How To Erase Your iPhone and iPad Before You Sell It

A new phone was just released, and you’re eligible for an upgrade. Of course you’re going to sell your old phone for some extra cash. Or maybe you decided your iPad was too big to travel with so you bought an iPad mini. If you’re no longer going to use your old device, sell it. Check out my resources page for a selection of websites to sell your used cell phones and tablets.

If you are going to sell your used iPhone or tablet, you should delete all of your personal data and preferences and restore it to the default factory settings. Your mobile device will most likely contain all of your saved personal information such as emails, text messages, passwords, pictures, and video. The last thing you want is for the new owner of your used phone to have access to your Facebook account or to see pictures that probably should have been sent using snap chat. You don’t want to hand over all your digital secrets to a stranger. If you are selling your Apple iPhone or iPad, make sure you TURN OFF the ‘Find My iPhone’ feature before you give it to the new owner. If you don’t, they will not be able to activate it without you.

Delete iPad

The buyer is going to want to receive your used phone or tablet just as it comes directly from Apple. The buyer isn’t interested in your customized settings. They don’t want to see your customized wallpaper everyday or have to listen to your music. Not everyone enjoys hearing Miley Cyrus’ top hits.

Selling your device isn’t the only reason to delete all of your data and settings. If you need to send your phone in to Apple for repairs, you may want to remove your personal data. You can always restore the phone’s data when you get it back. Also, if you’re phone isn’t functioning correctly, Apple may recommend that you wipe all the data from your phone and reseting it to fix a software issue.

Apple makes our lives easy. Deleting data from an old iPhone or iPad and then restoring all of it onto your new device is a breeze with iTunes. When you backup your device to iTunes it saves every setting, preference, and personal item on your iPhone or iPad. You should always backup your device before deleting it so you can transfer everything to your new device.

Now that you are ready to sell your device, follow these simple steps to remove all the data and to restore it to how you originally received it from Apple:

Backup your device

  1. There are two options when backing up your device. You can sync to iTunes, or you can wirelessly sync your phone to Apple’s iCloud service. To backup your device, choose your settings app, then select iCloud, and choose storage and backup. Switch the iCloud backup toggle to ON. Go back to the previous screen and you can choose which Apple apps to backup. At the bottom, you can select “storage and backup” to choose third party apps to save. I personally prefer not to use iCloud because some apps don’t support it and you can only backup 5 GB of data for free. I have too much data on my devices to rely on iCloud for my backups.
  2. I prefer to use iTunes to sync all of my data. You can do this wirelessly or via USB cable. Since USB is fastest, connect your device to your computer.
  3. Open iTunes, click on your Apple device which is located in the top right corner in the most recent version of the software.
  4. Click on the summary table of your device.
  5. Choose the “Back Up Now” button.

Make sure you let the backup completely finish before proceeding to erase all of your data.

iCloud Backup

iTunes Backup

Turn Off Activation Lock

If you are running iOS 7, Apple’s latest operating system, you must turn off the Find My iPhone app before shipping your device. If this is not turned off, the buyer of your phone will not be able to activate it.
  1. Open the Settings app from your home screen.
  2. Choose iCloud.
  3. Slide Find My iPhone to the OFF position.
  4. Enter your password to confirm and tap Turn Off.

Erase all of your device’s data

  1. On your device, open the settings app. (This app has gears as the icon)
  2. Select the General settings.
  3. At the bottom, choose reset.
  4. Tap on the “Erase All Content and Settings” menu item. If you’ve set a passcode, it will prompt you to enter the passcode.

Erase Data

That’s it, it only takes four easy and quick steps to start the process. It will take a few minutes to complete the full hardware wipe and will display the Apple logo and a progress bar while you are waiting. You should keep your phone plugged into your computer or to the wall so the power source will keep it charged. The last thing you want is for it to shutdown midway through the process.

Now that you have removed all your personal and sensitive information from your device, it’s just about time to sell it. The last step is to unregister your iPhone or iPad on the Apple website so it isn’t registered to your unique Apple ID. Most people skip this step because when the buyer receives the device they will link their own Apple ID to it. However, I like to unregister it beforehand to be on the safe side. You can also call your wireless carrier from your new phone and ask them to disassociate the old phone from your wireless account.

  1. Go to:
  2. Log in if not already logged in.
  3. Click on “edit products”
  4. Click on the “x” to the right of the product.
  5. Click “Unregister”

You should also unlink any apps that are registered to your specific phone such as Dropbox or Pandora. You can do this from their websites.

Don’t forget to remove the SIM card from your device and to clean your mobile phones and tablets as best as possible with a microfiber towel and an pressured air canister.

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  1. I sold my iPhone and forgot to delete all my info. How do I help the new owner delete my info and sync to iTunes for himself? thanks

  2. Hi Ric,

    I would send the new owner this article which will guide him how to delete all of your data. In the phone settings they should choose to “erase all content and settings”. Then when the new owner plugs their iPhone into their computer and syncs with iTunes they will be able to register their phone with their Apple ID.

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