With extensive testing over many years, I have found 5 free methods to remove iCloud activation lock on iPhone.
The same free techniques in this article can also be used to remove the iCloud lock from an iPad, or Mac. This guide should only take 10 minutes to read and will explain:
- Three free iCloud Activation Lock removal methods you can do yourself without any tools.
- how to get a free trial of a top-rated iCloud unlocker tool that is quick and easy to use.
- what to do if none of the free iCloud unlocking options work.
By following this guide you will bypass the iCloud activation lock on your phone without paying a dime.
Before you dig in – a word of caution.
There are many companies online that claim to be able to help you bypass the iCloud lock for free. Some even claim to be able to bypass the iCloud Activation Lock screen or allow iCloud Activation Lock removal for free. Yet, my testing has shown that they don’t know how to unlock an iCloud account for free. The tools and services they offer don’t work and are a waste of time and effort.
Reading this article will help you avoid bad advice and perform an officially endorsed free iCloud unlock on your Apple device.
I have helped thousands of Apple device owners unlock their iPhones and use them.
Read on to find out what they did to unlock iCloud on their devices…
Table of Contents
Zero cost unlocking: Key takeaways
Here is a quick summary of the most important points when attempting to unlock an iCloud locked device for free.
- You can switch off the iCloud lock for free if you know the Apple ID and password of the account used to lock it. If you don’t know the Apple account details don’t panic – there are other ways you can use to unlock it for free.
- The quickest and easiest way to unlock a second-hand device you bought is by asking the seller to remotely turn off Find My on the device.
- Apple will unlock the iCloud Activation Lock for free as long as your locked device has not been reported stolen and you can prove you are the owner. They will expect to see the original receipt.
- On older Apple products, you can use a free DNS bypass. Although this doesn’t remove the Activation Lock it does allow you to use your device by bypassing the lock.
- There are software tools that claim they can unlock iCloud for free. Some, such as iBypasser, offer a free trial. This is worth trying as you can see if it will work on your device for free before buying a license.
- Don’t use a free service to unlock the iCloud Activation Lock. We found none of the free tools work and most permanently damage your hardware.
- If you find that you can’t unlock your device from the iCloud account for free, find out what to try next.
5 ways to unlock your device for nothing
To remove the iCloud Activation Lock for free do the following:
- Check if your device is stolen goods so you know which of the steps below you should do next.
- Ask the seller to remove the iCloud Activation Lock.
- Ask Apple to remove iCloud Activation.
- Try unlocking the device yourself using a free iCloud Activation bypass tool.
- Bypass the iCloud lock using DNS.
The first 3 steps are officially endorsed methods recommended by Apple to unlock or bypass iCloud Activation Lock on an iPhone.
Method 1: Check if your device is stolen goods
There are only a few reasons why you end up with an iCloud Activation Locked iPhone:
- the previous owner has set up ‘iCloud’ and ‘Find My iPhone’ on the iOS device and forgot to disable it
- you may have forgotten your iCloud password and are unable to reset it
- You have bought a stolen iOS device so the owner didn’t have the opportunity to remove it
If you bought a used iPhone requesting previous owners iCloud password you need to know if it is one of many stolen devices.
If you are in the USA you can use the Stolen Phone Checker website to see if your iOS device was stolen.
This is a website that lets U.S. consumers check the status of any iPhone model by typing in its MEID/ESN/IMEI number (this is your device’s serial number). You can have up to 5 checks per day.
If you are elsewhere in the world you should use IMEI.info instead – although you can only check using the IMEI-based serial number on this website.
IMEI.info works for English speaking countries – such as the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand – and claims to work for 880 mobile networks from over 230 other countries too.
If your iOS device is confirmed as stolen then Apple will not help you. It is also unlikely that the seller will help either – considering they have just sold you stolen goods. If you paid using a card or PayPal you may be able to get a refund on your purchase.
If you still want to try to bypass iCloud activation lock screen despite this you should skip to step 4 (below) and try a trial version of iBypasser to see if it works.
If you are still unable to use your iOS device after trying out iBypasser then you should read what to do if none of the steps worked for you.
Contact the previous owner and ask them to unlock the iCloud Activation Lock on the locked iPhone.
If they have simply forgotten to do this, then it should be easy for them to remove the previous owner’s iCloud account.
You don’t need to worry about returning the locked iPhone for them to unlock it. They can remove the iCloud account remotely without physically having the phone in their possession.
So if you bought a device from a seller located on the other side of the country it isn’t a problem.
