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Can iCloud Activation Lock Be Unlocked On A Locked Device?

Yes, you can unlock iCloud Activation Lock from all Apple devices including:

  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • iPod Touch
  • Apple Watch
  • T2-based Mac computers

The quickest and easiest way to remove the iCloud Activation Lock is by entering the Apple ID and password into the device when prompted. If you have forgotten your Apple ID you can reset it.

However, this won’t work if you don’t know the Apple ID or password. This often happens when an innocent buyer purchases a used device that is Activation Locked.

Instead, there are a number of things that you can do to remove iCloud Activation Lock but they almost all require the cooperation of the previous owner of the device.

Can iCloud Activation Lock Be Removed?

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Can jailbreak remove Activation Lock?

The advice I often see online suggests you can jailbreak your iPhone and it gets rid of Activation Lock. This is untrue.

You can jailbreak the device however the lock will remain. For more information, see Jailbreaking iCloud locked devices.

Can factory reset remove iCloud lock?

Another question I often get asked is if it is possible to factory reset an iPhone to remove the iCloud lock. The answer is no.

You can factory reset the device but the lock will remain in place until the correct Apple credentials are provided. To find out more, see Does factory resetting Cloud locked devices remove the lock? and Can you factory reset iCloud locked iPhone?.

Can the previous owner turn off the Activation Lock?

sign in to iCloud website
  1. Get in touch with the seller and ask them to unlock the iCloud activation lock on the locked iPhone. If they have forgotten to do this before selling it this request shouldn’t cause a problem. For more information, see Important things to do before selling your Apple device.
  2. Ask Apple Support for help. If you have a local Apple Store then you can visit them and request they unlock iCloud. Or you could log a support request online.
turn off activation lock

The best way to avoid this problem is to check if the device you plan to buy is Activation Locked before you commit to purchasing it. For details, see How to check Activation Lock status for free.

Can I remove Activation Lock without the previous owners help?

There are also 3 methods you can use if you can’t get in touch with the previous owner:

  1. Use a trustworthy Activation Lock removal service.

    This is a perfect method if you don’t have access to a computer if you are not very technically capable. Simply provide the IMEI or serial number of your device, pay, and have your device unlocked in as little as 24 hours.

    For more information, see Services that get rid of iCloud Activation Lock.

  2. Use a software tool to remove iCloud Activation Lock.

    If you are technically adept and have a computer then a downloadable tool me be better. The cost is about the same as a service but you are able to run it immediately. The best companies offer a free trial and a money-back guarantee.

    To find out more, see Software tools that remove iCloud Activation Lock.

  3. Bypass iCloud Activation Lock using a DNS server.

    Using a DNS bypass is a great last resort as it is a reliable fix. However, this method of getting around iCloud is fiddly, and only allows some basic functionality on your device. It is free.

    To find out more, see iPhone Activation Lock bypass.

iCloud unlock showing activation lock screen

Are there any iCloud unlock methods that don’t work?

You need to be very careful as there are a number of recommendations found online that simply don’t work.

Some methods that don’t remove the activation lock include:

  • Resetting the passcode.

    The passcode lock is a separate type of security system that prevents unauthorized access to the device using Face ID, Touch ID, a passcode, or a password. It is not linked to the Activation Lock in any way so resetting it will not help.

    To find out more, see How to unlock iPhone without passcode.

  • Wiping the device.

    Some owners believe that if they wipe their device they will erase the Activation Lock. This is not the case. Wiping the device will simply delete all of the data, photos, and other contents, including the passcode. It will not remove iCloud Activation Lock.

    To find out more, see How to wipe an iPhone.

  • Using a free unlocking service.

    There are dozens of online services that claim to remove iCloud Activation Lock by simply providing the serial number of your device. Their websites look very convincing and appear to offer good quality services. In reality, they simply don’t work. I should know, I tried many of them myself (because I didn’t want to pay for unlocking if I didn’t have to).

Are there any Activation Lock removal scams to avoid?

There are also many scams that claim to remove or bypass iCloud Activation Lock.

