I Forgot My iPhone Passcode. What Now?

May 16, 2023 • April Miller


Realizing you forgot your iPhone passcode can be frustrating, but plenty of solutions exist. Depending on what you do, you can keep all your data and have access to your phone in no time.

What Are Your Options?

While extra security is great for protecting your phone against theft, it is less helpful when you’re the one who’s locked out. There are a few ways you can get back into your phone if you’ve lost the passcode, but they involve resetting your device. A factory reset is required because it removes the passcode requirement entirely. 

It might not seem great, but all your content and information are saved as long as you have a backup. You can choose to back up your phone through iCloud or your computer. Alternatively, you could start fresh and use your phone without backing up if you’re not concerned with losing data.

Backup Your iPhone on Mac

You can skip this process if you had ‘iCloud Backup” enabled because it automatically backs up your phone every night once you turn it on in settings. You’ll get a prompt after you reset your phone to apply the most recent backup if you used it.

Although you should ideally have one already, making one is possible even if your phone is locked. You’ll only be able to back up with iTunes if you’re using a trusted device. If not, it’ll prompt you to sign in to confirm you trust it — which you can’t do because you’re locked out. 

Start by connecting your phone to your computer and pulling up Finder. Click on your device when it pops up in the left sidebar under “Locations” to begin. From this screen, you can back up essential data to iCloud or all data to the computer. Once you’ve made your selection, choose “Back Up Now.” You can also see your most recent backup on this screen.

Backup Your iPhone on Windows

If you’re using iTunes on Windows, your device will appear as a small phone icon in the top left of the window. Select it, choose your device, click “Summary” and then click “Back Up Now” to create a new backup of your phone. You’ll also be able to see the most recent backup on this screen.

Restore Your iPhone to Factory Settings

You’ll have to reset your phone in order to use it again. You’ll see the option to “Restore” your phone frequently throughout this process. It might sound vague, but it means factory reset. Be careful not to choose that option if you mean to create a backup. There are a few different ways you can approach resetting your device.

  1. Use Finder on Mac

You’ll need a computer for this. Connect your phone to your computer and use Finder to select your device when it appears in the left sidebar under “Locations.” Click “Restore” to reset your phone to factory settings. This process will take a few minutes.

  1. Use iTunes Windows

You’ll need a computer for this. You’ll use this process if you’re using Windows or earlier versions of macOS. Pull up the iTunes app on your computer and click the small phone icon in the top left. Select “Summary,” click “Restore,” and then follow the directions to reset your phone to factory settings. It’ll take a few minutes to fully reset.

  1. Use Security Lock Out

Your phone needs to use iOS 15.2 or later to reset via the lock screen using security lock out. After enough failed attempts, your phone will say your device is unavailable and a small “Erase iPhone” option will appear on the bottom right of your screen. Tap it and enter your Apple ID password to sign out so you can proceed. Press the option to erase your device once you’ve signed out to reset your phone. 

  1. Use Recovery Mode

You’ll need a computer for this. Each phone will use one of three recovery processes depending on its type. You can identify iPhones by their dimensions if you can’t remember which you have. You’ll need to shut your phone off completely before beginning.

Each process involves pressing and holding a particular button. For iPhone SE, 6 and earlier versions, it’s the home button. It’s the volume down button on the iPhone 7 versions. The iPhone 8, X and later versions use the power button on the right side.

Hold the corresponding button down and plug it into the computer at the same time. Keep holding it down throughout the entire process until an image of a cord and computer icon appear on your phone’s screen — it signals you’ve entered recovery mode.

Use Finder or iTunes to pull up your phone and choose the “restore” option. You can also choose to update your phone here. While it’s similar to using Finder on Mac or iTunes on Windows, it might help you update and reset your phone if it doesn’t recognize it as a trusted device.

  1. Use Find My iPhone

You can sign in to find my iPhone on a computer if you don’t want to use iTunes or wait until your phone locks time out. You’ll need to have your Apple ID and password to sign in, so make sure you know it. You’ll get an option to erase your phone next to a small trash can icon. Press that to perform a factory reset. 

Restore the Backup With iCloud

After you reset your device, it’ll act like a new phone and activate with a welcome screen. Navigate past it and begin setting up your iPhone. Once you reach the “Apps & Data” screen, you’ll be presented with the option to “Restore from Cloud” and select which backup you want to use. 

Use the most recent backup. Ensure your phone is charging and connected to wifi for the entire time it’s restoring the backup. It may take a while, so try to time this so you have uninterrupted internet access. You’ll gain access to your phone once it’s complete.

Restore the Backup With Your Computer

Don’t go through the welcome screen steps to set up your phone if you plan on restoring a backup using iTunes — you’ll want to do this immediately after the factory reset. Plug in your phone and pull up Finder or iTunes. Select your phone and choose the option to “Sync Settings” option at the top right of the window. 

Navigation might vary depending on your device, but you should get to the screen in the general settings tab with the “Backups” section. You can choose “Restore Backup,” which prompts you to restore the backup you saved earlier. Keep your phone plugged into your computer and connected to wifi the entire time. After a while, your phone will be restored and you can set up a new passcode. 

How Do You Prevent Forgetting Again?

In the future, the simplest way to back up your phone is to go through iCloud. Navigate to settings, select “iCloud” and then select “iCloud Backup” to turn on automatic backups. You can also use that screen to do it immediately by pressing the “Back Up Now” option. 

You can prevent yourself from forgetting your iPhone passcode by writing it down every time you change it. If you’re unwilling to do so, consider setting up Face ID to sign in to your phone with your face instead of your passcode. You can set up multiple faces and it is just as secure.

Forgot Your iPhone Passcode?

It can be tough to admit, “I forgot my iPhone passcode,” but the first step of backup recovery is accepting you need to reset your phone. There are various ways to create backups, factory reset and restore backups, so you should be covered regardless of how you need to get back into your phone.