Forgot iPhone Passcode? How To Unlock It Without Data Loss

If you have forgotten your iPhone passcode you are probably worried that it’s permanently disabled. All your personal data is stuck on your device with no way of getting to it.

Don’t worry we have a fix.

Read our helpful guide to find out how you can unlock your iPhone and keep all your data including pictures, videos, appointments, and more.

Forgot iPhone Passcode? How To Unlock It Without Data Loss

Locking yourself out of your iPhone is a frustrating experience.

Newer iPhones have convenient security features such as Touch ID and Face ID but they mean you are less likely to use and remember your 4 or 6 digit passcode.

Fortunately, if you do forget your passcode Apple has created a method of resetting it. The only downside is that the official process will erase all of your data and restore it from a backup. This makes it vital to have your smartphone configured to make regular backups.

If you don’t have a backup then you can try one of the paid data recovery software tools to try to rescue your data. You will need a computer to download and install the tools. Most of them have trial versions so you can see if it will work on your device before making a purchase.

Make sure you follow our tips on selecting and remembering your passcode so that you don’t forget it again in the future.

How to reset your passcode

As you have more wrong passcode guesses the consequences get more severe. Initially, the length of time your iPhone is disabled may only be 5 minutes. After 10 wrong attempts, your device will be permanently disabled and the passcode will need to be reset.

If your device has not been disabled yet this means you can still have more attempts. I suggest you use these wisely to prevent the need to reset your iPhone passcode.

If your iPhone has an on-screen message saying iPhone is disabled, try again in 5 minutes or iPhone is disabled, connect to iTunes you can enable it and retain all of your data using the steps below.

Before you start you will need the Apple ID and password for the iPhone. This is because the passcode reset process resets all of the device settings and you will be asked for the Apple ID and password to sign in and setup the device as new.

Without these details, you will not be able to setup the iPhone at all. Instead, it will enable another security system called the iCloud Activation Lock that makes your device unusable.

Forgot your Apple ID password?

If you have forgotten your Apple ID password you should follow these instructions.

Forgot all your Apple ID details?

If you forgot your Apple ID, password, two-factor security, and secret questions then you are stuck. If you think about it you are in the same position as someone who has stolen an iPhone and wants to break into it.

In this circumstance, it is a good idea to learn as much as possible about the iCloud security system to see if you could remove the iCloud activation. Otherwise, you may end up being unable to recover and setup your device again.

Step 1: Find out what version iOS is installed on your iPhone

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, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, or 14 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 most iPhone owners’ upgraded.

Once you know which iOS version you have installed on your device follow the appropriate steps below for the version you have installed.

Step 2: Perform the passcode unlock

If you have the latest version of iOS (iOs 7 or newer)

Method 1: Erase and restore your iPhone using iCloud

If you have been backing up your iPhone using iCloud you are highly likely to have the Find My App enabled on your device too. This means you can use a computer to sign in to your iCloud account and erase the device from there. You can even do this if you don’t have access to the device.

Just make sure your device is connected to Wi-Fi or your cellular network before you try to erase it or it won’t work.

  1. On your computer or a friend’s smartphone go to https://www.icloud.com/.
  2. Sign in using your Apple ID and password.
  3. Click Find My iPhone icon (you may be asked to sign in again).
  4. Click All Devices at the top of the screen.
  5. Choose your iPhone from the drop-down list.
  6. Click the Erase iPhone button.

This will delete the passcode and all of the personal data from the iPhone.

Erase iPhone using iCloud website

When you go to set up the device again as new you can restore the data from the last iCloud backup.

Method 2: Erase and restore your iPhone using a computer

This method only works if you have previously connected your iPhone to your computer and backed it up.

Step 1. You need to put your device into recovery mode before you can reset the passcode on your device.

Recovery mode on iPhone X or later, iPhone SE (2nd generation), iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus

Remove passcode on iPhone X

  1. Make sure your device isn’t connected to your computer.
  2. Press and hold the Side button and one of the volume buttons until the power off slider appears.
  3. Drag the slider to turn off your iPhone.
  4. Connect your iPhone to your computer while holding the Side button.
  5. Keep holding the Side button until you see the recovery mode screen.
Recovery mode on iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

Remove passcode on iPhone 7

  1. Make sure your iPhone isn’t connected to your computer.
  2. Press and hold the Side button until the power off slider appears.
  3. Drag the slider to turn off your iPhone.
  4. Connect your iPhone to your computer while holding the Volume down button.
  5. Keep holding the Volume down button until you see the recovery mode screen.
Recovery mode on iPhone SE (1st generation), and iPhone 6s and earlier

Remove passcode Phone SE (1st generation), and iPhone 6s and earlier

  1. Make sure your iPhone isn’t connected to your computer.
  2. Press and hold the Side (or Top) button until the power off slider appears.
  3. Drag the slider to turn off your iPhone.
  4. Connect your iPhone to your computer while holding the Home button.
  5. Keep holding the Home button until you see the recovery mode screen.

