How to restore an iPad to factory settings

How to reset an iPad: The complete guide to factory-wiping an iPad, regardless of model or iOS.
Do you have plans to flog your old iPad before a new one comes out? Or, perhaps, you’ve downloaded some new software that’s caused it to bork – it’s rare, but it can happen.

Either way, your device will need to be reset. Basically, this erases all the content on the device, returning it to its factory settings.

There’s a couple steps to this, and some might not apply directly to your iPad. If you don’t have Find My iPad switched on, or own an Apple Watch, skip ahead to step 3. Otherwise, read on to learn how to reset an iPad.

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1. How to reset your iPad – Turning off Find My iPad

This is a little confusing, purely because it’s called Find My iPad on your iPad but Find My iPhone on your iCloud homepage. Confusion aside, it’s a nifty security feature that should be turned off automatically when you reset your iPad – however, it’s best to turn it off manually if you have an older-generation iPad.

Find My iPad uses Activation lock, which basically prevents thieves from turning it off or erasing all your content. It’s handy for sure, but if left on it would also prevent your iPad’s new owner being able to use the device.

To switch it off go to Settings, then iCloud and tap Find My iPad to switch it off.
(Settings | iCloud | Find My iPad).

2. How to reset your iPad – Unpairing your Apple Watch

Before we go any further, make sure you’ve unpaired your Apple Watch from your iPad. To do this, keep your iPad and Apple Watch as close together as possible, then:  

Open the Apple Watch App on your iPad, tap My Watch Tab, tap your Watch at the top of the screen, tap Unpair Apple Watch and tap again to confirm.

Apple Watch

You may be prompted to enter your Apple ID and password – be sure to do so. Don’t worry, your iPad will automatically create a backup of your watch before erasing the content.

3. How to reset your iPad – Creating a backup

You’ll need to make sure you have a backup of your device. Basically, a backup is a carbon copy of what’s on your iPad; this includes how it looks. You can follow Apple’s guide to backing up your iPad here.

4. How to reset your iPad – signing out of iCloud

A lot of your personal information will have automatically saved to the cloud. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly secure; it just means you need to delete it from the device, or the new owner could potentially access it. Depending on the iOS you run on your iPad, you’ll either have to sign out or delete your iCloud account from your iPad.

It’s important that you don’t delete individual items from your iCloud account. If you do, they’ll be removed forever – meaning you’ll have no backup. Instead, if your device is running iOS 10, sign out of the account and then delete it. This will delete it from the iPad, but keep it ready to be accessed from a new device.

To do this, follow these instructions:

1.Tap settings | iCloud | sign out.

2. At this point, another sign out message will appear. Tap it, then tap Delete from this iPad, entering your password when prompted.

It’s a little different if your iPad runs iOS 7 or earlier, basically:

Tap settings | iCloud | delete account. Unlike with iOS 10, there’s no need to sign out first.

5. How to reset your iPad – resetting it

Now you’ve backed up your device and signed out of iCloud, it’s time to reset the iPad. To do this:

1.Go back to Settings | General | Reset| Erase All Content and Settings.

2. If prompted, enter the device’s passcode.

3. Tap Erase – this will erase all the content on the iPad.   

Your device is now completely reset and ready to be sold. If the iPad had a cellular connection you might want to contact your network provider to help transfer the iPad to the new owner.

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Have you had trouble doing this? Let us know in the comments below.