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

Every user should set a passcode on their 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 instance—can access that information. Putting a passcode on your device makes that much harder. You have to have a passcode to use Face ID or Touch ID, but all users should create one.

How to Set a Passcode on iPhone

To set a passcode on your device, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Settings app on the Home screen.
  2. Tap Touch ID & Passcode (or Face ID & Passcode on iPhone X). 
  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).
  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, and you'll be asked to enter it when you unlock or turn on your iPhone or iPod touch. The passcode makes it extremely difficult for unauthorized users to access your phone.

How to Create a More-Secure Passcode

The six-digit passcode created by default is secure, but the longer your passcode, the more secure it is. So, if you have really sensitive information you need to protect, create a tougher passcode by following these steps:

  1. Create a passcode using the steps from the last section.
  2. On the Touch ID & Passcode (or Face ID & Passcode) screen, tap Change Passcode.
  3. Enter your current passcode.
  4. On the next screen, tap Passcode Options
  5. In the pop-up menu, tap Custom Alphanumeric Code (this is the most secure option, because it lets you create a passcode that uses both letters and numbers. If you want a longer passcode that's just numbers, tap Custom Numeric Code. An easier-to-remember, but less secure, code can be created if you tap 4-Digit Numeric Code).
  6. Enter a new passcode/password in the field provided. 
  7. Tap Next. If the code is too simple or easily guessed, a warning will ask you to create a new code.
  8. Re-enter the new passcode to confirm it and tap Done.

Touch ID and iPhone Passcode

All iPhones from the 5S through the iPhone 8 series (and a number of other Apple mobile devices) are equipped with the Touch ID fingerprint scanner. Touch ID takes the place of entering your passcode when purchasing 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.

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 using your face instead of your finger.

iPhone Passcode Options

Once you've set up a passcode on your phone, there are a number of options for 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 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.
  • 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, 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." You might not want a thief to be able to do this. 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 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.