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How to get around Activation Lock on iPhone, iPad, Mac, more

Having trouble with a locked Apple device? Follow along for how to get around Activation Lock on iPhone, iPadiPod touch, Mac, and Apple Watch. We’ll look at several steps including an Activation Lock web tool from Apple that’s new for 2021.

Activation Lock is a security feature that is turned on when Find My is enabled. Here’s how Apple describes it:

Activation Lock helps you keep your device secure, even if it’s in the wrong hands, and can improve your chances of recovering it. Even if you erase your device remotely, Activation Lock can continue to deter anyone from reactivating your device without your permission. All you need to do is keep Find My [device] turned on, and remember your Apple ID and password.

This is different than an iOS/Apple Watch device passcode or your Mac’s password. You’ll see a screen like the image above asking for the Apple ID email and password if you’re having trouble with Activation Lock.

How to get around Activation Lock on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, more

  1. If you can’t remember your Apple ID email, look it up here
  2. If you can’t remember your Apple ID password, reset it here
  3. If you can’t remember your security questions to reset your Apple ID password, call 800-APL-CARE (800-275-2273) or reach out via to see if there are other options to recover your account
  4. If you’re in the US, there’s a new Activation Lock web tool toward the bottom of the landing page, there’s an option to “Start an Activation Lock support request. Here are the conditions:
    • You must be the owner of the device – Proof of ownership documentation is required. Proof of ownership must include the product serial number, IMEI, or MEID.
    • Your data on the device will be erased – If Apple unlocks Activation Lock on your device, all files and data stored on your device will be permanently erased. Please note, restoring your device from a local backup will re-enable Activation Lock.
    • We can’t unlock a managed device – If your device is owned by a business or educational institution, please contact your IT department or manager. We also do not accept bulk requests.
    • Your device must not be in Lost Mode.
  5. In countries where the new Activation Lock tool isn’t available, visit an Apple Store with proof of purchase, it may be possible remove the Activation Lock, but the device will be erased in the process

Outside of the steps above, there aren’t really any ways to disable Activation Lock on Apple Devices. There are instances of third-party companies popping up who offer device unlocking services like GrayShift. However, these options are usually cost thousands of dollars, are often intended for law enforcement, and Apple can render the exploits useless with a software update.

One exception is DriveSavers, who claims to have a consumer focused unlocking service for Apple devices. However, no pricing is listed on the website, and we can’t vouch for it in any way. Keep in mind most other third-party “unlocking services” will either be scams or temporary fixes.

The best solution is to work through the four steps above to recover your Apple ID and disable Activation Lock legitimately.

To read more about Activation Lock, check out Apple’s support doc here.

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Avatar for Michael Potuck Michael Potuck

Michael is an editor for 9to5Mac. Since joining in 2016 he has written more than 3,000 articles including breaking news, reviews, and detailed comparisons and tutorials.