How To Wipe An iPad To Factory Settings Without Having The 4 Digit Passcode

In some rare cases, you may find yourself in a scenario where you're looking to wipe an iPad or other iOS device to factory settings, but the device you have is currently password protected and you don't know the password.

I have found myself in this situation as I am helping to sell a friend's old iPad that he understandably wants to be wiped prior to its sale.

Since he had previously set a 4 digit password to access the iPad's contents and I cannot contact him to ask what the password is (he is out of the country at the moment), I will have to resort to manually overriding the password and restoring the device.

There are two different ways to go about doing this and I will run you through each of them.

Method #1: Reset an iPad Previously Synced With Your Computer's iTunes

  1. Connect your iPad to the computer via USB cable
  2. Launch iTunes
  3. Remove iPad from your computer if iTunes prompts for a passcode. If this happens, move on to method #2.
  4. Right click on the iPad icon found within the iTunes left column & click “Back Up” (only perform this step if you want to restore your data after restore)
  5. Click “Restore” when your back up has finished. This will cause your iPad to enter “Recovery Mode” which will reset all its settings.
  6. After the device reboots, right-click the iPad icon and choose “Restore from Backup” This will replace all the content you previously backed up before the reset. This step is only necessary if you are looking to restore your data which was deleted during the reset.

Method #2: Reset An iPad That Was Never Synced With Your Computer's iTunes

  1. Disconnect iPad from computer
  2. Hold down the top “Sleep/Wake” button until the red slider appears & proceed to turn the iPad off
  3. While holding the bottom “Home” button down, reinsert the USB connector and the iPad will turn back on
  4. When the screen shows a message saying “Connect to iTunes”, let go of the “Home” button
  5. Launch iTunes again and it will initiate the Recovery Mode process.
  6. You will likely have to wait several minutes for the reset to take place, but when finished you will receive a message that the reset was successful and the iPad will reboot itself
  7. You will now have a blank iPad with factory settings

Photo Credit: Flickr

 

  • Hi i have a similar issue. whilst accessing a website the ipad made a clicking sound trhen went to a blank screen. i tried all manners of resets and all i could ever get was a little flicker of light. When connecting to Itunes to try and restore i could not due to the 4 digit password and as the screen does not come on i had no way of inputting the password. Eventually i found this page and was able to restore the ipad and update settings via i tunes.

    i then got a voice saying screen lock if i toughed that button and other things if i randomly touched anywhere on the ipad but still no screen.

    typically this is 5 days outside of its 1 year warranty….

    Anyone have any ideas before i take this to an apple store and pray.

    5 star rating as you got me further than any other site. now lets see if you can get a brucie bonus 🙂

    thanks in advance

    James

    • Of course! I’m glad you found it helpful and I understand your frustration especially since you didn’t think you set a password in the first place!

      • IT WONT LET ME LAUNCH ITUNES WHEN IT GOT TO THAT POINT I CLICKED ON THE ITUNES I CON AND ITS NOT LAUNCHING HOW DO I LAUNCH IT

        • I’m having the exact same issue I launch it after turning the iPad back on manually or do I tap the iTunes icon when it shows on the initial restart because I’m trying to do this from a Bluetooth tethering and when it turns off it turns my Bluetooth off as well so WTF?

      • I tried this and after I plug it in, it still says I tunes on the iPad with the picture of a chord and an arrow. It is not working for me. Any suggestions please.
        thank you

      • so I have an iPhone 5S and somehow when I have set the passcode to a 4-Digit pin because my wife and I share a phone I misplaced the paper that I wrote the code down on and along the lines of moving we could never find the paper well now we need to use the phone because we are without a phone and we definitely do not have a backup on the computer that we are using so I don’t want the phone to be iCloud locked because it is under my first wife’s iCloud account what do I do all it has on it as a 4-Digit passcode and is a iPhone 5S model a1453

  • Great tutorial. I needed to wipe a friend of mine’s iPad that her aunt gave her but we couldnt figure out the pin and connecting to ifunbox and itunes was not helping. I really appreciate you taking the time to teach people this. regards.

    -Aldo

  • Thank you! My mother’s friend somehow put a passcode on but couldn’t remember doing so, I tired everything I could think of and connecting to itunes wouldn’t work.

