If you buy a used Apple device and it:
- asks for the previous owner’s iCloud account details, or
- it displays the “Locked to owner” message when you try to use it
the device has been activation locked and you need to bypass Activation Lock on the device before you can use it.
The obvious solution is to ask the last owner to supply their Apple account details so you can get rid of the Activation Lock.
But how are you meant to unlock your device if you can’t get hold of the previous owner?
Luckily, there are a few options that may allow you to remove the iCloud Activation Lock prompt from an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac Computer, or Apple Watch. These include fixes, techniques, services, hacks, and online tools.
Read on to find out all of the techniques and tools I’ve tested and verified that can help you get rid of the iCloud lock from your device.
Table of Contents
You can bypass iCloud Activation Lock instantly if you know the ex-owners’ Apple ID, or by using a software tool. Or within 24-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:
- Using an iCloud 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 24 hours. We found DirectUnlocks is the best service.
- Using a software tool to bypass 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. This won’t allow you to bypass Activation Lock on a Mac tho.
- 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 using DNS.
- 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.
- NEVER use a free service to unlock iCloud activation lock. None of the free tools work and they can permanently damage your hardware.
- You can remove the Activation Lock without the previous owner. There are a number of tools and services that can help bypass the iCloud lock if the last owner can’t to turn it off.
You can bypass iCloud Activation Lock instantly if you know the previous owners’ Apple ID, or by using a software tool. Or within 24-hour by using a service.
Be aware that if you erase the iPadOS or iOS 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.
iCloud bypass methods
To bypass iCloud Activation Lock, follow these steps:
- If you have an iPhone, cellular iPad, or cellular Apple Watch find out the IMEI and serial number. You will need it later. The IMEI is a unique id for your iOS device and you need to provide it so the correct handset gets unlocked.
You can find the IMEI and serial number on the barcode on the device’s original packaging.
On these models, you’ll find the IMEI and serial number 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.
- 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
- For a WiFi-only iPad, iPod Touch, or Apple Watch, you only need the serial number. For help finding the serial number, see find the serial number on your iPhone or iPad
- 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.
- Pick a trustworthy supplier. We found DirectUnlocks the fastest, easiest, and most reliable company.
- 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.
- 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 preceding owners’ Apple ID.
- 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.
Using a tool or service
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 Tools that 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.
DirectUnlocks is a perfect service if you want to bypass Activation Lock easily on your iOS device. During our tests, it worked for every Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Apple Watch we sent them.
Based on price, support, and reliability, they are the best service we tested that can remove Activation Lock.
Summary box: DirectUnlocks
DirectUnlocks is an unlocking service that can get any iCloud locked device working without previous owner involvement.
- Price: £29.99 GBP ($36 USD)
- Speed: 24-84 hours
- Customer Services: Quick and helpful
- Rating: 9 / 10
- Hassle-free iCloud bypass service
- Responsive and helpful customer support
- From 24 – 48 hour turnaround
- Good selection of payment methods
- Money-back guarantee
- High success rate
- New supplier – so no long-term track record
- Some negative reviews
Who it’s best for: A service is best for people who want to bypass iCloud Activation Lock from iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch without any involvement beyond asking for it to be done.
In common with every service we tried, the payment is broken down into 2 parts. You are asked to pay a deposit, followed by a finalization fee. This is the worst aspect of the service as it can give the impression that the service is cheaper than it really is. Some buyers reported feeling blackmailed as they didn’t realize there would be a second payment. This is why I specifically mention the odd payment structure.
Independant reviews say Direct Unlocks is trustworthy and reliable
Direct Unlocks has been receiving positive reviews on Trustpilot since its launch in 2012.
Customers praise the company for its fast, reliable and affordable unlocking services. Many customers have written that they had their phones unlocked without any hassle, and some have even said that they were able to get their phones unlocked in under an hour.
Customers have also stated that the customer support team is knowledgeable, friendly and helpful.
People have noted that the team is quick to respond to any queries and are willing to help find a solution to any issue. Some customers have even said that the team is willing to go the extra mile to find a solution to their problem.
Overall, customers have had a positive experience with Direct Unlocks. Many have written that they would highly recommend the company to their friends and family.
All in all, the positive reviews on Trustpilot show that Direct Unlocks is a reliable and trustworthy unlocking service. Customers are satisfied with their unlocking services and also with the customer service provided. People have written that they would highly recommend the company and that they would use it again in the future.
Get rid of the lock using DirectUnlocks
To bypass Activation Lock using DirectUnlocks, use the following unlock process:
- 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.
- 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.
- To request the unlock, go to DirectUnlocks.
- If you have an iPhone or cellular iPad, enter the IMEI in the box. For a Mac, WiFi-only iPad, iPod Touch, or Apple Watch, enter the serial number in the box.
- In the device model dropdown, select your product.
- To continue, press the Unlock iCloud! button. The order details and price will be shown on the order summary page that opens.
- Where it says I agree to the terms and conditions, tick the box.
- Choose the payment method you prefer to use and pay securely. DirectUnlocks gets your contact details from the payment screen.
- In your email, you will receive a confirmation of your order.
Who it’s best for: A software tool is suited to competent computer users that don’t mind trying to bypass 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 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
- 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
- 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 bypass 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 Activation Lock using iBypasser
To bypass iCloud Activation Lock using iBypasser, use the following unlock process:
- Download iBypasser app, and install and launch it.
- Click Bypass iCloud Activation Lock Screen.
- On the Bypass iCloud Activation Lock Screen, click Start.
- 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.
- To jailbreak your device ready for unlocking, follow the on-screen prompts.
