There may come a time when you want to reset your phone to just as it was when it shipped out of the factory. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as pushing a paperclip into a hole on the site and powering it off. Those days are long gone.
That said, it’s not as difficult as you may imagine. No matter what your reasons are for wanting to restore your iPhone to factory settings, it only takes a few steps.
Why Would You Factory Reset Your iPhone?
The main reason you’d want to restore your iPhone to how it was from the factory is if you’re selling it or trading it in. Even if you’re giving it to a friend or family member, you probably don’t want to give them all your data. Most carriers that offer a trade-in ask that you at least turn off “Find My iPhone,” but resetting your phone entirely is a better way to deal with it.
Another reason is that, while it’s rare, you may occasionally encounter bugs that can only be solved by a full reset. You may be unsure, but before you go buy a new phone, starting over from scratch might be worth a try.
Back Up Your Data
You might have guessed already, but restoring your phone to factory settings will wipe all your data. Because of this, you want to do a full backup.
Chances are good you already have a backup or synchronization plan for your important data like photos and email. That said, you may have apps and services installed that you count on and are a pain to reinstall. A full backup makes it easy to reinstall these either on the same phone or a new device.
To get started, make sure you’re connected to Wi-Fi. Then, open Settings, tap on your name, select iCloud, tap “iCloud backup,” then tap “Back Up Now.”
Open iTunes on your Mac or PC and connect your iPhone to your computer. If you see a message asking to trust your device or enter a code, follow the steps onscreen. Select your iPhone once it appears in iTunes, then under the Backups section, select “Back Up Now” and wait for the process to complete.
Reset Your iPhone to Factory Settings
Before we move on, there are two things to note. The first is that this is irreversible, so make sure you’ve backed up. The second is that while this will completely erase your iPhone, it won’t be exactly like it was when it came from the factory, as it will still have the latest version of iOS, or at least the last version you updated to.
Reset Using iTunes
Open iTunes and connect your phone or, if you’ve just backed up with iTunes, keep your phone plugged in. Select your iPhone in Tunes, then select the Summary panel. Here, click “Restore iPhone.” Click Restore again, and iTunes will erase your iPhone and install the latest version of iOS.
Reset on Your iPhone
Open Settings, select General, then scroll down and tap Reset. Here, tap “Erase All Content and Settings.” Enter your passcode or Apple ID password if prompted. Your device will erase your data and existing settings. When the process is completed, your phone will reboot.
Now that you’ve reset your iPhone back to factory settings, you’re free to do what you want with it. Sell it, give it away, or just toss it into a drawer as a backup should you lose or damage your new phone. With your data backed up, moving to a new iPhone will be quick and painless.
It’s not quite as quick or painless if you’re planning on moving from iOS to Android. That said, it’s not as difficult as it used to be. For one example of how to go about it, see our guide on moving from iOS to Android using Google Drive.