As an Apple Certified Independent Technician with over 10 years of hands-on experience with mobile technology, I have been asked countless times how to unlock an iPhone without knowing the passcode.
Don’t panic if you have forgotten your iPhone passcode, or a naughty child accidentally locked your device, you will be able to unlock it and keep all of your photos, messages, and other data.
This straightforward step-by-step guide contains all the possible ways to get into a locked iPhone without a password.
From reliable third-party iOS unlock tools to Apple’s default method this article will show you how to unlock your disabled iPhone quickly:
- If you do have an iTunes backup
- If you do have an iCloud backup
- If you don’t have any backup but want to keep your data
- By using the official Apple method
- By using data recovery tools
- Without data loss
This short guide will even explain how to unlock your iPhone if it was locked with a 4-digit or 6-digit passcode, or with face ID, or touch ID enabled.
Definition of “passcode locked iPhone”
An iPhone is locked and disabled for 1 minute when the wrong 4 or 6 digit passcode is entered 6 times in a row. After 10 consecutive passcode attempts the phone is permanently disabled with a message on the iPhone screen saying “iPhone is disabled, connect to iTunes”.
Table of Contents
iPhone unlocking when you don’t know the passcode
The steps you need to take to unlock iPhone and reset your passcode depends on if you have a backup of your device. This is because the data recovery process you need to follow is different if you have a backup, or not.
If you do have a backup:
- Unlock iPhone without passcode if you have an iTunes or Finder backup
(Click to find out how to tell if you have an iTunes backup)
- Unlock iPhone without passcode if you have an iCloud backup
(Click to find out how to find out if you have an iCloud backup)
If you don’t have a backup:
Why is having a backup so important when resetting your passcode?
…the unlocking process will erase iPhone data. All of it.
If you have a backup you can restore all the data back onto your device easily.
If you don’t, you have to try some of the alternative methods in this guide to unlock your iPhone passcode and keep your photos, reminders, notes, videos, calendars, contacts, call history, text messages, and more.
To find out about getting rid of the iPhone 11 lock screen, see How to unlock iPhone 11 screen without passcode.
See our guide on how to reset an iPhone passcode without a PC or Mac, what to do if you can’t remember your device password, or how to unlock your iPad without the passcode, or how what to do if your iPhone asks to connect to iTunes because it is disabled, or click here to find out how to unlock your phone without the passcode.
Method 1: Use an old passcode (only on iPadOS 17 or newer)
With the introduction of PadOS 17, Apple has added a new feature known as Passcode Reset. If you ever forget your newly set passcode, this feature allows you to use your previous passcode as a backup for up to 72 hours.
Using iOS Passcode Reset:
- Start from your device’s lock screen.
- Attempt to enter your passcode incorrectly five times in a row.
- Wait until you see the message “[Device] Unavailable” and a prompt asking you to try again later.
- Once prompted, locate and tap on the “Forgot Passcode?” option, which will be found in the bottom corner of the screen.
- Choose “Enter Previous Passcode.”
- Key in your old passcode.
- Follow the subsequent on-screen directions to establish a fresh passcode. Remember, with the iOS 17 and later updates, your old passcode can temporarily unlock your device.
Manually Expiring the Old Passcode Before 72 Hours:
- Navigate to the “Settings” app on your device.
- Choose “Face ID & Passcode.”
- When prompted, enter your current passcode.
- Locate and tap on “Expire Previous Passcode Now.”
By following these steps, you can ensure your old passcode becomes invalid before the default 72-hour timeframe.
Method 2: If you have a Finder or iTunes backup
With this method, you wipe your device and passcode then restore the data using the latest iTunes, or Finder backup. Once restored the password will be removed and you can pick a new one.
For this method to work you need to have previously backed up your device to a computer via iTunes or Finder as shown in the video below:
What you need
- Your disabled iPhone
- A lightning or 30-pin cable (depending on the age of your device)
- The PC or Mac you used to perform the backup
1. Connect your iPhone to your computer using the lightning cable or 30-pin cable and open iTunes, or Finder.
2. Select your iPhone when it appears in iTunes, or Finder.
3. If you have connected to this computer previously you should not be asked for a passcode or to Trust This Computer. If you are, click the Trust button.
