How to Set a Passcode on iPhone and iPod Touch

Setting Up and Using a Passcode to Protect Your iPhone and iPod touch

Close-up of iphone with passcode screen

Apple

Set a passcode on your iPhone or iPod touch. This essential security measure protects all the personal information — financial details, photos, emails and texts, and more — that's stored on your mobile device. Without a passcode, anyone who has physical access to your device — like a thief, for example — can access that information. Putting a passcode on your device introduces a strong layer of security for your sensitive data.

You must establish a passcode to use Face ID or Touch ID.

All currently supported versions of iOS support passcodes. To use Touch ID, you'll need an iPhone 6 through iPhone 8, or a current-generation iPod touch; to use Face ID, you'll need an iPhone X or newer. Apple did not release an iPhone 9.

How to Set a Passcode on iPhone

To set a passcode on your device:

  1. Tap the Settings app on the Home screen.

  2. Tap Touch ID & Passcode (or Face ID & Passcode on iPhone X or newer devices). If you've already registered a passcode, you must enter it before the settings screen will open.

  3. Tap Turn Passcode On.

  4. Enter a 6-digit passcode. Choose something you can easily remember. Here's how to deal with forgetting your passcode).

    Face ID & Passcode, Change Passcode, Enter your passcode in iOS Settings
  5. Confirm the passcode by entering the same passcode again.

  6. You may also be asked to log into your Apple ID. If so, enter your Apple ID password and tap Continue.

That's all it takes! Your iPhone is now secured by a passcode. You'll be asked to enter it when you unlock or turn on your iPhone or iPod touch. The passcode makes it difficult for unauthorized users to access your phone.

Touch ID and iPhone Passcode

All iPhones from the 5S through the iPhone 8 series (and several other Apple mobile devices) are equipped with the Touch ID fingerprint scanner. Touch ID takes the place of entering your passcode when you purchase items from the iTunes Store and App Store, authorizing Apple Pay transactions, and unlocking your device. There are some cases in which you may be asked to enter your passcode for additional security, such as after restarting the device.

If you've had your iPhone repaired, you're potentially vulnerable to the Touch ID-related error 53. Learn about iPhone error 53 and how to fix it.

Face ID and iPhone Passcode

On the iPhone X, the Face ID facial recognition system replaced Touch ID. It performs the same functions as Touch ID — entering your passcode, authorizing purchases, etc. — but does it by scanning your face instead of your finger.

iPhone Passcode Options

After you've set up a passcode on your phone, fine-tune what you can or can't do without entering the passcode (either by typing it, or by using Touch ID or Face ID). The passcode options include:

  • Require Passcode: This option controls how long your iPhone remains unlocked when you're not using it. The faster the screen locks, the more secure your phone is from people looking to snoop. The trade-off is that you may have to enter your passcode more often.

Too many unsuccessful attempts to unlock your iPhone with the wrong passcode will disable it. Learn how to fix this problem in how to fix "iPhone is disabled" error.

  • Voice Dial: Move this slider to on/green to let you make calls ("Call mom at work") by speaking to your iPhone without unlocking. You may not want this option set, though. Many people have "home" or "dad" or something similar in their iPhone address book. A thief who has your phone wouldn't need the passcode to tell the phone to call one of those contacts.
  • Today View: This view of Notification Center contains information about your calendar and your day. Leave the slider set to off/white to require your passcode to view it.
  • Recent Notifications: This is similar to the Today View setting, but provides access to a larger set of recent notifications from apps, rather than just Today.
  • Control Center: Want to access the options and shortcuts in Control Center without unlocking your iPhone? Move the slider to on/green.
  • Siri: On the iPhone 4S and up, you can access Siri from the lock screen by holding down the Home button (or, on more recent models, the Side button). This allows someone to access some features of your phone even if it is protected by a passcode. You can block Siri from operating without a passcode by moving this slider to off/white.
  • Reply with Message: This lets you send a text message from the lock screen to someone calling you — often something like "Call you in 10 minutes." Move the slider to off/white to disable Reply with Message.
  • Home Control: iOS 10 introduced the Home app, which controls smart-home devices. This setting prevents anyone with your phone from sending instructions to your HomeKit security, lighting, and other devices.
  • Return Missed Calls: With this option enabled, you can return a missed called from the lock screen, without entering the passcode.
  • Erase Data: The ultimate way to keep your data away from prying eyes. Move this slider to on/green and when someone enters an incorrect passcode 10 times on your device, all the data on the device is automatically deleted. Not a great choice if you forget your passcode regularly, but it can be a powerful security tool.