How to unlock an apple device when its owner died

If you’ve recently lost a friend or family member, you’re probably looking forward to accessing your phone, computer, or tablet to get the personal data that was left behind. Whether you’re looking for photos, passwords, or other information, it’s frustrating not to know a passcode to simply access it.

I have collected the steps that you must follow to unlock your Apple device if its owner died.

A man holds an iPhone in his hand in December 2022 in Baden-Württemberg, Rottweil.
(Silas Stein/Photo Alliance via Getty Images)

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This first step will only work if the owner of the device is late Back up your data to iCloud. While it’s easy to turn on automatic backups, Apple users sometimes forget To do this, the photos and data may only live on your phone, tablet or computer.

If you don’t know the owner passcode or password, check to see if you have iCloud signed in. iCloud login uses email, so try common passwords or check if they left a list of passwords.

If you have access to an iCloud sign-in, and they’ve backed up their information, you may be able to access a lot of data, including photos, through iCloud.com. Check if any of the owner’s devices are signed in to iCloud automatically, and if not, follow the steps below.

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Use iCloud.com to access your data

Go to iCloud.com on a different device. It is best to do this on a computer

Login with The owner’s Apple ID

If you sign in successfully, you will likely be able to access the user’s mail, contacts, calendar, photos, Cloud Drive, Notes, Reminders, and some other apps if they use them.

You can download photos directly from iCloud.com

If you don’t have access to an Apple ID but do have access to the user’s email, check if the login is automatically saved on any of their devices such as another computer or tablet

A woman using a smartphone on a desk.

A woman using a smartphone on a desk.
(iStock)

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Use email to access iPhone, iPad and Mac data

Go to iCloud.com on a different device; It is best to do this on a computer

Click Forgot your Apple ID or password?

Use the user’s iCloud email address to reset the password

Open the user’s email account, and you should see the email with instructions on resetting the iCloud account

Once you have your new login, use it on iCloud.com to sign in and follow the steps above to use your iCloud account to access data

Does the device owner have an old contact?

Many Apple users You may not know that you can set up an old contact on your devices in case of unexpected death. If the owner of the device has set up an old contact, it is very easy to access that data. Legacy Contacts is available on iOS 15.2, iPadOS 15.2, or macOS 12.1 or later.

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If a late family member set up an old contact, visit Apple’s Digital Legacy to request access.

A guest holds a new iPhone 14 at an Apple event at its headquarters in Cupertino, California, September 7, 2022.

A guest holds a new iPhone 14 at an Apple event at its headquarters in Cupertino, California, September 7, 2022.
(Reuters / Carlos Parrea)

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Pro tip for Apple users: Set up an old contact if you haven’t already.

How to request access to a device without signing in to iCloud

If none of the above steps worked, and you would like to Request access from Apple To access your deceased loved one’s iCloud login information, a court order may be required.

You will need to provide the following information in the court order:

The name and Apple ID of the deceased person

The name of the next of kin requesting access to the deceased’s account

That the deceased is the user of all accounts associated with the Apple ID

that the applicant is the legal personal representative, agent or heir of the deceased whose authorization constitutes “legal consent”

iPhone 6s Plus at an Apple Retail Store in Palo Alto, California, September 25, 2015.

iPhone 6s Plus at an Apple Retail Store in Palo Alto, California, September 25, 2015.
(Reuters/Robert Galbraith)

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Next, the court ordered Apple to help provide access to the deceased’s information from the deceased person’s accounts. The court order should be directed to the relevant Apple entity.

You can also try visiting an Apple Store or contacting Apple Support for alternative options.

How to ensure loved ones have access to your data

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In the event of an emergency or death, you want to be sure that your loved ones can still access your data. Make sure that a trusted family member has your login information and/or passwords written in a safe and protected place. That way, they can still access your photos and other phone apps without having to go through a court order or a complicated reset process.

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If your phone provider offers a legacy calling option, set it up now.

If you are on social media, platforms like Facebook provide an option to name someone by your name old connection.

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