  • I tried the method you described but got the message to enter the Apple ID to activate I pad why did it not erase the iPad the previous owner is not in contact anymore how do I erase the ipad

    • I would like to know that as well. The factory restore worked for me as well, however, it is asking for the prior owners Apple ID and Password, in which – I am no longer in contact with that person. How do I get there email unregistered or skip this step so I can actually use my iPad. I can’t even use it anymore until I get that persons Apple ID and Password.

    • And I found a useful program which can restore iPhone and iPad. You can select wipe the data or not, and it also can recover deleted data from iPhone/iPad, but it’s not work prefect. You can search FonePaw iOS System Recovery on Google to know more.

    • Many types of people have always the same problem with a new used iPad they got for free or found on the street or accepted stolen merchandise etcetera etc. Following the steps provided in method 2, this is when many people get stuck and just can’t figure out why this iPad or iPhone just wont obey me so I can then use it to use the voice memos or photos app, or just use it for whatever I want.

      Here is a possible solution that Is going to help your chances no matter how hard you tried to unlock the damn thing:

      update itunes to the latest version no it did not work for me but you might try it if you think you probably want to try.

  • I followed the steps several times. The screen shows the connector pointing to the iTunes logo. It never gives me a message to restore. I don’t know if Im doing it wrong but it just shows that and then nothing on the ipad or iTunes. Please help.

      • OK, can you tell i’m not a mac user…? 🙂

        i went to a friends MAC desktop computer and followed the instructions then followed the screen prompts and your second method worked fluidly in 16 i will , hopefully , be able to get this old ipad working again! thanks for the walk through.

        5 starrs!!

  • here is what i got on screen when i followed steps in method 2.

    i think i need to be “usb-connected” on a computer that has itunes loaded on it , because this is all it did then powered down when left idle like this after about 15 – 30 min.

    (this is an attempt to illustrate the pictureon the screen as i cannot post the the pic i took)

    O (this represents the Itunes icon -blue circle with a pair of eighth-notes inside)
    itunes ( it says this)

    > Top of an arrow (pointing up but i cannot use those characters here)
    i line of arrow
    i line of arrow

    P illustration of the ipad USB plug (contact section)
    H illustration of ipad USB plug (crimp section)
    i line representing wire of USB plug
    i ”
    i “

    • this post was rearranged on the html screen, so my longshot at painting you a picture is even harder to visualize since the spaces i used to separate are omitted.

      just scan the first column of characters to get the Character pic…

      thx

      ill post you again if i am sucessful after connecting with a MAC.

  • Hi,

    I am trying my best to reset my ipad air to a factory settings. When connecting to my computer the ipad does not appear on my iTunes. How do I do it without connecting to an iTunes?

  • I wish there was a way to set up a forgot password option like on emails. That way we wouldn’t have to do this all the time. Useful information, though and it worked. Thanks!

  • I have tried these steps 4 times. My iPad keeps asking for the password associated with the previous user. Something about he had it linked to Where is my iPad.

    • Hi
      had this same trouble also with same message coming up! There was a fake telephone number associated with this devise as I would rather contact the old owner and get the passcode or to send it back to them?
      Does seem like an insurance scam on their part.
      If you do find a solution please let me know
      Regards
      Phillip

  • i’ve done this method a few times and its been saying that “there was a problem downloading the software” when i try to reset my itouch

  • I tried this but all I get is Error 3014, I also tried the host file mod from the apple kb article but it still does not work. I am using windows 8.1 64bit OS. Ipad2 disabled (Connect to iTunes) I think the ipad is on ver 7 update or restore does not work.

  • i BOUGHT AN IPAD4 FROM THE PAWNSHOP, I GOT IT TO THE FACTORY SETTINGS, BUT WHEN I TRY TO SET IT UP AS A NEW IPAD. IT KEEPS ASKING THE OTHERS PERSON APPLE ID

  • how long do you wait til it takes place?? i tried this and it just stays on the “connect to itunes” picture nothing happens after that

  • Yeeeaaa so 9 people, out of 10 of you, are referring to your “friend’s ipad” as the one that was stolen from my car or from someone else’s stolen ipad. Period!
    If you can’t afford a $299 ipad than just **** yourself. Please. You failed at the game called life. Just jump. Believe me its for the best.
    As for the other one, who really doesn’t have a stolen ipad. My apologies.

