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How To Remove iCloud Activation Lock: An Ultimate Guide (Includes Using Tools)

When you buy a used iPad, iPod Touch, Mac Computer, Apple Watch, or iPhone you may find it asks for the previous owner’s iCloud account details before you are allowed to use it.

This means your device is activation locked, and you need to remove it to get it working.

This is awkward if you can’t get in touch with the previous owner and ask them to get rid of the Activation Lock for you.

How are you meant to unlock your device if you don’t know the previous owner’s Apple ID and password?

Luckily, there are a few options to help you remove the iCloud Activation Lock prompt from an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac Computer, or Apple Watch – even without the help of the previous owner. These options includefixes, techniques, services, and tools advertised online.

To make this guide as helpful as possible we tested as many iCloud Activation Lock removal solutions as possible. We were shocked by the results…

…all of the free services and most of the paid tools did not work.

This means you will get ripped off if you choose the wrong method to remove the iCloud lock. But don’t worry, this article can help you make the right choice…

In this tried and tested iCloud Activation Lock removal guide, we will explain how to remove Activation Lock without the previous owner of the device.

We also discuss other ways to remove Activation Lock that will get your device unlocked, set up, and running properly.

remove unlock iCloud activation lock

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For a copy of this guide you can print and keep, download the PDF file. No signup is required. You don’t even need to provide your email address.

Quick tips to unlock iCloud

You can remove iCloud Activation Lock instantly if you know the previous owners’ Apple ID, or by using a software tool. Or within 1-hour by using a service.

Here is a quick summary if you’d like to know how to switch it off – if you need a bit more help, you can read our full guide below:

  1. Using an Activation Lock removal service is the easiest. You don’t need any technical skills or a computer. You provide some basic information, pay the fee, and have your device unlocked in as little as 1 hour. We found IMEInow is the best service.
  2. Using a software tool to remove iCloud Activation Lock is a good option for computer experts. If you are computer-savy and are happy to download, install, and use DIY unlocking software then iBypasser is a decent option.
  3. It is cheapest to bypass iCloud Activation Lock using DNS. However, this method of getting around iCloud is fiddly, and only allows some basic functionality on your device. For more information see how to bypass iCloud.
  4. Removing iCloud Activation Lock is simple IF you know the Apple ID and password used to set up your device. Just follow the on-screen instructions when prompted. You can reset your Apple ID if you forget your details. If you don’t have these details you need to use the tools or services discussed above.
  5. NEVER use a free service to unlock iCloud activation lock. None of the free tools work and they can permanently damage your hardware.

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Be aware that if you erase the device it will not remove Activation Lock. It will remain activated until it is turned off properly.

The iCloud Activation Lock has been added to the latest Mac computers making this issue even more widespread.

What causes this problem?

The Activation Lock screen is a security feature that prevents anyone but the owner from accessing, using, erasing, or resetting an Apple device.

If someone tries to wipe and reset a device they found or stole, the gadget will request the Apple ID password of the owner. Without the owners’ iCloud account password, the device will not be activated and will be unusable.

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Unfortunately, some owners forget to disable the iCloud Activation Lock before selling their used device preventing the new owner from being able to configure them. This is still the case with iOS 14 and 15.

iCloud Activation Lock removal instructions

To remove the iCloud Activation Lock, follow these steps:

  1. If you have an iPhone, cellular iPad, or cellular Apple Watch find out the IMEI. You need it later. The IMEI is a unique id for your iOS device and you need to provide it so the right handset gets unlocked.

    On these models, you’ll find the IMEI on the SIM tray:

    • iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13, and iPhone 13 Pro.
    • iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12.
    • iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max.
    • iPhone XR.
    • iPhone Xs, and iPhone Xs Max.
    • iPhone X.
    • iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus.
    • iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 Plus.
    • iPhone 6s, and iPhone 6s Plus.
    • iPhone 3G.
    • iPhone 3GS.
    • iPhone 4 (GSM model).
    • iPhone 4s.
      IMEI code location on a SIM card tray so you can remove iCloud Activation LockIMEI or MEID code on a SIM card tray to allow Activation Lock removal

      On these models, you’ll find the IMEI on the back:

    • iPad Pro (Wi-Fi + Cellular models)
    • iPad (Wi-Fi + Cellular models)
    • iPod Touch (all models)
    • iPhone 6
    • iPhone 6 Plus
    • iPhone SE
    • iPhone 5s
    • iPhone 5c
    • iPhone 5
      iPod and iPad IMEI location on the rear of the device
  2. For a WiFi-only iPad, iPod Touch, or Apple Watch, find out the serial number. You need it later. For help finding the serial number, see find the serial number on your iPhone or iPad
  3. You need to find out the exact model of iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Apple Watch you want to be unlocked. For more information, find out how to identify your iPhone model by its model number and other details.
  4. Pick a trustworthy supplier. We found IMEInow the fastest, easiest, and most reliable company.
  5. Request an unlock for your device. To ensure the correct device is unlocked, you will be asked to supply the IMEI or serial number, and the model.
  6. The iCloud Activation Lock will be removed from your iOS device in 1-5 days. You will be able to set it up without being asked for the previous owners’ Apple ID.
  7. Optional: If you prefer to attempt the unlock yourself using a software app, use a trustworthy unlocking tool. You can perform the unlock procedure straight away using your own computer, as long as you are computer literate.

 

Services & tools that remove Activation Lock

After researching over 30 top-rated iCloud unlockers online and negating the poorly rated ones (the ones that have a 1 star or less rating on review sites), we purchased the top 10 services and tools and tried them out for ourselves.

We then spent over 30 hours testing each service, or tool even going as far as to employ the help of members of the iChimp community to get opinions directly from the target market. During the tests, we measured customer service, speed, reliability, cost, and the ability of each unlocker to actually get rid of the iCloud Activation Lock. To find out more, see Top tools to bypass iCloud.

After the process was completed, we crowned a winning service and winning software tool. Both offer the best balance of features for the price.

Option 1: Use a service

Who it’s best for: A service is best for people who want to remove iCloud Activation Lock from iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch without any involvement beyond asking for it to be done.

Summary box: IMEInow

IMEInow is an unlocking service that can get any iCloud locked device working without previous owner involvement.

  • Price: £19.99 GBP ($25 USD)
  • Speed: 1-24 hours
  • Customer Services: Quick and helpful
  • Rating: 9 / 10
icloud unlock

Pros

  • Hassle-free iCloud bypass service
  • Responsive and helpful customer support
  • From 1 – 24 hour turnaround
  • Good selection of payment methods
  • Money-back guarantee
  • High success rate

Cons

  • Odd payment structure
  • New supplier – so no long term track record

The verdict: IMEInow is perfect if you want to reliably remove iCloud Activation Lock on your iOS device. It works for every iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Apple Watch on the market. They are the best service online that can remove Activation Lock.

Customer video reviews

Get rid of the lock using using IMEInow

To remove the iCloud Activation Lock using IMEInow, follow these steps:

  1. If you have an iPhone or cellular iPad, find out the IMEI code. You need it later. For help finding the IMEI, see find the IMEI on your device.
  2. For a WiFi-only iPad, iPod Touch, or Apple Watch, find out the serial number. You need it later. For help finding the serial number, see the preceding link.
  3. To request the unlock, go to IMEInow.
    IMEInow website
  4. If you have an iPhone or cellular iPad, enter the IMEI in the box. For a WiFi-only iPad, iPod Touch, or Apple Watch, enter the serial number in the box.
  5. Based on the IMEI or serial number provided, your model will be automatically identified.

    IMEInow iPhone model ID
  6. To continue, press Unlock iCloud. The order details and price will be shown on the confirmation page that opens.

    IMEInow iPhone checkout
  7. If you are happy to proceed, enter your email address in the box.
  8. Where it says I agree to the terms and conditions, tick the box.
  9. Choose the payment method you prefer to use and pay.
    IMEInow iPhone unlock payment
  10. In your email, you will receive a confirmation of your order.

Option 2: Use an iCloud bypass tool

Who it’s best for: A software tool is suited to competent computer users that don’t mind trying to remove iCloud activation themselves. If you are not tech-savvy avoid this option and use a service instead.

Summary box: iBypasser

iBypasser is a software tool that can remove iCloud Activation Lock without previous owner helping.

