Apple Activation Lock – unlock your iPhone, iPad, Mac or MacBook before you re-gift, recycle it this Xmas

Apple Activation Lock

New Apple security measures will render a second-hand Apple device useless unless you disable the Apple Activation lock, Apple User ID/password and unlink from iCloud and iMessage.

The Apple Activation lock warning now applies to Apple’s iOS, iPadOS, MacOS devices and probably Apple Watch and TV.

Our friends at iFixit have issued the Apple Activation lock warning this Xmas before Apple users’ re-gift or recycle their old Apple kit. And phone refurbishers are warning that unless the Apple device is entirely unlocked and clean that your credit card will be debited as there is no way to refurbish the products.

Apple Activation lock anti-theft features are uncrackable and getting more so. Good for Apple


On older Macs, there is an optional firmware password to prevent hardware changes, which keeps unauthorised users from wiping Mac’s storage drive.

In the 2018+ Mac world, the T2 security chip (Mini, Air and Pro) makes it impossible for anyone but the owner to unlink the Activation Lock designed to protect users devices if they are lost or stolen.

T2 chip enables a new level of security by including a secure enclave coprocessor that secures Touch ID data and provides the foundation for new encrypted storage and secure boot capabilities. And the T2 chip’s image signal processor works with the FaceTime HD camera.

Apple Activation lock

On iPhone and iPad

It is part of Find My Phone. Use Apple’s Reset feature to wipe the phone clean, which also removes it from Find My iPhone and gets rid of the Activation Lock. An unlink from iCloud and iMessage.

Apple Activation lock

iFixit says

“People don’t realise that if you don’t properly reset your device, that phone is effectively bricked once you pass it on. They’re just not thinking through the steps, or don’t connect the fact that [Find My iPhone] is a permanent, never-ending lock on the phone.”

The safest re-gifting or recycling preparation is to go to settings and to navigate to General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. Enter your Apple ID password, and it will automatically turn off Find My iPhone before it resets, thus disabling Activation Lock.

GadgetGuy’s take – remove Apple Activation lock – it is all about education

First, most devices that have a password, pin, face ID, fingerprint or other lock need to be ‘unlocked’ by a factory reset before regifting.

Second, get those old devices out of the draw and either re-use, regift or recycle.

MobileMuster is your go-to to recycle a phone. Since 1998, the program has collected and recycled nearly 1,500 tonnes of mobiles and accessories, comparable to the weight of 250 African elephants, including over 14 million handsets and batteries.

Or you can try and sell it online but beware of the scams designed to take the phone and not pay for it or come to your home and case it.