How to Reset Android Lock Screen Password and PIN

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For owners of smartphones or tablets with fingerprint scanners, the ability to access your phone with a simple touch or swipe of your finger is a wonderful convenience. Then again, they also make it easier to forget your password and PIN number since you don't have to manually input them regularly like you used to.

It’s an oversight that could be quite problematic should your phone or tablet suddenly require your PIN number at its lock screen for some reason.

This happened to me recently while reviewing a ​Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, for example, causing me to get stuck on the lock screen while being allowed just nine attempts to guess my password. Ruh-roh.

If you own an Android device, though, don’t despair. As long as it’s linked to a Google account of yours — which it very well likely is given how it’s pretty much a necessary part of the Android experience — you can reset your PIN or password remotely via the web browser or app version of Android Device Manager.

Here are the steps you need to take to reset your PIN or password remotely so you can access your Android phone or tablet again. For folks who may have misplaced their Android phone or had it stolen, make sure to check out our tutorial on How to Track Down Your Lost Android Phone. Now onward to the requisite steps to remotely reset your Android smartphone or tablet.

Reset Your Android Device

  1. First, you’ll want to make sure your that your locked phone or tablet is on. See, Android Device Manager needs either a mobile or Wi-Fi signal emanating from your locked device in order to communicate with it. Now, if you locked yourself out while it’s on Airplane Mode, well, I’m not sure what to tell you.
  1. Launch Android Device Manager via an app on another device or by typing “android device manager” on the search box of your web browser and going to its site. The actual web address is https://www.google.com/android/devicemanager. Make sure you log on with the Google account associated with your locked device.
  1. Once you’re on Android Device Manager, you’ll bring up essentially the same screen regardless of whether you’re on a browser or app. This screen includes a map as well as a box that shows the devices associated with your Google account. If you have more than one device associated, just look for the specific one that got locked. If it’s not the first device shown, just tap the device name on the screen to bring up a menu of all devices connected to your account. Tap on the correct one.
  2. With the correct device highlighted, you now have a few options. You’ll see “Ring,” “Lock,” and “Erase.” Ring is used for locating your phone if you misplaced it somewhere in your house. Erase is for phones that you lost outside your house and you want to do a factory reset to make sure whoever finds it can’t access your personal stuff. For folks who forgot their lock screen passwords, however, tapping on “Lock” is the way to go. This will launch a screen that allows you to change the lock screen PIN for your device. Enter your new PIN and wait until you get a prompt that says Android Manager has sent the the info about the change to your phone.
  3. Bring up the lock screen of your locked device once again and you will now have an option to enter your new pin (sometimes, it might take a minute or so for it to pop out). Enter the pin and voila, your device should now be unlocked.

    There will be times when things won’t go smoothly. Sometimes, you might get a message that says “Location unavailable” and you’ll need to do the scan again a few times. The process also may not work if you have location services turned off for your device or made it hidden via Google Play. To ensure full compatibility with Android Device Manager in the future in case of emergency, the easiest way is to download the “Google Settings” app, tap on “Security,” and turn on the check marks for remotely locating the device and allowing remote lock and erase.

    For more tips and features about mobile devices check our Android articles or visit the Tablet and Smartphone hub