Screen Time on iOS gives you the power to maximize productivity and minimize unhealthy digital habits. But using it requires the creation of another passcode! For some people, that’s two too many, which is why this post shows you how to reset the Screen Time passcode if you forgot it (or if you don’t remember ever having a passcode!)
Because Screen Time on iOS, macOS, and iPadOS uses a different and dedicated passcode than your device, it’s important that we all know how to reset the Screen Time passcode if you forgot it or even if you never had it!
- 1 Quick tips
- 2 What is Screen Time in iOS, iPadOS, and macOS?
- 3 What is the Screen Time Passcode?
- 4 How to reset the Screen Time Password on macOS Catalina+
- 5 Can’t remember your Screen Time passcode? How to reset the Screen Time passcode
- 6 Are you a family organizer or parent for Family Sharing?
- 7 Use your Apple ID to reset your Screen Time passcode (for iOS & iPadOS 13.3.1+)
- 8 How to reset Screen Time passcode for older iOS 13 & iPadOS versions or if Screen Time Passcode Recovery didn’t work
- 9 Use pinfinder to reset the Screen Time passcode for iOS 7-12.4
- 10 Trying to change your Screen Time passcode but it’s not working?
- 11 Updated your iOS or iPadOS and now Screen Time is asking for a passcode?
- 12 How to disable the Screen Time passcode
- 13 Forgotten your older iOS Restrictions Passcode?
- 14 No time? Check out our video on How To Reset Screen Time’s Passcode
- 15 There’s a high chance if you’ve been through all that, you never want to use Screen Time again!
- 16 Reader tips
Follow these quick tips to reset your Screen Time passcode
- For problems with just macOS Catalina+, log out and back into iCloud
- Try signing out of iCloud, turn off Screen Time in your settings app and then sign in again to iCloud
- For macOS Catalina or iOS and iPadOS 13.3.1 and above, try using your Apple ID for Apple’s Screen Time Passcode Recovery
- With iOS 13.0-13.3, try to remove the Screen Time passcode by turning off Find My, make an encrypted backup, and finally, erase and restore your device using that encrypted backup
- On older iOS versions 7-12.4, use pinfinder to locate your passcode from an iTunes backup
- Family organizers should attempt to reset the Screen Time passcode on their own device using their device passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID
- Use Screen Time in macOS and sync your Mac to other devices
- Screen Time on macOS giving you inaccurate data? Here’s what’s going on
- Can’t Remove Old Device From Screen Time on iPhone or iPad?
- How to Use Screen Time to ‘Lock’ Your Most Sensitive Apps
- How to Use Screen Time with your Family Sharing Account
- Screen Time Not Working in iOS? How to Fix
- Where are Restrictions in iOS 12+?
- Forgot iPhone/iPad Passcode? How to Reset Your Passcode
What is Screen Time in iOS, iPadOS, and macOS?
Apple’s Screen Time feature is aimed at enhancing our digital health. Screen Time is available in iPadOS, iOS 12 and above, and in macOS Catalina and above. This feature helps you monitor your (and if set up with family sharing, your family’s) app usage and is a great tool to help minimize any unhealthy digital habits, like excessive gaming or social media usage.
Screen Time allows you to set up limits on your and your family’s iOS devices, including:
- Downtime dims the screen and blocks apps that aren’t listed under Always Allowed. App Limits creates a time limit for app usage in categories such as ‘Social Networking’
- App Limits set daily limits for app categories with App Limits. These App Limits refresh every day at midnight. Plus, you or the family organizer can delete them at any time
- Always Allowed provides constant access certain apps, even when downtime or app limits are reached. By default, Phone, Messages, FaceTime, and Maps are always allowed–but you can change these
- Content & Privacy Restrictions replaced the Restrictions setting from iOS 11 and earlier. Through Content & Privacy Restrictions, parents can limit adult content and privacy settings on their children’s devices. It’s also possible to monitor your family’s screen time and app usage over iCloud
What is the Screen Time Passcode?
The Screen Time passcode is used to secure the Content & Privacy Restrictions or to allow time extensions on App Limits. Apple prompts the creation of a Screen Time passcode when you activate Screen Time on a child’s device or access Content & Privacy Restrictions on any device.
You can also choose to create a Screen Time passcode if you want to option to Ask For More Time on blocked apps.
