How to Erase Your iPhone Settings and Data

There are multiple settings you can delete on your phone

Man with cell phone
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You can delete the settings on your iPhone if you want to remove a specific set of settings without restoring your whole phone. Or, from the same place in the Settings app, you can reset your entire phone back to factory default settings.

Deleting all of the data and settings from your iPhone is a drastic step. When you do that, you get rid of everything on it, be it music, videos, emails, network settings, etc. Unless you make a backup before the reset, none of the data is recoverable.

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

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

Important: 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.

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Choose What to Reset

There are six options when resetting your iPhone. Knowing what each option will do is vital in deciding what you'll tap in the next section below.

  • Reset All Settings: This 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: If you want to completely delete your iPhone's data, this is the option to choose. When you tap this, you'll not only erase all of your preferences, you'll also remove every song, movie, picture, app, etc.
    • In other words, use this reset option if you want your phone to be returned to the way it was when you first purchased it; clean of any customizations.
  • Reset Network Settings: This 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.
    • Tip: If you're tired of the auto-correct feature on your phone, you can just turn it off without resetting the keyboard dictionary.
  • Reset Home Screen Layout: Use this 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.
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Reset the Settings on Your iPhone

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

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

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Reset.
  4. Tap the option that corresponds to what you want to reset on your iPhone.
    1. If any prompts are shown, follow the on-screen steps to complete them and finalize the reset.
    2. Note: Since 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.