How to Restore an iPhone to Factory Settings

Are you planning to sell or give away your iPhone?

If you're selling your iPhone or sending it in for repairs, you don't want to leave your personal data and photos where prying eyes can see them. Before you sell or ship it, safeguard your data by restoring your iPhone to factory settings. When you factory reset an iPhone, the phone returns to the condition it was in when it left the factory. There will be no music, apps, or other data on it, just the iOS and the pre-loaded apps. Restoring an iPhone also fixes some problems such as problems with jailbreaks. Here's everything you need to know about performing a factory rest on your iPhone.

The instructions in this article apply to iOS 12 and up, but also work with older versions of iOS.

Back Up Your Data Before Starting Factory Reset

The first step any time you perform a task like this is to back up the data on the iPhone. Keep a copy of your most recent data so that you can restore it on the phone later and don't lose anything important.

There are two options to back up data — through iTunes or 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 to iCloud, go to Settings > [your name] (skip this step on earlier versions of the iOS) > iCloud > iCloud Backup, then start a new backup.

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

Disable iCloud & Find My iPhone

Next, disable iCloud and Find My iPhone. In iOS 7 and up, 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. Go to Settings.

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

  3. Tap iCloud, then tap Find My iPhone.

    Three iOS screens showing Name link, iCloud button, and Find My iPhone button
  4. Turn off the Find My iPhone toggle switch.

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

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

    Find My iPhone toggled to OFF, confirmation dialog in center

Restore iPhone to Factory Settings

The last step is to restore the iPhone to its original factory state. Here's what to do:

  1. Open 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 restarts.