Apple’s AirTags are powerful little devices for finding lost items. However, an AirTag can only be associated with one Apple ID at a time. So what happens if you want to lend your AirTag to a friend for the day?
Many people are wondering how to factory reset an AirTag. Why, you ask? People may want to factory reset an AirTag if they want to lend the little device out to a friend, or sell it to another person.
You’ll need to factory reset an AirTag in either situation if you’ve already paired the AirTag with your iPhone. This is because the pairing process, first introduced in iOS 14.5, locks your AirTag onto an Apple ID account. This is for security purposes. But if you sell or lend your AirTag out the person who you’ve given it to won’t be able to pair it with their Apple ID–unless you factory reset your AirTag first.
Two Ways Exist How To Factory Reset An AirTag
There are actually TWO ways to reset an AirTag. The first is software-based and is quite easy. The second involves a hardware method to reset the AirTag and, honestly, it is quite tedious.
But there’s a reason Apple made resetting the AirTag via the hardware method tedious–they want to discourage it. Why? Because the hardware method will allow someone who steals an AirTag to wipe if from your Apple ID account so they can use it–and they won’t need your pairs iPhone to do so.
That’s precisely why Apple made the hardware method so tedious.
Now let’s explore both ways to factory reset an AirTag.
Factory Reset An AirTag With The Find My App
Factory resetting an AirTag with the Find My app is the easiest way to factory reset your AirTag. And since the Find My app is available on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS you’ll be able to reset your AirTag on almost an Apple device.
We’re going to show you how to factory reset an AirTag on an iPhone, but the process is the same for the iPad too. To factory reset an AirTag:
- Open the Find My app.
- Tap on the Items tab.
- Tap on the AirTag you want to factory reset.
- Scroll down and tap the Remove Item button.
- On the Remove AirTag screen that appears, tap the Remove button.
Once you’ve done this the AirTag in question will be disentangled from your Apple ID and reset to factory conditions. This mean anyone can now pair that AirTag with a new iPhone, and thus a new Apple ID.
Factory Reset An AirTag Using The AirTag Itself (The Hardware Method)
The move software method for factory resetting an AirTag is going to be the way most people will want to factory reset their AirTags when lending them out or selling them. However, if for some reason you don’t have access to the Apple ID associated with the AirTag, you can factory reset it using the AirTag itself.
This method may be preferable if you have the AirTag with you but are not within Bluetooth range of your iPhone to use the above method.
As mentioned earlier, this method is very tedious, which is why the above method is preferred. Here’s how to factory reset an AirTag using the AirTag hardware itself:
- Pick up your AirTag and flip it over so you see its shiny stainless steel backing.
- Press down on the stainless steel backing and rotate it counterclockwise until the backing stops rotating.
- Now pull the stainless steel backing off the AirTag.
- Remove the battery.
- Put the battery back in.
- Press down on the battery until you hear a sound.
- Once you hear the sound, remove the battery again.
- Repeat steps 4-7 again.
- Repeat steps 4-7 again.
- Repeat steps 4-7 again.
- Repeat steps 4-6. (Yep, you’ll need to remove the battery, insert it again, press down on it until you hear a sound, and then remove it again FIVE times in total).
- Once you hear the sound a fifth time the factory reset is complete. Places the stainless steel backing back onto the AirTag.
- Screw the stainless steel backing clockwise to seal the AirTag backing shut.
See, told you the hardware method was tedious! That’s why it’s best to stick to the software method.
Want to track an AirTag instead? Here’s how to track an AirTag that’s already been paired with your Apple ID. Remember, all this requires an iPhone with iOS 14.5 or higher. iOS 14.5 is packed with cool features, including ways to set a preferred music player in Siri and ways you can use Face ID while wearing a face mask. Also, here is what you should do if you found a lost AirTag! Here’s what to do if you think you are being stalked with an AirTag.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can you factory reset AirTags?
Yes, you can factory reset AirTags. There are two ways to do this: via the Find My app, a by using the AirTag itself to do a physical hardware reset. We detail both methods in the article above.
Q: Can anyone factory reset an AirTag?
Yes. If someone finds an AirTag, they can factory reset it using a hardware method. This allows them to unpair the AirTag from your Apple ID and use it with their Apple ID.
Q: What does factory resetting an AirTag do?
When you factory reset an AirTag, is unpair the AirTag with the Apple ID it was associated with. This means the AirTag is “like new” and can no longer track anything until it is paired with a new Apple ID again.
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.