For mobile users, knowing how to wipe and take an Android device back to its factory default settings can be an essential skill. Not least of all because, as with any piece of software, Android isn’t always the most stable platform. Meaning that sometimes, rare though it may be, a complete reset may be warranted.
Additionally, wiping a smartphone removes the vast majority of the personal data stored there. So this isn’t all about being a great way to simply start over with a phone, it’s a great way to ensure that a recycled or thrown out phone doesn’t become a risk. What’s more, there are a lot of Android users worldwide. The majority of smartphone users globally, in fact. So selling an old device has become a great way to recoup the cost of a new phone.
Here’s how you can wipe your Android smartphone or tablet to go back to factory settings
Now, this process is — generally speaking — straightforward. In fact, in most Android smartphones, the process to restart is housed in an easy-to-find place in the System subcategory in the Settings menu. Typically, that’s housed under a tap on the downward-facing chevron arrow next to the “Advanced” label. But not every OEM is the same and not every smartphone or tablet puts all of the menu options in the same place either. And that can make finding a specific setting difficult.
Fortunately, there’s also a fairly easy way around discrepancies between manufacturers. And that’s the method we’ll be covering here. So, whatever the reason you might have for completely resetting your Android smartphone, wiping all data, and going back to factory settings, this guide should prove useful.
- Now, performing a factory reset to wipe and return an Android phone, tablet, or another Android device to default settings shouldn’t wipe the installed SIM card. But that’s still going to be a good place to start because there also aren’t any guarantees that won’t happen. So the first step here is going to be to power down your smartphone or tablet and remove the SIM card if it has one installed
- The same is going to hold true for any SD or microSD cards you happen to have installed. So those should be removed as well if present
- Power your Android device back on
- Navigate to the Settings app. There are several ways to get to the app. But, in our example, we’ll be navigating to the app drawer and then to the Settings app. That’s typically distinguishable as either a gear-shaped or toggles-shaped icon
- As noted above, the Factory Reset option is typically found within the System menu in the Settings app. Within that submenu, it’s generally housed in the “Advanced” segment located near the bottom of that page. But some OEMs don’t place it there, opting instead for other submenus. Such as the security and accounts menu, all depending on where the company in question feels it belongs. For that reason, we’ll be circumventing navigating these menus entirely. Instead, locate the search tool for the Settings. In our example images, using a Google Pixel 5, that’s shown as a search bar. On other gadgets, it may be tucked behind a magnifying glass icon or in the three-dot overflow menu
- Enter the search term “Factory Reset” to perform a search
- The top result returned by the search should showcase the appropriate option, as shown in our sample images. Tap on that option to open the appropriate menu
- Select the “Erase all data (factory reset)” option. Android will present you with a list that showcases all installed apps that will lose account access during the reset. Effectively, those apps that will log out and uninstall. Near the bottom, an option will exist to “erase downloaded SIMS” but that’s unchecked by default. The reason for that is that obtaining a new virtual SIM requires contacting your carrier. So leave that box unchecked unless you’re passing the phone onto somebody else to use with a different carrier or plan
- Tap “Erase all data”
- Enter your security PIN, password, or another verification method to continue. We don’t have a screenshot of this screen as Android won’t take screenshots of password/PIN screens. But it should look similar to the standard verification page that you see, requesting that information. Tap the next key or arrow forward key
- Finally, select “Erase all data” one final time. There’s no going back after this step, so be sure you’re ready for the factory reset before continuing
- Your phone will reset once or twice during the reset process and then will return the UI to the first screen that’s seen when a phone boots up for the first time