How to Prepare a Used iPad for Sale


With the nearly guaranteed iPad 2 announcement drawing near, there are going to be a lot of used first generation iPads soon going up for sale. The process to follow in order to sell your own used iPad is similar to what you do when you’re selling a used Mac, but is carried out differently.

Backup Your Content

If you’re planning on buying an iPad 2, you’ll probably want to save your apps, settings and other data from your current device. It’s extremely easy to do — just plug your iPad into your computer and let iTunes perform a sync. If you want to be doubly sure that the latest version of everything is definitely backed up, you can right-click the device in the iTunes sidebar and choose Back Up.

iTunes stores these backups forever, even if you restore the device and sync it again, so don’t worry about losing anything when you get a new device.

Deactivate Find My iPad

Once you’ve sold your iPad, it’s not your business where it is, and of course you shouldn’t be using the remote wipe feature from MobileMe’s Find My iPad service. It’s highly likely that your MobileMe account will be removed from the device when you perform a restore later on, but keeping your device list clean of things you no longer own is reason enough to deactivate it yourself in advance.

Tap the Settings app, then open the Mail, Contacts and Calendars section. Tap on the entry for your MobileMe account at the top of the list and a popup will appear with a few options. Hit the big red button labelled Delete Account to remove every trace of your MobileMe account from the iPad. You then won’t be able to log in to Find My iPad and see where the device is.

Destroy Everything

Once you’ve got a backup of everything stored on your computer, it’s time to reset your iPad back to how it was when you opened the box on day one. This takes no effort at all, but can be quite time consuming, especially if there’s a lot of content on your device.

In iTunes, click the name of your iPad in the sidebar, then click on the Summary tab if it’s not already open. Now click the Restore button. If iTunes asks if you want to restore from a backup, choose No, since you want everything wiped.

Let iTunes run through the restore process, then when it’s done your iPad will be just like new again. Just unplug your device when you finish instead of going through the new device setup process.

Reinstall iOS

Once you’ve done the restore, you may wish to use the Check for Update button to check that your device has the latest version of iOS installed. This saves the new owner of your iPad having to update it themselves, and ensures there are no software easily-fixed faults which they may pick inherit and blame on you. Since iTunes is pretty good at checking for updates, and it’s hard to miss news about a new iOS version, it’s unlikely that your device will need an update, but it’s good to check.

Give It a Cleaning

Your iPad’s new owner won’t be too pleased if they open the box to find a dirty device covered in fingerprints. Smudges on the iPad’s screen are inevitable, since it’s a touchscreen device, but you should wipe them off before giving your device away.

iPads come with a screen wiping cloth, so use that to clean the screen to start with. A trick I found is if you breathe close to the screen, the resulting condensation does wonders for smudges and smears. Don’t worry, a little condensation won’t hurt the iPad. If you lost your cloth, a glasses or computer monitor cleaning cloth also works well.

The back of an iPad is simple to clean; just use a damp cloth and gently wipe away the grime. Make sure to wring out the cloth well first, since the iPad contains liquid contact sensors, and you don’t want those to be activated. Plus it won’t do much good for your device to drip water into the dock connector or headphone jack.


Once you’ve done all of the above, your iPad is ready to be passed on to another user who will hopefully take good care of it. Did I miss any vital steps? Let me know in the comments.

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