Apple devices, such as the iPad, come with a security feature called Activation Lock. It is designed to protect the iPad from:
- unauthorized access
if it is ever lost or stolen.
Using the Find My App owners can track their device’s movements if it goes missing. They can even remotely wipe the iPad removing all of the data to prevent unauthorized access to the contents.
You can also find Activation Lock on iPhone, Apple Watch, and new T2-based Mac computers.
It is almost impossible to disable Activation Lock without the correct username and password to remove it. This means that you won’t be easily able to erase, reset, and reuse the iPad without knowing the Apple ID password for the device.
This guide provides a number of techniques that can help you to remove Activation Lock from an iPad – even if you don’t know the password.
What causes the iPad to get stuck on the Activation Lock?
There are valid reasons why your iPadOS device may be activation locked such as inheriting a device, restoring a device, or buying a used iPad.
In such cases, the original owner may have forgotten to disable Activation Lock resulting in you being left with a stuck device.
When your iPad is trapped on the Activation Lock screen you will see a message that says “This iPad is linked to an Apple ID“.
This issue should not be confused by the passcode lock which is used to control access to your iPad. For more information, see How to unlock iPad if you don’t know the passcode.
How to bypass iPad Activation Lock
Method 1: Using iCloud (must know the Apple ID password)
If you know, or can find out the Apple ID of the owner of the device you can log in to iCloud and disable Activation Lock. If you don’t know what iCloud is, see What is iCloud and the iCloud Activation Lock?.
If the previous owner is unsure of the Apple account details they can always reset them. To find out more, see How to reset Apple ID if you forget it.
The following fix will erase your iPad and remove the lock:
- First go to the Apple iCloud website: iCloud.com.
- Then, log in using the Apple ID and password. For instructions on how to do this, see How to sign in to iCloud.
- Click Find iPhone
- Select All Devices
- Find the iPad from the list and pick it
- Click Erase iPad to remove the data remotely
- Next, pick Remove From Account
The iPad will no longer be linked to the Apple account and be free to set up as a new device.
Method 2: On the iPad
Before you bypass iCloud Activation Lock you need to know:
- The iPad owners iCloud account credentials. This consists of the Apple ID and password. If they have forgotten them then they can reset them. For more information, see How to reset Apple ID password.
- If the iPad has not yet been wiped then you will need the device passcode. If you don’t know the 4 or 6 digit code, read How to unlock iPad if you don’t know the passcode. Or you could remotely wipe the iPad via iCloud to remove the passcode lock.
Remove the iCloud Activation Lock from a wiped iPad:
- Reboot the iPad
- Follow the instructions until you get to a screen asking to Sign In with Apple ID
- Enter the Apple credentials
- Continue the setup process until complete
- Once setup tap Settings
- Tap the banner at the very top
- Scroll all the way down the next screen and pick Sign Out
- Enter the Apple ID and password when prompted
- Tap Turn Off to remove iCloud Activation Lock.
Method 3: Using a DNS bypass
A DNS bypass allows you to use your iPad without knowing the previous owners’ Apple ID.
It doesn’t allow full use of the device but it provides some limited functionality if all else fails. It is effective and worthwhile but not as good as a full unlock.
To find out more, see How to bypass iCloud Activation Lock.
iPad Activation Lock removal instructions:
- Make sure the iPad is erased and reset
- Remove the SIM card (if your iPad has one)
- Reboot your iPad and begin the setup process
- Select your country and pick Next.
- When you get to the WiFi selection page tap the small (i)
- Select More WiFi Settings
- Select the small (i)
- Under the DNS enter the following address based on your location:
- North America: 126.96.36.199
- Asia: 188.8.131.52
- Europe: 184.108.40.206
- South America: 220.127.116.11
- Other: 18.104.22.168
- Tap Back on the top left of the screen
- Pick your WiFi network
- Enter your WiFi password, when prompted
- On the next screen, tap Back
- You should now be logged into the iCloud bypass system and be able to use all the functions and features.
What if my iPad is still locked?
If you have tied all of the fixes suggested and you still can’t remove Activation Lock from your iPad you might consider asking Apple Support for help.
You can do this in 2 ways:
- Using Apples iCloud Activation Lock support portal.
- In person at your local Apple Store.
I’d recommend going to the Apple Store in person as it gives you the chance to persuade the manager that you are an honest person and that you really do own the iPad you want to be unlocked.
Regardless of the method you choose, Apple will expect some evidence that you are the owner of the device such as the original receipt. Also, proof that you are now the owner such as emails or sales information showing the transfer of ownership to you.
Apple is very fussy and needs to be persuaded beyond all doubt that the device is yours. If you don’t have adequate proof they will not help you. They are well aware that it is easy to fake receipts and other paperwork so this method is often unsuccessful.
If Apple Support does agree to help then the unlock normally takes 7-10 days.
Try an unlocking tool or service
Since it is so difficult to bypass Activation Lock a huge number of websites have sprung up to help device owners. Developers have created software tools and services that remove Activation Lock from your iPad.
The quality of these tools is questionable with most being scams.
Using members of our community we tested most of the iCloud Activation Lock removal methods advertised and found some interesting results:
- All Free unlock methods we tried failed.
- Most paid methods were scams.
- Services worked best for people who are not technically minded.
- Software tools are easy to install and use but you must have a computer to install and run them. Preferably use a Mac rather than a Windows machine – although software does works on both it’s easier on a Mac.
- Make sure the tool or service you use has a money-back guarantee so you can get a refund if it fails.
- Pay using a credit card so you can claim payments back via your card supplier in case the money-back guarantee is not honored.
If you prefer a done-for-you service I’d suggest trying our recommended supplier, iPhoneIMEI. For more information, see Activation Lock removal service review.
If you would like to perform the iCloud Activation Lock bypass yourself I’d recommend using a tool such as iBypasser. For more information, see iCloud Activation lock removal tool.
Both methods will remove the previous owners iCloud account from your iPad.
Can you get around Activation Lock on iPad?
Yes, but you will need the Apple ID and password of the owner to bypass the lock. If you don’t have these you need to prove you are the owner to Apple by showing a purchase receipt and they will remove Activation Lock.
Is there an official technique to bypass the Activation Lock?
The official way to remove the iCloud Activation Lock from an iPadOS or iOS device is by turning off iCloud and Find My. To do this you will need to know the login credentials of the previous owner. You then log in to the iPad or sign in to the device remotely via iCloud and switch it off.
Why does my iPad say it is Activation Locked?
The iCloud security system on your iPad has been switched on causing it to tell you that it is activation locked.
How do I get rid of Activation Lock on iPad without the previous owner?
If you bought an iPad that is Activation locked and can’t get the previous owner to help then you can try removing it using a tool or service. After extensive testing, we found these iCloud bypass tools best.
How can I find out if my iPad is Activation Locked?
There are a few ways that you can tell if your iPad has the Activation Lock switched on. The easiest is to check on the device itself. When you try to set the iPad up you will see a screen that asks for the previous owner’s Apple account details.
It is best if you check the Activation Lock status before you buy a second-hand iPad. To find out the lock status, see How to check Activation Lock status of your device for free.
If you misuse the Activation Lock on your iPad you can accidentally lock your iPadOS or iOS device forever. This will make your device unusable.
In order to prevent an issue with Activation Lock, you should always disable it before you sell it or trade it in. And you should check any device you are buying has been unlocked before you pay for it. This will prevent any issues and remove the need to bypass the lock.
You can find out more about several methods to unlock Activation Lock from an Apple device, oryou can get support on other iPad issues in our in-depth how-to guides.