Have you forgotten your iPhone passcode?
Or maybe it is the password for your iPad or iPod Touch?
Regardless of the device, I think you will agree with me when I say:
Getting the ‘device disabled’ message having tried your passcode several times makes your heart sink.
It gets worse if you continue to guess at the passcode and still get it wrong.
You will be thrown into a bigger panic when it tells you “iPhone is disabled, connect to iTunes”. Especially if you don’t have a computer handy as iTunes ONLY runs on a computer.
But don’t panic – you can unlock your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch…
…even if you have forgotten your passcode and have no computer to hand.
You can reset it and keep all your data.
Just follow the simple instructions in this article and you will be able to use your device again.
Best of all you should be able to keep all your precious photos and other data stored on the device.
Which model of iPhone, iPad and iPod touch can be reset?
I have written these instructions to be as comprehensive as possible – so they describe what to do regardless of the model of device you have.
This should make it easier for you to unlock the passcode.
The important thing isn’t the device, but the version of software running. This is because the security used to lock your device is dependent on the software, called iOS, not the device.
iOS 7 has a much higher level of security than devices that run iOS 6 and earlier…
…so there are 2 sets of fixes, dependant on the version of iOS you have.
Not sure what version of iOS your device is running?
If you don’t know what version of iOS you are running then you need to find out. This is because the specific steps you need to follow are dependant on knowing the version you have installed. I have written an article on how to find out the iOS version on your device.
I have listed all the iPhones this fix is suitable for together with the version of iOS that each them can run.
This doesn’t mean they will have that version installed. It simply means you could install that version. However it is possible your device has an earlier version so it is important to check.
- 3G: up to iOS 3
- 3GS: up to iOS 6
- 4: up to iOS 7
- 4S: up to iOS 9
- 5: up to iOS 10
- 5S: up to iOS 11
- 5C: up to iOS 10
- SE: up to iOS 11
- 6: up to iOS 11
- 6S: up to iOS 11
- 6 Plus: up to iOS 11
- 6S Plus: up to iOS 11
- 7: up to iOS 11
- 7 Plus: up to iOS 11
- 8: iOS 11
- 8 Plus: iOS 11
- X: iOS 11
This article applies to the following iPad models:
- 12.9 inch iPad Pro (2017): up to iOS 11
- 12.9 inch iPad Pro (1st generation): up to iOS 11
- 10.5 inch iPad Pro (2017): up to iOS 11
- 9.7 inch iPad Pro (1st generation): up to iOS 11
- iPad mini 4: up to iOS 11
- iPad mini 3: up to iOS 11
- iPad mini 2: up to iOS 11
- iPad Mini: : up to iOS 9
- 9.7 inch iPad (2018): up to iOS 11
- The iPad (2017): up to iOS 11
- iPad Air 2 (6th generation): up to iOS 11
- iPad Air (5th generation): up to iOS 11
- iPad (4th generation): up to iOS 10
- iPad (3rd generation): up to iOS 9
- iPad 2: up to iOS 9
- iPad: up to iOS 5
iPod touch models
- iPod touch (3rd generation): up to iOS 5
- iPod touch (4th generation): up to iOS 5
- iPod touch (5th generation): up to iOS 6
- iPod touch (6th generation): up to iOS 11
Reset Passcode and keep your data
iOS 6 and older
1. Remotely wipe your device using Find My iPhone. This will remove all of the data on your iPhone so only do this as a last resort.
2. Restore your iPhone from your latest iCloud backup. The video below explains how to carry out this procedure.
iOS 7 and newer
Unfortunately, unless you have a backup made via iCloud there isn’t an official way to save your data. You will need to reset your device which will erase all of your data and settings.
There is a way around this by hacking iOS to bypass the passcode but you will need a PC to do it – it won’t work on a Mac. Since you don’t have access to a computer this may not be an option for you.
Why is this so difficult?
Apple does this as a security feature to prevent your data getting into someone else hands, for example, if your device is stolen.
In fact, the security on iOS 7 and newer is so advanced that the FBI had to pay $1.3 million to crack it.
In order to reset your passcode, you need to go into recovery mode and reset everything. There are only 2 ways of doing this:
- By selecting “Erase all contents and settings” on the device itself.
- By connecting it to a computer and resetting it via iTunes.
If you forgot your passcode option 1 is no good. If you have no computer then option 2 is no good either – so you are stuck.
Your only option is to find someone with a computer that will allow you to install iTunes on it so you can perform the recovery. Or pop into your nearest Apple store, or Apple reseller and they will help you perform the reset.
It doesn’t matter if you bought the device from that store originally, Apple’s attitude is that they will help you as it is one of their devices. So don’t be shy – go and see them or a reseller and they will help you.
