How to Factory Reset an iPhone

Are you planning to sell or give away your iPhone? Do this first.

What to Know:

  • A factory reset returns your iPhone to the condition it was in when it originally left the factory.
  • If you're selling your iPhone or sending it in for repairs, a factory reset protects your personal data and photos from prying eyes.
  • Always back up your data before you factory reset an iPhone. Otherwise, you'll lose your data. That also includes disabling iCloud and Find My iPhone.

Before You Factory Reset an iPhone

When you factory reset an iPhone, you remove all data from it. That means will have no music, apps, contacts, photos, or other data on it. All that will be left is the iOS and the pre-installed apps.

That's why it's so crucial that you back up your data before your start the factory reset. If you haven't backed up your iPhone, or need instructions on how to do it, jump to the next section of this article first.

After that, make sure to disable iCloud and Find My, since factory resetting an iPhone can whether the iPhone can be used later. We've got a section later in the article on how to do that, too.

The instructions in this article apply to all iPhone models running iOS 12 and up. For earlier versions, the basic ideas apply but exact menu names and steps may be slightly different.

How to Factory Reset an iPhone

After you've backed up your data and turned off iCloud and Find My, you're ready to get started. Follow these steps to factory reset your iPhone to its original state:

  1. Tap Settings.

  2. Scroll down and tap General.

  3. Scroll to the bottom and tap Reset.

  4. On the Reset screen, tap Erase All Content and Settings.

    Three iOS screens showing General button, Reset button, and Erase All Content and Settings link
  5. If prompted, enter the passcode set on your phone.

  6. The screen displays a warning that all music, other media, data, and settings will be erased. Tap Erase to continue.

    If you don't want to restore the phone to its factory default state, tap Cancel.

  7. It takes a few minutes to delete everything from the iPhone. When the process is done, the iPhone restart and the iPhone has been reset to factory settings.

Back Up Your Data Before Starting Factory Resetting iPhone

As mentioned earlier, the most important step when you're going to factory reset your iPhone is to back up the data on the iPhone. Keeping a copy of your data lets you restore it on the phone later so you don't lose anything important.

There are three options to back up data: using iTunes, the Finder, and iCloud.

  • To back up to iTunes, sync the phone to your computer, then click the Back up button on the main iPhone page.
  • To back up on a Mac running macOS Catalina (10.15) or newer, plug the iPhone into the computer, open a Finder window, select the iPhone in the left-hand Devices menu, and back Back Up.
  • To back up to iCloud, go to Settings > [your name] (skip this step on earlier versions of the iOS) > iCloud > iCloud Backup, then start a backup.

For more detailed instructions on backing up your iPhone, check out How to Backup Your iPhone 7 or How to Back Up iPhone X (despite the titles, the tips apply to all models).

Disable iCloud & Find My iPhone Before Factory Resetting iPhone

When factory resetting your iPhone, it's also critical that you disable iCloud and Find My iPhone.

A security feature called Activation Lock requires you to enter the Apple ID used to set up the phone if you want to reset it. This feature has reduced iPhone thefts since it makes a stolen iPhone hard to use. But if you don't disable Activation Lock, the next person who gets your iPhone—either a buyer or repair person—won't be able to use it.

Activation Lock is disabled when you turn off iCloud/Find My iPhone. Here's what to do:

  1. Tap Settings.

  2. Tap your name (skip this step on earlier versions of the iOS).

  3. Tap iCloud > Find My iPhone > Find My iPhone. (On iOS 13 and up, skip iCloud and just tap Find My.)

    Three iOS screens showing Name link, iCloud button, and Find My iPhone button
  4. Move the Find My iPhone slider to off/white.

  5. Tap Find My in the top left corner to go back one screen. Then tap Apple ID to go back one more screen.

  6. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and tap Sign Out.

  7. If prompted, enter your Apple ID/iCloud password.

    Find My iPhone toggled to OFF, confirmation dialog in center

If you're factory resetting your iPhone because you're going to sell it, we have some suggestions for the sites that can offer you the best price for your device.