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First off, before we begin and actually discuss how to safely delete or change an iCloud account, we should discuss the different scenarios as to why you might need to delete or change your iCloud account off of your device.

  1. If you are using the same Apple ID as a family member for iCloud, your contacts, calendars, and other content could be merged, or you might be getting each other’s iMessages and FaceTime calls. That’s not an ideal situation if you prefer to keep your data separate.
  2. The email address associated with the Apple ID you are using for iCloud is no longer a valid, active email address. In that case, you’ll need to change the email address associated with your Apple ID.

To get started making the necessary changes to your account on an iOS device, go into the Settings app and scroll down until you see iCloud. To delete the iCloud account from the device, just press “Delete Account.” To do this on a Mac, go into System Preferences and choose iCloud, then press the “Sign Out” button.

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When you press either the “Delete Account” button on an iOS device, or the “Sign Out” button on a Mac, the following alerts will be the same.

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The first alert states:

If you delete your account all documents and Photo Stream photos stored in iCloud will be deleted from this iPad.

To see what type of documents are stored in iCloud, press the cancel button and select the “Documents and Data” option. If you are using iWork for your documents this will show you that your documents are stored in iCloud, and you can choose to email them to yourself or transfer them to your computer through iTunes. A lot of games will also store data under this heading. When games store data in iCloud, it’s usually things like game history, the level you are on, your statistics, etc.

The other part of the alert reads:

…Photo Stream photos stored in iCloud will be deleted from this iPad.

It’s important to note that Photo Stream is different from the photos in your library or Camera Roll. Photo Stream is a feature that uses iCloud to push any photos you take to all of your devices, where they will stay for thirty days.

Before continuing, you should figure out whether or not you have Photo Stream turned on. If under your iCloud Settings it says Photo Stream is turned off, you can ignore part of that alert. However, if it says Photo Stream is turned on, tap on it to see what type of Photo Stream is turned on.

Some people have both their personal Photo Stream and Shared Photo Stream turned on. Others just have one or the other turned on. If this is the case, you will have to check to see if the Photo Stream photos are actually saved in your Camera Roll. It is always better to be safe and double-check than to be sorry. If you need to check these things before continuing, press the cancel button.

On an iOS device, get out of Settings and open up the Photos app. At the bottom in the white bar there will be a button labeled “Albums” and another labeled “Shared.” In Albums you will find the Camera Roll, any albums you created and your Photo Stream pictures. In Shared you will find Photo Stream photos that you shared to others, or photos that others shared to you. Camera Roll is going to be the pictures you have stored on that device. Those are permanently stored on the device, unless you delete them by hand. Look through those, then look through Photo Stream and you Shared Photo Streams.

The Photo Stream albums are are NOT permanently stored on your device. If the photos you want to keep are in your Camera Roll, great! However, if the pictures in Photo Stream and Shared Photo Stream are not on your device and you want them permanently stored on your device, you can save them by tapping on the Share Button (the one with a square that has an arrow pointing up). From here you can either choose to email five pictures at a time, or save as many as you want to your Camera Roll. Now that you are satisfied that you have all of your pictures, let’s try deleting iCloud again under Settings.

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After confirming that you are ready to remove iCloud Photo Streams, you will be asked about your contacts, calendars, reminders, and Safari data. The correct answer here can vary depending on your situation.

Scenario 1: None of the personal information is yours, and instead belongs to your family members
Choose Delete from My iPad. This deletes all of the contacts, calendars, reminders, and Safari data stored on the iPad, allowing you to start with a clean slate and create your new iCloud account. Note that this doesn’t delete all of the data forever. The contacts, calendar, and other information are still stored in that iCloud account. If you were to log back into that account, the same data would be available to you again.

Scenario 2: Mixture of personal information between you and your family members
If you choose Keep on My iPad you will keep all of the contacts, calendars, reminders, and Safari data that are currently on the iPad. You are then able to create your own iCloud account. When doing so, you will be able to merge all of the data to iCloud. Deleting contacts and calendars will likely be a very cumbersome and tedious task if you do it on an iOS device. If you delete contacts and calendars from iCloud.com or on the Mac apps, it is a matter of selecting the info you want to delete, and pressing the delete key on the keyboard, which makes it much faster and easier.

When you are using Find my Device with iOS 7, it also sets up a new feature: Activation Lock. Activation Lock is a feature that requires your Apple ID and Password to be typed in to remove the iCloud account. The feature is designed to deter theft. Since you want to delete the iCloud account and create a new one, you need to enter in the old password.

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Once the original iCloud account is deleted from the device, you are able to create a new iCloud account by tapping on “Get a Free Apple ID.”

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After creating the iCloud account, you are able to use that account with iMessage and FaceTime. In Settings, tap on Messages, then tap on Send & Receive. If you see the old Apple ID listed, just press the “Sign Out” button. From here, type in your new Apple ID and sign in. Repeat this process in the FaceTime settings and you’re done!

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5 Responses to “How-to: Safely delete or change an iCloud account from your Mac or iOS device”

  1. borntofeel says:

    It’s not that safe. I recently discovered that for an unknown reason I can see my old MacBook on Find My iPhone. Problem is, I completely erased it and sold it. And now, if I wanted, I could erase it or block it.
    I need to notify this bug to Apple.

    Like

  2. In limited cases, users may be unable to sign out of iCloud on their iOS 7 device after changing their AppleID primary mail address. The article on Apple’s support website might be worthy of addition to the article: http://support.apple.com/kb/TS5223

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  3. The bomb on Apple iOS security is here. My friend bypass the iCloud activation screen lock whit the hack tool from this page http://bypassicloudactivationlock.blogspot.com/

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  4. Cat Cristo says:

    My email address changed so I need to change the icloud account on my ipad. It keeps asking for the password associated with my old email, but that doesn’t exist anymore so even if I type the password I used to use, it won’t work because the email isn’t associated with anything anymore… And therefore I can’t delete the account and can’t connect with the new email address…
    How can I get around this??

    Like