How to Set up a Used iPhone or iPad


How Lucky You are to Get a New-to-You iDevice! 

I too just received a “mature” used iPad from my sister, and though it’s not the latest iPad Pro or even one with a Retina Screen, there’s still a lot of life left in it for my family and me to take advantage of. I’m thinking of keeping it in the kitchen, so I can listen to music while cooking and at the same time check the exact measurements of ingredients for a new recipe. And of course, having an extra iDevice comes in handy in those stressful at-home moments, to hand it off to my kids (and their friends) to play a game or watch a show when things get a little hectic around the house.

Hopefully, your iDevice’s previous owner thoughtfully prepared the iDevice for you, removing their personal information and clearing out all of their data. That really is the ideal, so when that iDevice comes to you it’s ready for you to truly make it your own by doing all the fun stuff like installing your favorite apps, games, music, and so forth.  Received a used iPhone or iPad as a gift

Just in case your iDevice DID NOT come well prepared for a new user like my New-to-You iPad that was literally dumped off untouched from my sister to me (I guess she trusts me with all that private data…) Let’s go through a detailed checklist of what you need to do to get this thing working for you and get rid of all that older user’s SH__.

So let’s get to it!

We really don’t want all that personal information from the previous owner clogging our New-to-You iDevice, so let’s get that information outta here. And please remember that what you see if what you get—if that New-to-You iPhone/iPad/iDevice has a lot of apps you love and want to use, once you clean and clear it out, most of those will no longer be available to you—they are tied to the previous owner’s Apple ID. So, if you really like some of those apps, take notes and remember that you’ll need to download and install them again (and pay for them via your own Apple ID if they cost anything.)

Step 1: Verify that iCloud, Photos, and Find My iPhone are turned OFF

It’s crucial when receiving a second-hand iPhone/iPad or other iDevice that we ensure the Apple ID is removed or can be removed.  Check that there is no Apple ID by tapping Settings > iCloud and verifying that nobody’s name is listed.
Received a used iPhone or iPad as a gift

If iCloud, Photos, or Find My iPhone are turned ON, you may need the previous owner to remove this device from their account. The good news is that they can do this remotely.

To Remove iDevice from iCloud Remotely

  1. Ask the previous owner to sign into their iCloud account via  Received a used iPhone or iPad as a gift
  2. They should select the gifted iDevice and click Erase
  3. Once device is erased, they should click Remove Received a used iPhone or iPad as a gift

If they use Apple Pay, they will need to remove your gifted iDevice from that too

To Remove Apple Pay from iDevice Remotely

  1. Ask the previous owner to go to
  2. Choose Settings to see which devices are using Apple Pay
  3. Click the gifted iDevice
  4. Click Remove next to Apple Pay

If for some reason, the person does not know their Apple ID or password, they can contact apple to go through a recovery process:

For Apple ID,

For Apple Password,


Our Nightmare Scenario: What if I don’t know the Apple ID and password and CAN’T get ahold of the previous owner?

Unfortunately, right now there is no way to remove an Apple ID from an Apple device if you do not know or have access to the password. This is a security measure put in place by Apple to help combat the theft. And as far as I know, there isn’t a (legal) workaround.

Hopefully, the previous owner turned OFF both iCloud and Find My iPhone before you received your New-to-You iDevice. Once you confirm these are OFF, we can now remove all that personal data, apps, and other preferences the previous owner used.

Step 2: Let’s Update the iPhone to the Latest iOS Version

It’s a really good idea to update your New-to-You iDevice’s operating software before performing a full erase. A lot of folks have these older iDevices sitting around for a while accumulating dust, as one model replaces another. So there is a very good chance that your New-to-You iPhone/iPad/IDevice is running an outdated version of iOS. You have nothing to lose at this point, no risk in losing YOUR DATA, so please let’s go ahead and upgrade to the latest version of iOS.

Apple makes it very easy to upgrade and we can all do it right on the iDevice itself, no computer connection required. If you really want to connect to your computer, you can also do any of these iOS upgrades there using iTunes. Personally, I find it easier to upgrade directly through my iDevice.

As always, ensure your iDevice is connected to WiFi and Plugged into Power (not battery only)

How to Upgrade iOS on iDevice

  1. Open Settings
  2. Go to Software Update
  3. Install any updates listed  Received a used iPhone or iPad as a gift

The iPad I received as a gift from my sister was really lagging behind on iOS 7.1.1, and I just updated it to iOS 9.3.2—what a huge improvement along with a slew of great new features.

Now we’ll perform some Spring Cleaning on the iPhone, iPad, or other iDevice as a safety precaution to ensure that all the previous owner information is cleared out.

Step 3: Disable iMessage & Facetime

We will need to manually turn off the iMessage and iCloud services before performing a full erase and of course, we want to make sure that this New-to-You iDevice is disassociate from the previous owner and all their texts, private info, ect.

