You’ve set a pattern, pin code, or other type of Android password that you’ll definitely remember. Until you don’t remember anymore. It happens to everyone, but you definitely don’t want to get locked out of your Android device. The best way to avoid this gut-wrenching problem is by taking a few precautions now. However, if it’s already too late for that, it may still be possible to get back in without resetting your phone.
Start with Prevention
The first step is to prepare for the worst. Getting locked out of your Android device can happen at any time, so don’t wait until you’ve had your phone or tablet for a year to start backing things up.
Sadly, you may have to reset your device and erase everything if you forget your password. If this happens, you’ll want a current backup of your photos, contacts, apps, settings, and more. Set up regular backups now so you won’t have to worry as much if you do get locked out.
The next step is to ensure you’re using an unlocking method you can remember. For instance, if you’re using a pattern, draw the pattern on a piece of paper and store it with your most important files or upload a picture of the pattern to Dropbox or another cloud service. Just name it something inconspicuous. Do the same with any other type of password, too. You can use a password manager as well, just make sure you remember the master password to access it and install the password manager on another device, such as your computer.
Set Up Smart Lock
Another precaution to take now is to set up Smart Lock. This gives you a secondary method for accessing your device. For instance, if your pattern doesn’t work, you can use your voice instead.
Go to “Settings -> Lock screen & security -> Smart Lock.” Depending on your Android OS, you may need to go to “Secure lock settings” and then “Smart Lock.” Choose a secondary method, which can include your voice, a location, another device, etc.
Older Android Device Workaround
For older Android devices, you may be able to simply reset your password. This only works with Android 4.4 and older. Enter your password incorrectly until you see “Forget Pattern.” Tap that and enter your Google account details. Now, reset your password and continue as normal.
Samsung’s Find My Mobile
If you have a Samsung device, you can use Samsung’s Find My Mobile service. As long as you’re using your Samsung account on your phone, you can remotely unlock it using any browser. Go to Find My Mobile on a computer. Log in with your Samsung account and choose “Unlock my device.” Your device must be connected to the Internet via mobile data or Wi-Fi to work.
Now, things get a little more complicated. Mobile devices are notoriously difficult to unlock if you forget your password. This goes for both Android and iOS. However, there is a backdoor into Android if you’ve enabled debugging through the Developer Options on your device.
Android Debug Bridge, also known as ADB, is mainly a developer tool. If you’re using this method, be careful, as you can enter incorrect commands and erase things on your phone or make it unusable completely. If you have unlocked the developer tools on your Android device, you’ll need to download ADB on your computer, connect your device to your computer, and try to manually erase your current Android lock code. We have a detailed guide on setting up ADB, including how to enable developer tools on your device.
Using the steps from the guide above, open a command prompt and navigate to your ADB installation folder. Enter in:
adb shell rm /data/system/gesture.key
and press Enter. Reboot your device, and it should erase any current locks and allow you to reset your password.
However, this may not work on newer devices, as Google now encrypts devices. It’s still worth trying, though.
Reset Your Device
If you’ve enabled Google Find My Device on your phone, you can remotely reset it. This erases everything to factory defaults. If you have backups, you’ll be able to restore everything. Log in to the Find My Device service on a computer or another Android device. Choose your device and select “Erase Device.”
If this isn’t set up, you can manually reset. Press and hold the Power and Volume Down buttons until a menu appears. Use the Volume buttons to pick “Recovery Mode” and press the Power button to choose it. Hold the Power and Volume Up until the Android Recovery menu appears. Select “Wipe data/factory reset.” Confirm your choice. All you’ll need is your Google account details to log back in, but your phone will be reset completely.
Getting locked out of your Android device isn’t fun, but don’t give up hope until you’ve tried every method possible to get back in.
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