How to Unlock an iPad Without a Passcode

Forgot the password? Don't worry, you won't be locked out for good

What to Know

  • If you don't have the passcode, you can't unlock an iPad.
  • You can erase the iPad and start over, so while the data will be gone, you will be able to use the iPad itself again.
  • If you do know the passcode but the iPad is locked, just wait until the iPad lets you try again.

This article explains what to do if your iPad is disabled, either because you entered the wrong passcode too many times or because you forget your passcode and can't unlock it.

Facing this situation with an iPhone instead of an iPad? We've got instructions on how to fix an iPhone when you've forgotten the passcode.

How to Unlock a Disabled iPad

If you enter the wrong passcode when trying to unlock your iPad too many times in a row, your iPad may become disabled. Sometimes, the screen will show that your iPad is Disabled. In other cases, it may ask you to try again in 5 minutes, or tell you that your iPad is disabled for many days or years (that's not really true; it just means that you should wait a minute), or to connect to your computer.

iPad with Disabled message
Apple Inc.

This happens because the passcode is a security measure. If you enter the wrong passcode too many times, your iPad assumes that you must not be the owner and that this is an attempt to break into it. Temporarily disabling the iPad stops that.

If you still know the correct passcode, and just entered the wrong thing, the problem is easy to solve: Just wait a few minutes. Once the disabled message disappears from the screen, try unlocking it again and, if you use the right passcode, it will work and you'll be back to using your iPad.

How to Unlock an iPad Without the Passcode

The bigger challenge is how to unlock an iPad when you either don't know the passcode or have forgotten it. In that case, there's bad news: your only option is to put your iPad into Recovery Mode, totally erase the data from your iPad, and set it up fresh. Hopefully, you have a recent backup of your data and can restore that onto your iPad.

Here's how to factory reset an iPad without the passcode:

  1. Make sure your iPad isn't connected to a computer using a cable or over Wi-Fi.

  2. Turn off your iPad. How you do this depends on the model you have:

    • iPads with Face ID: Press and hold the Top button and either volume button.
    • iPads without Face ID: Press and hold the Top button.

    The Slide to Power Off slider appears, let go of the buttons and move the slider.

  3. Again, the next step depends on what model you have:

    • iPads with Face ID: Using a cable, connect your iPad to your computer while holding down the Top button.
    • iPads without Face ID: Using a cable, connect your iPad to your computer while holding down the Home button.
    Recovery Mode instructions for iPad with Home button
    Apple Inc.
    Recovery Mode instructions for iPad with Face ID
     Apple Inc.
  4. If your iPad boots up like normal, you haven't done it right and need to try steps 2 and 3 again.

    However, If you see the Recovery Mode screen—an icon of a computer with a cable pointing it—you're ready to proceed. (see image above)

  5. On your Mac or PC, you need to follow the onscreen steps to Restore your iPad.

    • macOS Catalina (10.15) or higher: Open a new Finder window and click your iPad in the left sidebar.
    • macOS 10.14 or earlier, or Windows: Open iTunes and click the iPad icon at the top left corner.
  6. Click Restore. This erases your iPad and restores it to factory settings. Click any onscreen pop-ups to proceed.

    Screenshot of restoring an iPad on the Mac
  7. When your iPad is erased, you'll go through the standard set-up steps.

  8. If you have a recent backup of your data that you want to use, when you get to the screen about how to set up your iPad, choose Restore from Backup.

    Learn much more about restoring an iPad from backup.