If you have bought a second hand iPhone and discovered that it is still linked to the previous owner you may encounter problems with Find My iPhone - a feature found in iOS and macOS that enables users to locate lost or missing iPhone, iPad and Mac devices. It can be very tricky to turn off Find My iPhone on a device that is linked to a previous owner - that's exactly why we recommend that if you are selling an iPhone you disable Find My iPhone before you do so (read more about selling an iPhone here).
Another reason you may want to deactivate Find My iPhone is if you are concerned that Find my iPhone can allow someone to track you. In theory anyone who has your Apple ID log on details could use the Find My iPhone app to locate your iPhone (or iPad, or Mac).
It's a useful service if you do lose your iPhone because you can use it to locate the iPhone, iPad or Mac by logging on to iCloud.com (on a Mac or Windows PC) or using the Find my iPhone app on an iPhone or iPad. Using Find My iPhone you'll be able to see the location of your device on a map, remotely lock it, wipe its contents or send a message to a lost device (encouraging a finder to return it). Read more about How to find a lost iPhone - track an iPhone using Find My iPhone here.
But if you do want to remove Find My iPhone, either because you are selling the iPhone (iPad or Mac), because you don't like the idea that Apple (or anyone else with your details) could track you, or because you have obtained an iPhone that is still linked to someone else's Find My iPhone, then luckily it's relatively easy to remove an iPhone - or a MacBook, iPad or iPod touch - from Find My iPhone. In this article we show you how.
How to disable Find my iPhone
Assuming it's Find my iPhone on your own device - rather than someone else's iPhone - that you want to turn off, here's what you need to do.
On an iPhone or iPad
- Click on Settings.
- Tap on iCloud.
- Scroll down to Find My iPhone. Tap on that.
- On the next page tap on the switch to turn off Find My iPhone (the switch will be grey if it's off).
- You will need to enter the Apple ID and Password to turn off Find My iPhone, if you don't have that move to the next section.
- Find My iPhone will now be disabled for that iOS device, and you can continue to reset the device to its factory settings (if you're planning to sell it.) Do this using Settings > General > Reset and Erase All Content and Settings.
On a Mac or MacBook
You can also use Find My Mac on a Mac or MacBook, and similarly you may need to turn if off before selling or for privacy reasons.
- Click on System Preferences.
- Click on iCloud.
- Scroll down to Find My Mac. Click the box beside that so that there is no tick/check mark.
- Enter the Apple ID and Password, if you don't have that move to the next section.
How to disable Find my iPhone on someone else's phone
Find My iPhone is a tremendously useful service, and was implemented in part to discourage the theft of Apple devices. Because of this you cannot disable Find My iPhone without the Apple ID and password used to set it up. Furthermore, if you cannot turn off Find My iPhone, you cannot completely restore the iPhone or iPad to its original factory settings.
Because of this you must disable Find My iPhone before selling, or passing on, your iPhone. If you have purchased an iPhone second-hand and do not have the Apple ID and password requested by Find My iPhone, you will need to contact the original owner to retrieve it (or hand them the iPhone or iPad and get them to enter the password).
What if you inherited the iPhone, iPad or Mac and the previous owner is now dead? Unfortunately it's not at all easy to gain access to an iPhone even in these sad circumstances. However, it may be worth a call to Customer Services (0800 048 0408 in the UK, 1-800-275-2273 in the US) who may be able to help, you may need to show a death certificate but it may be possible to get the device unlocked in these special circumstances (although we don't believe it's an official policy at Apple).
Can Find My iPhone be used to find me?
Can find my iPhone be used to track someone else's phone though? And if you enter someone else's Apple ID details to track their iPhone they will see a notification on their device?
If someone knows your Apple ID and password they could log on to Find My iPhone on their iPhone or iPad, enter your details and locate your iPhone (and any other devices you own). For that reason if you think someone might have your Apple ID and password and you don't want them to be able to track your whereabouts (a stalker for example) then you should change your password. You will not receive an alert that they have signed onto Find iPhone with your details.
If someone logs on to your iCloud account via a web browser you will receive an email informing you like the one below.
How to turn off Find My iPhone so I can't be tracked
If you are concerned that someone can track your whereabouts using Find My iPhone you might want to deactivate it. Here's how:
Turning off Find My iPhone is pretty straightforward as long as you have the Apple ID and password. Follow these steps to turn off Find My iPhone:
- Open Settings.
- Tap iCloud.
- Choose Find My iPhone.
- Set Find My iPhone to Off.
- Enter the Apple ID password for the account listed and tap Turn Off.
How to turn off Find My iPhone without the Apple ID or password
As we explained above, if you don't have the Apple ID or password - even if it's your own iPhone - turning off Find My iPhone can still be impossible.
If it's not your phone, as we said above, you need to request the Apple ID and password from the previous owner. Even if you don't know the original owner, you should be able to find out which email is associated with the Apple ID and then email them and request the password.