What happens if you forget your phone password on iPhone?

Forgetting your iPhone passcode can be a frustrating experience. Your iPhone is locked and inaccessible until you can remember the right combination of numbers. This situation is quite common, as passcodes can be easy to forget if you don’t use them regularly. Luckily, there are several options for recovering or resetting your passcode if you find yourself locked out of your iPhone.

Why Do You Need a Passcode?

All iPhones prompt you to set up a passcode when you first configure the device. This passcode helps protect the data on your phone in case it gets lost or stolen. Without the passcode, anyone who finds your iPhone would have full access to your info.

The passcode also helps prevent unauthorized access if your iPhone is left unattended. And if you have enabled Touch ID or Face ID, the passcode acts as a backup unlocking method if the biometric authentication fails.

So in short, the passcode is an important security measure every iPhone user should utilize. Forgetting it can limit your access to the device and the sensitive data it contains.

What Happens When You Forget the Passcode?

When you enter the wrong iPhone passcode multiple times, you will trigger a security lockout. After a few failed attempts, the iPhone disables touch input temporarily. With further failed attempts, the device will increase the lockout period up to 1 hour.

If you go long enough without successfully entering the passcode, the iPhone data will become inaccessible. You will need to take steps to unlock or reset the device to regain access.

The specific lockout timeframes are:

Failed Attempts Lockout Period
5 1 minute
6 5 minutes
7 15 minutes
8 1 hour

As you can see, a few failed passcode attempts can quickly lead to long wait times. And without the proper passcode, you cannot use the iPhone until the lockout period ends.

Options for Recovering/Resetting iPhone Passcode

If you find yourself locked out of your iPhone, don’t panic. You have a few different options for recovering access. The best solution depends on your specific circumstances.

Enter Passcode at Prompt

When your iPhone initially goes into lockout mode after a few failed attempts, it will still prompt you to enter the passcode. Carefully try recalling and correctly entering the proper passcode at this point to regain access immediately.

If you’re close to remembering the passcode, this could jog your memory. Take your time and carefully try passcodes that you may have used.

With multiple failed attempts, the iPhone will temporarily disable the unlock screen. But once the lockout period ends, you can again try entering your passcode at the prompt.

Use Screen Time Passcode

If you have set up Screen Time parental controls on your iPhone, you likely created a separate 4-digit Screen Time passcode. This simpler passcode can help regain access if you forget the regular 6-digit iPhone unlock passcode.

To use the Screen Time passcode:

1. Wait until the lockout period ends after failed passcode attempts.

2. When the passcode prompt appears, tap the “Emergency Call” button.

3. Then tap the “Emergency” or “Medical ID” button.

4. You will then see an option to enter the Screen Time passcode.

5. If entered correctly, this will unlock the iPhone, bypassing the forgotten main passcode.

This trick only works if you previously turned on Screen Time restrictions and created a separate 4-digit passcode. But if so, it provides a handy backdoor unlock option.

Use iPhone Unlock Tools

Third-party unlocking tools and services can help unlock an iPhone when you forget the passcode. Typically such services connect the iPhone to a computer and use special software to override the passcode. This allows resetting or removing the forgotten passcode.

Some top unlock tools include:

– Tenorshare 4uKey – Unlocks iPhone without data loss
– iMyFone LockWiper – Bypasses lock screen for all iOS versions
– dr.fone – Screen Unlock – Removes various lock screens

These tools work by exploiting software vulnerabilities to bypass the iPhone passcode lock. While convenient, they do require connecting your device to a computer and trusting the tool/service provider. Make sure to only use reputable iPhone unlock software from verified developers.

Erase iPhone Data via iCloud

If you have iCloud backups enabled, you can remotely erase your locked iPhone. This essentially factory resets the device so you can set a new passcode.

To erase via iCloud:

1. Go to iCloud.com and login to your account.

2. Choose Find iPhone from the menu options.

3. Select your locked iPhone from the device list.

4. Tap on Erase iPhone at the bottom of the screen.

5. Confirm again that you want to erase all data and reset.

After the iPhone is wiped, reboot the device and go through initial setup again. You can then create a new passcode to re-access and restore from an iCloud or iTunes backup.

Just keep in mind that erasing via iCloud means permanently losing any data created since your last backup. So you may want to explore other unlock options first if the data is important.

Erase iPhone Data via iTunes

You can also erase your forgotten passcode by connecting the iPhone to a computer running iTunes. This essentially performs a factory reset to remove the passcode lock.

To reset via iTunes:

1. Connect your locked iPhone to a computer using the USB cable.

2. Open iTunes on the computer if it doesn’t launch automatically.

3. Select your connected iPhone from the menu.

4. Under Summary info, click Restore iPhone.

5. Confirm you want to erase data and reinstall iOS on the iPhone.

6. Wait for the restore process to complete.

7. Set up the iPhone from scratch, creating a new passcode when prompted.

Like using iCloud, erasing via iTunes means losing unsaved data. So first consider other passcode recovery methods if possible. But if you have no other choice, this process will reset the device.

Take iPhone to Apple Store

As a last resort, you can take your locked iPhone to Apple for passcode help. They likely won’t be able to recover the forgotten passcode for you though due to security reasons.

However, at an Apple retail store, the Genius Bar can erase and reset your iPhone data to remove the passcode. This restores the iPhone to factory settings so you can set up a new passcode.

Before resetting, the Genius Bar will typically ask to verify you are the iPhone owner. Be ready to provide a proof of purchase or your Apple ID used on the device.

Resetting means you lose any data not backed up to iCloud or iTunes. Apple Support may be able to recover some data, but results aren’t guaranteed. So only use an Apple Store passcode reset as a final measure after exploring all other options.

Tips to Avoid Forgetting iPhone Passcode

While the options above can recover access after forgetting your passcode, it’s best to avoid this frustrating scenario altogether. Here are some tips to remember your iPhone unlock passcode:

Use a Passcode Hint

When originally setting your iPhone passcode, you can optionally create a passcode hint. This reminds you what the passcode is in case you forget.

The hint will appear after a few failed passcode attempts, jogging your memory before the iPhone goes into lockout mode. Only you can see the hint, keeping your passcode secure.

Write Down Passcode

If you don’t use your iPhone passcode frequently, physically writing it down can help you remember. Just be sure to keep the written passcode very secure, such as in a locked safe. Don’t leave it lying around where someone can find and misuse it.

Use a Memorizable Passcode

Using a random passcode with no meaning makes it extremely difficult to remember. Instead choose a passcode using a number pattern you can easily recall.

For example, you could base the code on:

– A birthday or anniversary date
– The last 4 digits of your phone number
– A numerical pattern like interlocking digits

A passcode with meaning to you is far easier to recall precisely.

Change Passcode Periodically

If you change your iPhone passcode every few months, it forces you to actively recall and reinforce it. Using the same passcode for years means you’re more likely to forget it when needed.

Use Biometric Unlocking

Enabling Touch ID or Face ID significantly reduces how often you need to enter your passcode. With fingerprint or facial recognition unlocking, you only need the passcode as a secondary backup.

The fewer times you actually type the passcode, the less opportunity you have to forget it. Rely on biometrics as your primary unlock method.


Forgetting your iPhone passcode can happen to anyone. Thankfully there are several effective options to recover access in just a few steps. The best solutions involve resetting your passcode without losing data, either through an unlock tool or separate passcode.

Yet avoiding a forgotten passcode altogether is ideal. Using a hint, writing it down securely, choosing a memorable number pattern, changing it periodically, and using biometrics can help prevent passcode amnesia. With proper precautions, you can stay locked out of your iPhone and maintain security.

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