4. Select “Restore Backup”.
5. Look at the date and size of each backup and pick the most recent.
6. Click Restore.
7. If you are prompted to switch off ‘Find My iPhone’ then you need to put your device into “recovery mode“.
8. Once in recovery mode, iTunes will bring up a restore and update notification on your computer.
9. Click the “Restore and Update” button and wait for the restore to finish. If asked, enter the password for your encrypted backup.
10. Keep your device connected after it restarts and wait for it to sync with your computer. You can disconnect after the sync finishes.
11. Once completed you will have removed the iPhone passcode but still have all your data.
Method 3: If you have an iCloud backup
These instructions will only work if:
- You have enabled the Find My app on your iPhone. Most people do this when they first set up their devices.
- You have enabled the iCloud backup service on your device.
What you need
- Your disabled iPhone
- A lightning or 30-pin cable
- A computer with iTunes installed on it (any computer)
- A good quality WiFi signal
It will take a couple of hours to download and install the backup so you need to set aside some time and be patient.
The video below describes the process so you can see what is involved.
Below this, you will see written instructions giving a step by step walkthrough of what to do. Follow the steps carefully and your passcode will be unlocked with all your data intact.
1. Connect your device to the computer using the lightning cable. This can be any computer with iTunes on it – not necessarily your own one – such as a Mac in an Apple Store.
2. Put your device into “Recovery mode“.
3. A notification will appear in iTunes. Click Restore.
4. You will then be prompted to download the latest version of the iOS operating system to your device. Follow the on-screen instructions and agree to the terms and conditions.
5. The operating system will now download. Be warned it may take some time as it is a big file (2GB or more). Make sure you keep your device connected to the computer.
6. An activation lock prompt will appear on iTunes after the download completes but before the installation begins. It will ask you for your Apple ID and password to verify it is your device. Fill in your details and continue with the process.
7. Your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch will reboot a few times during the download and install process. Don’t worry – this is normal.
8. After the installation of the iOS is complete you should see the ‘Hello’ screen on your device. The is the same screen you see when you first switch on your device when it is brand new and hasn’t been setup yet.
9. Go through the process of setting up your device as if it is brand new – agree to the terms and conditions, enter your Apple ID, set up iCloud, and so on. This is very easy to do as you are prompted at each stage.
10. You will then get to a screen that shows your latest backup. Choose to restore it. The restore is done via WiFi and may take quite a while to do so be patient.
11. All your data will be restored to your device.
You should now have a working iPhone. However, if you have a lot of Apps they will continue to download and install over the next few hours. Be patient, they will all eventually appear with all their previous data.
Method 4: If you have no restore
Unless you have taken a backup there isn’t an official way to retain your data.
Apple says you will need to reset your device – which will delete all of your data and settings.
However, there is an unofficial way to remove the passcode and keep your data.
Option 1: Paid data recovery solutions (high success rate)
|D-Back iPhone Data Recovery||4.5/5||Recovers lost iPhone data|
|4/5||Recovers lost iPhone data|
Option 2: Free data recovery options (low success rate but worth a try)
There is an alternative passcode removal process that can allow you to keep your data. It is a free method that is completely unofficial so it is done at your own risk.
It works for some owners, so it is worth a try if you want a free passcode removal method that doesn’t erase your data.
It involves installing a tool on your computer and using it to hack your device. To find out how to perform this hack, see Free passcode recovery tool.
Method 5: Official Apple passcode removal process
Please be aware that the Apple method removes all of the data from your device. if you don’t have a backup you will lose your data.
What you need
- Your disabled iPhone
- A lightning or 30-pin cable (depending on the age of your device)
- A PC or Mac with iTunes installed on it
Not got a computer?
You must have access to a computer with iTunes on it so you can perform the recovery.
If you don’t, 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 or not. Apple’s attitude is 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.
- Connect your iOS device to your computer and open iTunes.
- While your device is connected, put it into “recovery mode”. Click here if you don’t know how to do this.
- 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.
- Once the restore is completed you can set up your device as though it is new.
Other unlocking guides
Beyond the passcode lock, Apple also uses Activation Lock and the carrier lock to restrict and secure their products.