  • I tried to wipe an ipad I picked up at a pawn shop using method #2. The first thing itunes tells me is: Itunes has detected an iPad in recovery mode. You must restore this iPad before it can be used with iTunes.

    So I say ok.

    It looks like everything is working, and then a block pops up that says:The iPad could not be restored. The iPad is not eligible for the requested build.

  • if I’m locked out on the iPad, (currently 60 mins) it not work? my computer says to check my connection but clearly I’m online.

  • um my problem is’t exactly the same my IPad was just fine i got some kind of loop in which the ipad would just reboot over and over again this when until the battery died. When i charged it this continued so i decided to restore from a backup to solve the problem. During the backup i left for a few minutes when i came back the ipad was stuck on the loading page with the apple logo this went until the battery died once more and its been on that page no matter what i do and i can back up restore or anything cause the password is still on I’ve tried everything I’ve heard and seen is there that I can do anything at all cause I’m not anywhere close to a apple store.

  • hi
    tried your suggestions using method 2 but it did not work for me or my son?
    All that came up was an activation screen. And a message that the item was lost and a fake telephone number to contact owner?
    And just in case you are thinking this seems a little iffy my wife works in a 5* Hotel in london and this pad was left there–so after 6 months if the owner has not asked for it then it is given to staff who handed it in-legal and above board..
    So at a loss now what to do?
    But anyway thanks as it did work for others
    Keep up the good work!

  • Hi I have an iPad 2 and every time I try to erase everything from the previous owner that I bought it from it lets me but then it takes for ever to erase I guess until the iPad Dies what can I do and it also won’t let me update I know it has an update but It won’t let ever let me click the button where it says to update I just asked like it’s keep searching

  • So far seems to be working don’t know if it’ll fix the problem but it’s helped a lot more than anything else I’ve ever tried so thank you

  • Question about the second reset method: Never synced with my itunes
    Will the iPad’s iCloud report the ipad stolen if I cannot turn off find my ipad due to a lost/forgotten password?

  • Its not the easiest way!
    I bought an ipad mini very cheap without warranty it was their demo piece.
    I stay 50miles away from some big stores in a countryside.
    I bought it but did not checked it probably.
    Every 15 minutes an advertisement poped up.
    I wanted to delete everything.
    Tried all ended up with big updates of 1.4 Gb
    And i knew my slow net speed.
    So used one thing.
    Added apple id and iCloud id
    Turned Find iPhone
    And then from my different device I opened the Find iPhone app
    And erased my ipad lol
    Done i set-up the new ipad and working cool.
    Even after that updated to 9.0.2
    So no techie way its simple

  • But for those who don’t have the apple id i will come up with much more simplified and not techie way in sometime.

    And sorry if i hurt the person who posted the way

  • Does this work if you don’t have an iTunes account? I got my iPad from a friend, and I don’t know her iTunes stuff (she passed away, there’s no way to ask her) and I don’t have an iTunes, nor do I have an Apple computer.
    Would it work with a Chromebook?

  • I tried the first step and it asked me for passcode so I went to second step it still didn’t work. When you say reinsert the usb connector you mean the connector (charger) to my PC correct? When I did that the same thing happened to me. Where it needs passcode to restore . Help

  • I was able to restore this used iPad with your help, but unable to get past the apple id sign in after restore was done. Please help!

  • I just bought ipad pro verizon w/wifi the old owner never said there was code to even b able to use it now they wont return text so how do i reset it i dont have itunes yet this is my first apple product im upset i paid 550 and cant get on it

    • Hi Steve,

      This article was written almost four years ago when iOS was vastly different. Since then Apple has incorporated many security changes and this method might not still be relevant. I’d take it to an Apple Store and see the representatives at the Genius Bar can anything they can do to help. Best of luck!

  • Here is another way to unlock iPhone without passcode. Before doing it, you need to know this: the Find My iPhone/iPad should be disabled.

    YouTube ID: 8tfM48nQDIk

    • Glad to hear it, Kara. Some of these methods won’t work with newer versions of iOS, but I am glad it is still helpful to some of you 🙂

  • This doesn’t work. You need to have ‘Find my Ipad’ off before you can restore, which requires the pass code.

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