iPad - Locked out - Don't Know Apple ID

My MILs ipad is locked out.

Apple says that they can only help us if we know the apple ID. We have both visited the store and rung the help line with no result and I find it hard to believe that we can't provide other ID as proof of ownership.

The MIL is 80+, has some dementia issues and has no clue what the ID is or what of her (6!!!) email addresses she used to set it up several years back and absolutely no clue what her password might be.

Is it a brick or is there a way to totally reset it and start again?


  • +18

    It's a brick.

    It's a feature.

    her (6!!!) email addresses

    What? I'm half her age and struggle remembering my 7 mymaccas accounts so fair enough.

    • +5

      It's bizarre. Apparently when she forgets whatever weird password she has used (and not written down) she would start a new email account.

      It's not helped by chronic back pain (she was a nurse for 50 years) and some heavy duty pain killers.

      • +6

        Can't you just tell apple these six email addresses and if one of them is the apple ID they should be able to help?

        • +1

          Needs password or it’s dead.

        • +9

          If we knew what the various addresses were that might be a good starting point.

          Yes, its' a sh_t-show.

    • Classic!!!

  • If Apple told you there is no way, i'm not sure how anyone else could help?

    • +20

      I'm just double checking as I've had corporates tell me before that "it can't be done" and smaller, smarter firms have fixed things.

      • +11

        Apple control the the Apple ID's. No-one has access to unlock those accounts except Apple. What you're telling them is no different to what a thief who stole an iPhone would tell them. At the very least they'll need the Apple ID to proceed. Once you have the ID you can trigger a password reset to the email address.

        • +31

          This is not true. If you have the receipt to the IMEI then Apple (Sydney) will reset it for you. Got a user a while back held a corporate iPhone tied to their ID and after sending through the receipt, Apple cleared the ID to the iPhone and I was able to factory reset and activate it for another user to use.

          • +5

            @Montyjpm: That's a corporate device and Apple have a separate team to handle those situations. I've had to get stat decs from CEO's to get iPads and Macbooks unlocked with a copy of the original receipt. This isn't a corporate device and she doesn't have a proof of purchase.

      • -1

        Apple don't mess around with privacy, to the extent that your account is as good as useless if you lose access and are unable to unlock it via their existing recovery options.

  • +1

    Same here, fogot my Apple ID on my old iPad and it's a brick. Can't do anything I don't think.

    • -1

      Unfortunately with built in redundancy they all become 'bricks'….once your IOS is no longer able to be updated then it's on the slippy slope to the recycle bin…..

  • -3

    The MIL is 80+, has some dementia issues

    Sorry to hear.

    However, should have "written" down all those account ID, etc… down. If not, I think someone in the family should start writing down all things important.

    • +18

      Mate. She lives 1000km away. Your suggestion makes sense but based on my dealings with my own elderly parents, ex-inlaws and current inlaws, you may as well howl at the moon.

      YMMV when dealing with oldies.

      • +1

        As an oldie myself, I take offence at that! As the extended family's tech expert, I find I have many more of those kinds of problems with "youngies", most of whom seem have no concept of consequences.

        • +3

          So you are in your late 70s+++?

      • Password manager in the future.

        1password, lastpass, dashlane.

        She will only need to remember 1 password. And it can be written and saved in a locker or with a relative.

        Doesnt help for this but maybe for the future.

        As for the iPad, maybe get the motherboard replaced, can be set up as new instead. Else sell for parts.

        • +2

          While I wholehearted agree with using password managers, I don't think it would help elderly users with dementia.

          I use Bitwarden and while I love it on desktop PCs, it's a bit more of a pain to use on my iPad as it doesn't seem to auto-populate the fields very well and I'd have to copy/paste both the username and passwords. My dad already complains about that and he's in his 70's and don't have dementia.

          Maybe it's a setting I need to adjust but auto-populate works great on my PC.

          • +1


            I use Bitwarden and while I love it on desktop PCs, it's a bit more of a pain to use on my iPad as it doesn't seem to auto-populate the fields very well and I'd have to copy/paste both the username and passwords

            Really? I use Bitwarden on my iPhone and it has been working brilliantly. Just as well as the iCloud Keychain. You may need to set the default password manager in your iOS device settings to Bitwarden if you haven't already.

            After I did that it has been brilliant and is more convenient than the iCloud Keychain because now all my logins are synced across devices and not stuck on my iPhone.

