Apple makes it easy for anyone to give their close friends and family access to their iPhone. You can set people as your emergency contacts, keep them informed of your whereabouts, and more. The same goes for your installed apps, many of which are allowed to read a ton of your data and access your sensors like your location, photos, camera, microphone, and contacts.
However, for people in abusive relationships, these convenient features can become a nightmare and allow others to harass you. That’s especially true for someone who is sharing, say, a iPad registered with your Apple ID with a partner they can no longer trust. For these cases, Apple offers a circuit breaker-like tool called “Security Checkup” on iPhones that allows you to instantly revoke all data access, sign out of devices, and pause location sharing. Here’s how to use it.
Editor’s note: Safety Check is a iOS 16 feature. So make sure your iPhone is up to date before proceeding. You can check for updates from Settings > General > Software Update.
How to use Safety Check in iOS 16
Go to Settings > Privacy & Security, scroll down and select “Security Checkup”. There are two ways to use Safety Check on your iPhone. You can check the people and apps connected to your device one by one or reset them all at once with the emergency option.
Please note that activating Safety Check does not inform the other person that you have revoked their access. However, they will eventually catch on if they check on you regularly, as they will see that they are no longer connected to you.
During the Security Checkup process, there is a “Quick Exit” button in the upper right corner that immediately cancels it and takes you back to the home screen. This is useful for people whose personal security is at risk and who cannot afford the threat to find out what they are planning to do.
Check people and apps connected to your iPhone
Tap “Manage Sharing & Access” within Settings > Privacy & Security > Security Checkup and authenticate with biometrics or your phone’s PIN code. Tap the “Continue” button.
In step one, you can review the people you’re sharing data with, such as your location through the Find My app, smart home controls, notes, photos, calendar appointments, and health information. The “People” tab sorts these items by contacts, and the “Information” tab sorts them by the services you’re sharing with them.
Tap to choose the people or apps you want to stop sharing with, and tap “Share Review”..” Alternatively, you can press “Select all and stop sharing” to block everyone. Select “Continue” on the next screen to continue to step two.
Similarly, in step two, you should review the apps that you no longer want to access your device data and sensors. The “Apps” section lists apps that can currently collect and use at least one type of data. Under “Information,” you’ll find them organized by the permission itself, such as Location, Photos, Contacts, and others.
Check the box next to the app or information you want to stop and tap the “Stop app access” option. You can also instead execute “Select all and stop access” to terminate the permissions of each app. Tap “Continue” on the next page. Your iPhone will take a few seconds to process your requests.
In the third step, you can sign out of the devices that are registered with your Apple ID. If your household has a shared Mac or iPad, this is essential as it allows anyone to track you, read your iMessages, and view your photos and videos through your iCloud account. After choosing the devices that are not private to you, tap “Remove Selected Devices”.
Next, the Security Checkup tool will ask you to review the trusted phone numbers for your Apple ID. Typically, this utility allows people to add emergency contacts and access their accounts in case they lose their phone. So if you have previously taken advantage of it and added contacts that you no longer trust, it is better to delete them as they can be misused to verify your identity and log into your account. Therefore, it is important that the only contact mentioned on this page is yours. Tap “Continue” once you are done.
Before you save your changes, you have the option to update your Apple ID password in case someone else knows your existing one. Tap “Update password” if that is the case, otherwise continue with “Update later in Settings”. This is followed by “Emergency SOS” where you can review and update your emergency contacts, who will be notified when you activate the SOS feature on your iPhone. In the following steps, you can also reset your iPhone password and Face ID data.
Perform an emergency data reset on your iPhone
Safety Check’s “Manage Sharing and Access” tool allows you to individually turn off access for people and apps. If you don’t have that much time and want to perform an instant reset, tap “Emergency reset” within Settings > Privacy and security > Security checkup.
Authenticate and then tap “Start Emergency Reset”. Follow the on-screen instructions to immediately reset your preferences for sharing with contacts and apps, and update your Apple ID credentials.