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How Do I Access A Lost iPad That's Locked With Apple's 'Find My'?

Apple's "Find My" feature can be a powerful tool for recovering lost or stolen devices. It can also be a pain in the ass if you've got it. In this week's Tech 911 column, we're tackling the latter.

Lifehacker reader Johnathan writes:

Thanks for the "how to set up a locked Mac" article , My father was given a tablet that was found over a year ago. We left it with lost and found and it was given back to us after the reclaim period ended. To find the device back to its owner. He was upset that apple would not contact his owner because of "privacy" issues. He felt they were cornering the owner into buying a new device instead of contacting them. It's just sitting in his home unused. Is there a way he can get up and running for himself?

Let's get the bad news out of the way. If you're staring at Activation Lock you're stuck. Apple is not going to take this for you, nor do you have any way to do it yourself. You would probably like to use the Apple ID / password or passcode on the iPad, or erase and remove the iPad from their iCloud account.

To be succinct, activation lock = bad.

And, no, booting your iPad into recovery mode and attempting to reset it by a Mac is not going to help. You'll still see the Activation Lock screen when you try to set up your iPad, because it's tied to Apple's Find My feature.

On the plus side, this is at least encouraging for those who have lost and / or stolen. With Find My activated, an attacker is just going to use the iPhone for parts-nothing more. IPhone or iPad thief.

As for Apple's reluctance to unlock your device, disable Activation Lock, or even tell you the contact information for the device's previous owner, that's all to be expected. Apple has no way of verifying your story.

Consider the alternative. Suppose you've just lost your iPhone or someone who has picked it up, either as an innocent. Or, worse, suppose somebody just stole your iPhone out of your hands.

Would you like to get it? Again, I realize that most thieves nowadays are probably just looking for the devices for parts, but I do not think it's a slight setback to some would-be attackers to know that

Similarly, I would not want a company to cough up personal information about me- my email, my phone number, or any other method to reach me-simply because someone found (or stole) my phone. While I realize that means rather than worrying

In a perfect world, you'll be able to report a device as lost or stolen to Apple, which could be a way to some means to contact you at a Apple Store. That's a bit nitpicky, though; and, again, you can always find yourself getting lost via Find My. Apple, rightly so, probably prefers not to get involved as much as possible, to read it itself in some tricky gray areas over who technically owns a missing device-especially if a second person purchased a device that was previously reported as missing. Yikes.

Speaking of, this is exactly why it is critical that you verify "find my" is whenever you buy a secondhand iPhone or iPad. Apple could not be any clearer about this and for good reason;

While this answer does not provide you, you will not be able to do anything with it The outcome of the iPad was that it was probably useless at this point. That's a bummer for you, but think of the bright side-you did not loose on expensive tablet you paid for. Rather, you simply can not use an expensive tablet you found.

Do you have a tech question? Tired of troubleshooting your Windows or Mac? Looking for advice on apps, browser extensions, or utilities to accomplish a particular task? Let us know! Tell us in the comments below or email [email protected] .

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