Last Updated: April 9, 2014
When you factory reset an iPhone, you're returning the phone to its good-as-new status, the state it was in when it left the factory. There will be no music, apps, or other data on it besides the iOS and its built-in apps and it will have all the original settings. In other words, a factory reset means you're completely erasing the phone and starting over from scratch.
Obviously it's a drastic step, and not something you do casually. But sometimes it's what you need. Circumstances in which you'd want to factory reset your iPhone include when you're selling it, when you're sending your iPhone in for hardware repairs, or when there's a problem with the iPhone so severe that starting from scratch is your only option (problems with jailbreaks gone bad are often fixed by this way).
If you're sure you want to factory reset your phone, follow these steps (which apply to iOS 6 and up):
Time Required: A few minutes
- Begin the process, if your phone is functioning enough to allow it, by backing up your data. Doing this saves all your data and settings to your computer or iCloud so you can restore it to the phone after the reset. Do this by syncing the phone to your computer or iCloud (each time you sync, it creates a backup).
- When that's done, tap the Settings app on your homescreen.
- Scroll down to the General menu. Tap it.
- Scroll all the way to the bottom and tap the Reset menu.
- On this screen, you'll be presented with a number of reset options, ranging from just resetting the iPhone's settings to resetting its dictionary or homescreen layout. There's nothing specifically labeled "factory reset"; the option you want is called Erase All Content and Settings. If you're sure that's what you want to do, tap that.
- If you have a passcode set on your phone, you'll be prompted to enter it here. If you don't have one (even though you should!), skip to the next step.
- A warning pops up to make sure you understand that if you proceed you'll be erasing all music, other media, data, and settings. If that's not what you want to do, tap Cancel. Otherwise, tap Erase iPhone to continue.
- It generally takes a minute or two to delete everything from the iPhone, but when the process is done, you'll have a brand-new, pristine (at least from a software perspective) iPhone ready for whatever your next step is.