How to Factory Reset iPad

David Ruddock
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Factory resetting your iPad erases all content (apps, photos, videos, accounts), settings, and data — restoring that iPad to its original ("factory") state. Factory resetting an iPad is easy, though you may need a few pieces of information to do so. The following instructions are applicable to all iPad models, including the base model iPad, iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad Mini.

💡 For a more general overview of what a factory reset is, check out our primer.

How to Reset an iPad to Factory Settings

The simplest way to factory reset an iPad is to follow these steps directly on the iPad you want to factory reset.

  1. Open the "Settings" app
  2. Tap the "General" icon (it should appear below Screen Time)
  3. Tap "Transfer or Reset iPad" (at the bottom of the submenu)
  4. Tap "Erase all Content and Settings"
  5. Tap "Continue"
  6. If prompted, choose to keep or erase your iPad's SIM (only applies to 4G/5G iPads)
  7. Enter the screen lock code for your iPad
  8. If prompted, enter the screen time code for your iPad
  9. Allow iCloud backup to proceed (or skip)
  10. Enter Apple ID password

Once you've completed the above steps, your iPad will begin the factory reset process and reboot. On startup, you can set up the iPad as if it were a new device.

What if I Don't Have My Apple ID Password?

You'll need your Apple ID password during the iPad factory reset process. If you don't know your password, tap "Forgot password" during step 10 above to reset it. You must have access to the email address associated with that Apple ID to complete the password reset process. If two-factor authentication is enabled for this Apple ID, you will also need access to the associated two-factor method (often, an iPhone or Mac associated with that Apple ID) to continue the password reset process.

How to Factory Reset an iPad Without an Apple ID Password

There are two ways to factory reset an iPad without entering the Apple ID password.

  1. Placing the iPad in recovery mode. You'll still need the Apple ID password to recover the iPad after the factory reset, or the iPad will not be usable.
  2. With the Apple Configurator tool for Mac. You'll still need the Apple ID password to recover the iPad after the factory reset, or the iPad will not be usable.

If you factory reset your iPad via a method that does not invoke the Apple ID password, upon reboot, it may be locatable by GPS ("Find my") and unusable (i.e., Activation Lock will be enabled).

How to Factory Reset an iPad Using Recovery Mode

Recovery mode is a tool that allows a repair technician to recover your iPad if its data or operating system becomes corrupted. However, recovery mode also allows you to factory reset an iPad on your own if you so choose. Recovery mode requires a macOS computer or a PC with iTunes installed.

  1. Connect your iPad via USB to the Mac or PC (Macs with macOS Mojave or earlier, or any PC must have iTunes installed and open).
  2. Shut down the iPad (power off).
  3. Once the iPad is shut down:
    a. For iPads without a home button, tap the volume "up" button, then tap the volume "down" button, then hold down the power (screen on/off) button until you see the recovery screen (pictured below).
    b. For iPads with a home button, hold the home and power buttons down until you see the recovery screen (pictured below).
  4. In the macOS finder or iTunes, you should see a prompt asking you to update, restore, or cancel. To factory reset the iPad, choose restore.

Your iPad will now factory reset. Activation Lock and "Find my" will still be enabled when your erased iPad restarts. You will need to remove Activation Lock to start using the iPad.

How to Factory Reset an iPad Using Apple Configurator

Apple Configurator is a tool designed for organizations and admins to manage and supervise iOS devices. You can download it from the Mac App Store, which requires a compatible macOS computer. There is no PC version of Apple Configurator. To factory reset an iPad with Apple Configurator, follow these steps.

  1. Install Apple Configurator.
  2. Open Apple Configurator and connect your iPad to your macOS computer via USB.
  3. Right click anywhere on the device in Apple Configurator, find "Advanced" and "Erase all content and settings"

(Note: This method will not work for an iPad that is in supervised mode. You must disable supervised mode in Apple Configurator before starting a factory reset.)

Once you confirm you want to continue, Apple Configurator will send the reset command to your connected iPad. As with other methods, if you had an Apple ID associated with that iPad before factory resetting it, that Apple ID will remain associated after the factory reset, engaging Activation Lock and "Find my." You will need to remove Activation Lock to start using the iPad.

How to Remove iPad "Activation Lock" After Factory Reset

If you factory reset an iPad and it displays the "Activation Lock" screen on power up, you have three options to remove it.

  1. Enter the Apple ID and password associated with that iPad.
  2. Have the owner of the Apple ID displayed log into and remove the iPad from their account.
  3. If the iPad is MDM managed, you can send an Activation Lock bypass code from your MDM console in the Systems Manager area. See example documentation here.

There is no other way to remove an activation lock from an iPad without contacting Apple directly and creating a support request. To remove an activation lock, Apple requires documented proof that you own the iPad in question (e.g., the iPad's serial number on the original retail box) and that the iPad is not set to "Lost Mode." Apple also cannot disable Activation Lock on managed (Supervised mode) iPads.

How to Remotely Factory Reset an iPad

To factory reset an iPad remotely, go to Apple's iCloud Find My website or use the Find My app on an iOS device. You'll need your Apple ID and password to sign into this webpage. Find your iPad in the list, click on it, and then click "Erase This Device." Your iPad must be reachable (i.e., powered on with Wi-Fi or mobile data connected) for the factory reset command to execute. If it's not reachable when the command is sent, the iPad will factory reset the next time it connects to the internet.

If you need to reset multiple iPads with multiple Apple IDs (or with no Apple ID associated), the method above is rather tedious. For resetting iPads in bulk, you can use a large USB hub and the Apple Configurator method described earlier in the article. This requires physically obtaining and plugging in every iPad you want to reset. Unfortunately, there is no way to automate the bulk factory reset of iPads, let alone to do so remotely — unless you are using an iOS MDM (Mobile Device Management).

If you need to manage many iPads with features like remote factory reset (remote wiping), you need an iOS MDM — like Esper. You can try Esper device management with a 30-day trial here.

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David Ruddock
David Ruddock

David's tech experience runs deep. His tech agnostic approach and general love for technology fueled the 14 years he spent as a technology journalist, where David worked with major brands like Google, Samsung, Qualcomm, NVIDIA, Verizon, and Amazon, reviewed hundreds of products, and broke dozens of exclusive stories. Now he lends that same passion and expertise to Esper's marketing team.

David Ruddock
Learn about Esper mobile device management software for Android and iOS
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