Forgot iPhone Passcode? How To Unlock It Without Data Loss (Even If It’s Disabled)

If you have forgotten your iPhone passcode you may be worried that your device is permanently disabled.

Forgot iPhone passcode it is disabled

You may also be concerned that all your personal data – such as photos, music, messages, Apps, and more – is stuck on your device with no way of accessing them.

This article explains how you can unlock your iPhone and keep all your data even if your device has been disabled.

If you forget your passcode Apple has a method of resetting it.

Unfortunately, Apple says if you don’t have a backup then you will lose all your data resetting the device passcode. However, you can use one of the iPhone passcode screen removal tools mentioned in method 3 to save your data even if you don’t have a backup.

If you do have backup then you can use method 1 or method 2. And there is always method 4 if all else fails and you just want to be able to use your phone again – even if you do lose all your data.

How to reset your passcode

Method 1: Erase and restore your iPhone using the iCloud website

If you have been backing up your Apple iPhone using iCloud then you will be able to reset and restore your device.

With iCloud enabled you are likely to have the Find My App enabled. This means you can use a computer or a friend’s phone to sign in to your iCloud account with your Apple ID and erase the device.

Just make sure the iPhone you are resetting is connected to Wi-Fi or a cellular network before you try to erase it or it won’t work.

You will need a computer or a friend’s phone before you begin.

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

erase iPhone on iCloud website

This will delete the iPhone’s passcode and all of its data.

When you set up the device you can restore the data from the latest iCloud backup.

Your settings and accounts will be restored from the iCloud backup you choose.

I have written a more detailed article if you want to know more about how to reset an iPhone passcode without using a computer.

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 using Finder or iTunes.

You will need your phone, a computer, and a cable to connect them for this process.

Step 1. Put your device into recovery mode so 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

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

  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 device.
  4. Connect your computer to your iPhone 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

Recovery mode on iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

  1. Ensure your computer is not connected to your iPhone.
  2. Press and hold the side power button until the power-off slider appears.
  3. Drag the slider to power off your phone.
  4. Connect your iPhone to your computer using the cable 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

Recovery mode on iPhone SE (1st generation), and iPhone 6s and earlier

  1. Make sure your smartphone is not physically connected to your computer.
  2. Press and hold the Side (or Top) button until the power-off slider appears on the screen.
  3. Drag the slider to turn off your smartphone.
  4. Connect your iPhone to your computer sig the cable 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.

 macOS Catalina 10.15 or newer Finder

  1. Open Finder on your Mac
  2. If you have previously synced your phone with the Mac you won’t be asked for the passcode. Otherwise, you will be asked for the passcode so the Mac can be trusted.  In these circumstances, you won’t be able to use this method and you should try one of the others.
  3. In the locations area of Finder click your iPhone
  4. When you see the option to Restore or Update, choose Restore.
  5. The Finder will download software for your phone. 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 it again.
  6. Choose the latest backup to restore.
  7. Your passcode will be removed and your data will be restored from the backup.

If you have macOS Mojave 10.14 or earlier or older, or a PC, use iTunes.

macOS Mojave 10.14 or older, or a PC, use iTunes

  1. Open iTunes
  2. If you have synced your phone 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.  As you don’t know the passcode you won’t be able to use iTunes and you should try one of the other methods.
  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 phone.
  6. Tap on Restore from iTunes backup on your iPhone.
  7. Choose the latest backup to restore from.
  8. Your data will be restored from iTunes using the backup and your passcode will be removed.

Method 3: Unlock screen passcode using 3rd party software

If you don’t have a backup then Apple says on their support website “If you didn’t back up your iPhone before forgetting your passcode, you won’t be able to save the data on your iPhone.”

So if you forget your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch passcode Apple will not provide assistance to help you recover your data. This raises the question “How do I remove the passcode AND keep my data if I don’t have a backup?”

Firstly, it is worth trying your Touch ID, or Face ID again as it means you don’t need to worry about iPhone passcodes, iTunes, iCloud, Apple ID password, Find My iPhone, or the lock screen.