To make life easier I have created an email template you can use to send to the seller. It explains the problem and tells them what they need to do to fix it.
Free email template
Click here to create an email ready to send to the seller. It re-directs them to an article on this website that explains what they need to do.
Simply add their email address.
When the seller unlocks the iCloud account you will be able to setup your device as your own. It won’t ask for the previous owners’ Apple ID password again.
If the seller refuses to help or doesn’t get back to you try the next step…
If you have a local Apple Store then you can visit them and request they unlock iCloud.
They will remove iCloud Activation Lock under some circumstances.
You will need proof of ownership such as the original receipt.
You will also need to prove that ownership has transferred from the previous owner to you. For example, show a print out of the eBay transaction and the payment confirmations.
Apple may also help if the owner has passed away and you want to gain access to an iCloud locked iPhone.
They will check if it is a stolen iPhone first. If they see that it has been stolen they will not help you.
They will also refuse to help you if you can’t prove beyond any doubt that it’s your iPhone. Apple needs to be 100% sure you are the rightful owner and if they have the slightest security concerns they are not allowed to help.
If you have tried to get Apple to unlock it and failed move on to the next step…
You can use an iCloud bypass tool to hack your iPhone and remove the iCloud lock screen. These tools jailbreak your device and allow you to get past the activation lock message without entering the Apple ID and password.
After a detailed review of iCloud bypass tools, I found iBypasser the best choice to remove the iCloud lock screen on iOS-based devices because it is reliable, regularly updated, and has great customer reviews.
We also liked that iBypasser allows you to make as many unlocking attempts as you wish. Most services charge for each iCloud unlock attempt which can become expensive if you have to repeat the process.
You can download and install a free trial version of iBypasser for either Windows or Mac computers.
Although the trial won’t allow you to finalize the unlock without buying a license it will allow you to test it out to see if it might work for your iPhone model, iPad, or Apple Watch. So although it’s not a completely free iCloud unlocker, you can find out if the tool will work before committing to buy it.
If you do go ahead and buy a license, your purchase is backed up with a 30-day money-back guarantee. So you can get your money back if it doesn’t work.
Downloading the complimentary iBypasser trial
1. Go to the iBypasser website and click the Free Download button to get a complimentary trial version.
2. Once the software has been installed run it and select Unlock Apple ID to begin the unlocking process.
The screenshots below are from a Mac computer – if you have a Windows computer they may look slightly different. Don’t panic, the software will work on your PC.
3. Attach your iOS device to the computer via a USB cable.
4. If your device is compatible the Apple ID and password will be removed (but only on the paid version). If it appears to work buy a license and activate it so you can fully unlock your iPhone.
Not technically minded?
If you aren’t technically minded, don’t have a computer, or want the unlock done quickly without your involvement then you would be better off using a paid service.
Method 5: Use DNS server
You might not know this but you can go around the iCloud lock screen instead of unlocking it. It doesn’t completely unlock iCloud locked devices but it does allow you to use it for some things:
- Watch video
- Use social media
- Send SMS
This is a temporary ‘workaround’ so you need to set it up again after each time you reboot your phone.
If you are desperate after trying all the previous steps then it may be the best option for you.
If you feel a DNS Bypass is too restrictive and you would like permanent iCloud unlocking then read on to see what you can try next…
If you have worked your way through this guide trying all the techniques provided to unlock iCloud on your device for free yet it is still locked, what now?
The temptation may be to try one of the many free Activation Lock tools, services, or websites that advertise themselves online.
However, most of these free methods have hidden dangers that can infect your computer and destroy your device.
Read on to discover the things you should avoid doing and find out what you should do instead.
To find out more about bypassing the iCloud Lock, see 12 tools and techniques to unlock iCloud for free.
Avoid iCloud unlockers that don’t charge a fee
There are many well know services that claim to unlock the Activation Lock for free such as Unlock Maker, iCloud Bypass Online, and The Wire Feed. In our experience none of these online services work, instead they gather personal information about you and then ask you to download a file that they claims contains a ‘dummy Apple ID’.
There is no such thing as a dummy Apple ID that can unlock any device. It is a flat-out lie.
So what does the file really contain?
Well, we highly recommend you don’t download and open it to find out. If you do you’ll find that instead of a free iCloud unlock fix, they contain a variety of hidden dangers for you to deal with.
For example, they often contain Viruses, or Trojan horses designed to infect your computer and steal your personal information. Alternatively, the websites themselves may force you to click pop-ups or complete quizzes that are completely unrelated to the Activation Lock. Another popular trick is to force you to click thousands of ads that make the website owner money, but don’t get your device unlocked.
