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This is the first entry in our new, weekly how-to’s column. Check back every Saturday for a new how-to:

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

  1. If you are using the same Apple ID as a family member for iCloud, several different outcomes could result from this.  Odds are that your content got merged, and all of your personal information is mixed together. You are both getting frustrated that your contacts are disappearing because you each delete and re-add them and iCloud pushes the changes to both of you. You also might be getting each other’s iMessages and FaceTime calls. Or one of you is using and enjoying the features and benefits of iCloud whereas the other isn’t and is missing out on features like Backup to iCloud and Find my Device.
  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, which I will be discussing in next week’s article.

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 the big red “Delete Account” button. To do this on a Mac, go into System Preferences and choose iCloud, the 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. Please do not be scared by the alerts.

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The first alert states,

If you delete your account, all Photo Stream photos and documents 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 it 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 under your iCloud Settings 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. On an iPhone or an iPod Touch down on the bottom in the black bar there will be a button labled “Albums” and another labeled “Photo Stream”. In Albums you will find the Camera Roll. On an iPad, up at the top, in the black bar there will be a button that says Camera Roll, and Photo Stream.  Camera Roll is going to be the pictures you have stored on that device.  Those are permanently on the device, unless you delete them by hand. Look through those. Then look through Photo Stream and your Shared Photo Streams. These are NOT permanently 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 premanently stored on your device, you can save them to your device by clicking on the Share Button (the one with a square that has an arrow pointing to the right sticking out). 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 move on to the next part.

The other part of the alert said,

…documents 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 stuff in iCloud, it’s usually stuff like game history, the level you are on, your statistics, etc.

If you’re OK with removing those files from your device, let’s try deleting iCloud again under Settings. This is where it can be complicated based on your situation.

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Now it is asking about your contacts, calendars, reminders and Safari data. This can vary depending on which situation you are in.

Scenario 1: None of the personal information is yours, and instead belongs to your family members Choose Delete from My iPad. By doing so, this deletes all of the contacts, calendars, reminders and Safari data stored on the iPad, allowing you to start  with a clean slate and being able to 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 family members If you choose Keep on My iPad you will have all of your contacts, calendars, reminders and Safari data that is 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 is going to be a very cumbersome and tedious task if you do it on an iOS device. If you delete contacts and calendars off of, or on the Mac built in apps, it is a matter of selecting the info you want to delete, and pressing the delete key on the keyboard.

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.”


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

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