            • @CBrads4: I'm using bitwarden on my iphone and - its hit and miss for me. Some apps it picks it up automatically, some it doesn't, some web pages it does, some it doesn't… you can make it do it but it hasn't been seamless for me. Not sure if other apps work better.

              Have definitely set it as default… not sure whats going on with it.

    • +4

      However, should have "written" down all those account ID, etc… down.

      Many people with dementia will not remember they need to do that.

    • +2

      This comment is so ignorant. As someone who has had to care for family in similar situations, 'pieces of paper' also go missing: Due to their medical condition, they eventually forget where they last placed them. They also forget there was a designated place for important documents etc. It's a frustrating thing to deal with for anyone involved.

      • +1

        That's why you have a big book of passwords right next to the computer! ;)

        • If you've ever known someone with dementia, you'd know that they like to start hiding important things, like cash, books, notes etc. People just think it's memory, but it's the cognitive decline which makes simple things difficult. They eventually forget what the book was for, in the same way they stopped understanding how to use a TV remote, or even what a fork is for.

          • +1

            @wizzlesticks: Not that I'm diminishing the effects of dementia (and my post was being a bit facetious), but I think even if not for the person's sake, would it not make sense to have a record for their caretaker? Admittedly it could be a dangerous thing having that much information exposed, but I don't see how else you could help keep a record of all the access to websites/emails/etc…

            • @Munki: You would have to organise all of that before trouble starts. It would be like asking one of your kids; if you were to become incapacitated today, would they know your credit card PIN, account numbers, all logins and password, etc? Most likely not everything, because there's no need for them to know yet. Once dementia appears, family becomes preoccupied with the bigger picture (estate planning, power of attorney, getting forgotten bills paid, organising care, etc.). And persons with dementia are very stubborn. You're suddenly intervening in all their affairs, so it's not exactly easy telling them, now listen here, write down all your passwords and leave them by the PC at all times!

  • +22

    Apparently if you have the iPad’s original proof of purchase (i.e. tax invoice from the business you bought it from) and take that with the iPad to the Apple Store, you should be able to get the iPad reset.

    I have never done that myself, but I have seen a couple of people comment on this site that this is possible.

    • +2

      Excellent idea but the receipt is long gone.

      • +1

        Have you looked into the 6 email accounts?

        • +1

          They don't know what the email accounts are…

      • +1

        If you can find the bank purchase in the statements, you can contact the store to ask them for a new receipt.

        • +1

          As HumbleCat said, I was able to ask JB hifi to send me a receipt from 6-7 years ago after verifying my payment details.

          But I knew the Apple ID of the locked device; not sure if it makes a difference.

          Good luck!

      • Just… "get" a receipt… ?

  • +34

    Searching 6 email accounts for "apple id" is not some insurmountable task.

    Searching 6!!! email accounts is impossible, but luckily it's also impossible that so many email accounts have ever existed :)

    • Took me a moment but I see what you did there. Is this mathsnerd alt account?

    • +6

      Unexpected factorial is leaking.

    • Maths joke. Quality.

  • +16

    If you plug the iPad into a computer with iTunes, it would tell you which apple id it is registered to. It won't give to access to the iPad but that's a first step?

    Unsure which version of iPad this is thou.

    • +1

      i'll try that

    • +6

      It doesn't tell you the whole Apple ID, it gives you the first letter and the @icloud.com at the end.

  • +1

    Apple says that they can only help us if we know the apple ID

    Its a feature for those that say 'find' a iPad on the street and want to claim them as their own.

    Google is the same, reset a device, you have to enter in the old account to 'unlock' it during start up.

    • "Google is the same, reset a device, you have to enter in the old account to 'unlock' it during start up."

      True UNLESS you remove the Google Account from the device before resetting it.

      Found this out the hard way. Just FYI always remove the Google Account from the device before resetting otherwise headaches!

      • Found this out the hard way. Just FYI always remove the Google Account from the device before resetting otherwise headaches!

        Yep…. Remove the account BEFORE resetting, and there is no device lock when setting up again.

        I'm guessing Apple is the same, you need to remove the iCloud account first before resetting.

        • iOS/iPadOS prompts you to log out of your iCloud account when you do a “Erase All Content and Settings”. I don’t think you can even proceed unless you do so.

