It happens to the best of us. We (or our loved ones) forget our passcodes to all types of things–websites, WiFi networks, credit card, and bank accounts, and yes even our devices!
Unfortunately, when we forget our iPhone/iPad passcode, Apple just might lock our iDevices because we can’t remember that dang password, especially if we enter the wrong passcode multiple times in a row.
If you enter the wrong passcode on any iOS device six times in a row, you’re instantly locked out, with an on-screen message letting you know that your device is disabled. So what now?
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Why is a passcode important?
It’s all about securing your personal and private information. You use a passcode on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to protect your device and data from unauthorized eyes. For folks with Touch or Face ID, your passcode is a backup to get into your device, should Touch or Face ID fail.
But what if you forgot your passcode?
What can you do to bypass and reset a forgotten passcode on an iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad? Sadly, you can’t recover your passcode.
Apple does not currently provide a way to reset a forgotten device password, so if you, your child, parent, grandparent, or friend has indeed forgotten it, there is no way to retrieve it, other than memory or locating a place you may have previously stored it.
But all is not lost, especially for folks who routinely backup their device via iTunes or iCloud. You may be able to reset the passcode by restoring the device.
If you never made a backup, there isn’t a way to save your device’s data. You need to erase your device, which deletes all of your data and settings.
Previously synced your iPhone/iPad with iTunes?
- Connect your device to the computer that you usually sync it to that contains the backup files
- Launch iTunes
- If asked for a passcode, try another computer you’ve synced with, or use recovery mode (see below)
- Select Back up by right-clicking (or Control-clicking) the device
- After Back up is completed, select Restore to restore from your most recent backup or another backup
- When you reach the Set-Up screen while restoring, tap Restore from iTunes backup
- Select your device in iTunes. Look at the date and size of each backup and pick the most relevant one
If iTunes prompts you to enter the passcode when you connect to your computer (*), or if the above does not work, try the following option.
If you did not previously sync your iPhone/iPad with iTunes
You need to force the phone into recovery mode and restore it as a new device to remove the passcode. To do this:
- Disconnect your device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch), but leave the USB cable connected to your computer
- Open iTunes
- Note: Make sure that you are using the latest version of iTunes before attempting this
- Force Restart your device
- On an iPhone X Series, iPad with no Home Button, iPhone 8, or iPhone 8 Plus: Press and quickly release the Volume Up button. Press and immediately release the Volume Down button. Then, press and hold the Side button until you see the recovery mode screen
- On an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus: Press and hold both the Side and Volume Down buttons at the same time. Keep holding them until you see the recovery mode screen
- On an iPhone 6s and earlier, iPad with Home Button, or iPod touch: Press and hold both the Home and the Top (or Side) buttons at the same time. Keep holding them until you see the recovery mode screen
- Continue holding these force restart buttons until you see the image showing you to connect to iTunes on-screen; this also causes the iPhone to turn on
- You should see one of these “recovery mode” alerts
- “There is a problem with the iPad (iPhone) that requires it to be updated or restored.”
- “iTunes has detected an iPhone (or iPad) in recovery mode. You must restore this iPad (or iPhone) before it can be used with iTunes.”
- Select Restore (not Update)
- iTunes downloads software for your device
- If this process takes more than 15 minutes, your device exits recovery mode
- Repeat steps 3-6
- Once the download is complete, set up the device as new to use it again
- This process wipes all files and settings, including the passcode. If you see a message stating that your phone is locked and you need to enter your passcode, just ignore and close this message
Learn more about Recovery Mode.