Unlock iPhone After Forgetting Passcode (For iOS 6 or Older)

How Do You Unlock An iPhone If You Forgot Your Passcode

Please note: This article is still relevant but there is a newer version on the topic of unlocking an iPhone passcode you should also check out.

I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

Forgetting your password or passcode for your iPhone is a nightmare.

But here’s the deal:

It is possible to gain access to your iPhone and not lose any data if you follow the instructions below carefully. It can be done.

This article will explain what you need to do in simple, easy to follow steps.

If you follow along carefully you should be able to reset the passcode and gain access to your iPhone again. Hopefully making your nightmare a thing of the past!

If you are interested in an iPhone 6 factory unlock, or iCloud lock removal then you are reading the wrong article. These are very different kinds of lock from the passcode and require a different method to fix it.

Which model of iPhone does this apply to?

These instructions are likely to work for iPhone 3 / 3GS / 4 / 4S / 5.

However, the software, called iOS, is the important thing not the model of iPhone you have. iOS 7 was released in 2013 especially for the iPhone 5S and 5C so any iPhone released before that is likely to have iOS 6.

One thing to remember is that iOS 7 was compatible with the iPhone 4, 4S and 5 so if you have those models you may be running iOS 7 or newer if they were upgraded to the latest version of the software.

Don’t know what version of iOS your iPhone has?

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.

Newer iPhones came with iOS 7 pre-installed so you will need to read the instructions on how to unlock iOS 7 passcode instead.

What is the unlock process?

You will be asked the following questions:

  • The type of unlock you need for your iPhone.
  • The version of the software (called iOS) that your iPhone has.
  • If the iPhone has been synced to iTunes before.
  • Finally, if you have a computer to hook your iPhone up to.

Once you have selected the answer to all the above questions you will be given a simple set of step-by-step instruction of what to do.

iOS 6 (or earlier) passcode removal instructions

If you try to unlock your iPhone but you have forgotten your passcode you will end up locking your phone. This will have after 6 attempts. On iOS 6 the locked screen will look like something like the image below:

how do you unlock an iphone

After too many attempts, your iPhone will say “iPhone is disabled, connect to iTunes”.

iPhone is disabled connect to iTunes

You can unlock an iPhone if you forgot your passcode. You do this by restoring your iPhone from the last backup – this removes the passcode from your locked iPhone while retaining your data. This may take a few hours to complete.

How to fix this error

The fix you need to unblock your iPhone passcode depends on your circumstances.

How to unlock your iPhone passcode if you have previously synced your iPhone to iTunes

1. Synchronise your iPhone to your computer – you can do this even if your iPhone is locked.

This creates a backup of everything on your phone. Obviously, this works best if you have access to the computer your regularly sync your iPhone with.

The video below explains how to sync an iPhone if you are unsure.

2. While your iPhone is still connected to your computer reboot your iPhone by holding down the power and home buttons at the same time.

As soon as the Apple logo appears, let go of the power button but keep the home button depressed until you see a “Connect to iTunes” message appear on the iPhone screen.

3. On your computer, you will see a message appear in iTunes that a phone in recovery mode has been detected.

You will be 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. Your passcode will be erased and then all of your data will be restored from your backup.

Once this process completes, the passcode will have been removed from your iPhone, and you should now be able to access it without any problems.

Related Articles

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!


38 thoughts on “Unlock iPhone After Forgetting Passcode (For iOS 6 or Older)”

  1. The Grieving Mom

    Hi James. My daughter passed away recently and we want to unlock her phone, but we don’t know the OS version. No way to sync to iTunes account. She died on 10/13/17. I believe if there’s any software update, she most likely have updated her phone.

    We really want to unlock her phone without losing any data. Can you please help?

    Thank you

  2. I was given an iPhone 4. Former owner cannot remember code. I was told to download itunes app and break code through itunes. I am working w a Samsung tablet….can you help?

  3. My son has passed away and I need to access his iPhone 6S. It has a 6 digit pin which I don’t know. I don’t know if the phone was ever synched to iTunes. I am anxious not to lose any data, photos, videos, texts etc. Please could you advise me of the best way to proceed as I’m nervous about any loss as I will never be able to retrieve it. Many thanks for any help you can give me.

