Forgot Your iPhone Passcode? Here's How to Fix It

Can't remember that passcode? We've got your iPhone fix

The iPhone's passcode feature is an important way to keep prying eyes out of your personal data, but what if you forgot your iPhone passcode?

If you forget your passcode and enter the wrong one six times, your iPhone will tell you it has been disabled. And, depending on your settings, entering the wrong passcode too many times could lead to your iPhone deleting all of its data. You don't want that!

Whether you've gotten this message or just know you've forgotten your iPhone passcode, follow these steps to regain access to your iPhone.

These directions work on all iPhone models. Although this article focuses on the iPhone, the steps also apply to the iPod touch and iPad.

Fix a Forgotten Passcode By Erasing Your iPhone

There's really only one way to fix it when you forget your iPhone passcode. You may not like it, but you have to erase all the data on your iPhone and restore your data from backup (assuming you have a backup, that is).

Erasing all data from your iPhone also erases the passcode that you forgot and lets you set up the phone again with a new passcode. It may seem extreme, but it makes sense from a security perspective. If your iPhone was stolen, you wouldn't want it to be easy to bypass the passcode and access your data.

The problem, of course, is that this approach erases all of the data on your iPhone. This isn't a problem if you have a recent backup of that data to restore onto your phone (this is a good reminder: make regular backups of the data on your iPhone!). But if you don't, you will lose anything added to your phone between when you last synced with iCloud or iTunes, and when you restore it.

Want to learn how to backup your iPhone? Check out How to Backup Your iPhone and How to Set up iCloud & Use iCloud Backup.

The Three Ways to Fix a Forgotten iPhone Passcode

There are three ways you can erase the data from your iPhone, remove the passcode, and start fresh: using iTunes, iCloud, or Recovery Mode.

  • iTunes: If you have physical access to your iPhone, sync it regularly with a computer, and have that computer nearby, this may be the easiest option. Get step-by-step instructions on using iTunes to erase and restore your iPhone in How to Restore Your iPhone From a Backup.
Restore iPhone button in iTunes
  • iCloud: If you've enabled Find My iPhone on your device, you can use iCloud to erase it. Use this option if you don't have access to the phone or if you sync your phone with iCloud and not iTunes. Check out these instructions on how to use iCloud to erase your iPhone.
Erase iPhone button in iCloud
  • Recovery Mode: This is your only option if you've never synced your phone with iTunes or iCloud. In that case, you probably won't have your data backed up and will lose what's on your phone. That's not good, but at least you'll be able to use your phone again. Read this to learn how to put your iPhone into Recovery Mode.
Person holding iPhone with Recovery Mode icons on the screen
 Shutterstock

What to Do After Erasing Your iPhone

No matter which of these options you use, you'll end up with an iPhone that's in the state it was when you first took it out of the box. You've got three options for your next step:

  • Setting up iPhone from scratch: Choose this if you want to start completely fresh with your iPhone and don't want to restore any data (or don't have any to restore). 
  • Restoring from backup: This is best if you have a backup of your data, either on iTunes or iCloud, and want to put it back onto your phone. We have the instructions for restoring an iPhone from backup
  • Redownloading content: Even if you didn't have a backup, virtually anything you've bought from the iTunes, App, and Apple Books Stores can be redownloaded to your device. Learn how to redownload iPhone purchases.

Then, set up a new passcode on your iPhone—and make sure it's one you can remember!

In some cases, you may run into a problem when restoring your iPhone that prevents you from completing the process. If you encounter this problem, learn how to solve it in How to Fix iPhone Error 4013.

What If You Forgot a Restrictions or Screen Time Passcode?

There's one other kind of passcode you may have on your iOS device: the passcode that protects Restrictions or Screen Time.

This passcode allows parents or IT administrators to block certain apps or features and prevents anyone who doesn't know the passcode from changing those settings. But what if you're the parent or administrator and you forget the passcode?

In that case, the options mentioned earlier for erasing and restoring from backup will work. If you don't want to do that, there are third-party programs that can help you bypass this passcode and regain access to your device. We haven't tested all of the options out there, so some research at your favorite search engine is your best bet for finding a tool that can help.

The Bottom Line About Forgetting an iPhone Passcode

The iPhone's passcode feature being strong is good for security, but bad if you forget your passcode. Don't let a forgotten passcode now stop you from using a passcode in the future; it's too important to security. Just make sure that next time you use a passcode that will be easier for you to remember (but not too easy to guess!)