How to Fix: I Forgot My iPad Password or Passcode

Get back into your iPad with these tips

iPhone password screen
Shutterstock

The iPad has multiple passwords associated with it. The first is the passcode, which you use to unlock your iPad when you wake it from sleep. Another optional passcode is the one you can create to block and restrict content from other people who share the tablet. Most important, however, is the Apple ID password that unlocks the App Store and other Apple services.

If you forgot your iPad passcode, you won't be able to use your device. Every time you type it in wrong, you risk the hardware staying locked for an increasingly long amount of time (this is a security feature to stop people from continually entering codes until they guess yours). If you forgot your Apple ID password, you can use your iPad, but some functions such as downloading apps or saving files to iCloud may be unavailable.

If you lose your Apple ID password or passcode, here are some methods you can use to recover them.

How to Recover a Forgotten Apple ID

If you haven't downloaded an app in a while and have turned on Touch ID for App Store purchases, it can be easy to forget your Apple ID password. Apple has a website set up for managing the Apple ID account, and it can help with forgotten passwords. Here's how to use it.

  1. Click Forgot Apple ID or password on the bottom part of the screen just under the Manage Your Apple ID field.

    Forgot Apple ID or password? link on Apple ID webpage
  2. Enter the email address associated with your Apple ID, and then click the Continue button.

    Click Continue after you enter your Apple ID to recover your password
  3. Confirm your phone number, and then click Continue.

    Confirming a phone number to reset an Apple ID password
  4. Apple will send notifications to every device that's signed in to your ID. Tap (or click) Allow, and then follow the instructions to reset your password.

    Resetting Apple ID on another iOS device
  5. If you can't use another phone, iPad, or Mac, click Don't have access to your devices at the bottom of the page on the Apple ID site.

    Don't have access to any of your devices option on Apple ID site
  6. The next page provides additional options to reset your Apple ID password. You can either:

    • If you're setting up an iOS device for the first time, you can set a new password then.
    • Use Find My iPhone on a friend's iPhone or iPad by signing them out of it and then tapping the forgotten password link in the app.
    • Take your device to an Apple Store and use Find My iPhone to reset there.
    Other options for resetting Apple ID on an iPad
  7. One of these options should get you set up with a new Apple ID password.

How to Recover a Forgotten iPad Passcode

No long-term trick exists to get past the passcode you need to unlock your iPad. You can use Touch ID or Face ID to bypass it for a time, but after the iPad reboots, you'll have to enter the passcode.

The only way to fix the problem of a forgotten passcode is to reset the iPad to factory default settings. This means erasing everything on the iPad, but during the setup process, you will have the opportunity to restore your iPad from a backup.

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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.

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

  2. Sign in to iCloud when prompted.

    If you have two-factor authentication set up on your account, a code will go to all of your Apple devices. You'll need this code to continue signing in to iCloud.

    Sign in to iCloud.com webpage
  3. Click Find My iPhone.

    Find iPhone icon on iCloud.com webpage
  4. When the map comes up, click All Devices at the top and choose your iPad from the list.

    How to erase iPad remotely
  5. When you click the name of your iPad, a window appears in the 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.

    How to erase iPad remotely
  6. 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 button on map interface to Find iPad
  7. Your iPad will need to be charged and connected to the internet for this to work, so it's a good idea to plug it in while it is resetting.

How to Deal With a Lost Passcode Using iTunes

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:

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

  2. The first thing that will happen is iTunes will sync with the iPad. Wait until this process finishes, and then click the Device icon at the top of the screen.

    Device icon in iTunes on macOS
  3. Next, click the Restore button.

    Restore iPad button in iTunes
  4. Your computer will erase your iPad. Set up a new passcode when your iPad restarts.

Accessing Your iPad Using Recovery Mode

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 afterward. 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 how to do it:

  1. Connect the iPad to your PC using the cable that came with your iPad. Launch iTunes.

  2. 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 connected to iTunes, you can release the buttons.

  3. You can choose to Restore or Update the iPad. Select Restore and follow the directions.

  4. It will take a few minutes to restore the iPad, which will power off and power back on during the process. Once it restarts, 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.