  • Price: Between $40 – $70 USD, depending on the license selected
  • Speed: Immediate, after download and installation of the tool
  • Customer Services: Fast 
  • Rating: 9 / 10
iBypasser website

Pros

  • Free download
  • Responsive support
  • Can be done immediately
  • Works on Mac and Windows
  • Good selection of payment methods
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Well designed and frequently updated

Cons

  • Some features still won’t work after unlocking
  • Requires a computer
  • Complex process
  • Jailbreaks your device which invalidates the warranty
  • Software license automatically renews so be careful of additional payments

The verdict: iBypasser is a perfect software tool for computer enthusiasts that are happy to remove iCloud Activation Lock themselves. You can start removing the iCloud account as soon as you download the software. A free trial makes it a good way to try before you buy.

Get rid of the lock using iBypasser

To remove the iCloud Activation Lock using iBypasser, follow these steps:

  1. Download iBypasser app, and install and launch it.
    iBypasser install
  2. Click Bypass iCloud Activation Lock Screen.
    Click Bypass iCloud Activation Lock Screen.
  3. On the Bypass iCloud Activation Lock Screen, click Start.
    On the Bypass iCloud Activation Lock Screen, click Start.
  4. Connect your locked iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Apple Watch device to the computer using a Lightning to USB Cable. For more information, see connect iPhone and your computer with a cable.
    Connect your locked iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Apple Watch
    iPhone connected to computer
  5. To jailbreak your device ready for unlocking, follow the on-screen prompts.
    • To jailbreak a Mac computer:
      1. iBypasser will automatically download the Mac compatible jailbreak package for your iOS device. You don’t need to install an Apple driver.
      2. To begin the process, click Start Jailbreak.
        click Start Jailbreak
      3. Follow the on-screen instructions, and click Next.
        The tool will jailbreak your device
      4. The tool will jailbreak your device.
    • To jailbreak a Windows computer:
      1. There is no automatic method to jailbreak iOS devices on Windows computers. Instead, follow this tutorial.
      2. Once completed, click Finished Jailbreak.
  6. The iOS devices details appear on the computer. Confirm they are correct, then click Start Bypass.
    Confirm device's IMEI number , iOS version, IMEI number and more
  7. The iBypasser bypass tool will remove the current iCloud account and activation screen. It only takes take a few seconds to remove Activation Lock.
    iBypasser unlocking device
  8. Once you have removed iCloud Activation Lock, you can use a new Apple ID account, iCloud password, erase iPhone, do a factory reset, or set up any iPhone feature you want.
    Successful removal of the activation lock

If all else fails try a DNS bypass

iPhone & iPad iCloud unlock bypass screen

If you would like to know how to bypass Activation Lock using DNS, there is a very clever hack that allows you to do so.

It gets around the security on your device when it is locked to someone else’s Apple ID password. It works by setting up your device to use a DNS server that doesn’t use the inbuilt iOS security system.

You don’t need a SIM card inserted to get the iCloud lock bypass to work as it uses Wi-Fi to connect. It is a little fiddly but this hack isn’t that difficult to do. It does have its limitations tho. For example, you can’t make conventional phone calls.

On the plus side, it is a free solution.

For more information, see iCloud Activation Lock bypass.

Video instructions for bypassing

DNS method: step-by-step instructions

  1. Reboot your iPhone ready to set it up as a new device.
  2. Start the setup process and select your country and language.
  3. On the Choose Wi-Fi Network screen press the i next to the Wi-Fi symbol for the Wi-Fi network you want to connect to.
  4. Next, configure DNS. Scroll down to where it says DNS and type in the server address:
    • USA: 104.154.51.7
    • Europe: 104.155.28.90
    • Asia: 104.155.220.58
  5. Tap Back > at the top left of the screen.
  6. Choose your Wi-Fi network.
  7. Type in the Wi-Fi password and click Join at the top right.
  8. The phone will try to activate by going to a new screen. Don’t let it, hit the Back button at the top right to return to the WiFi page where you will be logged in and gain access to the online server.
  9. Once logged in you will see a screen that will say iCloudDNSBypass.net at the top.

How to get rid of Activation Lock without an Apple ID

If you don’t know the Apple ID or password of the account that has iCloud locked your device, you can’t enter it when prompted. This means you can’t switch off Find My and disable the lock easily.

