How to Reset Your iPad and Erase All Content

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How to Erase All Content on the iPad

Woman with tablet.
Anna Demianenko / Pexels

The two most common reasons for resetting an iPad to the factory default settings are to prepare the iPad up for a new owner or to overcome a problem with the iPad that simply rebooting the iPad won't solve.

If you are planning on selling your iPad, or even giving it to a family member, you will want to reset the iPad to the factory default settings. This will wipe your iPad, erasing the settings and data, and returning it to the exact state as when you first opened the box. By wiping the iPad, you allow it to be set up properly by the new owner. You also protect yourself and your personal information by making sure all of the settings and data are erased from the iPad. The process of resetting should turn off the Find My iPad feature.

Resetting the iPad is also used as a troubleshooting tool. Many common problems can be solved by deleting the offending app and downloading it again from the App Store or powering the iPad down and restarting it, but problems that persist beyond these steps will usually clear up after resetting the iPad. Before doing a full wipe of the iPad, you can try clearing the settings and resetting the network settings, both of which can be done on the same screen used to reset the iPad.

In either case, you will want to make sure you backup the device to iCloud before resetting it. You can do this by opening the Settings app, tapping "iCloud" from the left-side menu, tapping backup from the iCloud settings and then tap "Back Up Now".  

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Reset the iPad to Factory Default

After you have performed a backup, you are ready to erase all the content on the iPad and reset it back to "factory default". Two notes: 1. If you have Find My iPad turned on, this process will turn it off, and you will no longer be able to find the iPad using this feature. 2. If you are selling or giving the iPad to a friend, there is a Find My Friends feature that will allow you to share your location.

Now, first, open the iPad's settings by launching the Settings app, which is the app icon that looks like gears turning. Once inside the settings, locate and tap General on the left-side menu. You will need to scroll all the way to the end of the general settings to locate and tap Reset.  After you tap Reset, you will have several options for resetting the iPad. Choose the one that works best for your situation.

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Erase the Content and Settings on Your iPad

If you are giving your iPad to a family member who is going to use the same Apple ID account, you might want to choose the first option: Reset All Settings. This will leave the data (music, movies, contacts, etc.) but reset the preferences.  You can also try this if you are having random problems with the iPad and aren't quite ready to go through with a full wipe. 

If you are resetting the device because you are having trouble connecting to your Wi-Fi or having other issues with Internet connectivity, you might first try "Reset Network Settings."  This will clear out any data stored on your specific network and could help clear up the issue without the need to do a full restore. 

But most people will want to choose to Erase All Content and Settings. This protects you by making sure all data is off the iPad, which includes information for your iTunes account. If you are selling the iPad on craigslist, eBay, or to a friend or family member who will be using a different iTunes account, choose to erase all content and settings.

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Erase the Data on Your iPad

If you choose to erase the content and settings from your iPad, you will need to confirm your selection twice. Because this will set your iPad back to the factory default, Apple wants to double check your choice. If you have a passcode lock on the iPad, you will also have to enter the password.  

After confirming your choice, the process of erasing the data on your iPad begins. The entire process takes a couple of minutes and, during the process, the Apple logo will appear in the middle of the screen. Once it is done, the iPad will display a screen that reads "Hello" in multiple languages.

At this point, the data on the iPad is erased and the iPad has returned to the factory default. If you are selling or giving the iPad to a new owner, you are done. If you reset the iPad in order to clear up an issue you were having with it, you can set it up as if it were a new iPad and restore your latest backup from iCloud.

P.S. Is your iPad running slow or seem to get bogged down a bit? Speed it up with these tips before you pass it on!