Option 1: Reset passcode but lose your data
This method erases your device using recovery mode to remove the passcode so you can use it again.
Unfortunately, this means all your data will be removed so if you don’t have a backup you won’t be able to recover it.
As mentioned earlier you will need a computer to do this so you need to visit your local Apple store or dealership.
- Connect your iOS device to your computer and open iTunes.
- While your device is connected, force restart it:
- On an iPhone X, iPhone 8, or iPhone 8 Plus: Press and quickly release the Volume Up button. Press and quickly release the Volume Down button. Then, press and hold the Side button until you see the recovery mode screen.
- On an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus: Press and hold both the Side and Volume Down buttons at the same time. Keep holding them until you see the recovery mode screen.
- On an iPhone 6s and earlier, iPad, or iPod touch: Press and hold both the Home and the Top (or Side) buttons at the same time. Keep holding them until you see the recovery mode screen.
- When you see the option to Restore or Update, choose Restore. iTunes will download software for your device. If it takes more than 15 minutes, your device will exit recovery mode and you’ll need to repeat steps 2 and 3.
- If you have a backup then chose to restore and select the latest backup.
- Once the restore is completed you can set up your device as though it is new.
Option 2: Hack iOS to bypass the passcode and keep your data
As a last resort after you forgot iPhone passcode, you could try to hack iOS to bypass it. This is quite dangerous and must be done at your own risk but it should work as a last resort…
…but again, it only works if you have a computer.
So if you can beg, borrow, or steal a PC (this won’t work on a Mac) then you could use the instructions in the video below to allow you restore your device.
You can see this hack working in the video below. Underneath there are step-by-step instructions to make it easy to follow along.
How to hack iOS and bypass the passcode
These instructions are in a slightly different order than the video. This is because the sequence used is, in my opinion, wrong. I believe you should download all of the files before you connect the device to the computer otherwise iTunes will ‘timeout’ due to inactivity with the iDevice.
- Get your model number from the back of your device
- On your PC open a web browser and go to ipsw.me
- Click ‘identify my iOS device’ from the menu on the left
- Chose your device type – iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
- Enter your model number from step 1.
- Click ‘download the latest’ to get the newest firmware and save it on your desktop. It is a big file so it will take a while to download.
- Next, download this program and unzip it.
- Drag the unzipped program to your desktop.
- Drag the firmware file onto the program icon. A new window will open where it will unpack everything. It will take about 10 mins.
- It will create a new file on your desktop which you will use to restore to your device.
- You then connect your device to the PC using the standard charging cable.
- While your device is connected, force restart it:
- iTunes will open automatically, if not open it.
- It should ask you about iPhone recovery mode. Hold the shift button down and click ‘Restore iPhone’.
- A file manager window will open. Go to the desktop and find the new file that was created in step 10 and open it.
- Click restore and wait around 10-15 mins for the new firmware to upload via iTunes. The iPhone should show the Apple logo with a file progress bar.
- It will then reboot and iTunes will say the device is reset to factory settings (but your data should be safe).
- Once rebooted you should be able to access the device without needing to use a passcode.
Option 3: Other passcode unlock options without iTunes
‘Do You Data Recovery’ is an app that allows you to restore lost data that has been deleted or is inaccessible.
It is capable of recovering data from devices that have hung or are locked as well as devices suffering from water damage.
I haven’t tested this tool myself but it is highly regarded online with a straightforward and intuitive interface.
They claim it can allow you to restore things like pictures, camera rolls, reminders, notes, videos, calendars, contacts, call history and more…
It can recover data from almost all iOS devices from the iPhone 3G all the way up to the latest versions. As well as iDevices it can also recover data direct from iTunes and iCloud backups.
Overall, it should like a good way to get some of your data back if you can’t manage to reset your passcode without destroying everything on your device.
You do need to have a PC to use it tho – so if you can’t get access to one this option may not be suitable.
There is a free version with some limited functionality. It is worth downloading and giving it a try to see if will allow you to recover the data you need before resetting your device.
If you think it will fulfill your needs then you can buy and download a Pro version that will allow you to do exactly what you want. It costs $59.95 but depending on how important your data is it might be worth it.
If you prefer a free solution then you should try the iOS passcode hack described above.
- Unlock iPhone After Forgetting Passcode (For iOS 7 or Newer)
- Unlock iPhone After Forgetting Passcode (For iOS 6 or Older)
- How To Unlock, Bypass, Or Remove iCloud Lock For FREE (On iPhone, iPad & Apple Watch)
- How To Unlock Your iPhone Fast
The link above is an affiliate link, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I recommend these tools because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
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.