There are a few things you can try to bypass the Activation Lock if you don’t know the Apple ID, such as:

To find out more, see how to bypass Activation Lock without the Apple ID.

Remove Activation Lock without the previous owner

If the previous owner of your Apple device can’t, or won’t, help then turning off Find My so you can get rid of the iCloud lock is difficult. It is unlikely you’ll be able to find out Apple ID without the last owner telling you.

Even so, there are still a couple things you can try:

For more on these and some other ideas, see how to remove ‘Find My’ Activation Lock without the previous owner.

Free iCloud Activation Lock Bypass Methods

To bypass the Activation Lock for free, simply enter the Apple ID and password on the Apple device when prompted.

If you don’t know the Apple account details of the last owner, then the only other free option is to use a DNS bypass.

Free Activation Lock removal

Disabling the Activation Lock for free is possible by entering the Apple ID and password on to the device when prompted.

For example, to turn off iPhone Activation Lock for free do the following:

  1. On your iPhone, tap Settings.
    tap settings
  2. Tap [your name].
    Apple ID settings screen
  3. Tap iCloud.
  4. Next, tap Find My iPhone.
  5. Tap the toggle turn off Find My iPhone.
  6. Enter your Apple ID password.
    confirm apple id password
  7. Next, tap Turn Off.

If you don’t know the Apple account details, you can Reset your Apple ID. If this doesn’t work then the best option is to bypass the lock using DNS.

For more details, see how to unlock iCloud for free.

Bypassing iPad Activation Lock

Although the iPad uses a different operating system, iPadOS, it can be iCloud locked using Find My in the same way as an iPhone. But with a different and unique specification, the iPad needs it’s own guide to fully explain how to bypass the Activation Lock.

However, you can use the following methods to get rid of the lock:

Bypassing Activation Lock on specific iPhone models

Since each series of iPhones are unique, we have produced specific instructions for bypassing iCloud on each model.

iPhone 13

With a smaller notch, improved battery life, an upgraded A15 Bionic chip, better photo handling, and larger camera arrays the iPhone 13 series is different from its predecessor. This is why we created a guide to show your how to bypass Activation Lock on iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max models.

iPhone 12

With 5G support, an upgraded A14 Bionic chip, better photo handling, and increased storage capacity the iPhone 12 range are unique. So we created an article to explain how to bypass Activation Lock on iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max models.

iPhone 11

Substantial design changes within the phone, including the addition of the more powerful Apple A13 Bionic chip as well as an ultra-wide dual-camera system, make the iPhone 11 different from other series. This is why we built a guide on how to bypass Activation Lock on iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max models reliably.

iPhone XS

With a 30% improvement in Face ID speed, and an all-new A12 Bionic chip the XS series is different from the model it replaced. This means we created a guide explaining how to bypass Activation Lock on iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max models.

iPhone XR

The iPhone XR features the same processor as the XS and XS Max, the Apple A12 Bionic chip but instead of the OLED screen on the XS, the XR has a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina LED-backlit LCD IPS panel which makes it unique. This is why we wrote a specific guide to bypass iCloud on iPhone XR phones.

iPhone X

On iPhone X, the home button’s fingerprint sensor was replaced with Face ID, which used sensors to scan the user’s face to unlock the device. With a bezel-less design, iPhone user interaction changed significantly, using gestures to navigate the operating system rather than the home button used in all previous iPhones. This is why a guide explaining iPhone X Activation Lock removal was created.

iPhone SE

The iPhone SE has the A15 Bionic chip but has a lower-quality LCD retina display. Security is handled slightly differently as there is no Face ID and it has a physical home button. This is why we created a guide to show your how to bypass the iPhone SE Activation Lock.

iPhone 8

With the addition of inductive charging, a faster processor, and improved cameras and displays the iPhone 13 series is different from its predecessor. This is why we created a guide for iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus Activation Lock removal.

iPhone 7

The iPhone 7 had improved water and dust resistance, a new capacitive, static home button, revised antenna bands, and the controversial removal of the 3.5 mm headphone jack. This is why we created a guide on how to bypass Activation Lock On iPhone 7.

