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Activation Lock on MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, Mac Mini, and other Mac computers

Activation Lock for Mac computers is part of Find My – a feature created by Apple to stop anyone else from using your MacBook, iMac, or other Mac computer if it is ever stolen or lost.

Activation Lock is enabled automatically when you configure Find My on your computer. Or when you sign in to your iCloud account from your Mac.

Find My works by keeping your Mac secure – even when in the wrong hands. It prevents thieves from deleting or reactivating and using your computer. It works by requesting your Apple ID and password, or the device passcode.

Activation Lock will deter others from using your Mac without your permission.

This useful security feature can be found on Mac computers with Apple silicon or that use the Apple T2 Security Chip. This means almost all Apple Mac computers released since 2020 have Activation Lock.

activation lock for mac and macbook

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Mac Activation Lock model compatibility

Activation Lock can be found on the following models of Mac:

  • MacBook Pro (14-inch, 2021)
  • MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2021)
  • iMac (24-inch, M1, 2021)
  • Mac mini (M1, 2020)
  • MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020)
  • iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2020)
  • iMac Pro
  • Mac Pro (2019)
  • Mac Pro (Rack, 2019)
  • Mac mini (2018)
  • Retina, 13-inch, 2020)
  • MacBook Air (Retina, 13-inch, 2019)
  • MacBook Air (Retina, 13-inch, 2018)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020, 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020, 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports)
  • MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019, 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports)
  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019, 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports)
  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2018)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2018, 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports)

According to Apple, the Mac must also meet the following conditions:

How it works

The Activation Lock status is held on Apple’s servers, not on the Mac computer.

With Activation Lock, your Apple ID and password are required before anyone can:

  • Turn off Find My on your device
  • Sign out of your device
  • Erase and reactivate your device

When any task in the preceding list is attempted, the Mac contacts Apple to check if Activation Lock is enabled. If it is turned on, the Mac requests the Apple ID password with the following message:

“This device is linked to an Apple ID. Enter the Apple ID and password that were used to set up this device”.

Once the correct Apple ID and password have been entered into the Mac, you will be able to erase and reactivate it.

Since Activation Lock is not held on the Mac wiping and resetting it will not get rid of it. If you do attempt to erase the device you will be prompted for the Apple ID password before you can wipe it anyway.

If you share your Mac computer it may not be your account that has permission to turn off Find My, sign out, remotely delete the Mac. Activation Lock is turned on only for the first person who sets up Find My. That person’s Apple ID and password are required, not yours.

Activation Lock remains enabled as long as you keep Find My turned on. Learn more about Find My.

Apple provides more information on how Find My and Activation Lock on a Mac works.

How to enable Activation Lock on Mac

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Simply turn on Find My to enable Mac Activation Lock:

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences.
  2. From the System Preferences dialog, click Apple ID.
  3. In the sidebar, pick iCloud.
  4.  On the right, select Find My Mac.

Mac Activation Lock removal

To remove Activation Lock on a Mac computer such as a MacBook you need to turn off Find My.

The easiest way to do this is by turning off iCloud on your Mac. However, this will stop you from being able to use any of the iCloud features on your computer.

A better way is to:

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences.
  2. From the System Preferences dialog, click Apple ID.
  3. In the sidebar, pick iCloud.
  4.  On the right, deselect Find My Mac.

If you don’t have access to your Mac, use a web browser on another device to remove Activation Lock remotely.

How to remove Mac Activation Lock without your Apple ID password

If you have forgotten your Apple ID password, find out how to reset it. Once reset, you will be able to turn off Activation Lock using your new password.

If you can’t reset the Apple ID password it is very difficult to remove the lock.

There are a few options you can try:

  • Ask the previous owner to remove Activation Lock remotely or in person.
  • Ask Apple for help.
  • Use iCloud Activation Lock removal tools.
  • Request an Activation Lock removal service.

To find out more, see How to unlock Activation Lock.

How to remove Mac Activation Lock without the previous owner

If you can’t get in touch with the previous owner and don’t know the Apple ID password you can:

  • Ask Apple for help.
  • Use Activation Lock removal tools.
  • Request an iCloud Lock removal service.

If you need help removing Activation Lock and have proof of purchase documentation, you can start an Activation Lock support request via the Apple Support website.

If you don’t have any documentation then you need to use an Activation Lock removal service or tool. To find out more, see Unlocking the iCloud Lock.

What to do if you plan to sell your Mac

Firstly, you should turn off Find My on your device.

You should switch it off regardless of whether you plan to give away, trade-in, or sell it.

If you forget to turn off Find My, your Mac will be Activation Locked. This means it will not be able to be used normally by the new owner.

There are 10 things I advise you to do before you sell your device. It is written with an iPhone in mind, but the same advice applies to a Mac. To find out more, see 10 things you must do before selling or trading in your device.

You should also check the Activation Lock status of a used Mac before you pay for it. For more details, see How to check the Activation Lock status for free.

Activation Lock on other Apple products

Activation Lock and Find My can be found on all new Apple products. For more information see:

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