How to Restore Your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac

If you’re giving or selling an old Apple device to someone, make sure you properly restore it (wipe it) to protect yourself and to provide convenience to the buyer/receiver.

Even if you trust the other party, do NOT give them a device without first wiping it. For the most part, it’s pretty simple.

iPhone & iPad

The following directions are specific to iOS 11, although they are very similar to earlier versions. Step 2 is the only major difference.

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap your name at the top of the list
  3. Choose iCloud
  4. Disable Find my iPhone
  5. Go back to the Settings main page
  6. Go to General
  7. Scroll down to Reset
  8. Choose to Erase All Content & Settings
  9. Confirm with your information

Apple Watch

The following directions are specific to watchOS 4, although they are very similar to earlier versions. These directions also assume that you have the iPhone that is paired with the Apple Watch.

  1. On your iPhone, open the Watch app
  2. Choose your Apple Watch at the top
  3. Hit the Information icon (i)
  4. Choose to Unpair Apple Watch


There are multiple ways to do this, including using the Terminal. If that’s the route you wish to go, here’s a write up on how to do that. For the majority of people, I recommend the following. There might be very slight differences based on watch version of MacOS you are using.

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Go to Security and Privacy
  3. Go to FileVault
  4. Turn on FileVault (you have to click the lock in the bottom left to unlock this page)
  5. Choose either option to unlock your disk (it doesn't matter)
  6. Follow the directions and wait (could be hours)
  7. Once FileVault is enabled, restart your computer while holding Command + R
  8. You should enter recovery mode
  9. Choose Disk Utility
  10. Select the main disk in the left column
  11. Click Erase (leave the default options)1
  12. When completed, quit Disk Utility
  13. Choose to Reinstall the OS
  14. Once installed, your Mac is ready for the new owner

  1. You may be presented with an option to choose how secure of a wipe you'd like. The more secure you choose, the longer it will take. 
Matt Langford @Mtt

Copyright 2018 Matt Langford