iPhone being restored

Want to sell your phone or hand it off to a family member? Or maybe you just want to start over with a clean slate? There are times when you might want to erase everything on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. This tutorial will show you how.

In this post, we will show you how to erase all content and settings on your iPhone or iPad, directly from your device, or from iTunes. Both methods can be used to wipe music, videos, photos, apps, messages, emails, contacts – everything! Additionally, all your settings will be completely reset.

How to delete everything from your iPhone or iPad

This is arguably the quickest and easiest way to delete everything on your device. Note that the steps are the same regardless of the device, be it an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

1) Go to Settings > General > Reset.

2) Select Erase All Content and Settings. If you have a passcode enabled, you will be asked to type it.

3) A message will warn you that this will delete all media and data and reset all settings. Tap Erase iPhone to confirm.

delete everthing on iPhone

4) Another similar message will give you a final chance to cancel. If you’re sure you want to completely wipe your device, then tap Erase iPhone.

5) If you have Find My iPhone enabled, you will be asked to type in your Apple ID and password. Enter your password and tap Erase. This will erase your device and remove it from your account.

The device will start the deletion process, which could take a few minutes. When done, your iPhone will be in the same state you found it when you first took it out of the box.

How to erase everything using iTunes

Another method to remove everything on your iPhone is to do so using iTunes.

1) Plug your iPhone via USB to your computer, then launch iTunes.

2) On the Summary page in iTunes, click Restore iPhone.

Restore iPhone in iTunes

3) If you have Find My iPhone on, iTunes will display a message asking you to turn it off. To do so, go to your iPhone and navigate to Settings > iCloud > Find My iPhone > Off.

4) Go back to iTunes and click Restore iPhone… one more time.

5) A message will ask if you first want to back up your device. If you do, select Back Up. If not, select Don’t Back Up. For the purpose of this tutorial, we will not backup the device.

6) You will then see a final warning similar to this: Are you sure you want to restore the iPhone “iPhone 5” to its factory settings? All of your media and other data will be erased. If you’re sure about yourself, click Restore.

7) Depending on your situation, iTunes might tell you that it has detected purchased content that has not been synced with iTunes. Click Continue. You will always be able to download your content for free later on if necessary.

iTunes will start downloading the latest software available for your device, and once done, it will start restoring your iPhone, which should take a few minutes. Once done, you will have the opportunity to set up your iPhone from a previous backup (if available) or as a new phone. At this point, you can unplug the device and do whatever you want to do with it, such as selling it, or giving it to a friend or family member, etc.

How to erase your iPhone on a Mac without iTunes

Macs equipped with macOS 10.15 Catalina or later don’t include iTunes so the rules above don’t apply. Apple still makes it possible to reset an iOS device using a Mac, however.

First, make sure that Find My is turned off on your iPhone.

TUTORIAL: How to use the new Find My app on iOS and Mac

1) Plug your iPhone via USB into your Mac.

2) If a message appears asking for a passcode or to Trust this Computer, follow the prompts.

3) Click the Finder icon in the Dock.

4) Click on the iPhone in the Finder window’s Sidebar, under Locations.

Restore iPhone without iTunes - locations

5) Click on Restore iPhone…

Restore iPhone restore button

7) Back up your device settings if applicable.

Restore iPhone without iTunes - Back up

8) Click Restore to erase your phone and restore it to factory settings. After it’s finished, the device will have a factory fresh iOS installation.

Restore iPhone without iTunes - Erase

With your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad now back to its basic installation, you can do what you wish with it – sell it, hand it down or gift it knowing your information is securely and completely erased, and that the iPhone is ready to go for its next user.

Do you still have questions about how to erase an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad? We’re here to help – just let us know.