How to Fix: I Forgot My iPad Password or Passcode

iPhone password
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We live in a password world. What's worse, we live in a world where we are supposed to keep a lot of different passwords for different devices and websites. That makes it pretty easy to forget one. But if you've forgotten your iPad's password or passcode, don't panic. We'll go through a few steps to determine which password has you stumped, how to recover a forgotten password and how to get back into an iPad that is locked with a passcode you cannot remember.

First: Let's Find Out Which Password You Forgot

There are two passwords associated with an iPad. The first is the password to your Apple ID. This is the account you use when you are purchasing apps, music, movies, etc. on your iPad. If you have forgotten the password for this account, you will no longer be able to download apps or purchase items from iTunes.

The second password is used after you wake your iPad up from suspend mode. It is used to lock your iPad until you put in the password and is commonly referred to as a "passcode." The passcode usually contains four or six numbers. If you have attempted to guess at this passcode, you may have already discovered the iPad will disable itself after a few missed attempts. 

We'll deal with the forgotten password for the Apple ID first. If you are completely locked out of your iPad because you don't remember the passcode, skip down a couple of steps to the section on "Forgotten Passcode."

Did You Recently Reset Your iPad?

If you recently reset your iPad to factory default, which puts it in a 'like new' state, the process for setting up the iPad can sometimes be confusing. One step in this process is to input the email address and password for the Apple ID associated with the iPad.

This is the same email address and password used for downloading apps and buying music on the iPad. So if you can remember the password you put in when downloading an app, you can try that same password to see if it works. 

How to Recover a Forgotten Apple ID

Forgot Apple ID or password? link on Apple ID webpage

If you haven't downloaded an app in a while, it can be easy to forget your Apple ID's password, especially considering how many passwords we must remember these days. Apple has a website set up for managing the Apple ID account, and this website can help with forgotten passwords.

First, go to appleid.apple.com.

Next, click Forgot Apple ID or password? on the bottom part of the screen just under the Manage Your Apple ID field.

Enter the email address associated with your Apple ID, then click the Continue button.

Email field on Apple ID website,

This will take you to a webpage that will allow you to recover your password by answering one of your security questions or reset your passwords via an email sent to the email address provided.

And that's it! You should be able to use the recovered or reset password to sign into your iPad.

Forgotten Password? The Easy Way to Get Back Into Your iPad

Sign in to iCloud.com webpage

If you have been wracking your brain for days trying to remember the passcode to your iPad, don't fret. There are several ways to deal with a forgotten passcode, but be aware, they all involve resetting the iPad to factory default settings. This means you will need to restore your iPad from a backup, so you'll want to make sure you really and truly have forgotten the passcode before proceeding. 

If you have been experimenting with different passcodes, you may have already disabled the iPad for a period of time. Each missed passcode attempt will disable it for a longer period of time until the iPad will not longer accept attempts. 

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The easiest way to deal with a passcode that escapes your memory is to use iCloud to reset your iPad. The Find My iPad feature has the ability to reset your iPad remotely. This would normally be used if you want to make sure anyone who finds (or who stole) your iPad won't be able to get at any personal information, but a side benefit is that you can easily wipe your iPad without using your iPad.

Of course, you'll need to have to Find My iPad turned on for this to work. Don't know if you turned it on? Follow these instructions to see if your device shows up on the list.

Go to www.icloud.com in a web browser.

Sign into iCloud when prompted.

Click on Find My iPhone.

Find iPhone icon on iCloud.com webpage

When the map comes up, click All Devices at the top and choose your iPad from the list.

When the iPad is selected, a window appears in the top-left corner of the map. This window has three buttons: Play Sound, Lost Mode (which locks the iPad down) and Erase iPad.

Verify that the device name just above these buttons is, in fact, your iPad. You don't want to erase your iPhone by mistake!

Erase iPad button on map interface to Find iPad

Tap the Erase iPad button and follow the directions. It'll ask you to verify your choice. Once done, your iPad will begin resetting.

Erase iPad confirmation button on map interface for Find my iPad

Your iPad will need to be charged and connected to the Internet for this to work, so it is a good idea to plug it in while it is resetting.

The Almost-As-Easy Option to Deal With a Forgotten Passcode

Device icon in iTunes on macOS

If you have ever synced your iPad to iTunes on your PC, whether to transfer music and movies to it or simply back the device up on your computer, you can restore it using the PC. However, you must have trusted that computer sometime in the past, so if you've never hooked up your iPad to your PC, this option won't work.

To restore via the PC:

Connect your iPad to the PC you normally use to sync and boot up iTunes.

The first thing that will happen is iTunes will sync with the iPad.

Wait until this process finishes, then tap your device in the Devices section of the left-side menu.

Next, tap the Restore button.

Restore iPad button in iTunes

The Not-As-Easy Option to Hack Your iPad

Even if you haven't turned on Find My iPad and you've never plugged your iPad into your PC, you can reset the iPad by going into recovery mode. However, you will need to plug it into a PC with iTunes. If you don't have iTunes, you can download it from Apple, and if you don't have a PC at all, you can use a friend's computer.

Here's the trick:

  1. Quit iTunes if it is open on your PC.
  2. Connect the iPad to your PC using the cable that came with your iPad.
  3. If iTunes doesn't automatically open, launch it by clicking on the icon.
  4. Hold down both the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button on the iPad and keep holding them even when the Apple logo appears. When you see the graphic of the iPad being connected to iTunes, you can release the buttons.
  5. You should be prompted to Restore or Update the iPad. Choose Restore and follow the directions.
  6. It will take a few minutes to restore the iPad, which will power off and power back on during the process. Once it is finished, you will be prompted to set up the iPad just as you did when you first purchased it. You can choose to restore from a backup during this process.