Most of the time, Apple’s Find my iPhone feature is great. It can help you locate a misplaced iPhone, whether you dropped it between the couch cushions or left it on the table in your office’s conference room. But if you’re selling your iPhone or giving it to a family member who’s in need of an upgrade, you’re going to want to turn off Find My iPhone, which works in conjunction with Apple’s Activation Lock anti-theft system. You may also want to turn off Find My iPhone if you need to restore your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch in iTunes, since the Find My iPhone feature controls Apple’s Activation Lock anti-theft system.
As iMore’s Kathy McGraw and Rene Ritchie point out, if you want to turn off Find My iPhone or Activation Lock in order to sell or give away your iOS device, you’re better off erasing the device instead. Not only will that remove Find My iPhone and Activation Lock, but it will also serve as a basic defense against accidentally giving away sensitive data and communications with the device. Luckily, you can turn off Find My iPhone or erase your device equally easily with the instructions that follow.
How to turn off Find My iPhone from an iOS device
Turning off Find My iPhone on your iPhone when you have the iPhone in question with you is the simplest option. To turn off Find My iPhone when you have your iOS device in hand, open the Settings app on your device. Navigate to the iCloud section, and tap Find My iPhone. There, you can toggle Find My iPhone off. You’ll need to enter your Apple ID password to confirm the change.
If you have both an iPhone and an iPad, or perhaps an iPhone and an iPod Touch, you can use the Find My iPhone app on one device to turn off the functionality on another. To do so, you’ll just need to open the Find My iPhone app, sign in with your password, and then select the offline device. From there, you can find the option to erase the device at the lower-right corner of the screen, or the option to remove it from your account at the top-right corner.
How to turn off Find My iPhone via iCloud
To turn off Find My iPhone remotely, sign in to iCloud at iCloud.com and click the Find My iPhone icon. (If all you see when you log in is Pages, Numbers, Keynote, and Settings, your account just has access to iCloud web-only features. To gain access to other iCloud features, you’ll need to set up iCloud on your iOS device or Mac.) The device will need to be offline for you to turn off Find My iPhone remotely, so if you’ve already given it to a friend or family member, make sure that he or she turns it off. Click to expand the “All Devices” list at the top of the screen, and select the device for which you want to turn off Find My iPhone.
From there, you have a couple of options. You can click “Erase iPhone,” which will both turn off Find My iPhone and Activation Lock, as well as erase your content and settings. You can select this option if you’ve lost the device, or if you have the device but have forgotten your passcode, since there’s no way to get back into it without factory-resetting it, and restoring your data from a backup. When you erase the content of your device, Find My iPhone and Activation Lock are automatically turned off.
Alternatively, if you’ve already erased the iPhone and given it to someone else, and he or she is having trouble activating it, you can click “Remove from Account” to unlink the device from your Apple ID and enable it to be activated and used by someone else. This is also a useful option if you’ve thrown in the towel on finding a lost device, and simply want to remove it from the list of devices associated with your account.
To turn off Find My iPhone for a Mac, open the Apple menu, click System Preferences, then select iCloud. The, you can deselect Find My Mac. If you can’t turn off Find My iPhone on your Mac, ensure that it’s offline, and then log on to iCloud.com to remove it from Find My iPhone.
How turning off Find My iPhone affects Activation Lock
When you remove a device from your account, it’s removed from your Find My iPhone devices list, and an Apple support page explains that if your device is running iOS 7 or later, Activation Lock is also turned off. Activation Lock is a feature designed to prevent anyone from using your device if you lose it. When you turn on Find My iPhone, your Apple ID and password will be required before anyone can turn off Find My iPhone, erase your device, or reactivate it.
If you’re buying or selling a used device, you can check to see if the device is locked at icloud.com/activationlock from a Mac or PC. If you’re selling or giving away a device, you’ll need to erase the content and settings by opening the Settings app, tapping General, choosing Reset, and tapping Erase All Content and Settings. When you erase your content, Find My iPhone and Activation Lock are also turned off.
How does Find My iPhone work?
If all this talk of turning off Find My iPhone and Activation Lock has you curious about how Find My iPhone actually works, here’s a refresher. The feature helps you to locate your lost iOS device or Mac on a map, with a Lost Mode that enables you to see where your device is and track where it’s been, and you can lock your device and send it a message with a contact number. Find My iPhone also enables you to play a sound on, remotely lock, or remotely wipe the device you’re trying to find.
When you enable iCloud, some features of Find My iPhone — like the ability to a send a message to, play a sound on, remotely lock, and remotely wipe your iPhone — are automatically enabled. If you have Location Services turned on, Find My iPhone can also help you to locate your device on a map if it’s connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi or cellular data.
Each time you locate your device on a map using Find My iPhone, your device’s location, plus information abut your device and your account, will be sent to Apple. Once you’ve requested your device’s location, you can view the lat location of your device after your initial request for a period f up to 24 hours. Apple deletes the information within seven days of your initial request. If you choose to enable the Last Location feature, your device’s last known location will be automatically sent to Apple any time the battery reaches a critically low level.