How to Remove iCloud Activation Lock From iPad

Don't get stuck with a useless iPad. Unlock it!

Having iCloud Activation Lock on your iPad is both good and bad. It's good because it's a very effective anti-theft technology. It's bad, though, because if an iPad you just bought is Activation Locked, it's impossible for you to bypass it yourself without the Apple ID and password of the person who set up the iPad originally. Simply put: As long as the iPad has an Activation Lock on it, you won't be able to use it.

While bypassing iCloud Activation Lock can be hard, it's not impossible. This article will explain what Activation Lock is, why you might be running into it, how to bypass an iCloud lock, and make you aware of some scams you should avoid.

A photo illustration of Apple products locked by iCloud
Apple, inc.

If you're trying to remove Activation Lock from an iPhone instead of an iPad, we've got an article specifically for you. Check out How to Unlock iCloud-Locked iPhones.

What Is iCloud Activation Lock?

Activation Lock is a feature Apple introduced in iOS 7 to reduce the theft of iOS devices. It works on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch and is automatically enabled when Find My iPhone is turned on.

With Activation Lock, a user needs to enter the Apple ID username and password originally used to activate the iPad in order to erase all of a device's data, activate the device using a different Apple ID, or disable Find My iPhone.

Activation Lock does a good job of reducing theft because it's unlikely that a thief will have the Apple ID username and password for the person that they stole the iPad from. And since the device won't work without the information, there's not much reason to steal it in the first place.

Of course, the downside to this is that you can legitimately buy a used device and be stuck with an iPad that doesn't work if that iPad is Activation Locked.

To be clear, not every iPad that is Activation Locked is stolen. The presence of Activation Lock is a sign that an iPad might be stolen, but it could also happen innocently. You can get an iPad that's stuck in Activation Lock because the owner forgot to sign out of iCloud before selling the device.

How to Tell When an iPad Is Activation Locked

It's pretty easy to tell when your iPad has is iCloud Activation Locked. When you try to set it up, you'll come to a screen that says Activation Lock and asks for an Apple ID username and password. That's pretty clear!

How to Remove iCloud Activation Lock From an iPad

There are only a couple of ways to remove iCloud Activation Lock on an iPad. The easiest way is if you have access to the Apple ID username and password originally used to activate the device. You could have this because it's your device or because you can contact the person who sold you the iPad. In that case, follow these steps to complete Activation Lock removal:

  1. Get the Apple ID username and password from the person who originally activated the iPad. They may not want to give you this information since it could give you access to their account, so you may need to physically give them the device.

  2. Start up the device and, when it gets to the Activation Lock screen, enter the original Apple ID username and password (or have the person who sold you the iPad do it).

  3. This will allow the iPad to continue booting up. When the iPad gets to the home screen, sign out of iCloud.

    • On iOS 10.2 and earlier, tap Settings > iCloud > Sign Out.
    • On iOS 10.3 and later, tap Settings > [your name] > Sign Out.
    Screenshot of iPad Settings app
  4. When the iPad asks for the original owner's Apple ID username and password again, enter it.

  5. Now, erase any remaining data and settings on the iPad by tapping Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.

    Screenshot of iPad reset options
  6. The iPad will restart. You shouldn't see the Activation Lock screen this time and should be able to set up the iPad like new.

You may have heard that jailbreaking is one way to get around Activation Lock. Sorry to say, but that's not true. Jailbreaking won't remove Activation Lock once it's enabled.

How to Bypass iCloud Activation Lock on an iPad Using iCloud

If the person who sold you the iPad, and whose Apple ID the device is locked to, isn't in a location where they can physically enter their username and password on the device, they can remove Activation Lock using iCloud. Here's what they need to do:

  1. Go to iCloud.com and sign in with the Apple ID username and password that they originally used to activate the iPad (and which the iPad is locked with).

    Screenshot of iCloud.com
  2. Click Find iPhone.

  3. Click All Devices.

    Screenshot of Find My iPhone in iCloud
  4. Click the iPad that needs to be unlocked.

  5. Click Erase iPad > Remove from Account.

    Screenshot of Find My iPhone in iCloud
  6. With those steps completed, the iPad has been removed from their account and the Activation Lock should have been removed. Restart the iPad and if it lets you set it up without showing the Activation Lock screen, the lock has been removed and you're all set.

Don't fall for iCloud Activation Lock removal scams! There are a lot of sites that claim to be able to remove Activation Lock without the original Apple ID—for a price. That's simply not possible. Don't pay them your money; they can't do what they promise.

How to Remove iCloud Activation Lock If the Original Owner Can't or Won't Help

As you can see, basically the only way to remove Activation Lock is to have the previous owner of the device help you. But what if they can't or won't help? In that situation, you need to turn to Apple.

Apple won't be able to help in every case, but they may be able to help you. You'll need two pieces of information:

  • Proof that you legally bought the iPad. A receipt is your best bet in this case.
  • Proof that the previous owner has transferred the device to you. Emails or other records of the transaction should work.

When you've got that evidence together, contact Apple support. Apple will check to see if the iPad has been reported stolen and will check your documentation. If Apple is convinced that you're on the up and up, it will likely remove Activation Lock for you.

Avoid Software and DNS Tricks That Claim to Bypass Activation Lock

If you've done some Googling for ways to remove Activation Lock, you've probably come across software that claims to be able to do this or DNS-based techniques that bypass Apple's servers and let you activate an iPad without them. We recommend staying away from these options.

While they technically work and allow you to use your iPad, they break the connection between your device and Apple. This means you won't be able to get new iOS updates, fix major security flaws and bugs, or likely get support from Apple. That's a pretty hefty price to pay.