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How to remotely locate, lock, or wipe your iPad via iCloud

IS&T does not officially support the use of iCloud to find, lock, or wipe your iPad (or other iOS devices). This how-to is for informational purposes only. Unintentional wiping of your device, and accidental loss of data is your responsibility. We recommend backing up your iOS device via iTunes on a regular basis.

This is an alternative for users not using MIT's Exchange service.

On this page:

  1. First, you must make sure your iPad is running iOS 5 or greater. To do so, plug your iPad into your PC or Mac, select your iPad in iTunes, and select Check for Update. iTunes will backup the information on your iPad automatically and will update it to the latest iOS available from Apple. You can also go to Settings > General > Software Update directly on your iPad to install the latest update over-the-air (OTA).
  2. You will need to add an iCloud account to your iPad. To do so, please use the following directions from Apple found here.
  3. Once you've setup the iCloud account and activated the Find My iPad feature, you can now remotely track, lock, and wipe your iPad in case you misplace or lose your iPad, or in the event your iPad is stolen.
  4. Various remote iCloud options discussed:

NOTE: In order for iCloud's remote locate, lock, and wipe to work, your iPad will need connectivity to the cellular carrier. Therefore, you will need to use these utilities prior to canceling or suspending your service with your cellular carrier. The iCloud features will also work if your iPad is connected to Wi-Fi, however, once it leaves the range of a Wi-Fi connection, you will lose the ability to initiate any remote security features.

Track via GPS / Wi-Fi / Triangulation

When you log into your free iCloud account and select your iPad on the left, on the right you'll see a Google Map with an approximate geographic location of your iPad. This is assuming the iPad is still powered on and has cellular data or Wi-Fi connectivity. If your iPad was stolen, we'd suggest NOT trying to confront the individual(s) but rather contact your local law enforcement and supply them the location information.

Google map with approximate phone location

Display Message or Play Sound or Both

In the case where you've misplaced your iPad and you think it may be somewhere in your house, apartment, or office and due to it being set to silent/vibrate mode you're unable to call and locate your iPad. Using iCloud, you can force your iPad to play a sound, overriding the silent/vibrate function, therefore allowing you to find the device lost in a couch or pants pocket, for example. Taking it a step further, you could also set a message that will appear on your iPad which can tell the person that may have found your iPad who it belongs to or other pertinent information which may help getting the device returned to its owner.

Desktop/Laptop view
Find my iPad desktop view screen

iPad view
iPad screen displaying message

Remote Lock

In the case where you've misplaced or lost your iPad, or your iPad was stolen, you can remotely lock your iPad using iCloud. If you have a device passcode already set on the iPad, this function will ensure the device is locked with that passcode. If you don't have a device passcode set, iCloud will prompt you to create one.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This will only lock your iPad, it will not wipe/erase the iPad of its contents, therefore there is a possibility that a savvy person could bypass your passcode and access your personal data.

Desktop/Laptop view
Lock iPad from desktop screen

iPad view
Locked iPad screen

Remote Wipe

In case you've misplaced or lost your iPad, or your iPad was stolen, and to be safe, you want all your personal information wiped from the iPad, this is possible using iCloud. Using this remote wipe function will wipe your iPad back to factory settings, thus eliminating all pictures, email, text messages, and apps.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Once the remote wipe has been initiated, it cannot be stopped. Therefore, use this function at your own risk. If you were to find your iPad after it had been wiped, you can always plug it back into iTunes and restore your data, or restore your data using iCloud's backup functionality, assuming you've made a recent backup. If you need help on making a backup of your iPad, please read http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1414 and http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4859.

Desktop/Laptop view
Wipe iPad from desktop

iPad view
iPad wipe status screen

Compatibility: iCloud/Find My iPad will work on all iPads (iOS 5+ required).

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members


Last Modified:

April 21, 2016

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