Please note: This article is still relevant but there is a newer version which you may want to read. You can find it here.
So you don’t know or have forgotten the passcode on your iPhone and you can’t access it.
It’s an awful moment.
Don’t panic, there is something you can do about it so that you can access your device again.
I have 2 different methods that you can try in order to gain access to your iPhone again.
This particular set of fixes are for iOS 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 iPhones.
This means it is suitable for the newest devices that are on the latest version of the iOS operating system software.
They won’t work on very old versions such as iOS 6 or earlier.
However, I do have instructions for older iPhones to unlock iOS 6 passcodes.
What version iOS does your iPhone have?
If you don’t know what version of iOS your iPhone has installed then you need to find out.
As a rule of thumb if you have an iPhone 5c or iPhone 5s or newer then it is likely you have iOS 7 or newer installed.
If you have an older model of iPhone then you may have iOS 6 or older.
The reason I say you may have iOS 6 or older is that the iPhone 4 and 4S were capable of running iOS 7 so may have been upgraded.
There was a lot of hype around iOS 7 as it changed iOS’s entire look – so everyone that could get it, generally upgraded.
The passcode failure process
After 6 failed attempts to enter your passcode, your device will show a message that says “iPhone is Disabled” in red.
Your iPhone will also say that you can try again after 1 minute.
Once the minute is up you can try to enter your passcode again to try and unlock it.
7 failed attempts lock you out for 5 minutes, eight for 15 minutes, and nine 1 hour.
After 10 failed attempts, your iPhone will lock you out completely.
Once completely locked out your device will show the “iPhone is Disabled” together with “Connect to iTunes” message.
You can access your Phone data if you have forgotten your passcode number.
There are 2 ways of doing it.
- You can try the iOS lock screen bypass trick to access some of your data
- You can erase your iPhone and restore all your data to it
This bypass worked on iOS 8.02 but Apple have fixed it in newer versions so please be aware that it will not work on iOS 9 or 10.
If you don’t have iOS 8.02 then use Method 2 instead.
In addition, the bypass only works if:
- you have Siri enabled on your device
- you have a sim removal tool to hand
1. From the lock screen press and hold the home button to start Siri.
2. Say to Siri “show me all my messages…”.
3. You will be asked to unlock the device to send the message which, of course, you can’t do. Yet.
4. Keep Siri on the screen and use the sim removal tool to eject your sim from your iPhone or iPad. Make sure it completely disconnects from the internet – to ensure the device does not connect to wi-fi.
5. Pop the sim back into the iPhone or iPad again.
6. While the device reconnects to the phone network edit the Siri message that appears on the screen adding “please” at the beginning so it says “please show me all my message”.
You can edit Siri text by simply tapping on the text written on the screen. The keyboard will pop up and you will be able to add text.
Don’t hit the “done” button until the device has re-connected to the phone network.
7. After you hit “done” Siri will process the command. It may bring up a message that says “content not available”. If it does this simply speak the request to Siri again.
8. Now ask Siri to create a new message. Something like “Siri, please send a message to…” and say the name of someone that appears on your contact list. Say “Hi there” as the message.
9. Siri will now ask you if you want to send the message. Don’t say anything – tap on the message text. This should send you into the message App on your iPhone instead of showing the message on the lock screen.
10. Once in the message App click the home button and you will be able to access the device as if it has been unlocked.
The video below shows you this bypass in action.
The instructions you need to unlock your iOS 7,8,9 or 10 devices depends on how you have been backing it up — using iTunes or iCloud. Or if you have never backed it up.
- If you have backed up your iPhone to iTunes
- If you have never backed up or synced your iPhone to iTunes
- If you don’t have access to a computer
How to unlock your iPhone passcode if you have previously synced your iOS 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 device to iTunes
1. Sync your iOS 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 iPad or iPhone to your computer. Don’t worry, you can synchronize your device even if it is locked. The synchronization process creates a complete backup of everything on your device – Apps, photos, etc.
The video below explains how to synchronize an iPhone if you are unsure.
2. While your iOS 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 device is still connected to your computer perform a “hard reboot”. You do this by holding down the power and home buttons at the same time. As soon as the Apple logo appears on the screen, let go of the power button but keep the home button pressed until you see a “Connect to iTunes” message appear on the screen.
3. On your computer screen, you will see an iTunes message that says that a phone in recovery mode has been detected. You are prompted to choose whether you want to restore your iPhone to factory settings or restore it from a backup.
If you want to put all of your personal information, contacts, messages, etc. back on to your phone, be sure to choose to restore it from the backup you performed in step 1.
The video below shows how the restore process works if you are unsure.
4. As part of the restore process, your passcode will be erased. However, all of your data will be restored from your backup. You should now be able to access it without any problems.
If you prefer, you can use the iOS erase and restore instructions from Apple.
Did you find this iPhone fix helpful?
If you found this fix helpful please take a moment to tweet, like, or share this article by using the buttons at the top of this page. I’d really appreciate it. 🙂
Also, if you are feeling extra generous after having your issue solved please leave some encouraging feedback in the comments section at the bottom of the page. I love getting feedback from visitors. It encourages me to find further solutions to those awkward little iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and Mac problems that we all suffer from.
Thanks for taking the time to read my website and I hope to help you again soon!
Kevin Craighead is iChimp’s chief technology editor and has been covering Apple’s mobile electronics, security, privacy and the wider technology sector since 2011. He is also a highly regarded Web Designer & Developer.
With a career spanning 30 years which began doing PC support (before the internet existed), Kevin’s technical expertise and experience is highly regarded in a wide variety of fields. His well-researched work resulted in highly regarded and often cited articles such as the infamous ‘Unable to move message to trash’ error on iOS devices.