How to Deactivate an iPhone

The best antidote for iPhone separation anxiety is deactivation. You accomplish this by erasing the iPhone’s contents and settings -- effectively reinstating the device’s original factory conditions and rendering it unusable until it’s set up again. Whether you’re selling your iPhone, sending it out for repair or trying to find it, deactivation ensures that its stored information and usage remains personal and restricted. You can deactivate an iPhone directly using iOS and iTunes and remotely via iCloud.

Apple Introduces Two New iPhone Models At Product Launch
Use one of three ways to render the iPhone inoperative.
credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Reset iPhone With iOS

Step

Tap “Settings” on your home screen, followed by “General.” Scroll to the bottom of the screen.

Step

Touch “Reset.” The screen displays several options.

Step

Choose “Erase All Content and Settings.” Next, enter your Apple ID and password when prompted. This command removes all your data, information and settings from the iPhone, including the Find My iPhone Activation Lock feature on an iPhone running iOS 7. The device restarts after it’s erased, displaying the Slide to Set Up welcome screen.

Restore iPhone With iTunes

Step

Tap “Settings” on your iPhone, followed by “iCloud,” if you’ve enabled the Find My iPhone service on your device. Toggle the “Find My iPhone” switch to the off position. Enter your Apple ID password when promoted and then tap “Turn Off.”

Step

Launch iTunes on your computer and connect your iPhone using its supplied USB cable. Choose your iPhone in iTunes.

Step

Click “Restore iPhone” on the Summary pane. Choose “Restore” to confirm you want to reinstate the device’s factory settings. The device restarts after it’s erased, displaying the Slide to Set Up welcome screen.

Remotely Wipe iPhone with iCloud

Step

Navigate to iCloud.com on a Web browser. Sign in with the Apple ID you use for the iCloud service on the iPhone. Choose “Find My iPhone.”

Step

Select the iPhone from the All Devices drop-down menu to display the iPhone’s Info screen.

Step

Click “Erase iPhone” on the Info screen and type your Apple ID password when prompted. If you’re running iOS 7 or later, enter a phone number and message to appear on the screen after the device is erased. The remote wipe occurs immediately on an iPhone that’s online -- or as soon as it comes online -- effectively deactivating it. Watch for an email confirming erasure on your Apple ID email address.