Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
56,953
19,796


When you set up an AirTag, it's automatically associated with your Apple ID, which means it's linked to your Apple ID and can't be used by someone else unless you reset it.

f1618938547.jpg

Resetting can be as simple as removing an AirTag from your Apple ID, by following these steps:
  1. Open the Find My app.
  2. Tap on the AirTag that you want to remove by choosing its name from the list.
  3. Swipe upwards to bring up the full AirTag settings.
  4. Tap on "Remove Item."
    remove-airtag.jpg
  5. Tap on "Remove" and then tap again on the "Remove" popup.
Once you've gone through this process, the AirTag's ownership is cleared and you can give it to someone else to set up and use with their own account.

Unfortunately, if you're not in Bluetooth range of your AirTag when you remove it from your account, it won't register and a manual reset will be required. If you wind up with an AirTag from someone else that says it's linked to their ID but they've already removed it from their account, follow these steps to physically reset the AirTag:
  1. Press down on the stainless steel backing of the AirTag.
  2. As you press down, rotate counterclockwise until the cover stops rotating.
    airtag-battery-twist-open.jpg
  3. Pull apart the two halves of the AirTag.
    airtag-battery-pry-apart.jpg
  4. Take out the battery.
  5. Put the battery back in.
  6. Press down on the battery until it makes a sound.
  7. Once the sound finishes, repeat this process four more times, removing and replacing the battery and then pressing on the battery until you hear a sound.
    airtag-battery-removed.jpg
  8. You need to hear a total of five sounds to ensure that the AirTag is reset.
  9. After you've finished this process, put the cover on the AirTag back on and then align the three tabs on the cover with the three slots on the AirTag.
  10. Press down on the cover until there's a sound, and rotate the cover clockwise until it locks in place.
To avoid having to do this tedious physical resetting process, it's best to make sure that the person giving you an AirTag has removed it from their account in the proper way while it's in range of Bluetooth, because that's a far easier process for clearing AirTag ownership to pass it along to someone else.

Article Link: How to Factory Reset an AirTag So Someone Else Can Use It
 
Last edited:

ZeroFux

macrumors newbie
May 4, 2021
1
5
So someone can find my AirTag and reset it to take ownership before I even realize it’s lost? I would think that these would have the same ownership lock that iPhones do… (forgive me but I forget what they call it… maybe Authentication Lock or something?)
 

AttoA

macrumors member
Feb 1, 2021
30
145
As other users have mentioned, does this mean that anybody could do the second procedure and set up the AirTag for themselves, or when setting it up again does it detect that it hasn't yet been unlinked (I think setup happens online)?

Could someone test this?
 

Icaras

macrumors 603
Mar 18, 2008
6,319
3,314
So someone can find my AirTag and reset it to take ownership before I even realize it’s lost? I would think that these would have the same ownership lock that iPhones do… (forgive me but I forget what they call it… maybe Authentication Lock or something?)
No.

"If you wind up with an AirTag from someone else that says it's linked to their ID but they've already removed it from their account, follow these steps to physically reset the AirTag:"
 

randomthoughts

Contributor
Oct 15, 2020
103
187
If it doesn’t currently, hopefully a firmware update will address. And hopefully a firmware update happens before it’s allowed to be “re-associated.”
 

dojoman

macrumors 68000
Apr 8, 2010
1,891
1,014
So someone can find my AirTag and reset it to take ownership before I even realize it’s lost? I would think that these would have the same ownership lock that iPhones do… (forgive me but I forget what they call it… maybe Authentication Lock or something?)
Read again...

If you wind up with an AirTag from someone else that says it's linked to their ID but they've already removed it from their account, follow these steps to physically reset the AirTag:
 

randomthoughts

Contributor
Oct 15, 2020
103
187
No.

"If you wind up with an AirTag from someone else that says it's linked to their ID but they've already removed it from their account, follow these steps to physically reset the AirTag:"
That’s not actually testing it. We all read what was written. They are separate use cases, one which was not directly addressed. Hence, why someone asked the question.
 
  • Like
Reactions: wbeasley

randomthoughts

Contributor
Oct 15, 2020
103
187
Read again...

If you wind up with an AirTag from someone else that says it's linked to their ID but they've already removed it from their account, follow these steps to physically reset the AirTag:
We already read it. The question was what happens when someone has not already removed it from the account, and does the reset. That is why someone asked to test it.
 