Find out more about these other iPhone unlocking methods:
How many times can I attempt the passcode on the iPhone lock screen?
|No. of attempts||Consequence|
|6 tries||Your iPhone is disabled for 1 minute.|
|7 tries||Your iPhone is disabled for 5 minutes|
|8 tries||Your iPhone is disabled for 15 minutes.|
|9 tries||Your iPhone is disabled for 60 minutes|
|10 tries||You get the message “iPhone is disabled. Connect to iTunes”|
your iPhone is completely erased if Erase Data is turned on in Settings > Touch ID & Passcode (or Settings > Passcode for iPhones without Touch ID).
How does entering the wrong passcode disable my iPhone?
If you have forgotten your iPhone passcode and you guess it wrongly 6 times in a row your device will be disabled. Your device is then locked and unresponsive for 1 minute before you are able to guess the iPhone passcode again.
If you continue to get the 4 or 6 digit passcode wrong you will be locked out of your phone for longer and longer periods of time.
Eventually, after repeating this guessing game 10 ties and being locked out several times a message on the iPhone screen will tell you “iPhone is disabled, connect to iTunes”.
If you get this message you can unlock your iPhone without erasing your data. I should know – I have managed to do it for hundreds of clients.
Why is my data erased when I reset the iPhone passcode?
Apple makes the passcode reset difficult on purpose. It is a security feature to prevent your data from getting into someone else hands, for example, if your device is stolen.
In fact, the security on iOS is now so advanced that the FBI had to pay $1.3 million to crack it.
It is a huge inconvenience but at least you know your data is safe if your device is stolen. I realize this isn’t much comfort if you have simply forgotten your passcode, but until Apple comes up with a simpler solution then this is the way it is.
How do I know if I have an iTunes backup?
You will only have an iTunes backup if you have been using your computer to do backups of your iPhone. It is easy to check:
1. Go to your computer and start iTunes
2. In the menu select Edit > Preferences to open the general preferences window on a PC, or iTunes > Preferences on a Mac
3. On the general preferences window select the Devices tab at the top
4. This will show a list of all the backups saved on the computer. It will show the name of the device on the right and the date and time the backup was done on the right.
5. Check your device is listed and that the backup was done recently. If the list is empty then you have not got an iTunes backup. This means if you wipe your iPhone, iPad or iPod you will lose all your photos, text and other data.
If you don’t have an iTunes or Finder backup I suggest you check if you have an iCloud backup.
How do I know if I have an iCloud backup?
Most people tend to enable iCloud backups when they get a new iPhone because it is one of the steps in the setup process. It can be skipped, but the majority of people will have enabled this.
If you want to check you have an iCloud backup you can’t do so using your disabled iPhone. Instead, you should do the following on a Mac computer:
- Click the button on the top left of your screen and choose System Preferences
- Click Apple ID at the top and sign in using your Apple ID and password if prompted.
- On the left scroll down to find your iPhone and click it.
- On the right pane, it will show if backups are switched on and tell you the date of the latest backup taken.
If backups are turned off, or it was made a long time ago, then you should treat your iPhone as tho it has never been backed up before.
Can I reset the iPhone passcode with my Apple ID?
No, you can’t reset the iPhone passcode by using your Apple ID. The Apple ID and iPhone passcode are independent security measures so you can’t reset one from the other.
Can I reset the iPhone passcode using Touch ID?
You can’t reset a forgotten iPhone passcode using Touch ID but you can unlock it and back it up, wipe it, reset the passcode, then restore the data from the backup.
The easiest method is when iCloud and Find My iPhone is enabled:
- Do an iCloud backup.
- Remote Wipe using Find My iPhone
- Reactivate the phone and restore it from the iCloud backup using this guide.
If you don’t use iCloud or don’t remember your iCloud password, then you need to connect the device to a PC or a Mac with macOS Mojave 10.14 or earlier on it and do the following:
- Back up your data through iTunes.
- Restore the phone from iTunes.
- Restore the data using the iTunes backup you made. Click here to find out how.
Can I reset the iPhone passcode using Face ID?
Like Touch ID, Face ID will allow you to unlock your device but it won’t let you reset a forgotten passcode. You need to follow the steps above to reset your passcode.
Does this article have any affiliate (paid) links?
Yes, the links above for the paid options are all affiliate links, 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.
This guide provides 4 ways to unlock your iPhone even if you don’t know the passcode. These techniques work on all passcode, Face ID, and Touch ID secured iPhones.
 Apple support article: Erase your device with iTunes to remove your passcode
 Apple support article: Restore your device from an iTunes backup
 Apple support article: Identify your iPhone model