Use iPhone Safety Check to lock down your Apple account

Are you worried about your Apple account? Are you over-sharing? Does someone have access to your account? iOS has a panic button to lock out everyone but you. Use Safety Check on the iPhone.

iPhone Safety Check is a feature that was introduced into iOS 16 and it has two useful functions. One should be used immediately to check that the security of your iPhone and Apple account is OK, and the other can be used like a panic button when you find or suspect a problem. It locks out anyone else who might have access to your personal information and shares.

The Safety Check guides you through a series of security checks to make sure that you know who has access to what information on your iPhone, in your Apple account and the information you share.

Permissions can be revoked if you think you are sharing too much and it is useful to go through the security check procedure every now and then, just to make sure that everything is OK. Here is what you can expect to see. Your safety checks depend on what you have on your phone, what you share and how. This means that the screens will be similar to mine, but not exactly the same.

1: Start iPhone Safety Check

Safety Check iOS 16 feature on the iPhone
Look for Safety Check in iPhone Settings

Open the Settings app on the iPhone and then press Privacy and Security. A little way down the settings is Safety Check. Press it. You have two choices: Emergency Reset and Manage Sharing & Access. We will look at both of these, but Emergency Reset first. It’s your panic button for when things go wrong.

Personal information can be shared in many ways, such as from within apps, file, folder and document shares in iCloud, and in other ways. If there is a problem, if you think you are sharing too much, if you think someone has access to your personal files and information, select the Emergency Reset option in Safety Check.

2: Use Emergency Reset to stop sharing

Safety Check iOS 16 feature on the iPhone
Got a problem? Use Emergency Reset in iPhone Safety Check

Don’t do this unless you really have a problem or are worried about sharing too much with too many people. The problem is that some friends or work colleagues may be relying on having access to a document you are collaborating on, a folder with files they need, or an app needs access to something in order to work. This stops them.

It stops people and apps from accessing everything. You can set up shares and permissions again afterwards, but it will be an irritation if you don’t actually need to do this. In step 2, you can change your Apple ID password and in step 3, you add or remove emergency contacts.

It’s a panic button for emergencies only!

3: Manage sharing and access

Safety Check iOS 16 feature on the iPhone
Manage sharing and access in Safety Check

Select the Manage Sharing & Access option in Safety Check anytime you want. In fact, it would be useful to use this tool regularly, such as once a month, just to make sure everything is OK. There are three parts to it, but each part has multiple steps that you can either do or skip as necessary. Press the Continue button.

4: Review sharing with people

Safety Check iOS 16 feature on the iPhone
Review shares with people in Safety Check

This screen shows the people you are sharing something with, like files, notes, and so on. I am sharing with just one other person, but you may be sharing things with multiple co-workers in your company, or with several family members, and so on.

Press a person and then tap Review Sharing to see what you are sharing. I am sharing one note and one folder. You may be sharing multiple items. Select the item and press Stop Sharing if you do not want this person to continue to have access to the shared items, such as when a co-worker leaves your company, project or whatever.

5: See public shares in iPhone Safety Check

Safety Check iOS 16 feature on the iPhone
See public shares in Safety Check

When you are done with the people shares, continue and you can see what you are sharing publicly. This is interesting and you may not realize that some items are out in the public domain. Are you sharing photos, calendars or other items?

If you do not want to share any of the items listed, select them and then press Stop Sharing. When you are happy with your shares, press Continue.

6: View and change app permissions

Safety Check iOS 16 feature on the iPhone
Change app permissions in Safety Check

Next, there is a list of apps and under each one is a list of things they can access, such as your location, the camera, contacts and so on. Press the i on the right of an app and its permissions are displayed. Select one or more of these and the button changes to enable you to revoke permissions and stop sharing the information with the app. You can even delete the app.

Go through your apps and make sure you are happy with the things they can access and limit what they can do if necessary.

7: View and remove devices

Safety Check iOS 16 feature on the iPhone
See what devices access your Apple account in Safety check

After checking app permissions, continue to Devices. All the devices that are signed into your Apple ID are listed, like iPhones, Apple and Windows computers, laptops, iPads, and so on.

If you are like me, you probably have everything you ever owned and used on the list. Swipe up to see them all. It goes on and on! Perhaps you should select some of the old devices. Some are obvious from the name and I found an iPhone 6, and other old devices. Select them and press Remove Selected Devices.

8: Phone numbers and passwords

Reset Apple ID password in iPhone Safety Check
Check trusted phone numbers and change Apple ID password

Your Apple account uses one or more trusted phone numbers for authorizing things like logins to your account. If you change your phone number, change it here. If you think someone might know your Apple ID password, change it here.

If everything is OK, don’t change anything. Press Continue on the phone numbers screen and then Update Later in Settings on the Apple ID password screen.

One final thing, don’t forget to install security updates on the iPhone and other Apple devices.

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