Step 2: Remove the passcode and restore your data

If you have a Mac with macOS Catalina 10.15 or newer use Finder. Once your device in recovery mode (as shown above):

  1. Open Finder on your computer
  2. If you have synced with the computer before you won’t be asked for the passcode. However, if it is a computer you have never synced with previously you will be asked for the passcode so the computer can be trusted.  In these circumstances, you won’t be able to use Finder and you should try an alternate method.
  3. In the locations area of Finder click you iPhone
  4. When you see the option to Restore or Update, choose Restore.
  5. The Finder will download software for your iPhone. If it takes more than 15 minutes, your iPhone will exit recovery mode and you’ll need to repeat the steps to go back into recovery mode.
  6. Choose the latest backup to restore from.
  7. Your passcode will be removed and your data will be restored from the backup. Any data you added since the last backup will be lost.

If you have with macOS Mojave 10.14 or earlier or older, or a PC, use iTunes. After your device is in recovery mode (as shown above):

  1. Open iTunes
  2. If you have synced with the computer before you won’t be asked for the passcode. However, if it is a computer you have never synced with previously you will be asked for the passcode so the computer can be trusted.  In these circumstances, you won’t be able to use iTunes and you should try an alternate method.
  3. Wait for iTunes to sync with your device.
  4. Once synced, click Restore iPhone.
  5. When finished, the iOS setup screen should pop up on your iPhone.
  6. Tap on Restore from iTunes backup on your iPhone.
  7. Choose the latest backup to restore from.
  8. Your data will be restored using the backup and your passcode will be removed. Any data you added since the last backup will be lost.
Method 3: restore lost data from your iPhone after a restore

If you have reset your passcode using any of the previous methods and have lost your data because you didn’t have a backup then you can perhaps recover data from your device.

It is possible the data may still exist on your phone but is simply inaccessible without specialist tools. I have some suggestions for tools you can try in order to recover lost iPhone data if you have never backed up.

Method 4: iOS lock screen bypass

micro SIM on a tableThis bypass worked on iOS 8.02 but Apple has fixed it in newer versions so please be aware that it will not work on iOS 14.

If you don’t have iOS 8.02 then use the other methods we’ve described.

In addition, the bypass only works if:

  • you have Siri enabled on your device
  • you have a sim removal tool to hand
Steps

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.

If you have an old version of iOS (iOS 6 or older)

iPhone is disabled connect 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. When you connect your iPhone to the computer  you may get this error message: “iTunes could not connect to the iPhone because it is locked with a passcode. You must enter your passcode on the iPhone before it can be used with iTunes.”

iTunes warning message

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 restoration 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.

Consequences of wrongly guessing your iPhone passcode

No. of tries Consequence
6 attempts Your iPhone is disabled for 1 minute
7 attempts Your iPhone is disabled for 5 minutes
8 attempts Your iPhone is disabled for 15 minutes.
9 attempts Your iPhone is disabled for 60 minutes
10 attempts You get the message “iPhone is disabled. Connect to iTunes” OR your iPhone is completely erased if Erase Data is turned on in Settings > Touch ID & Passcode (or Settings > Passcode for iPhones without Touch ID).

iPhone passcode FAQ

Can I reset my iPhone passcode if I forgot it?

Yes, of course, you can.

Will I lose all my data?

It depends. If you have set up your iPhone to do iCloud backups, or have previously backed up your iPhone to your computer then you will be able to restore your data.

Do you have any tips to remember a passcode?

Firstly, try to avoid any obvious numbers like birthdays, anniversaries, or the last 4 digits of your phone number.

Instead, a good idea is to spell a word or phrase using numbers.

How?

Well, if you look at the keypad you will notice 2 is ABC, 3 is DEF, 4 if GHI, and so on. So if you wanted to use the first 4 letters of your name and your name is Kevin the pin would be 5384:

5 (JKL) 3 (DEF) 8 (TUV) 4 (GHI)

Alternatively use the first letters from your favorite song or use a movie title:

So if your favorite song is Seal’s Kiss from a Rose, your PIN would be 5 (JKL), 3 (DEF), 2 (ABC), 7 (PQRS).

If you like Lord othe Rings your PIN would be 5 (JKL), 6(MNO), 8 (TUV) 7 (PQRS).

This technique is useful for any length of passcode – 4, 6, or more numbers – and makes it much simpler to recall very long sequences that you may need for things such as online banking.

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