If this fails then you will need to use a commercial passcode removal and data recovery software tool such as (click the links for more details):

passcode screen removal and data recovery software tool

These highly rated tools are easy to use so you don’t need to be an IT expert to operate them.

You will need a computer, your locked iPhone, a cable, and the software tool before you begin.

The setup process is simple:

  1. Download and install your preferred tool on your computer
  2. Connect your phone to your PC or Mac using the cable
  3. Select unlock screen passcode
  4. The lock is removed from your device

The software developers of LockWiper have even written in-depth passcode removal guides so you learn how to unlock all of your Apple devices.

These 3 software tools also offer trial versions that allow you to try before you buy. This allows you to give this method a go without committing to pay for it.

They also offer 28-day money-back guarantees meaning you have nothing to lose by giving this option a try if all else fails.

Method 4: Reset your passcode and lose all your data

The aim of this article is to allow you to reset your iPhone passcode and keep all of your data. However, as a last resort, performing the reset and losing your data may be preferable to being unable to use your device at all.

You will need your phone, a computer, and a cable to connect them.

To do this:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer
  2. Force restart your iPhone
  3. On your computer, you will be prompted to either ‘Restore’ or ‘Update’ your iPhone.
  4. Select Restore.
  5. Your iPhone will download the iOS operating system.
  6. Once downloaded, you can set up your iPhone from scratch.

iPhone passcode FAQ

How do you change your passcode?


If you want to change your passcode and know what it is – in other words, you haven’t forgotten it – then the process is as follows:

1. Unlock your device using your passcode

2. Tap Settings

3. Tap Face ID & Passcode

4. Enter your old passcode when prompted

5. Scroll down and tap’ Change Passcode’

6. Type in your old passcode.

7. If you prefer a different passcode type from the standard 6 digits then tap ‘Passcode Options’ at the bottom and select the code type you prefer.

8. Create and confirm your new code.

9. Done!

What is the screen time passcode?

The iPhone offers parental controls which use a different passcode to restrict things such as:

  • content and privacy
  • iTunes & App Store purchases
  • Restrict game center
  • Prevent explicit content
  • Prevent web content
  • And much more

This is called the restrictions passcode, or the screen time passcode and it is not the same as the iPhone passcode discussed in this article.

The video below shows how you can reset the screen time passcode.

Will Apple reset a forgotten iPhone passcode?

No, Apple will not tell you how to unlock an iPhone without a passcode although they will help you go through the steps to reset, erase, and recover it. This can be done in-store or via phone. You should expect to be asked to prove you are the owner of the device so bring along your purchase receipt.

You must also be careful not to confuse the iCloud lock removal process with the passcode reset process.

How do you set up the passcode feature?

When you first set up your iPhone one of the steps in the process is adding a passcode. By default, this is a 6 digit code but this can be changed to:

  • custom alphanumeric code
  • custom numeric code
  • 4-digit numeric code
  • or no code at all

If you have no passcode and would like to add it at a later date you should:

1. Open your device

2. Tap Settings

3. Tap Face ID & Passcode

4. Tap’ Turn Passcode On’

5. If you prefer a different passcode type from the standard 6 digits then tap ‘Passcode Options’ at the bottom and select the code type you prefer.

6. Create and confirm your new code. It’s possible that you will be prompted to enter your Apple ID and password. If so, enter them then hit ‘Continue’.

7. Done!

Can you reset your forgotten passcode by erasing your iPhone?

Yes, the standard method recommended by Apple is to reset your iPhone and erase all of your data. During the reset process, you will erase the passcode, your pictures, messages, and all of your personal data. This is done to keep your personal data secure in the event of theft.

Apple then suggests recovering your data from an iCloud or iTunes backup. This makes it vital that you take regular backups. [https://support.apple.com/en-gb/guide/icloud/mmab848634c8/1.0/icloud/1.0]

What are the 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).

Do you have any tips to remember a password?

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

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

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 password – 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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