How to Reset Your iPhone Passcode
If you have ever forgotten your iPhone passcode, you know how inconvenient it can be. All your contacts, photos, social media accounts, and more are safely tucked away between that lock screen – but you can not get to any of them.
Maybe you recently reset the passcode, and can not for the life of you remember what it was. Or maybe you have not used the phone for a while, long enough to forget how to get in there.
Whatever the problem, Apple has made sure you can reset your forgotten iPhone (or iPad or iPod) passcode. Hopefully, you backed up your device recently though, as you might lose some of your most recent data from the process.
Preparing to Reset Your iPhone Passcode
Before you reset your passcode, you are going to need to pick a way to fully reset your device. Unfortunately, this is usually a prerequisite for resetting your iPhone passcode if you have forgotten it. Hence the backup comment – if you did not back up prior, there is no saving your device’s data.
Also, before proceeding make sure that you know the Apple password associated with the Apple ID that is logged in on the phone. Once you perform a reset, your phone will start over brand new. But, as you go through the setup process you will need the Apple ID and password to bypass Apple’s Activation Lock.
Recovery Mode: Step 1
To get your phone to recognize that it will be reset without entering the passcode you will need to put it in Recovery Mode. This is a button combination used to make your computer work 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 model iPhone, things have changed a bit. You will need to use your computer just as you did with older models. Before connecting and following the reset options listed below, put your iPhone into recovery mode.
- Do not plug your phone into your computer just yet. Long-press the side button until the phone gives you the slider to power down. Drag the slider across the top of the screen and turn it off.
- Press the up volume, then the down volume, then long-press the side button again while plugging it into your computer. Do not hold the three buttons together, feather the buttons in sequence.
If you have done this properly, your phone will resemble the screenshot above.
If you have an iPhone 7 model, you can still reset your passcode but it is a slightly different button combination:
- Plug the phone into your computer while pressing the volume down button. Keep holding the button until the recovery screen appears on the phone.
iPhone 6S or Older
If you have an older iPhone model, you can still reset your passcode but again, it is a slightly different button combination:
- Turn your iPhone off, plug it into your computer, and hold 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 – a feat that will erase the device and its passcode, allowing you to set a new one.
- First, connect your iPhone to your computer and open iTunes. When your device is connected, force restart it by holding down all three buttons (volume up, volume down, and wake/sleep.)
- You’ll be met with an option to Restore or Update. Select Restore. Your iPhone will then download software for your device.
- When the downloading process has finished, you can set up and use your device.
Alternative Method: Reset your passcode using iTunes
If you’ve previously synced your device with iTunes, you can erase your device and its passcode on the software. Just follow these steps:
- Connect your device to the computer you sync with, and open iTunes (if you’re asked for a passcode, try another computer you’ve synced with. If this doesn’t work, resort to recovery mode.)
- Wait for iTunes to sync your device and make a backup. When the sync and backup are completed, click Restore iPhone (or relevant device)
- Select your device in iTunes. Pick the most relevant backup according to date and size
- In the process of restoring your iOS device, you’ll reach the Set Up screen. Here, tap Restore from iTunes backup
Alternative Method: Factory Reset Remotely 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. This will also work if you’re unable to access the phone even if it’s with you. The only reason this won’t work is if you have 2FA set up and can’t receive the code to your phone number on file 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, sign in to your Apple ID and set it up. You can choose to restore it from iCloud or set it up as a brand new device.
Setting Your iPhone Passcode Initially or When You Know Your Passcode
You’ll be asked if you want to set up a passcode upon the initial setup of the device. If you skip this step – or if you set up a passcode and change your mind about it later, you can set or reset it later. Just follow these simple steps.
- Head to Settings
- Scroll down until you find Touch ID and Passcode
- Select either Turn Passcode On or Change Passcode. The former will require you simply to set a new passcode, while the latter will require you to enter your current passcode before changing to a new one.
Simple. Until you forget your passcode and have to erase the device and start afresh, 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’re locked out of a device that 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, visit the nearest Apple location for more assistance (your cell phone carrier likely won’t have the option so get ready for a road trip if there isn’t an Apple Store near you).
Assuming you don’t have your Apple ID, the password, or a way to get the 2FA, call Apple support for assistance. It can take several days to get this information updated, you may have to provide the card on file with Apple, and you may have to provide proof of purchase (sorry, Facebook’s Marketplace and Craigslist messages won’t help here).
Someone sold me an iPhone that is still locked. What can I do?
First, if you’re thinking about buying an Apple device from an individual, perform the transaction at your carrier’s store. This will ensure the device is activated and has no security issues.
If you’ve already purchased a device from a third-party store, visit that store and have them exchange it. Trust us, it’s easier to just get a new one.
If you purchased the device from an individual, it is completely up to that individual to unlock it. Apple will not reset the original Apple ID nor will they help you get the passcode.
This is so frustrating! Why is it so hard to reset a passcode?
When tech users think of Apple they think of over-the-top security. iPhones are a highly sought item for criminals, thieves, and even to some extent scammers. Assuming you have kept everything up-to-date on your iPhone (the contact number, email, backups, etc.) you won’t have any issue resetting your phone.
Even if you have to replace your iPhone because it is now a useless paperweight due to Apple’s security protocol, it is likely less costly and less of a hassle than dealing with compromised bank accounts, Apple ID, and exposed photos or personal data.
I can unlock my phone but I forgot my screen time passcode. What do I do?
Finally, with iOS 14, users have a simple way to change their screen time passcode. All you need to do (aside from making sure that your phone is updated with iOS 14) is navigate to Settings and tap on the Screen Time option. From here you can access the ‘Forgot Screen Time Passcode’ option.
Enter the Apple credentials used to create the passcode and enter a new one. Confirm and you’re done.
Do you have any tips, tricks or questions relating to resetting the passcode on an Apple device? Let us know in the comment section below!