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How to restore an Android phone when you forget the unlock code

Stuck with a locked Android smartphone? Don't you worry! There are multiple ways to restore usability after forgetting your unlock code.
August 5, 2015

We need codes for everything nowadays. It’s good to keep all our data secure, but this cluster of random words, letters and characters makes it hard to keep track of all our security credentials. I can’t tell you how often I have to reset my passwords, and I have even been known to forget my smartphone unlock code from time to time. It may seem hard to believe, but it happens, and I am sure I am not the only one!

Stuck with a locked Android smartphone? Don’t you worry! There are multiple ways to restore usability after forgetting your unlock code. In this post we will cover the best ways to get out of these unpleasant situations and regain control over your phone.


Reset your unlock pattern using your Google account

Those running Android 4.4 KitKat or below will have it pretty easy. Android used to come with a built-in security measure that allowed you to bypass and reset your unlock pattern by simply accessing your Google account. Here’s how it’s done!

  1. Your device will need to be connected to the internet. If it is, keep reading.
  2. Enter a wrong pattern a few times.
  3. After some failed attempts, a new option labeled “Forgot pattern” will appear. Tap on it.
  4. Enter the username and password previously entered in the handset.

Restore the device to factory settings

Sadly, the rest of us will have to opt for more drastic measures, as there is really no other way to recover from a forgotten unlock code with the latest software versions. You will need to wipe the phone (otherwise known as performing a factory data reset). There’s a few ways to do this, so let’s take you through some of them.

Failed password attempt limits

Some of you are lucky enough to have a phone that will automatically perform a factory data reset if the password, PIN or unlock code (or whatever you are using) is entered incorrectly a set amount of times – usually 10 attempts. HTC and LG’s latest flagship phones are known to do this. If your phone has this features, just go at it trying to unlock it and eventually the handset will be automatically wiped.

Using Android Device Manager

Android Device Manager is a life-saver. This is Google’s security tool, and it allows you to locate, ring, lock and wipe your device remotely. The only downside is that you have to set it up before-hand. If you were cautious and took care of business prior to getting locked out of your handset, just go to the Android Device Manager website and locate the device. After this, you will be given the “Erase” option. Simply select it and follow instructions. Your phone will then be completely wiped and you can set it up as if it was new.

Android Device Manager AA

Perform a hard data reset

If all else fails go ahead and perform a hard data reset on the phone. This will also wipe your device, but you will need to perform a series of button combinations and enter recovery mode. We can’t exactly give you step-by-step instructions on how to do this, though, as the process varies per device. Google is your friend!

Android Lollipop Nexus 7 factory reset restoring

Wrapping up

So there you have it, guys. These are the best solutions for gaining access to your smartphone after forgetting your password or unlock code. We know some of these are not the best solutions around, but keep in mind this is the best we can work with. We also have a guide for bypassing the unlock code using ADB, but that also takes a lot of work!

Let’s hear from you, though – what do you prefer to do when you forget your security credentials? Thank the tech gods for bio-metric solutions! We sure can’t forget those.