How to wipe an iPhone — even the one you lost

If you’re anything like us, you use your iPhone for almost everything. Which means there’s a lot of personal data on your phone. So, when it comes time to sell an old iPhone or to give it to someone else, the first thing you’re going to want to do is erase your iPhone.

And if you’re here because you lost your iPhone and are still worried about your personal information, don’t worry — there’s still a way to wipe your iPhone. Keep reading, and this article will walk you through how to delete everything from your iPhone, even if you lost it.


How to erase your iPhone

Erasing your iPhone couldn’t be easier. You can do it directly on the device with just a few taps.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap General > Reset > Erase all Content and Settings.
  3. If asked, enter your Apple ID password or iPhone Passcode.
  4. Wait for your phone to restart and take you to the setup screens.

This might seem obvious, but before you do this, make sure your data and pictures are backed up, or, at the very least, that you’ve transferred everything to a new phone.

Before you wipe your iPhone, you’ll want to back up or transfer all of your data. Don’t waste space on duplicate photos or blurry pictures. Use Gemini Photos to help you quickly remove the pics cluttering up your phone.

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When you erase all content and settings on iPhone, does it also erase iCloud?

Fortunately, erasing the content and settings on your iPhone only wipes the information on the device. That means that anything you’ve synced to iCloud, like pictures or notes, are safe and can be synced to a new phone. That also goes for any complete backups your phone has saved to iCloud.

How to erase all content and settings on an iPhone

Can you wipe an iPhone remotely?

Now, if you’ve lost your iPhone and are worried about any personal information or pictures that are on there, you’re in luck. It is possible to erase your iPhone remotely. The one caveat is that you have to be signed in to your iCloud account on the phone.

Thanks to the Find My iPhone feature of iCloud, if you were logged in to your account on your phone when you misplaced it, you’ll be able to use any computer to sign in to iCloud and wipe your phone.

How to erase iPhone data remotely

As long as you have access to a computer, you’ll be able to delete all of the data on your iPhone without having physical access to the phone.

  1. Open the browser on your computer and go to iCloud.com.
  2. Log in using your Apple ID.
  3. Click Find iPhone > Your iPhone > Erase iPhone.
  4. Follow the prompts to confirm the erase.

What happens when you wipe an iPhone remotely?

If your phone is powered on and has an active internet connection, it will be immediately erased, even if the iPhone is locked. However, if your iPhone is turned off or on Airplane mode, it will erase the next time it connects to the internet.

The obvious downside to doing this is that if you do eventually find your iPhone, it will have been erased. But if you have been regularly backing up your iPhone to iCloud, you can always restore from one of your backups.


While it’s quite easy to wipe your iPhone, you should always make sure you have a recent backup of all of your pictures and data before you do. And even if you lose your iPhone, if you were signed in to iCloud, you can still log in and remotely erase the device. 

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