  1. Go to Settings>Messages
  2. Set iMessage to OFF by sliding to the LEFT (slider goes from green to grayed out)Received a used iPhone or iPad as a gift
  3. Back in Settings, now go to “iCloud”
  4. Go to Settings>FaceTime
  5. Set FaceTime to OFF by sliding to the LEFT (slider goes from green to grayed out)

Step 4A: Let’s Erase It Using the iDevice

  1. Tap Settings>iCloud
  2. Tap Sign Out  Received a used iPhone or iPad as a gift
  3. For iOS 7 or earlier, tap Delete Account
  4. Tap Settings>General>Reset>Erase All Content and Settings    Received a used iPhone or iPad as a gift
  5. If iDevice has a passcode or Restrictions passcode, you will need to enter it before you can tap Erase  Received a used iPhone or iPad as a gift

Wait for the process to finish. When the iPhone is done resetting to factory settings, it’ll reboot as if it was brand new

Step 4B: Let’s Erase it Using iTunes

  1. Connect your iDevice to a computer
  2. Open iTunes
  3. When your device is connected, force restart it
  4. Press and hold the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons at the same time
  5. Don’t let go when you see the Apple logo
  6. Keep holding until you see the recovery mode screen
    Received a used iPhone or iPad as a gift

    source: apple

  7. When you see the option to Restore or Update, choose Restore
    Received a used iPhone or iPad as a gift

    source: apple

  8. iTunes will download software for your device
  9. If this takes more than 15 minutes, your device will exit recovery mode
  10. Repeat steps 2 and 3
  11. Wait for the process to finish. When the iPhone is done resetting to factory settings, it’ll reboot as if it was brand new

Finally, just in case there is anything lingering around that connects the previous owner to you, the new owner, let’s perform a couple of last steps.

Step 5: Disassociate the iDevice from the Apple Account

No matter who the previous owner, you’ll probably want to disassociate it from the former Apple Account and Support Profile. If you didn’t follow the steps above when turning off iCloud and Find My iPhone/iPad, make sure you do it now—it’s pretty straightforward.

Bear in mind that you will need the previous owner to help out here.

  1. Log into the apple ID site
  2. Log into their account (need Apple ID and Password)
  3. Locate the device they are gifting (selling) to you
  4. Choose Remove

If you’re giving the iDevice to a family member especially someone who is in your family group, may choose not to do this but keep in mind that they will have access to your Apple Account, Support, and apps.

Step 6: Remove the SIM Card for iPhones/iPads

Received a used iPhone or iPad as a gift

source: apple

It’s important to remove that SIM card, since it also stores some information. Plus, you want to have the iPhone/iPad work on your network, not someone else’s network. So if the previous owner did not remove the SIM Card, follow these steps.

  1. Grab a paper clip or SIM Card Eject Pin
  2. Turn the iPhone onto its side
  3. Push the pin through the SIM hole
  4. Pop the OLD SIM out
  5. Put your SIM into the card holder
  6. Pop YOUR SIM into the phone

Keep the previous owner’s SIM card around (place into a small envelope and tuck away somewhere safe—away from magnets and other things that could erase it.) These extra SIM cards can come in handy when repurposing iPhones into iPod Touches. And of course, that previous owner may need that SIM Card back. So play it safe rather than sorry!

Alright, so we cleared out all that old user junk and now we are finally ready to make that iDevice our OWN.

So let’s get to it (the fun part)!

Setting Up Our New-to-You iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch—all our iDevices

After all that time sorting through the digital junkyard that was your “gifted” iDevice, we should be greeted with a very friendly “Hello” from our new addition.

  1. Turn on your New-to-You Device
  2. It greets us with a nice “Hello” in a variety of languages
    Received a used iPhone or iPad as a gift

    source: apple

    1. For those with limited vision, turn on VoiceOver or Zoom from this Hello screen
  3. To get the IMEI/MEID/ICCID, tap the “i” in lower right corner
    1. You’ll need this for connecting to a mobile provider  Received a used iPhone or iPad as a gift
  4. Select your language and country
  5. Connect to WiFi or Mobile Connection of available
  6. Choose to enable to disable location services
    1. We recommend enabling. Need this for Find My iPhone/iPad
  7. Set up your passcode and Touch ID if available on your model
    1. You can skip this step but we don’t recommend that—your passcode/Touch ID is your first line of defense
      Received a used iPhone or iPad as a gift

      source: apple

  8. If you want to restore from a backup, you can do this here
    1. You can even transfer from an Android phone—how cool is that!
    2. Or you can set up as 100% new  Received a used iPhone or iPad as a gift
  9. Sign into Apple ID or create a new Apple ID
    1. You can skip this step too
  10. Set-up Siri
    1. You can skip this step and set it up later (or never)
  11. Decide on app analytics
    1. Do you want to share info with app developers or not?
  12. Choose Display Resolution
    1. For iPhone6 or later, you get to choose between standard res or zoomed (larger text and controls)

Finishing Up

Our iDevices are now ready to be our OWN rather than our New-to-You. Start using your iDevice and have some fun with it—installing apps, sending texts/emails, taking photos and videos, making calls via phone and facetime. And of course keeping track of all those calories, steps, and other personal data.

And don’t forget to backup! It’s a vital part being a good iDevice citizen—a true iFolk. We have a great article here that’s all about backing up our precious data from all of our connected iDevices.

Congratulations on your New-to-You iDevice!  It is now your device–use as you like.  I wish you wonderful digital adventures–just the two (or three or four or however many) of you.



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