Instructions to Restore an iPhone to Factory Settings

Iphone taking beautiful photo
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Whether you're selling your iPhone or sending it in for repairs, you don't want your personal data and photos on it, accessible to prying eyes. To safeguard your data, you should restore your iPhone to factory settings.

When you factory reset an iPhone, you're returning the phone to its good-as-new status, the condition it was in when it left the factory. There will be no music, apps, or other data on it besides the iOS and its built-in apps; you're completely erasing the phone and starting over from scratch.

Obviously, this is a major step and not something you do casually, but it makes sense in some circumstances. Besides the situations listed above, it's also helpful when there's a problem with the iPhone so severe that starting from scratch is your only option. Problems with jailbreaks are often fixed by this way.

If you're ready to proceed, follow these steps:

Step 1: Back Up Your Data

Your first step any time you're performing a task like this is to back up the data on your iPhone. You should always have a copy of your most recent data to restore onto your phone later.

There are two options for backing up your data: via iTunes or iCloud. You can back up to iTunes by syncing the phone to your computer. Back up to iCloud by going to Settings -> iCloud -> Backup and starting a new backup.

Step 2: Disable iCloud/Find My iPhone

Next, you need to disable iCloud and/or Find My iPhone. In iOS 7 and up, a security feature called Activation Lock requires the Apple ID used to set up the phone in order to reset it.

If you don't disable Activation Lock, the next person who gets your iPhone won't be able to use it.

Activation Lock is disabled when you turn off iCloud/Find My iPhone. To do that:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap iCloud
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and tap Sign Out
  4. You may be asked for your Apple ID/iCloud password. If so, enter it
  1. Once iCloud is off, continue on to the next step.

Step 3: Restore Factory Settings

  1. Return to the main Settings screen by tapping the Settings menu in the top left of the screen
  2. Scroll down to the General menu and tap it
  3. Scroll all the way to the bottom and tap the Reset menu
  4. On this screen, you'll be presented with a number of reset options, ranging from just resetting the iPhone's settings to resetting its dictionary or home screen layout. There's nothing specifically labeled "factory reset"; the option you want is Erase All Content and Settings. Tap that
  5. If you have a passcode set on your phone, you'll be prompted to enter it here. If you don't have one (even though you should!), skip to the next step
  6. A warning pops up to make sure you understand that if you proceed you'll be erasing all music, other media, data, and settings. If that's not what you want to do, tap Cancel. Otherwise, tap Erase to continue
  7. It generally takes a minute or two to delete everything from the iPhone, but when the process is done, you'll have a brand-new, pristine iPhone (at least from a software perspective) ready for whatever your next step is.