The 4-digit Screen Time passcode is separate from the passcode used when locking and unlocking your device. That way parents can keep it secret while letting kids know the standard passcode.
Unfortunately, it does mean there’s an extra passcode that you just might forget. While it’s possible to disable the Screen Time passcode after creating it, you need to remember and enter it to do so.
How to reset the Screen Time Password on macOS Catalina+
If you have problems with your Mac only (not your iPhone, iPad, or iPod), then logging out of iCloud appears to be your best option
- Log out of iCloud
- Choose Apple menu > System Preferences > Screen Time
- Click Options and choose turn on
- Set up a new password
- Verify that Screen Time’s share across devices is NOT checked–if so, uncheck it
- Log back into iCloud
Can’t remember your Screen Time passcode? How to reset the Screen Time passcode
If you can’t remember your Screen Time passcode and you use macOS Catalina or iOS 13.3 and above, you can reset your passcode using your Apple ID!
For earlier iOS versions or if you never set-up your Apple ID to reset your Screen Time passcode, Apple suggests that you wipe and erase your device, then set it up as a new device to remove the Screen Time Passcode. Unfortunately, following Apple’s advice, you must set it up as NEW. Restoring your device using a backup does NOT remove the Screen Time Passcode.
Since most of us would rather not lose all our data, photos, messages, and other files just to work around a forgotten Screen Time Passcode, this article outlines some tips to help you avoid having to set up your device as new.
Are you a family organizer or parent for Family Sharing?
For family sharing, you need to be designated as a parent to change or reset your Screen Time passcode (or to stop sharing your screen time information with others in the family)
To get full access to disable Screen Time features, ask the current family organizer to grant you parent privileges by going to Organizer Settings > Apple ID Profile > Family Sharing > Select Your Name > Change Parent/Guardian to ON. You can also visit iCloud online via Safari or a web browser and go to Settings > Family Sharing and make changes there.
If you set up Screen Time for a family member on your device through Family Sharing and you forget your Screen Time passcode, you can reset it on your device using your device passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID.
To change or turn off the Screen Time passcode for your child’s device
- On your device go to Settings > Screen Time > your child’s name
- Tap Change Screen Time Passcode or Turn Off Screen Time Passcode
- Authenticate the change with Face ID, Touch ID, or your device passcode
Learn more about Screen Time and Family Sharing in this article: How to Setup ScreenTime App on Family Sharing, A Comprehensive Guide
New to iOS 13.3.1+ and iPadOS is a way to reset your Screen Time passcode using your Apple ID–called Screen Time Passcode Recovery.
To work, you need to first turn off or change the screen time passcode and then re-enable it
- Go to Settings > Screen Time
- Scroll down to Change Screen Time Passcode
- Tap either Change Screen Time Passcode or Turn Off Screen Time Passcode
- Enter a different 4-digit passcode
- Confirm your 4-digit passcode
- A message appears asking if you want to use your Apple ID to reset your Screen Time passcode
- Enter your Apple ID and password and tap OK to accept (recommended) or tap Cancel to not accept
- When you tap cancel, Apple asks you if you are sure
- Choose Provide Apple ID to use your Apple ID to reset your Screen Time passcode (recommended)
- Choose Skip to confirm you don’t want to use your Apple ID to reset your Screen Time passcode
- Now you are set-up to use your Apple ID to recover your Screen Time passcode!
Reset your Screen Time Passcode with Screen Time Passcode Recovery & your Apple ID
If you set-up your Apple ID to reset your Screen Time passcode, then it’s super easy to regain access to Screen Time when you’ve forgotten your passcode.
- Tap Settings > Screen Time
- Choose Change Screen Time Passcode
- Confirm you want to change the passcode or select Turn Off
- Tap Forgot Passcode
- Enter your Apple ID and password and tap OK
- Once Apple confirms your Apple ID credentials, enter a new Screen Time passcode
How to reset Screen Time passcode for older iOS 13 & iPadOS versions or if Screen Time Passcode Recovery didn’t work
Try restoring to an encrypted backup
Since iPadOS and iOS 13 do not include a copy of your Screen Time’s passcode in your iTunes backup, using a tool like pinfinder (recommended for iOS 12 and below) doesn’t work because the password isn’t there. What we recommend you try instead is a restore from an encrypted backup.
