings app, reset your entire phone back to factory default settings.

You can delete your iPhone data from the phone itself (as described below) or through iTunes using the Restore iPhone tool. If you use your phone to erase the data, you can pick which settings to delete; the iTunes restore process erases everything from your phone.

The information in this article covers iPhones running iOS 12.

How to Reset the Settings on Your iPhone

After you've successfully backed up your iPhone and decided what you want to erase, pick the correct reset option from the Reset page of the Settings app.

Always back up your iPhone before deleting settings or restoring it back to its factory default state. Should something go wrong, you can restore the data without permanently losing anything.

Open Settings > General > Reset. Tap the option that corresponds to what you want to reset on your iPhone. If any prompts are shown, follow the on-screen steps to complete them and finalize the reset.

Screenshot of the reset options on an iPhone
Tap a Reset Option.

Because the Reset All Content and Settings option resets the entire phone, you'll have to set it up again from scratch if you plan on using it after the reset.

Choose What to Reset

Pick from six options when you reset your iPhone:

  • Reset All Settings: This option resets all of your preference settings, returning them to the defaults. It will not erase any of your data or apps.
  • Erase All Content and Settings: To completely delete your iPhone's data, this is the option to choose. You'll not only erase all of your preferences, but you'll also remove every song, movie, picture, app, or file on the device. It's a factory-reset tool.
  • Reset Network Settings: This option returns your wireless network settings to their factory default states. Any Wi-Fi password you've entered will be erased, so any hotspot or router your phone automatically connects to will no longer recognize your phone.
  • Reset Keyboard Dictionary: Want to remove all the custom words and spellings you've added to your phone's dictionary/spellchecker? This is how you do it.
  • Reset Home Screen Layout: Use this option to undo all of the folders and app arrangements you've created and return your iPhone's layout to its default state.
  • Reset Location & Privacy: Tapping this option will make any app that has ever asked for access to your GPS location, address book, microphone, or other private data, request those permissions again the next time they require it.

    Reasons for Resets

    There are a few situations in which you should reset your whole iPhone or delete specific settings:

    • You're selling or trading your iPhone
    • The phone is being sent in for repairs and you don't want your personal data available to prying eyes
    • Your keyboard dictionary is full of too many custom non-words
    • Tracking apps on your home screen is confusing, so you want to reset the arrangement of apps
    • Your iPhone is so buggy or unresponsive that erasing everything and starting from scratch is your only option