- To jailbreak a Mac computer:
- iBypasser will automatically download the Mac compatible jailbreak package for your iOS device. You don’t need to install an Apple driver.
- To begin the process, click Start Jailbreak.
- Follow the on-screen instructions, and click Next.
- The tool will jailbreak your device.
- To jailbreak a Windows computer:
- There is no automatic method to jailbreak iOS devices on Windows computers. Instead, follow this tutorial.
- Once completed, click Finished Jailbreak.
- To jailbreak a Mac computer:
- The iOS devices details appear on the computer. Confirm they are correct, then click Start Bypass.
- The iBypasser bypass tool will remove the current iCloud account and activation screen. It only takes take a few seconds to bypass Activation Lock.
- 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.
Via DNS server hack
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 iOS 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 Activation Lock bypass to work as it uses Wi-Fi settings 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.
To get past the Activation Lock with no help from the last owner using a DNS server bypass, do the following:
- Power up your Apple device.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to setup your product until you reach the Choose WiFi network screen.
- Select More WiFi Settings.
- Tap the i symbol next to the WiFi network.
- Choose Manual on the Configure DNS screen.
- Next, tap +Add Server and, input the server address that corresponds to your location:
- USA: 22.214.171.124
- Europe: 126.96.36.199
- Asia: 188.8.131.52
- Oceania: 184.108.40.206
- Other locations: 220.127.116.11
- Once done, tap Back to return to the WiFi page.
- Your device will now connect to the local bypass server.
This server bypass method does have some limitations, such as:
- Not all functions and features will work on your device.
- This won’t work on devices running iOS 10 or newer.
- It’s fiddly to do.
- You will need to go through this process each time you reboot your device.
For more detailed information, including other techniques, see how to remove the Activation Lock without the previous owner.
Without previous owner helping
The Activation Lock is enabled because the previous owner has turned on Find My and forgot to switch it off before selling it to you. This is quite a common issue resulting in buyers ending up with devices locked to the previous owners iCloud Apple ID.
Asking the previous owner to turn off Find My will bypass the lock and allow you to setup the device normally.
But what if you can’t get hold of the last owner?
Well, you need some options to allow you to remove the Activation Lock without the previous owner helping.
Luckily, if the ex-owner of your Apple product can’t turn off the iCloud Activation Lock there are still a few of things you can try to remove it yourself:
- Use a paid service to switch off Find My and remove the lock.
- Use a paid tool to hack the Activation Lock.
- Use a free server bypass to get around the iCloud Activation Lock and use your device.
For more information, see how to bypass iCloud Activation Lock without the previous owner.
When you don’t have the Apple ID password
If you don’t know the Apple ID or password of the account that has iCloud locked your iOS device, you can’t enter it when prompted. This means you can’t switch off Find My and disable the Activation Lock easily.
There are a few things you can try to bypass iCloud Activation Lock if you don’t know the Apple ID, such as:
- Ask the last owner to turn off Find My iPhone remotely.
- Ask Apple’s Support to help. Be prepared to prove your ownership with a reciept.
- Using the iForgot website to unlock or find out the Apple ID or reset the account password.
- If you are not a computer expert, try a recommended unlocking service.
- If you are computer savy, try a recommended tool.
To find out more, see how to bypass Activation Lock without the Apple ID.
Free iCloud unlocking
Disabling the iCloud Activation Lock for free is possible by entering the Apple ID and password on the iOS device when prompted.
For example, to turn off iPhone iCloud Activation Lock for free, use the following unlock process:
- Select Settings.
- Then, tap [your name].
- Next, tap Find My.
- Then, tap Find My iPhone.
- Tap the toggle to turn off Find My iPhone.
- When prompted, enter your Apple ID password.
- Next, tap Turn Off.
If you don’t know the Apple account details, you can Reset your Apple ID.
For more free methods to get rid of the iCloud Activation Lock, see how to unlock iCloud for free.
What triggers the Activation Lock?
The iCloud Activation Lock is triggered when Find My and the Activation Lock has been installed, setup, and configured.
You can tell the lock has been triggered when you see iPhone locked to owner or iPad locked to owner on the devices screen.
The iCloud Activation Lock 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 the message will appear on screen.
Unfortunately, some owners forget to disable the Activation Lock before selling their used device preventing the new owner from being able to configure them.
This is still the case with iOS 16 and iPad OS 16.
- To find out about the lock, see What is Activation Lock.
- For more information on Find My, see Everything you need to know about Apple’s Find My tool.
Is there a tool that tells you if a device is locked before you buy it?
A tool that tells you if the Activation Lock on iPhone, iPad, or any other device is turned on before you buy it would be great. However, the Activation Lock status tool was discontinued by Apple in 2017.
You can check the status of the Activation Lock by doing the following:
- Go to Apple’s Support website.
- Select the device you want to check from the list
- From the categories select Repairs & Physical Damage
- Pick Send in for repair
- Enter the device’s Serial number or IMEI number
- 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 the 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.
So if you want to bypass iCloud lock, a hack is not the answer.
Can I use iTunes to disable the lock screen?
No, you can’t bypass Activation Lock with iTunes and remove the iCloud Activation lock screen. 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 preceding owner to remove it.
Is it possible to get rid of the lock message using the IMEI?
Yes, you can bypass Activation Lock using your device’s IMEI as long as you use a trustworthy supplier such as DirectUnlocks.
Will removing the passcode unlock my device?
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 to unlock Apple ID and password info, so the iCloud account can be turned 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 last owner for help as they should know the credentials required.
As long as you use a recommended company you can bypass Activation Lock on 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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