  • +11

    If you get a hint on the apple ID, would that help? If you factory reset the ipad using iTunes, it will boot up and tell you that the ipad is locked to a partially shown email address. eg. if my email address is [email protected], the id shown would be g****@whoami.com. Hopefully you can figure out the apple ID from there. If you don't remember the apple ID password, you will need to reset the apple ID password from here: https://appleid.apple.com/

    You will need access to the email address to reset your apple ID password. Good luck.

  • +7

    I'm assuming the iPad has been locked because she's forgotten the passcode and has made too many incorrect guesses. If there's nothing important on there that hasn't been backed up, you can try a DFU restore via a Mac or PC.

    This will wipe everything, after which you'll be presented with a partially redacted email address in order to remove the Find My activation lock. Hopefully that will jog her memory of which email address she used as her Apple ID.

    In the future, if she can't do it herself, write down this account information for safekeeping for her.

  • +1

    what of her (6!!!) email addresses she used to set it up several years back

    Assuming you/she has access to the emails, try resetting the Apple ID password and see which email works?

    Or search in your emails? In Gmail do "from: Apple "

  • -1

    I forgot once and I entered incorrect code on locked iPad 10 times. It then formatted everything and restarted.
    Just that all the data in it was gone but it started working again. That was around 2 years ago.
    You may wanna try that.

  • +2

    I feel you mate. Apple took all the effort to make sure you don't have to remember your apple ID once your device is setup. Then blame you for forgetting your Apple ID.

  • +3

    Tried searching her email history for any emails from apple? Might give you a clue which one was used for her apple ID.

  • Apple make a feature of security nowadays, unfortunately it is a double edged sword.

    There will be some way of doing it, but we just don't have enough information.

    Meaning that you can probably deduce from another source which email is used as the Apple ID, or maybe it was written down at her house. Maybe you can access the email accounts used from another device and do a password reset. Please do try plugging it into another device - e.g. a mac - and see what it says about the device in finder, or in iTunes on a PC. Maybe any codes that are entered when attempting to login would be common - e.g. 1234 or 123456 - maybe there was a pattern in usage - e.g using birthdays - over your mothers life.

    Unfortunately most folk think the worst thing they can do for security is to write passwords down. While back in the 80's and 90's this was frowned upon as folk wrote them down on post-it notes stuck to their work monitor, these days at home it is the most sensible thing you can do.

    • The randomness of her passwords make me go WTF?

  • +1

    Time to get her a Samsung Tab S8 or other Android tablet

  • I don't have an iPad but on my iPhone it tells you the Apple ID when you click your name at the top of Settings.

    Is it different for an iPad?

    On a related note I'm in the middle of fixing a laundry list of tech things for my 80+ year old aunt overseas. My current challenge is switching the Apple ID on her Mac to match her phone. Which shouldn't be hard I assume - except I don't really know my way around a Mac, and I'm already tired from giving her instructions over facetime for fixing the problem "Whatsapp doesn't work" - her Mac was still on original OSX, so I couldn't even help via teamviewer until I (eventually) got her to update the OS.

    And of course like most (all?) old people, she doesn't trust any password management system other than the back of a notebook. Which doesn't get updated properly, and then it takes ages for her to type each one in, only to realise none of them are correct.

    Sorry…..rant over. I haven't contributed anything to OP haha

    edit: nvm I somehow missed the bit where the iPad is locked. Carry on without me.

    • A problem shared is a problem halved.

      I feel your pain.

      I had to log into her facebook to delete a video she posted of herself in hospital after spinal fusion while off her scone on Endone or possibly Morphine. Then her account wanted to take over my phone.

      My parents didn't use computers or smart phones so this stuff is somewhat new to me.

  • +3

    I feel for you OP. I handed down my very old iPad Mini to my 70 year old father. Set everything up including emails. A few years down the track and he somehow managed to setup a new account and password and had forgotten it one day and locked the device. Apple Store/Apple Chat could not help as I need to show the receipt of the purchase, which was impossible to produce as it was scrapped 4 years after purchase. Pretty much a brick. He did take it back to Vietnam and somehow came back with it unlocked.

  • +1

    Just a thought, could you and your wife search all YOUR old emails looking for any you may have received from your MIL as even if you use a different email usually when you share things the default is to send from the Icloud email address (I randomly get emails from my mums Icloud address even though she doesn't use that for email). You would then know the Icloud ID (or if she's used several Icloud addresses then it may be the first/oldest one or try them all?) Search "Icloud.com" in your emails.