- Turn Find My off for your device by going to Settings > Apple ID > Find My and turn it off
- Connect your device to your computer with iTunes (Windows and macOS Mojave and below) or Finder (macOS Catalina+)
- Before you encrypt your backup, we suggest you first archive a recent backup for safekeeping (plus, it’s super easy!)
- Create an encrypted backup of your device, if you don’t have one already available. When creating an encrypted backup for your device, you also need to unlock your device with its device passcode
- All encrypted backups have a password. Make sure you write this password down or save/store it. We also recommend you tick the box to remember this password in your keychain. You cannot use an encrypted backup without this password. Encrypting backups ALSO immediately overwrites and encrypts your previous backups so it’s critical to know the password!
- Once you have an encrypted backup, press the Restore button and confirm your selection
- When asked, choose your encrypted backup to restore from
If that didn’t work, erase the device again and restore it from a backup that was made before you established a password for Screen Time. If you do not have such a backup, you must fully erase the phone and set it up again from scratch.
Use pinfinder to reset the Screen Time passcode for iOS 7-12.4
- If you use iTunes to back up your device on a Mac or Windows, developer GWatts created a small application for Mac & Windows called PinFinder that tries to find the Screen Time or Restrictions passcode for an iDevice (see this article for more details–look in the section Forgot Your Screen Time or Restrictions Password)
- Pinfinder only supports iOS 7-12.4 – iOS 13 & iPadOS are not supported
- Some readers saved a backup to their computer (Windows or Mac) using iTunes and then used pinfinder to get the passcode
- If a regular iTunes backup doesn’t work, try connecting your device to iTunes and make a local encrypted backup. Then use pinfinder to scan that encrypted backup and locate the restrictions passcode for that specific device
- For more information, check out GWatts GitHub info page for PinFinder
- There are some third-party tools to extract Screen Time or Restrictions passcodes. We don’t have any specific recommendations since we haven’t used these tools. But they are available–look for programs labeled as backup extractors
- Remember to read user reviews and reports to see if these tools actually work
Trying to change your Screen Time passcode but it’s not working?
If you are trying to change your Screen Time passcode or your kids figure it out and now you NEED to change it, and you find it’s not working, you are not alone. A lot of parents tell us that even after changing the Screen Time passcode, the old passcode still works and their kids can still bypass all those restrictions and/or change their app limits.
If this situation sounds like you, the most reliable solution we have is to reset all settings on your children’s’ devices.
Reset all settings (should be a last resort since it resets all your personalized features back to factory defaults)
- Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All
- This resets to default everything in Settings, including notifications, alerts, brightness, and clock settings like wake up alarms
- Resetting all settings also reverts all your personalized and customized features like wallpapers and accessibility settings back to factory defaults.
- Performing this action does not impact any of your personal device data, including photos, texts, documents, and other files
- You need to reconfigure these settings once your iPhone or iDevice restarts
Updated your iOS or iPadOS and now Screen Time is asking for a passcode?
Heading into Settings to take a look at Screen Time? But then it asks for a passcode–one that as far as you know, you never even set up? And you’re not able to change to the passcode to get things going?
If you updated your iOS from iOS 11 or an earlier version and Screen Time is asking for a passcode, try entering your Restrictions Passcode (or Guided Access passcode if you use that feature)
Screen Time inherits Restrictions Passcode from earlier iOS
It seems that folks that have Restrictions or Guided Access enabled before they updated, find that the updated automatically turns on Screen Time’s Content & Privacy Settings and links it to the older Restrictions (Guided Access) passcode.
Several of our readers tell us that they see this issue even when Restrictions is Disabled but in the past, they used a restriction or guided access passcode (which they no longer remember.)
Never had a Restrictions passcode?
Some readers never set up a restrictions passcode, but when launching Screen Time for the first time, it still asked for a passcode.
What worked for some folks was to enter their current or a previous device passcode–the passcode they use or used to use to unlock their iDevices.
Another tip some readers discovered was just to use any four digits–totally random numbers having nothing to do with their device’s passcode. And it worked! Go figure
So try entering any four digits that you will remember in the future–or better yet write it down or save it manually to your Passwords & Accounts by turning it into a pseudo website (like restrictions.me or screentime.me–it only works with a dot address at the end)
How to disable the Screen Time passcode
If you know the Screen Time passcode but you don’t want to use it anymore, you can choose to disable it in Settings. Go to the Screen Time settings page and tap Change Screen Time Passcode.
