How to Erase Your iPhone's Data

Before you sell your iPhone, reset its contents and settings

The screen to erase all settings on an iPhone 5.

Apple Inc.

Apple offers a comprehensive reset tool incorporated into iOS that securely deletes all information and settings changes from the device, making it safe to transfer to someone else. Use this tool to erase the phone before you sell it.

This procedure works with iOS versions 12, 11, and 10.

Considerations Before You Delete

Deletion is permanent. It's prudent to make a backup of your device before you wipe it.

Also, although the reset process is robust enough to be effectively irreversible, it's theoretically possible that a phone in the hands of the government or a commerical enterprise with access to expensive, cutting-edge hardware and software could recover some data from the device. In normal circumstances, it's not a worry, but if you've carried genuinely confidential information — like protected health information or legally protected trade secrets — you should consult with an information-security professional in your organization for advice about how to proceed.

How to Erase All of Your iPhone's Data and Settings

To erase your iPhone or iPad:

  1. Tap Settings > General > Reset.

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  2. Tap on the Erase All Content and Settings menu item. Confirm whether you wish to backup and reset, or to reset immediately.

    iPhone reset confirmation screen

The process can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, so it's probably something that you don't want to do while your waiting in line to trade your phone in.