If you've ever forgotten your iPhone passcode, you know how inconvenient it can be. All your contacts, photos, social media accounts and more are safely hidden between this lock screen, but you cannot access any of them.
Maybe you recently reset the password and can't remember what it was. Or maybe you haven't used the phone in a while, long enough to forget how to get into it.
Whatever the problem, Apple has made sure you can reset your forgotten password for iPhone (or iPad or iPod). Luckily, you recently backed up your device because you might lose some of your most recent data in the process.
Preparing to reset your iPhone passcode
Before resetting your password, you will need to choose a way to completely reset your device. Unfortunately, this is usually a prerequisite for resetting your iPhone passcode if you forgot it. Hence the backup comment – if you haven't backed up before, there is no backup of your device data.
Also, before proceeding, make sure you know the Apple password associated with the Apple ID logged into the phone. Once you perform a reset, your phone will restart fresh. But, as you go through the installation process, you will need the Apple ID and password to bypass Apple Activation Lock.
Recovery mode: step 1
In order for your phone to recognize that it will be reset without entering the password, you will need to put it into recovery mode. This is a combination of buttons used to operate your computer with your phone. The button combination varies by make and model, scroll down for specific instructions on your device.
iPhone 8 or newer
To reset a newer iPhone model, things have changed a bit. You will need to use your computer as you did with older models. Before logging in and following the reset options listed below, put your iPhone into recovery mode.
- Do not connect your phone to your computer yet. Long press the side button until the phone gives you the slider to power off. Drag the slider at the top of the screen and turn it off.
- Press volume up, then volume down, then long press the side button again while plugging it into your computer. Don't hold the three buttons together, slide the buttons in order.
If you did it correctly, your phone will look like the screenshot above.
If you have an iPhone 7 model, you can still reset your password, but it's a slightly different button combination:
- Plug the phone into your computer while pressing the volume down button. Hold the button until the recovery screen appears on the phone.
iPhone 6S or older
If you have an older model iPhone, you can still reset your password, but again, it's a slightly different button combination:
- Turn off your iPhone, plug it into your computer, and hold down the home button until the phone displays the recovery mode screen.
Recovery mode: step 2
If you've never synced with iTunes or set up Find My iPhone in iCloud, recovery mode is your only option for restoring your device — an exploit that will wipe the device and its passcode, letting you set one new.
- First, connect your iPhone to your computer and open iTunes. When your device is connected, force restart it by pressing and holding all three buttons (volume up, volume down, and sleep/wake.)
- You will be greeted with an option to restore or update. Select Restore. Your iPhone will then download the software for your device.
- Once the download process is complete, you can set up and use your device.
Alternate Method: Reset Your Password Using iTunes
If you have synced your device with iTunes before, you can erase your device and its password on the software. Just follow these steps:
- Connect your device to the computer you synced with and open iTunes (if prompted for a password, try another computer you synced with. If that doesn't work, use recovery mode.)
- Wait for iTunes to sync your device and perform a backup. Once sync and backup is complete, click Restore iPhone (or relevant device)
- Select your device in iTunes. Choose the most relevant backup based on date and size
- In the process of restoring your iOS device, you will reach the configuration screen. Here tap on Restore from iTunes Backup
Alternative Method: Remote Factory Reset Using iCloud
If you don't have your phone with you, but it's still connected to wifi or cellular data, you can perform the reset remotely. It will also work if you cannot access the phone even though it is with you. The only reason it won't work is that you have 2FA set up and can't receive the code from your registered phone number or another Apple device.
- Log in to iCloud and click "Find My iPhone".
- Click on the device to reset.
- Click “Erase iPhone”
As long as your device is connected to the internet, it will automatically erase all content and settings. Restart the phone, log into your Apple ID and set it up. You can choose to restore it from iCloud or set it up as a brand new device.
Initial setup of your iPhone passcode or when you know your passcode
You will be asked if you want to set up a password during the initial setup of the device. If you skip this step or set up a password and change your mind about it later, you can set or reset it later. Just follow these simple steps.
- Head toward Parameters
- Scroll down until you find Touch ID and passcode
- Select either Activate passcode or change passcode. The former will simply ask you to set a new passcode, while the latter will require you to enter your current passcode before changing a new one.
Simple. Until you forget your password and need to wipe the device and start over, in which case refer to the sections above.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will Apple reset a passcode?
Essentially no, but they can still help you if you can no longer access a device you purchased. Whether you don't know the Apple ID associated with the device or it's disabled, Apple will walk you through the steps to reset the device.
If you need a computer and don't have one, go to the nearest Apple store for help (your cell phone carrier probably won't have the option, so be prepared for a road trip if there is no Apple Store near you).
Assuming you don't have your Apple ID, password, or a way to get 2FA, call Apple Support for help. It may take several days for this information to update, you may need to provide the card registered with Apple, and you may need to provide proof of purchase (sorry, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist messages won't help not here).
Someone sold me an iPhone that is still locked. What can I do?
First of all, if you plan to buy an Apple device from an individual, make the transaction in your carrier's store. This will ensure that the device is activated and has no security issues.
If you have already purchased a device from a third-party store, visit that store and ask them to trade it in. Trust us, it's easier to get a new one.
If you purchased the device from an individual, it is entirely up to that individual to unlock it. Apple will not reset the original Apple ID or help you get the password.
It's so frustrating! Why is it so difficult to reset a password?
When tech users think of Apple, they think of extreme security. iPhones are a hot item for criminals, thieves, and even scammers to some extent. Assuming you've updated everything on your iPhone (contact number, email, backups, etc.), you'll have no problem resetting your phone.
Even if you need to replace your iPhone because it's now a useless clipboard due to Apple's security protocol, it's probably cheaper and less hassle than dealing with compromised bank accounts, Apple ID and photos or personal data exhibited.
I can unlock my phone but I forgot my screen passcode. What do I do?
Finally, with iOS 14, users have an easy way to change their screen passcode. All you need to do (other than make sure your phone is updated to iOS 14) is navigate to Settings and tap on the Screen Time option. From here, you can access the “Forgot Screen Time Password” option.
Enter the Apple ID information used to create the password and enter a new one. Confirm and you're done.
Do you have any tips, tricks, or questions about resetting the passcode on an Apple device? Let us know in the comment section below!