Radeon85

macrumors 6502a
Mar 16, 2012
627
1,099
South Wales, UK
I wonder if someone steals it and tries to do the second reset when its not been removed from your phone, maybe on the pairing processes it may be locked and refuse to pair until it's removed from the owners phone.
 
  • Like
Reactions: wbeasley

happyprozak

macrumors regular
Jun 21, 2008
157
198
I read the article and it's clear that resetting the AirTag by reinserting the battery 5 times only applies if it's outside of bluetooth range AFTER it has been removed from someone's Apple ID.

People jumping to the comments should read the article first.
 

Apple_Robert

macrumors Nehalem
Sep 21, 2012
30,194
39,695
In the middle of several books.
I read the article and it's clear that resetting the AirTag by reinserting the battery 5 times only applies if it's outside of bluetooth range AFTER it has been removed from someone's Apple ID.

People jumping to the comments should read the article first.
If referring to me in any way...I fully understood that. I am not questioning that. My question was in regards to making sure that the tag couldn't be easily reclaimed under a different ID. I also understand that the test I asked about isn't supposed to work.
 

randomthoughts

Contributor
Oct 15, 2020
103
187
So this is what happens, you can’t pair it to the other Apple ID, but the Find My app on the original Apple ID can’t update the location. If I bring it to a device with the original Apple ID, it wants to try to pair again.

So while someone won’t be able to disassociate the AirTag from your account for their own use, if you don’t have the item in your possession, someone could reset it and prevent you from tracking it.

That’s an issue.
 

tagy

macrumors 6502
Feb 3, 2003
252
42
UK
So this is what happens, you can’t pair it to the other Apple ID, but the Find My app on the original Apple ID can’t update the location. If I bring it to a device with the original Apple ID, it wants to try to pair again.

So while someone won’t be able to disassociate the AirTag from your account for their own use, if you don’t have the item in your possession, someone could reset it and prevent you from tracking it.

That’s an issue.
Thanks for testing that, not sure it is an issue though. If someone want to prevent you tracking it they would just remove the battery.
 

randomthoughts

Contributor
Oct 15, 2020
103
187
Thanks for testing that, not sure it is an issue though. If someone want to prevent you tracking it they would just remove the battery.
Kind of. If the battery is put back in it without the reset, it will show back up on the map. Doing this, it will never show up again.

People worrying about their AirTag being reused by someone else: it’s only $29. Hopefully whatever it’s attached to is worth more than that to you.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ouimetnick

randomthoughts

Contributor
Oct 15, 2020
103
187
Would be nice if Apple made it that it alerted you on your device when someone else tried to activate it with their own Apple ID. As tested, it becomes worthless because the person that reset it can’t use it and they have no way to contact you. You’ll just have a dead AirTag in your Find My app until you decide to remove it from your account.
 

citysnaps

macrumors G3
Oct 10, 2011
9,069
17,781
Kind of. If the battery is put back in it without the reset, it will show back up on the map. Doing this, it will never show up again.

People worrying about their AirTag being reused by someone else: it’s only $29. Hopefully whatever it’s attached to is worth more than that to you.

For sure on that! And many will be hidden, anyway.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SuperCachetes

Apple_Robert

macrumors Nehalem
Sep 21, 2012
30,194
39,695
In the middle of several books.
So this is what happens, you can’t pair it to the other Apple ID, but the Find My app on the original Apple ID can’t update the location. If I bring it to a device with the original Apple ID, it wants to try to pair again.

So while someone won’t be able to disassociate the AirTag from your account for their own use, if you don’t have the item in your possession, someone could reset it and prevent you from tracking it.

That’s an issue.
Thank you very much for testing. That is a problem.
 

AttoA

macrumors member
Feb 1, 2021
30
145
So this is what happens, you can’t pair it to the other Apple ID, but the Find My app on the original Apple ID can’t update the location. If I bring it to a device with the original Apple ID, it wants to try to pair again.

So while someone won’t be able to disassociate the AirTag from your account for their own use, if you don’t have the item in your possession, someone could reset it and prevent you from tracking it.

That’s an issue.
That's good to know.

Not sure if it's an issue though - effectively, someone is able to disable the AirTag. They could do that anyway by removing the battery or (no matter Apple's design) stomping on it and throwing it in the garbage disposal.
 
  • Like
Reactions: BobVB and G5isAlive
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.