What to Do When You Lose Your iPhone and Don’t Have Your Apple ID

Something we get asked a lot is what can you do when you lose your iPhone and can’t find it or even log in to Find My iPhone because you don’t have or can’t recall your Apple ID or password.

In this article we not only talk about why you should take steps to secure your all-important Apple ID but also show you what what you can do if you forget your Apple ID.

Ubiquitous ID

It’s quite hard to use advanced features on any Apple products these days without having and using an Apple ID, as we said in this article. Most people who use Mac OS X or iOS at least have an ID even if they don’t use it very often. But therein hangs the problem. If you don’t buy a lot of apps on the app store or iTunes, you very rarely type in your password. And what if you only just got the phone a short time ago? Perhaps you haven’t had a chance to write down or commit the password to memory.

But don’t panic, as there are many steps you can take to make sure you are in a position to recover your Apple ID and therefore reclaim your precious phone.

Use It or Lose It

First thing first: If you have an Apple product, make an Apple ID and store the ID and password somewhere in your home on a piece of paper. This means you can’t forget it – it’s right there on a piece of paper ready for you to read. But isn’t it insecure to have passwords written down?

Counterinuitively, it’s actually safer to have this be the only place they are recorded. A piece of paper can’t be hacked, viewed or otherwise probed online. Someone actually has to come to your house and find where it’s written down and physically take the piece of paper.

Second, before you go anywhere else today, activate Find My iPhone and set it up. If your device is stolen or lost, then using this online app (and before the battery goes dead) allows you to locate the device with its onboard GPS, anywhere in the world.

Thirdly, if you lose or forget your Apple ID, relax, as you can get it back easily. Go to the Apple ID account page and look to the bottom of the sign in window and you will see in tiny writing “Forgot your Apple ID or password?”.


Click on that. In the next window type in your Apple ID and press continue. Your password will be emailed to your email address.

Oh wait, you forgot the Apple ID itself? Maybe you forgot which email address it was, or for some reason you can’t access that address anymore.

Click on the link “Forgot Apple ID.”


You will get a panel asking for the full name associated with that ID and your current email address. You will then be asked to answer some security questions, and the ID will be revealed to you.

Regarding your private security questions, you should write these down on that same piece of paper or book you keep passwords and IDs in and keep it in your home. It’s by far the best security for your passwords and IDs, and it’s cheap, doesn’t run on batteries and can’t get stolen electronically.


If you have any questions or suggestions about Apple ID or iPhones, please ask in the comments below.

Phil South Phil South

Phil South has been writing about tech subjects for over 30 years. Starting out with Your Sinclair magazine in the 80s, and then MacUser and Computer Shopper. He's designed user interfaces for groundbreaking music software, been the technical editor on film making and visual effects books for Elsevier, and helped create the MTE YouTube Channel. He lives and works in South Wales, UK.


  1. I recently purchased an iPhone from Apple on line. It was my first smart phone. Right off the bat, I somehow screwed up and forgot my pass code. The pass code is what your iPhone asks for when it first starts up. I mistakenly thought it was the same as my Apple ID password. It is not.

    I did not discover this until I talked with several apple techs on line trying to get back into my phone. The first two said that my apple password IS the same, but even though I was able to change it (twice) I still could not get back into my phone. Plus every time I tried and failed, the iOS made me wait longer before I could try again. By the third time, I was permanently locked out.

    Oh, and BTW, Apple will not email you your password. You will receive instructions on how to create a new PW. You cannot reuse an old PW either. It must be at least 8 characters long, use letters and numbers with at least one capital letter.

    The third tech told me that no, the pass code is a number, and it is not the same as your password for your Apple ID. The only way to reset the pass code was to completely wipe the iPhones OS and re install it. Which is what we did. In the process, I went from iOS 9 to 10. I made sure to use a pass code I could remember. Luckily since my phone was brand new, I had no photos or videos to lose. And I learned something from the experience. Apple’s tech support is good, and they were very polite; but they may not always be right. I love the phone though, and I was the one at fault for being to too big a hurry to start playing with it.

    So, note to self. Slow down. I am also taking your advise about the storing of passwords, pass CODES, and login credentials. Thanks for the article. The tip about find my phone is appreciated!

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