What do you do if your iPhone is locked?

If you find yourself locked out of your iPhone, don’t panic. There are several things you can try to get back into your device.

Try entering your passcode

The first thing to do is try entering your passcode. Make sure you are typing in the correct passcode and that your caps lock is not on. If you can’t remember your exact passcode, try entering variations of it. For example, if your passcode contains a “2” try entering it with a “3” instead. Oftentimes we remember the pattern of the passcode but enter one of the numbers incorrectly.

Check for updates

If entering your passcode doesn’t work, check to see if your iPhone needs a software update. Go to Settings > General > Software Update to see if an update is available. Installing the latest update can sometimes resolve minor glitches that may be causing your passcode not to work.

Reset your passcode

If you have your iPhone set up to use Touch ID or Face ID, you may be able to reset your passcode by entering one of those instead. Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode (or Touch ID & Passcode) and enter your fingerprint or face scan. This should bring up the option to change your passcode.

Use Find My iPhone

You can use Find My iPhone to remotely erase your device, which will allow you to set a new passcode. Of course this will also erase all of your data, so it should only be used as a last resort. To use this feature, log into iCloud.com and click Find iPhone. Select your device and choose Erase iPhone – this will reset it to factory settings.

Force restart

Force restarting your iPhone can sometimes resolve a locked passcode screen. To force restart, press and quickly release the Volume Up button, press and quickly release the Volume Down button, then press and hold the Side button until you see the Apple logo. This will restart your phone and you can try entering your passcode again.

Connect to iTunes

Connecting your locked iPhone to a computer that it’s been previously synced with can allow you to reset the passcode. Open iTunes on the computer, connect your iPhone, then follow the on-screen prompts to enter DFU (Device Firmware Upgrade) mode and restore your device.

Contact Apple Support

If none of the above options have worked, you can contact Apple Support to see if they can assist. You may need to provide proof of ownership of the device. Apple can potentially help remove activation lock, reset your Apple ID password, or recover your iPhone if you forgot your Apple ID credentials.

Take it to Apple Store

As a last resort, you can take your iPhone to an Apple Store and have a Genius Bar technician attempt to unlock it for you. They have special tools and software that may allow them to reset your passcode so you can access your iPhone again. There may be a fee for this service.

Use a passcode unlock service

There are companies that specialize in unlocking iPhones when the passcode is forgotten. This involves using sophisticated software to essentially “hack” into your iPhone and reset the passcode. Do your research to find a reputable company, and be prepared to pay a fee which can range from $50-$100 or more.

Fully reset your iPhone

If nothing else has worked, a full factory reset will erase your passcode but also all of your data. As a last resort when locked out of your iPhone, you can perform a factory reset by entering recovery mode and selecting “Erase All Content and Settings.” Your phone will be restored to factory default settings and become unlocked.

Set up passcode recovery options

To avoid getting locked out of your iPhone in the future, make sure you set up passcode recovery options:

  • Set up a trusted phone number or email address to use for account recovery
  • Enable Find My iPhone so you can remotely erase your device if needed
  • Set up an Apple ID password hint to help remember your password
  • Write down your Apple ID username and password in a safe place

Use longer passcodes

Using a longer, more complex alphanumeric passcode instead of a 4-6 digit numeric code can make your iPhone more secure. Longer passcodes are harder to guess or brute force crack into.

Avoid Touch ID/Face ID

Biometric unlock methods like Touch ID or Face ID are convenient but more prone to locking you out if they fail to recognize your fingerprint or face. Using a standard passcode avoids this potential issue.

Install lock screen notifications

You can enable lock screen notifications for things like messages, calls and calendar events. This allows you to view certain info without unlocking your iPhone, which avoids unnecessary failed passcode attempts.


Getting locked out of your iPhone can be annoying and inconvenient. However, there are a number of ways you can get back into a locked device, from simply trying passcode variations to completely resetting your iPhone. Setting up proper passcode recovery options can help prevent lockouts. With some patience and using the right techniques, you’ll be able to recover access to your iPhone.

If you forget your iPhone passcode, don’t stress. Follow the tips outlined here to get back into your device quickly. Let us know in the comments below if you have any other tips for unlocking a locked iPhone!

Method Difficulty Risks
Enter passcode Easy None
Update iOS Easy None
Reset passcode Easy None
Find My iPhone Moderate Data loss
Force restart Easy None
Connect to iTunes Moderate Data loss
Contact Apple Moderate Wait times
Take to Apple Store Moderate Fees may apply
Unlock service Moderate Fees apply
Factory reset Difficult All data lost

Passcode Prevention Tips

Here are some tips to avoid getting locked out of your iPhone in the future:

  • Set up passcode recovery options like trusted contacts
  • Enable Find My iPhone in case you need to remotely erase
  • Use longer and more complex passcodes
  • Avoid biometric unlock methods like Touch ID or Face ID
  • Turn on lock screen notifications
  • Write down your passcode somewhere safe in case you forget it

Following these simple precautions can prevent many iPhone lockout situations. Being prepared with recovery options is also wise in case you do ever get locked out.

When to Reset Your iPhone

Resetting your iPhone to factory default settings can be an effective method to get back into a locked device. Here are some instances where completely resetting your iPhone may be necessary:

  • You’ve exhausted all other unlocking options
  • You forgot both your passcode and Apple ID credentials
  • Your iPhone is suffering from major software issues or glitches
  • You’re selling or gifting your iPhone to someone else

The biggest risk with resetting is that it will erase all of your data, settings and content on that iPhone. So only use it as a last resort after you’ve exhausted all other options. Back up your iPhone data regularly so you don’t lose anything important.

How to Reset an iPhone

Here are the steps to completely reset your iPhone to factory settings:

  1. Make sure Find My iPhone is turned off
  2. Connect your iPhone to a computer and open iTunes
  3. While connected, force restart your iPhone
  4. Open iTunes and enter recovery mode
  5. Select “Restore” to erase all content and settings
  6. The iPhone will reboot to setup assistant – follow prompts to set up as new or restore from backup

This will wipe your device and allow you to set a new passcode. Remember to backup beforehand if possible so you don’t lose your data.


Getting locked out of your iPhone doesn’t have to mean the end of the world or warrant an expensive trip to the Apple store. In many cases you can get back into your iPhone on your own with minimal effort. Follow the helpful tips in this article to troubleshoot and solve most iPhone lockout situations.

The key takeaways are:

  • Try passcode variations and resets
  • Force restart your iPhone
  • Use Find My iPhone or iTunes to erase and unlock
  • Set up recovery options to prevent future lockouts

And as a last option, resetting your iPhone will guarantee you get back in, albeit at the cost of your data. With the right prevention and recovery methods, you can minimize the headaches caused by a locked iPhone.