iPhone 6

With updated hardware, including a strengthened 7000 series aluminium alloy chassis and upgraded Apple A9 system-on-chip, a new 12-megapixel rear camera that can record up to 4K video at 30fps the iPhone 6 was unique in the range. So we wrote a guide specifically explaining how to bypass Activation Lock on the iPhone 6.

iPhone 5

The iPhone 5 was upgraded with a taller screen, the Apple A6 system-on-chip, LTE support, and the lightning connector that replaced the 30-pin design making it different from all other models. As a result, we created a unique guide explaining how To bypass iCloud Activation Lock on the iPhone 5 range of smartphones.

iPhone 4

The iPhone 4 introduced Apple’s new high-resolution Retina Display, while maintaining the same physical size and aspect ratio as its precursors, Apple’s A4 system-on-chip, along with Apple’s new FaceTime video chat service. It was the first iPhone to include a front-facing camera. These unique features are why we created a guide explaining iPhone 4 iCloud Activation Lock Bypass techniques.

FAQ’s

Can you do away with the Activation Lock screen on iPad and iPad Pro?

You can remove iCloud Activation Lock from any iPad by using a specialist tool or service. This is despite Apple releasing iPadOS in 2019.

iPadOS is a variant of iOS with a different set of features. It replaced iOS on tablets but it still shares the same security system. This means the same unlocking methods work on both iOS and iPadOS operating systems.

To find out more, see How to remove Activation Lock from iPad.

Is there a tool that tells you if a device is locked before you buy it?

The Activation Lock status tool was discontinued by Apple in 2017. You can check the status of the Activation Lock by doing the following instead:

  1. Go to Apple’s Support website.
  2. Select the device you want to check from the list
  3. From the categories select Repairs & Physical Damage
  4. Pick Send in for repair
  5. Enter the device’s Serial number or IMEI number
  6. If the device has the iCloud Activation Lock enabled you will see Sorry but we can’t create a repair while Find my iPhone is active.

Is there a hack or hacking tool that can remove Activation Lock?

No, none of the tools available work successfully these days. It was claimed that in the iCloud celebrity hack cybercriminal used tools that include MagicApp, Applekit, and Find My iPhone (FMI.php) framework to automate unlocks but this was never proved. It is more likely a phishing scam was used to get the celebrities’ Apple IDs and passwords.

Can I use iTunes to disable the iCloud lock screen?

No, you can’t remove the iCloud Activation Lock with iTunes. You can unlock a disabled device using iTunes but the Activation Lock is not controlled with it. You need the Apple ID account credentials of the previous owner to remove it.

Is it possible to get rid of the lock screen using the IMEI?

Yes, you can remove the iCloud Activation Lock using your device’s IMEI as long as you use a trustworthy supplier such as IMEInow.

Will removing the passcode clear the iPhone Activation Lock?

The passcode lock allows you to gain access to the smartphone but it won’t switch off the Find My iPhone Activation Lock. You need the Apple ID and password for the iCloud account to turn it off.

If you want to know more about passcode removal, see How to unlock iPhone without the passcode.

If you don’t have the Apple ID password it makes it difficult to turn off Find My as these are required. If you have a used device you can ask the previous owner for help as they should know the credentials required. Failing that, there are some unofficial techniques you can try to get rid of the iCloud lock without the previous owner.

Wrap up

As long as you use a recommended company you can unlock and remove the iCloud Activation Lock from your device permanently.

If this doesn’t work you can claim. a refund using the money-back guarantee and try an iCloud bypass to get around the Activation Lock instead. It may not be as good but it is still a decent workaround.

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Article Sources

iChimp takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
[1] Apple Inc. How to remove Activation Lock.

[2] Apple Inc. Activation Lock for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

[3] Joe Rossignol, MacRumors. Apple Launches Self-Serve Portal for Initiating Activation Lock Removal Requests.

[4] Apple Inc. Request additional support for unlocking your device.

[5] Sampreshita Maheshwari, Sanjay Agal Pacific University India. iCloud and its security issues.

[6] Glenn Fleishman, Senior Contributor, MacWorld. Need to disable Activation Lock on an iPhone or iPad? Here are the 3 Apple-connected options to do so.

[7] Lex Friedman , Senior Contributor,MacWorld. Get to know Activation Lock.

[8] Dallas DeAtley, Apple Inc. Patent No. US 8,666,366 B2. Device activation and access.

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