These are just some of the hellish things you can expect from a removal service that costs nothing.
Having said this, there are still a couple of things you can try…
Try using a paid service
If you want your device working as quickly as possible I suggest you use an iCloud unlock service that can remove the activation lock. It may cost money but at least you know it will get done within a few days rather than chasing the seller, Apple, or messing around with software yourself.
So if you would like an iCloud unlock done fast I suggest you read about paid services that unlock iCloud to find out what to do, and which trustworthy service to use.
Alternatively, you could look into how to unlock iCloud on an iPhone instead of removing the lock completely.
Try to claim a refund from the seller
Getting hold of the seller may be hard, but if you paid using PayPal or a credit card you should be able to make a claim against them and get your money back. Or if you feel particularly aggrieved you might consider legal action against them to try and recover the money.
Regardless of the option you pick I wish you good luck and have my fingers crossed you are successful.
How does the locking system work?
When an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or iPod Touch is ‘iCloud locked’ it means that the iCloud activation lock security system has been triggered on the device.
If you try to use a locked phone you will be presented with an on-screen message requesting the owner sign in with their Apple ID and iCloud password. Once the signed in the device is unlocked and can be used normally.
Issues occur when buyers of second-hand devices try to set them up and are asked for the original owner’s Apple ID. The device is unusable until the original owner’s details are entered.
Can a security sealed device be fixed?
The security system that locks an iPhone or iPad can be dealt with in a number of ways. You may be able to have your device unlocked by asking the original owner, or by downloading a software tool to help you get past the activation lock. However, doing a factory reset will not help remove phones’ Apple ID and password.
Other techniques suggested on other websites that do not work include using iTunes to get past the account password. Connecting your device to iTunes will not help it will only allow you to backup iOS data to a computer.
There will be a way to get your device up and running as long as you use one of the techniques in this guide.
How does the Activation Lock work?
The iCloud activation lock stops unauthorized access, use, or reformatting of your Apple device. It was created to prevents thieves from stealing and reselling devices.
The iCloud lock works in conjunction with another Apple tool called “Find My”, which allows you to locate your missing device. It shows your device’s location on a map making it easy to track down.
Both of these features come enabled by default on all iPhones, iPads, and some Apple Watch models and I recommend it is not disabled so your device and its contents are secured.
Our guide explains what to do if you find yourself with an iCloud locked device.
Is it safe to buy an iCloud locked iOS device?
You may find that an Activation Locked phone is far cheaper to buy than an unlocked one. This is for a good reason. It is really hard, time-consuming, and awkward to get around the lock.
Indeed, in some circumstances, it may not be possible to eradicate the Apple ID from the iPhone without the original purchaser’s help at all leaving you with a device that can’t be used properly. This means that it is risky buying iCloud locked devices as you can’t be sure that you can use them.
The risk can be managed to a certain extent, but there is still a possibility that you end up with a device you are unhappy with. If you are unwilling to take the risk then it would be better to buy a device that is not iCloud locked.
Is every locked device stolen?
No, not all devices displaying an activation lock screen are stolen. The iCloud lock may have been triggered accidentally by the previous owner.
For example, it is quite common for sellers to forget to wipe and reset their old device properly before selling it resulting in you buying a locked iPhone that you need to iCloud unlock. The seller may have simply:
- Forgot to turn off Find My
- Forgot to sign out of iCloud
- Had their Apple ID disabled
All of these mistakes will trigger the activation lock when trying to setup the device.
If you’re buying a used device be sure to ask whether the activation lock has been disabled. If possible get them to provide proof before agreeing to buy.
The wrap up
So it is possible to take an iCloud activation locked device and remove the lock. This allows you to take an iCloud locked Apple product and set it up to use with your own Apple ID.
You may need some help from Apple or the original owner but you can perform the activation unlock for free. Failing that you can pay to use one of the reliable services.
It can be confusing when researching free unlock solutions because there are several types of unlocking. Carrier unlocking is, for example, when you decide you want to use any SIM card, from any carrier in your iPhone 11. Passcode unlocking is when you want to get into an iPhone after you locked yourself out with too many incorrect passcode attempts.
Knowing more about iCloud, the activation lock, and what is possible is vital in your efforts so it is a good idea to find out more:
- Get details on what iCloud is and what it does.
- Knowing the steps to setup and configure iCloud on your device.
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