How to Unlock Your iPhone If You Forgot Your Passcode

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Setting a password on your iPhone is a great way to ensure that nobody can access your device without permission. Ideally, you will choose a password that is both secure and something you can easily remember. Unfortunately, if you forget your password, it can also be a real headache, as Apple has no way to unlock your iPhone if you forgot your password. However, all hope is not lost. Read on to learn of some methods to help you unlock your iPhone if you forgot your passcode.

Use iCloud to Restore Your Phone

The reality is that if you forgot your password, there really is only one way to get back in to your device – restoring your iPhone – and it’s the best option. By restoring via iCloud, the hope is that a restore will have a backup of all of the data being removed from your device through the restore process. The following instructions will show you how to do it.

1. Log in to iCloud.com with your Apple ID on a computer or tablet.

2. Click on “Find iPhone” and locate your iPhone on the map. When you locate the iPhone, click on it.

Unlock Iphone Forgot Passcode Icloud Login 1

3. Click the “Erase iPhone” button.

Unlock Iphone Forgot Passcode Find Iphone

Your iPhone will be reset to factory conditions. Start setting your phone up and try to restore with the latest iCloud backup. If you use iCloud correctly, the latest iCloud backup shouldn’t be more than a few hours to a day or two old, so information loss should be minimal.

Using Finder to Restore Your Phone

Unlock Iphone Forgot Passcode Restore Iphone Backup

While Apple encourages its customers to regularly back up their iPhones using iCloud, some iPhone owners still prefer the Finder backup method. If you prefer to sync it regularly with a Mac, this option is likely to be among the easiest to get back into your password-protected iPhone.

1. Open Finder on your computer that you use to back up the iPhone regularly.

2. Connect the iPhone to the computer using the lightning cable. As soon as Finder recognizes your iPhone, click on the iPhone icon on the iPhone summary screen.

Unlock Iphone Forgot Passcode Finder

3. Locate the “Restore Backup” option in the “Summary” tab and select the backup you want to use. Finder should default to your most recent backup, if available, however long ago it was.

Unlock Iphone Forgot Passcode Restore Backup

4. Enter any relevant Apple ID information as you begin the restoration process. This should be the same Apple ID account you used to set up or activate the iPhone.

Finder will now do its thing and restore the backed-up data to your iPhone. It should be a relatively quick process since it’s only restoring your data and settings. Once it’s restored, you will then need to manually redownload your apps, music, books, photos, etc.

Using iTunes (Pre-macOS Catalina)

Unlock Iphone Forgot Passcode Restore Iphone

If restoring via iCloud does not work, macOS users still using High Sierra or Mojave can likely try restoring via iTunes. It’s important to note that for macOS Catalina and Big Sur users, iTunes is no longer available. In its place is Finder and as shown above, most of the functionality of iTunes remains intact.

For anyone with iTunes still on their Mac machine, the most important step to take before you start this process is to place your iPhone into recovery mode. Depending on your device, there are three ways to prep your device for this method. Note that the device should be connected to the computer with iTunes open when trying these steps.

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iPhone 8 Series and Later and iPhone SE (2nd Gen)

1. Press and quickly release both the volume up and volume down buttons, then press and hold the power button until you see the recovery mode screen.

2. It’s important to continue holding the side/power button even after the Apple logo appears. Release the button once the “Connect to iTunes” logo appears on the iPhone display.

3. Launch iTunes with your iPhone connected to your computer and try to restore your data via iTunes backup.

iPhone 7 Series

1. Press and hold the sleep/wake and volume down buttons at the same time until the iPhone screen turns off. Continue holding the buttons down until the Apple logo appears.

2. Release the sleep/wake and volume down buttons once the “Connect to iTunes” logo appears on the iPhone display.

3. Connect your iPhone to the computer to launch iTunes and set it up again through iTunes backups.

iPhone SE (1st Gen) and iPhone 6s or Earlier

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Be mindful here to turn the iPhone off and disconnect it from the computer before trying this restore method.

1. Press and hold both the home and top buttons at the same time

2. Keep your finger on the home button until the recovery mode screen pops up. Restore your iPhone and your data by setting it up again through iTunes backups.

Once any of the above iPhone models are plugged in, iTunes (or Finder on macOS Catalina) will tell you that there “is a problem with the iPhone that requires it to be updated or restored.” At the bottom of this prompt, you have three options: Cancel, Restore and Update. You want to click on restore and wait for the iPhone to finish restoring.

Once it finishes restoring, begin setting up the iPhone again and try and restore your old data via iCloud or iTunes/Finder.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does restoring work the same way with iPad?

Yes, absolutely. For iPad models that don’t have a home button, the steps to restore through iTunes are similar to newer iPhones. Press and quickly release the volume up and volume down buttons (one after the other) and press and hold the top/power button until the device restarts. Continue to hold the top button until the iPad enters recovery mode.

For iPads with a home button, press and hold the home and top/side buttons at the same time. Continue holding until you see the recovery screen appear.

2. What happens if I have two-factor authentication enabled?

If you have 2FA already set up, you should have a second trusted device with Apple already established. Whether it’s an Apple Watch, iPad, iPod Touch or Mac, as long as it can receive a verification code from Apple when signing back into your iPhone, there should not be any issue coming out of recovery mode.

3. What do I do if none of these steps work?

Realistically, recovering your iPhone should work to unlock your phone. However, if, for any reason, the above steps do not work, contacting Apple is your next step. It’s likely that Apple will try the same recovery/DFU mode you can do at home, but if you are not feeling confident you are performing the steps properly, contact Apple.

No matter how you slice it, forgetting your iPhone password can be dangerous. But all hope is not lost if you back up your data via Finder or iCloud. If you forgot your passcode, it will allow you to easily easily unlock your iPhone. Read on to learn how to restore deleted apps on your iPhone.

David David

David is a freelance tech writer with over 15 years of experience in the tech industry. He loves all things Nintendo.

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Updated featured image Added new screenshots Updated Finder/iTunes section to better reflect iTunes no longer being available on newer mac computers Added FAQ section Updated iTunes steps to condense and make it easier to follow