From there you’ll have the option to Turn Off Screen Time Passcode, enter the 4-digit code and you’re done.
If, however, the Screen Time passcode is lost or forgotten, your options are either erase the device using iTunes and restore it from a backup made prior to setting up your Screen Time (or Restrictions) passcode, try out PinFinder, or use a third-party backup extraction tool.
Even if you don’t know the Screen Time Passcode, you can still make new backups with iCloud or iTunes.
Tools like PinFinder and those third-party extractors recover the screen time passcode from an encrypted iTunes backup.
Forgotten your older iOS Restrictions Passcode?
If you cannot remember your previous iOS Restrictions Passcode, Apple’s advice is to erase your device and then set it up as new to remove the Screen Time passcode that you don’t know.
Restoring your iDevice using a recent backup doesn’t work as the Restrictions Code follows you and becomes that Screen Time Passcode. That’s because your older iOS Restrictions Passcode and iOS 12 Screen Time passcodes, are stored in backups and return when you restore your device. For folks using iOS 13 and iPadOS, Apple no longer stores the Screen Time passcode in any iTunes backup including encrypted backups.
If you have an older iOS backup (iOS 12.4 and below) from before you passcode enabled Screen Time and set up a password, you can restore your device from that pre-Screen Time Passcode backup. Since Apple no longer stores the Screen Time passcode in any Finder or iTunes backup including encrypted backups–this does not work for iOS 13+ and iPadOS backups.
Using iOS 12.4 and below AND don’t have or know of a backup made before you set-up a Screen Time password?
Follow these steps to create an encrypted backup via iTunes and use Pinfinder (or a third-party backup extraction tool) to recover your lost passcode.
How to use Pinfinder to recover your Screen Time or Restrictions passcode (iOS 7 to iOS 12.4)
- For folks using macOS Mojave be sure to allow terminal access: open the System Preferences > Security & Privacy > select the Privacy tab and add Terminal to the list of allowed applications
- Backup your iDevice to a computer using iTunes (make sure you back up the device in question even if the Screen Time passcode was set-up on another device)
- For iOS 12, you must check the Encrypt iPhone backup box
- Download the pinfinder’s latest version
- Once downloaded and installed, run it
- Within a few minutes, look for your Screen Time or restrictions passcode on screen
Don’t want to use pinfinder or similar third-party tools?
If you don’t want to use pinfinder or a similar tool and can’t remember the passcode, your only option other than to ignore it is to erase your device, then set it up as a new device to remove the passcode. Unless you made a backup before you forgot your passcode, there isn’t a way to save your device’s data. Erasing your device removes all of your data and settings.
No time? Check out our video on How To Reset Screen Time’s Passcode
There’s a high chance if you’ve been through all that, you never want to use Screen Time again!
But that would be a real shame. Screen Time offers an excellent opportunity to seize more control over your time. It allows you to ensure your devices work to improve your life instead of simply distracting you from it.
- Sign out of your Apple ID from the Settings app to disable Screen Time on your device, bypassing the passcode.
- I turned on the setting for Share Across Devices and I was able to set a new Screen Time passcode
- Try changing your iPhone unlock passcode from a six-digit number to a 4-digit alphanumeric passcode. Once changed, try using this 4 digit number for Screen Time’s passcode. It worked for me when nothing else did!
- What worked for me was restoring my iPhone from an ipsw file using iTunes. To do so, press the Alt/Option Key when selecting the Restore iPhone option in iTunes. For Windows, use the Shift key
- Before you do anything, try entering 1-2-3-4 , 1-1-1-1, or 0-0-0-0. Or even the first four digits of your device’s passcode. These 4 digits are often used as defaults
- If you get the message to “Try again in X Minutes,” go into your Settings > General > Date & Time and move the time forward. Then try entering another passcode
- A DFU restore would skip the passcode restriction and allow you to erase any iDevice
- I used a third-party tool called iPhone Backup Extractor to identify my Screen Time Passcode. It’s not free but saved me from having to reset my iPhone as new
Dan is a freelance writer based in South West England.
He spent two years supervising repairs as a Genius Admin for Apple Retail and uses that knowledge to keep our troubleshooting guides up to date.
Long before that, Dan turned to Apple products from a musical background. Having owned iPods for years, he bought a MacBook to learn sound recording and production. It was using those skills that he gained a first-class Bachelor of Science in Sound Technology.