Screen Time is a useful app for putting a barrier between yourself and unhealthy digital habits, such as excessive scrolling on social media. You don’t necessarily need to use a passcode, but doing so is possible. However, you may want to set up one to add another layer of resistance — and if you do that, it’s worth knowing how to reset your Screen Time passcode.
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When you set up a passcode in Screen Time, it’s different from your device’s dedicated passcode. To ensure that you know how to manage this, we’ve written this complete guide for you on how to reset how to reset the Screen Time passcode (even if you’ve forgotten or never had it)!Quick ti
Before we get into the thick of this article, use these quick tips to reset your Screen Time passcode:
- For problems with just macOS Catalina and later, log out and back into your Apple ID/iCloud account.
- For iPhones, iPads and iPods, try signing out of your Apple ID/iCloud, turn off Screen Time in your settings app and then sign in again with your Apple ID/iCloud.
- Some users found that they only needed to sign out of their Apple ID and sign back in to reset the Screen Time passcode.
- Try using Screen Time Recovery; you’ll need an email address to gain access to this feature.
- 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.
What Is Screen Time in iOS, iPadOS, and macOS?
In addition to knowing how to reset your Screen Time passcode, it’s also a good idea to understand what the Screen Time feature is.
Screen Time is a tool aimed at helping users gain more control over how they spend their time online. The feature was introduced in iOS and iPadOS 12, while macOS users received the tool with macOS Catalina. You can monitor app usage and how long you spend on your devices, along with setting restrictions for specific apps and websites.
In addition to using Screen Time on your own, you can also set up Screen Time for the entire family.
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 (more on that feature in a moment). App Limits creates a time limit for app usage in categories such as Social Networking (e.g. Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat) and Entertainment (e.g. Netflix).
- Always Allowed provides constant access to 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.
- App Limits sets 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.
- 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.
- Communication Limits allow you to determine who’s allowed to contact you during Screen Time and Downtime.
What Is the Screen Time Passcode?
The Screen Time passcode is a four-digit code that you set on your device. You can use this passcode to bypass daily time limits you set for apps if you need to, and they’re also required when you activate Screen Time on a child’s device or access Content & Privacy Restrictions on any device.
As mentioned earlier, the 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 Set Up a Passcode in Screen Time
Setting up your Screen Time passcode is pretty similar, regardless of whether you use an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. On your iPhone or iPad, you’ll need to go to Settings > Screen Time > Use Screen Time Passcode. You’ll then see a prompt to enter your passcode.
On macOS, you should go to System Settings > Screen Time and toggle Use Screen Time Passcode on.
How to reset the Screen Time Password on Older Versions of macOS
If you have problems with your Mac only, and you use an older version of macOS, logging out of your Apple ID/iCloud might be your best option.
- Open System Preferences.
- Click your Apple ID.
- Choose Overview.
- Click Sign Out.
- We advise you to keep a copy of your iCloud data on your Mac before you sign out, select the checkboxes and select Keep a Copy.
- It’s also a good idea to keep a copy of your Safari passwords on your Mac, for Safari passwords choose to Keep on This Mac.
- Then, go to 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.
- Sign back into your Apple ID/iCloud account.
For more details, check out these step-by-step instructions on how to sign out and in to iCloud on macOS Catalina+.
How to Reset Your Screen Time Passcode (Newer Versions of macOS)
Resetting your Screen Time passcode is more straightforward if you use a computer running on macOS Ventura or later. Here are the steps you should follow.
- Open System Settings and go to Screen Time.
- Go to Use Screen Time Passcode and select Change Passcode.
- If you suddenly remember your code, you can enter it and follow the remaining instructions. But if you still don’t remember your passcode, select Forgot Passcode?.
- Enter the email address associated with your Apple ID and click Next.
- Sign into your email account and find the email that Apple sent you. Follow the instructions to reset your passcode.
If you’ve forgotten your Apple ID login details, please read this guide on the Apple Support page.
- Go to Settings > Screen Time > Change Screen Time Passcode.
- Select Change Screen Time Passcode when the two options appear.
- Click on Forgot Passcode? when prompted to enter your old passcode.
- Enter your Apple ID and password.
- Go to the email address associated with your Apple ID and check for instructions on resetting your Screen Time passcode.
If Screen Time Recovery Didn’t Work…
For older operating, you might not be able to use the recovery feature. If the steps listed didn’t help you, you can try the options listed below.
Sign Out and Back Into Your Apple ID
Some readers discovered that if they signed out of their Apple ID, Screen Time automatically disabled the passcode and allowed them to reset it after signing back in
- Go to Settings > Apple ID Profile.
- Scroll down and tap Sign Out.
- If you see options to sign out of iCloud and Store, iCloud only, or Store only, choose Sign Out of iCloud.
- Enter your Apple ID password and tap Turn Off.
- We advise you to keep a copy of your data on your device.
- Tap Sign Out.
- Tap Sign Out again to confirm that you want to sign out of iCloud.
- Once signed out, restart your device.
- Sign back into your Apple ID.
- Check Screen Time and see if you can set up a new passcode or choose to not use a passcode.
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 or Finder 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.
Note that if although Apple discontinued iTunes in 2019, you can download older versions of iTunes from the Apple website.
Use PinFinder to Reset the Screen Time Passcode for iOS 7 through iOS 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 included.
Some readers saved a backup to their computer (Windows or Mac) using iTunes and then used PinFinder to get the passcode.
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.
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…
Try entering any four digits that you will remember in the future — or better yet, write the passcode down for future reference.
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.
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 13+, 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 people still 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 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!
- Bryan recommends the following process when you can’t change the screen time password and your iPhone won’t sign out its Apple ID or restore it from an encrypted backup.
1. Turn off Find My.
2. Create Encrypted Backup.
3. Turn On Find My.
4. Go to icloud.com/find, login and find the iPhone.
5. Use erase to find my iPhone to reset the device.
6. Sign back on to iPhone as you got it back – do not set up touch ID or passcode.
7. Restore backup from iTunes.
8. Run setup – do not setup passcode or Touch ID.
9. Turn off screen time – no passcode should be needed.
10. Let all the apps reload from Apple Store.
11. Use Finish iPhone Setup to setup passcode and Touch ID.
- Toggle off Screen Time’s Share Across Devices on all your Apple devices including Macs. Once I did that, things work again!
- Sign out of your Apple ID from the Settings app to disable Screen Time on your device, bypassing the passcode.
- All I did was sign out of my Apple ID and signed back in. This reset my Screen Time passcode with little fuss!
- 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 dour 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.
Resetting Your Screen Time Passcode: Everything You Should Know
Knowing how to reset your Screen Time passcode is essential if you plan to use the feature on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Truth be told, it’s much easier to create a new code if you have a newer version of Apple’s operating software on your respective device. In those cases, you simply need to enter your Apple ID and go to your email address after prompting that you forgot your passcode.
Having said that, it is still possible on older Apple devices to reset your Screen Time passcode. Just expect the process to be more arduous. If you have any other tips for resetting a passcode in Screen Time, let us know in the comments below!
Danny is a freelance writer who has been using Apple products for over a decade. He’s written for some of the largest technology publications on the web and previously worked as an in-house writer before carving his own route. Danny grew up in the UK, but now writes about tech from his Scandinavian base.