Types of scams to watch out for include:

  • Software downloads and hacks
  • Online tools that claim to ‘interface’ with Apple servers
  • PDF downloads with instructions
  • Hackers

Software downloads and hacks

If you plan to use a software download make sure you get it from a reputable source with a proven track record and some form of guarantee.

Most downloads offer very little security.

Indeed, I found almost all the software downloads I tried were useless, although there were some exceptions that worked which are mentioned later in this article.

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However, in general, the best you can hope for with most software is that it will not cause any damage to your computer or handset. At worst, it could be full of hidden viruses or ransomware that locks you out of your computer.

Be careful and don’t be fooled by exaggerated claims.

To avoid scammer and pick a reputable iCloud unlocker, see Best iCloud bypass tools to remove Activation Lock.

Websites that interface with Apple servers

itpcexpert scam screenshot

Online tools that appear to interface with Apple servers are also a scam.

They don’t.

Even though they are very convincing with counters and prompts appearing on the screen saying things like ‘Connecting to Apple servers…’. But they are just messages on a screen with nothing behind it.

They are designed to make you believe unlocking will work if you click a bunch of ads to finalize it.

It won’t.

PDF downloads

Websites with PDF books full of instructions don’t contain the ‘secret’ either…

…but you don’t find this out until after you paid to download and read it. Generally, they just have the same information you find for free elsewhere.

What is the Apple iCloud Activation Lock?

activation lock

The iCloud Activation Lock is a software tool created by Apple that secures your device to prevent it from being used by anyone else if it is lost or stolen.

The lock is automatically enabled when you switch on the ‘Find My’ App or sign in to your iCloud account on your device. To disable it you need to sign in to the device using the same Apple ID that enabled it, then turn it off.

The idea behind this feature was to reduce theft by making it impossible to resell stolen devices. It has worked brilliantly with reductions of theft of up to 50% within 2 years of this feature being released.

“…since Apple introduced Activation Lock as part of iOS 7, preventing devices being re-activated without the original owner’s iCloud login. Reuters reports that the number of reported iPhone thefts has fallen year-on-year by 25% in New York, 40% in San Francisco and 50% in London…”

9to5Mac

However, this has resulted in many innocent buyers purchasing iCloud locked devices on the second-hand market. These devices can’t be set up or used by the buyer until Activation Lock has been disabled on them.

The dangers of buying an activation locked device are likely to get worse now that Apple has expanded its use to Mac computers with the T2 chip.

Activation Lock helps you keep your Mac secure if it’s ever lost, stolen or misplaced and can improve your chances of recovering it. Activation Lock can continue to deter anyone from reactivating your device without your permission, even if you erase your device remotely. All you need to do is keep Find My Mac turned on, and remember your Apple ID and password.”

Apple

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

FAQ

Is it possible to unlock an iCloud locked iPhone?

There are several ways to unlock an iCloud locked iPhone.

  • Get the previous owner to unlock it for you.
  • Ask Apple
  • Use an online service
  • Use a tool.

As long as the phone has not been stolen then you should be able to get rid of the iCloud lock and set it up. To find out more, see 5 Ways to Unlock iCloud Locked iPhone.

If you can’t get hold of the previous owner of the iPhone you need to use a tool or service to hack the Activation Lock. For more information, see How to remove Activation Lock without the previous owner.

Does iCloud locked mean stolen?

If a device is iCloud locked it does not always mean it has been stolen. The seller may not have known that they need to disable the lock before giving it to you.

Once you have the phone it can be awkward to have the seller remove the lock as they need to provide their Apple ID account details. Most people are reluctant to do this as it would give you access to their iCloud account. This is why you should always check the Activation Lock status before buying an Apple product.

If you buy an iCloud locked device and the seller can’t or won’t remove the lock then this is a red flag and may indicate it is stolen.

Will a hard reset remove iCloud lock?

If you factory reset your device it will erase all the settings, data, and passcode. It won’t remove the iCloud lock and you will not be able to activate it. To find out more, see Does factory reset remove Activation Lock?

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