Apple Business Manager: Disable Activation Lock

Organizations providing iPhones and iPads to employees can sometimes encounter a hurdle: returned devices with Activation Lock still enabled. This prevents assigning the device to a new user. Disabling Activation Lock can be inconvenient, especially if:

  • The device is locked with a personal Apple Account (not the company account).
  • The device wasn’t enrolled in a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution.

Solutions based on MDM enrollment

  • Supervised MDM devices: If the device was enrolled in an MDM as a supervised device, your MDM solution likely offers a bypass code to remove Activation Lock.
  • Contacting Apple (limited success): You can also contact Apple, proving ownership and purchase of the device. However, this method isn’t foolproof.

Simplified removal with Apple Business Manager

Fortunately, Apple has streamlined Activation Lock removal for organizations using Apple Business Manager. Now, you can disable Activation Lock even on devices not enrolled in MDM, as long as they are registered with Apple Business Manager. In the Apple Business Manager device view you now have the option to select “Turn Off Activation Lock”. As far as I am aware, the feature was turned on today for my Apple Business Manager account. I know plenty of my customers who will be very happy about this feature. Turning off activation lock will work for all device types enrolled in Apple Business Manager, including Macs, iPod Touch devices and Apple Watch. All users in Apple Business Manager with a role that has Manage Device privileges can turn Activation Lock off.