It doesn't happen often, but sometimes you need to erase all of the data off your iPhone. For example, before you trade it in for a discount on a new one, or before you sell it, give it away, or recycle it. It's important to make sure you're wiping everything, including any connection to the cloud, so the new owners will never be able to access your private information.
Keeping your information safe from the wrong hands is essential, and also, let's face it, nobody wants your old pictures and documents on their phone. So do them a solid and wipe it thoroughly.
The best practice for wiping your iPhone is to do it as soon as the data transfer to your iCloud is complete.
Back up your iPhone
Before anything - make sure you have a updated backup of your iPhone. To do that, like any other iOS device, you can use either iCloud, iTunes, or the Finder.
- Go to Settings > iCloud > Backup in iCloud.
- Check the "Back Up Now" option to see when the last backup was performed.
If you have one recent enough to satisfy you, that's all you need to do. Skip ahead to the "Find my" part.
- If you need to create a new backup, tap "Back Up Now" to begin the process.
When backing up your iPhone or iPad with iTunes/The Finder, you'll need to connect your device to your Mac or PC using the charging cable.
- When prompted, click on the icon that represents your iPhone or iPad.
Now you're ready for the wipe.
Get started with the "Find my" app:
- Start by switching off iMessages.
Go to "Settings" > “Find My” > “Find My Phone”
- Toggle off “Find My Phone” and “Find My Network”.
Removing your Apple Watch from your phone will unpair any devices you have.
Sign out of your Apple ID
- Go to "Settings" > [your name] > "Sign Out" (at the bottom of the page).
- Provide the Apple ID and password you use.
Your data will be copied to this iPhone if you choose to keep it.
It doesn't matter what you toggle on once you've backed up your data and are about to wipe your phone.
- Click on the “Sign Out” button > then "yes" again in the “Are you sure?" pop up.
Wipe your iPhone / Factory Reset your iPhone
You're now ready to perform a factory reset on your iPad or iPhone once you're confident you've backed it up. You must make a backup beforehand since this will wipe your device completely. These are the guidelines you can follow to reset your iPhone or iPad:
- Go to "Settings" > "General" > "Reset"
- Select "Erase All Content and Settings".
iCloud backups will be asked to be updated if you have them set up, so you won't lose your data. If you havn't done it yet, this is your last chance!
- A warning box will appear with a red option to "Erase iPhone" (or iPad)
You might be asked to type in your passcode (if you've set one).
- After typing in your Apple ID password, you'll be asked to confirm your action.
- This is when the magic happens and cleans up your iPhone.
Once the device is wiped, it will display the initial setup screen as it appeared the first time you used it.
Using an old macOS version
If you haven't updated to macOS Catalina, you can also fully reset your iPhone or iPad through iTunes or Finder.
You should see a 'Restore iPhone' button as soon as you plug in your iOS device.
Clicking this button will completely reset the device.