    1. The Grieving Mom

      Hi LCL, i have the same sentiments as you. Daughter died just recently. If you ever figure it out, please let me know through this discussion. Thank you.

  4. Raj Kumar Rao

    hello sir I switched off my iPhone 6s plus and after switching it on its asking the passcode and I forgot it the sim which is linked to the apple id is lost so whenever am trying to change the settings of the mobile from icloud from laptop its asking me too verify the verification code sent to dat num so how should I unlock my mobile now?

  5. Spot on Kevin, worked great for me. I was facing restoring a 3 month old back up when I found this article. At first I could not believe that it would clear the passcode, but then I realised that Apple would depend on your Apple id security. Many thanks

  6. Hello! I seem to have forgotten my password to “sync” and back up with me macbook.

    iphone 5. Expert opinion pls?

  7. hey,

    my problem is that I don t have backup on my computer ???
    please is there any help for my stuff on the iphone cause he is locked and I forgot password?? :((

  8. hey,

    my problem is that I don t have backup on my computer ???
    please is there any help for my stuff on the iphone cause he is locked and I forgot password?? :((

  9. Thanks for this tips. My iphone 4s successfully restored and unlocked even though on phone lock mode. 100% is working if you try this following tips correctly.

  10. Thanks for this tips. My iphone 4s successfully restored and unlocked even though on phone lock mode. 100% is working if you try this following tips correctly.

  11. I have my phone saying “iPhone is disabled” but I do not have the computer where I last synced it since I broke my laptop. Trying to sync it with this new computer but it says “iTunes could not connect to the iPhone “Winona’s iPhone because it is locked with a passcode. You must enter your passcode on the iPhone before it can be used with iTunes.” There is not even an option to enter a passcode anymore

  12. Even though I have tried all that you have said to do to try and reset my stepdaughters phone after she forgot her password and security answers it still comes back to putting in the original password which we don’t have. Her PC recognises the phone on iTunes but still will not let us reset the password without the original. Help please.

  13. Thanks Kevin!! I have a user at work that turned in their phone locked, and your article looked like the best one to try – perfect! Thanks for writing it – saved me a bunch of time!

    1. Hello folks, I believe many of you realized that many AT&T unlocking sites aren’t working anymore, it’s because AT&T doesn’t permit cheap unlocking sites’access to their database anymore. Which caused lots of third party unlocking sites incapable of unlock AT&T anymore, but you can still use ATTIPHONEUNLOCKING, it’s one of the best unlocking site for AT&T.

  14. I appreciate the article but there is a “slight” problem on my end- I don’t have iTunes on my work computer- and yes- the lovely iPhone from Craigslist is still passcode locked. Is there any other way to wipe it or should I take the phone to an Apple store?

    Thanks again!

  15. OMG!!! Thank you SO much for this info. I was unable to get into my iPhone after my spouse somehow set it up for a passcode. Luckily I had synced it to my iTunes account and was able to restore absolutely everything (nothing lost) with your instructions. You are a true lifesaver!! Mahalo, merci, gracias, vielen dank!

    1. I’m not sure what you mean by disabled?

      If you restore your iPhone you should get access to your pictures as long as you have configured your iPhone to backup everything – either via iCloud or by connecting it to a computer and using iTunes.

      I have amended the above article so there are now 3 different ways you can fix this issue that should help you regardless of your circumstance. Of course if you have no backup then you can’t remove the passcode without losing all your data, including photos.

  16. Oh my god your a life saver ive been trying to get my iphone working forever now since i seen your wesite it works thanks to you.

  17. Thanks for this web page , I locked my 8 years old son’s old iphone so he can only use it over weekend, but later on I forgot the passcode! been to apple store to get help, tips not work after few trying to connect to itune on 1st laptop, I then google ‘iphone disable’.
    From the tips on web, if the 1st computer not work better try 2nd computer that it has been sync before, so I connect to 2nd computer, it managed to sync and got it enable but then passcode still block, so I google again by typed in ‘iphone unblock ‘ and found this page, got my son’s iPhone on restore at the end… Hopefully it will work again , still have 50 minutes to finish the restore…thank you

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