With the latest generations of iPhones featuring all sorts of fancy unlock mechanisms like Face ID and TouchID, the reliance on a good-old passcode is going downhill.
As you’re less accustomed to entering it now, the chances of forgetting your passcode shoot up significantly. Forgetting your iPhone’s passcode can be a very frustrating experience. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can use to reset your passcode.
Before we dive into those methods, try using the following tip to recall your password.
Try Using This Tip to Recall Your Password
It might sound obvious, but try recalling your passcode keeping this tip in mind. It can save you from the hassle of having to explore other ways to remove your passcode.
It’s a common misbelief that only 4-digit passcodes can be set on the iPhone. We wouldn’t blame the users though, as the option is buried inside the Passcode Settings. In reality, you can set a custom numeric code or a custom alpha-numeric code.
It’s possible that you might have set a custom numeric or alphanumeric passcode, but are trying to recall only potential 4-digit numbers. So, try recalling your passcode with this increased scope of digits. Be careful though, as entering the wrong passcode six times disables your iPhone.
If that doesn’t seem to work or your iPhone is disabled; no worries. Let’s look at some of the ways to reset your iPhone’s passcode.
The Fix: Erase Everything on Your iPhone
Apple makes it very clear that the only way to fix a forgotten iPhone password is to erase everything on your iPhone. Unless you made a backup before you forgot your passcode, there’s really no way to save your iPhone’s current data. It might not sound pretty, but it’s a trade-off you’ll have to make if you ever forget your iPhone’s passcode.
There are three ways to erase the data on your iPhone, remove the passcode, and start from scratch.
1. Erase Your iPhone Using iTunes
If you’ve previously synced your device with iTunes, you can use a recent backup to restore your iPhone and reset its passcode. Here’s how to erase your device using iTunes.
- Connect your iPhone to the computer you previously synced with.
- Open iTunes. If iTunes lets you in without prompting for a passcode, you can proceed. However, if it prompts you for a password, then try connecting your device to any other computer you might have synced with. If you have never synced with any other computer, this method won’t work for you. In that case, skip to the “recovery mode” section to learn how to erase your iPhone using recovery mode.
- Assuming that iTunes didn’t prompt you for the passcode, wait for iTunes to sync your device and make a backup.
- When the sync completes, click on Restore iPhone and let the restoration process complete — iOS will be reinstalled from scratch.
- When complete, the iOS setup screen should pop-up on your iPhone. Here, tap on Restore from iTunes backup .
- Choose the latest backup to restore from.
Doing so will restore your data to that point in time when the backup was made. Also, it will remove the passcode, thus giving you a chance to set up a new one.
2. Erase Your iPhone Using iCloud
If you sync your iPhone with iCloud and not iTunes, and you have Find My iPhone enabled on your locked device, you can erase your iPhone using iCloud. You can also use this method if you don’t have physical access to your iPhone. Note that your locked device should be connected to a Wi-Fi or cellular data. If it isn’t, you can swipe up from the bottom to open Control Center and toggle these.
In the rare case that you’ve disabled access to Control Center on the lock screen, and you do not have an active internet connection, this method won’t work for you. Fortunately, you can still reset your iPhone using the instructions given in the next “recovery mode” section.
Having verified all the prerequisites, here’s how to erase your iPhone using iCloud.
- Open iCloud dashboard and log in using your Apple ID.
- Click on All Devices at the top and then select your iPhone.
- Click on Erase iPhone.
Your iPhone’s data should be wiped remotely, thus erasing everything and removing the password. On the setup screen, you can choose between restoring from an iCloud backup or setting up your iPhone as a new one. Select the one you want. Then, you can set a new passcode.
Note: You can also use the Restore method in iTunes, then choose to recover from iCloud when iOS boots back up if you want to.
3. Erase Your iPhone Using Recovery Mode
If you have never synced your device with iCloud or iTunes, erasing your iPhone using recovery mode is your only option. Doing so will erase your iPhone’s data permanently and basically set it up as new. Here’s how to erase your iPhone using recovery mode.
First, connect your iPhone to a computer and Open iTunes. The hardware key combination required to enter recovery mode varies between different iPhone models. Here’s an excerpt from Apple’s support page on how to enter recovery mode:
- On an iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus: Press and quickly release the Volume Up button. Then press and quickly release the Volume Down button. Finally, press and hold the Side button until you see the recovery mode screen.
- On an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus: Press and hold both the Side and Volume Down buttons at the same time. Keep holding them until you see the recovery mode screen.
- On an iPhone 6s and earlier, iPad, or iPod touch: Press and hold both the Home and the Top (or Side) buttons at the same time. Keep holding them until you see the recovery mode screen.
When you enter the recovery mode, iTunes will prompt you to either Restore or Update your iPhone. Click on Restore.
iTunes should begin downloading software for your device. If the download takes more than 15 minutes, the iPhone will exit the recovery mode automatically. In this happens, just repeat the above steps. Once the process is completed, you can set up your iPhone and set a new passcode.
Unfortunately, without a backup your data will be lost.
Other Methods You Can Try
Apple takes pride in the fact that it values user security and privacy. While there’s no denying that Apple’s security infrastructure is top-notch, it’s also true that it isn’t bullet-proof. For instance, a developer used a $500 box to exploit a vulnerability in iOS 10.3.3 and iOS 11 beta to perform a brute force attack and bypass the lock screen.
The brute force method could take days to work, depending on the complexity of the password. Fortunately, Apple patches such vulnerabilities swiftly.
Perhaps this might be the most impractical method to bypass your passcode, not just because of the price of the box, but also because you’d have to be really unlucky (lucky?) to be running a vulnerable version of iOS. If you have some really important data that you cannot afford to lose, but you still need to reset your passcode, you might want to give it a try.
Now that you’ve successfully removed your iPhone’s passcode, it’s time to go back to the basics and learn from this experience. In no particular order, here’s what you should do.
- Keep your iPhone backed up: The importance of backup cannot be stressed enough. If you had to reset your passcode and didn’t have a backup, you might agree that losing precious data is a dreadful experience. Read our handy guide on how to backup your iPhone.
- Keep your iOS updated: A few brute-force boxes that exploit a vulnerability in iOS have popped up in the past. Apple often acts quickly and patches the vulnerabilities. Therefore, it’s best to keep your iOS updated.
- Create a strong yet memorable passcode: A strong password doesn’t necessarily have to be tough to remember. Here are a few tips to generate passwords that are secure yet memorable.
Were you able to reset the passcode on your iPhone successfully? Which method did you use? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
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