    • I'll get my partner to have a look.

      She doesn't know my email address. I was warned by the other "BIL" to not let her know email or be FB friends as she's a massive spammer and her comments are quite random. :-)

  • +5

    I feel your pain! I seem to be the "IT expert" for my extended family and it is very frustrating as they do stupid things repeatedly. I've managed to "train" a couple of them to actually write down their passwords somewhere safe, but then they just lose the book they have written in.

    However, if your MILs ipad is that old then it might be best to junk it anyway. It probably won't run many of the current apps.

    • That's why you make them all buy Apple products and when they ask for help, say "sorry, I'm only an expert with Windows".

      • +1

        I like the idea, but it would be the opposite. I'd get them to buy windows products and then when they ask for help Id say "Sorry Im only an expect with Apple products"


    • Same, even though all I do is Google it in front of them to "fix" it. Then all the "I forgot my user name, password can you reset" - repeat 3 months later. I now write their passwords down in the note app on my phone and lock it.

  • -2

    Imagine being ill in hospital with her running around

  • +1

    There's this well-known Israeli company that can unlock these for you for a fee.

    • I think any system can be broken into. You have bigger problems if the CIA, FBI, Mossad etc are after you instead of googling strongest security. There is no way stuff like password managers, mobiles , vpns etc dont have backdoors. The only way to stay truly safe is not to use any electronic device at all.

  • I'm not surprised about having 6 e-mail addresses. My uncle has managed to create 4 facebook accounts.

  • +2

    Maybe Dan locked you out 😉

  • In theory, you should be able to jailbreak the device and bypass the activation lock, but you will lose all your data.

  • Working in IT, we always took our employees ipads if they were locked out and couldn’t remember these details to the genius bar. All they need is a receipt for proof of purchase and they can unlock and restore to original factory settings.

    • Tried that. Proof of purchase is long gone.

  • +2

    Log in to all 6 email accounts, and do an inbox search for @apple and see if any Apple id related emails hit.

  • +5

    Just don't buy anything from Luke or Apple

    • If you base your purchase decisions based on OzBargain you will live like a hermit. There is always somebody unhappy.

  • The Lenovo 2021 tab has some decent deals on it right now.

  • Unfortunately Apple is following reasonable security protocols, they need proof of purchase or a way to reset the password with the AppleID email address. To allow any way to bypass would just encourage theft and defeat the purpose of said security.
    Having actual ID would not be proof that person owns the device.

  • I don’t know if this is helpful but I f you take the iPad to Apple and go thru the Genius Bar repair process, they can connect to it and identify who initially bought the device. If your mum can bring her ID and identify herself, hopefully that’s enough to prove that she is the owner.

    • Only if it was purchased through an authorised reseller, and if she is the original owner. If it has changed hands even once, no hope!

  • Of course there is a way. It's just 0 and 1 at the end of the day. I won't post how it will be done here but you pretty much need a degree in computer science to do it.

    • +2

      you pretty much need a degree in computer science to do it

      Don't think the 80+ years old MIL will be keen on doing computer science degree.

    • If you honestly can break an icloud lock, you are going to be a very rich man. It's not even against the law!

  • Paper weight

  • Can’t you connect to iTunes and restore to factory?
    My kids password locked their iPad and I had to forve reset and loose everything on it.

  • +1

    Are you willing to wipe everything on the iPad?

    I remember years ago, like 4 years ago, Apple iPhones can be hard resetted through iTunes if you put it in DFU mode (forgot the acronym) or something like that, then it will erase everything and make it a fresh iPhone.

    But I don't know if iPads can do it.

    Tell them to send it to you and you can do that for them? If that's an option

    • +1

      Problem is a hard DFU reset won't work if Find My Ipad is enabled

      • Oh no! That sucks but also understandable.

    • +1

      Nope, you are thinking passcode reset. This is an icloud account. A few years ago, I had to throw away an iphone 6 because I lost the email address I created to test it out…

      Apple will help you if you have the original proof of purchase from an authorised apple retailer of which Kogan is NOT one or if you know the Icloud ID and password.

      That was a very expensive (both in terms of time and money) lesson that I learnt.

      My advice to the OP would be you might get a few $$ for the cost of the screen if it's in perfect condition, but otherwise forget about it, you will waste hours and hours, and get nowhere.

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