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How to unlock an iPhone if you forgot the passcode

Cancel the rest of your day. You'll need it.
July 14, 2022
Apple iPhone 12 Mini Apple stock photo 7

Locking your iPhone is essential if you want to keep your data secure from intruders and nosy significant others. But if you forget the iPhone passcode, then your day suddenly becomes a lot more difficult. After six unsuccessful passcode attempts, Apple disables the iPhone for a certain period of time with a “try again in 1 minute” or “connect to iTunes” error message. The only way to unlock an iPhone without the passcode is one you were hoping we wouldn’t say.

Read more: How to reset an iPhone SE


If you have forgotten the iPhone passcode, the only way to unlock the phone is to erase the phone's contents. This will also remove the passcode. You can then backup from iCloud or a computer backup, or start the phone afresh. The SIM card lock and Find My iPhone will still be on, though, preventing a thief from using this method to bypass the passcode to sell the phone.


The solution to unlocking your iPhone without the passcode

forgot iphone passcode disabled connect to itunes

Unfortunately, if you end up with the dreaded “iPhone disabled, connect to iTunes” or “iPhone disabled, try again in 1 minute,” the only Apple-approved method of regaining access to the locked phone is to wipe the contents and restore it from a backup. This will also remove the iPhone passcode, allowing you to set a new one. This may seem like the equivalent of using a nuclear bomb to dig a hole in a field, but it’s the only way to safeguard your valuable data from prying eyes.

If you have a backup, then all is well and good. Just restore the phone from the backup, add a new passcode, and continue on with your day. But if you don’t have a backup? Well then, you will have to start the phone from scratch and remember to start making daily iPhone backups. It’ll suck, but it’s still better than dropping a small fortune, which you may not be able to afford, on a new phone.

Think very carefully before paying for third-party apps

third party app unlock iphone forgot passcode

Many third-party apps, which are easily found with a Google search, may claim to be able to break through the iPhone security without wiping the phone. However, these methods cannot be verified or endorsed by Android Authority. They may invalidate your iPhone warranty, and success wouldn’t be 100% guaranteed.

Law enforcement may have other equipment, but if you’re an ordinary civilian, it’s likely illegal to own it. If the method we outline doesn’t work, you’re better off going to an Apple store or licensed Apple dealer and asking them for assistance.

There are three ways to erase your phone. Choose the one that you feel most comfortable with.

Connect your iPhone to iTunes

restore from itunes

If you have iTunes installed on a Windows computer, then this may be the easiest way for you to get past the passcode. Just plug your device into your computer and wait for it to show up on iTunes. Then click the Restore iPhone button. This will wipe the phone and give you the option to use a backup or start from factory settings.

If you use a Mac computer, then instead of iTunes, you would use Finder. Plug your iPhone into your Mac and wait for the iPhone to appear in the Finder sidebar. The Finder interface is the same as iTunes, and the Restore option is the same as well.

Log into iCloud Find My iPhone

icloud remotely wipe iphone

The second option is to go to Find My iPhone on iCloud and erase the phone from there. You would usually do this if your phone was stolen and you needed to wipe it remotely. But there’s nothing that says you can’t do this to wipe a locked iPhone if you’ve forgotten the passcode. Obviously, you’ll need your iCloud details to use this method.

Use Recovery Mode

The third method is to put your phone into Recovery Mode. First, shut the phone down (properly switch it off, not Sleep Mode). Then put it into Recovery Mode, depending on the iPhone model you have.

In each case, you would hold down the button with your finger until you saw this screen.

iphone recovery mode forgot passcode
Mark O'Neill / Android Authority

Release your finger and attach the iPhone to iTunes or Finder. You will be given the option to Update or Restore.

iphone update restore forgot passcode

Select Restore, and the phone will be put back to factory settings. You can then either use a backup or start the phone afresh.

What to do after your iPhone has been erased and reset

iphone passcode options

Once your iPhone has been erased and reset, using one of the three methods above, you will have to set up the phone again from the beginning. Either use a backup or start afresh from the beginning.

You also need to add a new passcode. Go to Settings–>Face ID & Passcode and set up a new passcode. By default, it will ask you for four digits, but you can easily extend it by tapping Passcode Options.

Whatever you do, don’t go around with an unlocked phone. Otherwise, if the phone is lost or stolen, you’ll have bigger things to worry about than a locked phone and no passcode.

Read more: How to enable iPhone Location Services


Go to Settings–>Face ID & Passcode–>Change Passcode. Enter the current passcode first, then enter the new passcode twice.

When you go to change the passcode, there will be a link called Passcode Options. Tapping that, you will be given the option to change the passcode to make it longer, or to use letters and numbers.

When you go to Settings–>Face ID & Passcode, there is an option to turn off the passcode. You will have to enter the current passcode to switch it off.

Yes, if you are unable to do any of the following methods outlined in this article, an Apple store or licensed Apple dealer can help you. But they will want to see proof you own the phone as they will obviously not want to be assisting a thief in accessing a stolen phone. Try to bring the original phone receipt, photo ID with your address on it, the IMEI number of the phone (if you know it), and anything else helpful.

No, there isn’t any other known way. Some third-party recovery apps may claim to use another method, but you should consider these apps carefully and view their claims with a pinch of salt. Using them may also very possibly make your iPhone warranty invalid.

It means you have made too many unsuccessful login attempts on your iPhone and Apple has disabled it for security purposes. The only way back in is to connect the iPhone to iTunes on an authorized computer and restore the phone’s operating system. You can then either restore from a backup or start the phone afresh at factory settings.