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 you're running into it on an iPad you just bought, it's pretty hard to get around. As long as your iPad has an iCloud Activation Lock on it, you won't be able to use it.

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

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

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 introduced by Apple 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 very 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 it, there's not much reason to steal it.

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.

This may have you thinking that any iPad that is Activation Locked is stolen. Not necessarily! While the presence of Activation Lock is indeed a sign that the iPad might be stolen, it could also happen innocently. You can get an iPad stuck in Activation Lock because the owner forgot to sign out of iCloud before erasing and selling the device.

How to Tell When an iPad Is Activation Locked

It's pretty easy to tell when your iPad has the iCloud Activation Lock applied to it. 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 might have this either 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.
  4. When the iPad asks for the original owner's Apple ID username and password again, enter it.

  5. The next step depends on the version of the iOS running on the iPad.

    • On iOS 10.2 and earlier, tap Sign Out Delete from My iPhone.
    • On iOS 10.3 and up, tap Turn Off.

    This turns off Find My iPad and Activation Lock.

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

  7. 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 Remove iCloud Activation Lock From 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 Aƒctivation 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).

  2. Click Find My iPhone.

  3. Click the All Devices menu.

  4. Click on the iPad that needs to be unlocked.

  5. Click Erase iPad.

  6. Click Remove from Account.

  7. 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 Remove 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. Technically, they do work and you'll be able to use your iPad. The downside of them, though, is that they break the connection between your device and Apple. That means you won't be able to get new updates to the iOS, fix major security flaws and bugs, or likely get support from Apple. That's a pretty hefty price to pay.