What is an Apple recovery contact?

What is an Apple ID recovery contact?

An Apple ID recovery contact is a trusted friend or family member that you choose to help you regain access to your account if you ever get locked out. By setting a recovery contact, you give that person limited access to reset your Apple ID password and security info so you can get back into your account and devices.

The recovery contact feature allows you to designate a trusted individual who can assist with account recovery if you forget your Apple ID password, security questions, or two-factor authentication information. This can help you avoid getting permanently locked out of your account. Your recovery contact will not have access to view your account details or data. They can only use their access to help you reset your login credentials in case you get locked out.

This feature was introduced by Apple to provide an extra account recovery option for situations where users could no longer access their account due to forgetting key login details. By adding a trusted recovery contact, users have a safeguard to get back into their Apple account if they ever lose access.

The recovery contact receives a special access code from Apple to verify their identity when assisting with your account recovery. This temporary access allows them to reset your Apple ID password and security info, but not to view any of your personal data.


Why add a recovery contact?

Adding a recovery contact can help you regain access to your Apple ID account if you ever lose access. There are two key situations where having a recovery contact set up can be extremely helpful:

If you forget your password – We’ve all been there – forgetting the password to an important account. With a recovery contact, if you can’t remember your Apple ID password, you can have your contact verify your identity to Apple. Once verified, Apple can send you a reset link so you can create a new password and get back into your account. Having a recovery contact eliminates the hassle and stress of trying to independently prove your identity.

If you lose access to your account – There are various scenarios where you may unexpectedly lose access to your Apple ID. For example, if you lose trusted devices associated with two-factor authentication. Or if someone gains unauthorized access and changes your password. Or if your account or devices are compromised by malware. In situations like these, your recovery contact can confirm your identity so Apple can restore access to your account. This provides an essential safeguard to protect your data and get your account back if it’s ever compromised.




Who can be a recovery contact?

The ideal recovery contact should be someone you know well and trust completely, such as a family member or close friend. As Apple recommends, “your recovery contact should be a person that you know and trust, like a family member or a close friend.”

You want to choose someone who will be willing and able to help you regain access to your account if you ever get locked out. So pick a reliable person who is tech-savvy enough to walk through the account recovery steps. Avoid assigning the role to an acquaintance, colleague, or online friend who you don’t know very well in real life.

The key is to select a recovery contact who you are fully comfortable with having temporary access to reset your password or unlock your account if you ever lose access. So only pick someone you know extremely well and have a close personal relationship with.

How to add a recovery contact

Adding a recovery contact can be done through iPhone, Mac, or iCloud.com. Here are the steps to add a recovery contact on each platform:

Add on iPhone

To add a recovery contact on an iPhone running iOS 15 or later:

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Tap your name at the top
  3. Select Password & Security
  4. Tap Account Recovery
  5. Tap Add Recovery Contact
  6. Enter the phone number or email address of your desired recovery contact
  7. Your recovery contact will get a notification to confirm they want to be added

Once confirmed, your recovery contact will be listed under Account Recovery in Settings.

Add on Mac

On a Mac running macOS Monterey or later:

  1. Go to System Settings > Your Name
  2. Click Password & Security
  3. Under Account Recovery, click Add Recovery Contact
  4. Enter the desired recovery contact’s phone/email
  5. They’ll get a notification to confirm being added

After confirming, the recovery contact will appear in your list.

Add on iCloud.com

To add through iCloud.com:

  1. Sign in to iCloud.com
  2. Click your profile picture
  3. Select Account Settings
  4. Click Security
  5. Under Account Recovery, click Add Recovery Contact
  6. Enter your desired contact’s information
  7. They will receive a notification to confirm

Once confirmed, the contact will be added to your account recovery options.

What your recovery contact can do

If you ever forget your Apple ID password or get locked out of your account, your recovery contact can help you reset it. According to Apple Support, your recovery contact can:

  • Reset your password – Your recovery contact can generate a new temporary password for you to sign in and reset your password. This saves you from having to go through full account recovery.
  • Reset your security questions – If you’ve forgotten the answers to your security questions, your recovery contact can reset them so you can set new questions and answers. This allows you to regain access to your account.

Having a recovery contact set up makes it much easier and faster to get back into your Apple ID if you ever get locked out. Rather than having to contact Apple Support or go through the full account recovery process, your designated recovery contact can reset your login credentials directly.

What your recovery contact can’t do

An Apple recovery contact has limited access to your account. Even though they can help verify your identity, they cannot:

Access your account or data – Your recovery contact does not have access to your Apple ID password or any personal information in your account. They cannot log in as you or see any of your data.

Make purchases – Your recovery contact cannot make purchases, change account or payment information, or access any of your financial data. They are strictly limited to assisting with identity verification.

So while a recovery contact can help restore access to a locked account, they cannot directly access your private account information or make any changes without your knowledge.

Recovery contact vs trusted contact

There is an important difference between an Apple recovery contact and a trusted contact. While they serve similar purposes, there are key distinctions in how they work:


A recovery contact can help you regain access to your account if you are ever locked out. They can reset your password, remove your Apple ID from a device, and help with other account recovery steps. You choose one recovery contact and they must confirm their role.

A trusted contact is someone you designate who Apple can contact if they detect signs of account compromise or abuse. Your trusted contacts do not have any direct access to your account. You can have multiple trusted contacts. They are not notified of their role but can assist Apple in an investigation.


In summary, choose a recovery contact if you want someone who can directly help you recover your account access. Choose trusted contacts if you want Apple to have emergency contacts to investigate potential issues with your account.

Removing or changing a recovery contact

If you ever want to remove a recovery contact or switch to a new one, you can easily do so through your Apple ID account settings:

To remove a recovery contact:

  • On your iPhone, go to Settings > [Your Name] > Password & Security > Account Recovery
  • Tap on the name of the recovery contact you want to remove
  • Tap “Remove Contact” to confirm removing them as your recovery contact

They will receive a notification that they are no longer your account recovery contact. According to Apple Support, removing a recovery contact does not remove them from your contacts list or prevent you from adding them again in the future.

To change your recovery contact:

  • Follow the same steps above to remove your current recovery contact
  • Then tap “Add Recovery Contact” and choose a new trusted contact to act as your recovery contact
  • They will receive an invitation to become your account recovery contact, which they must accept

You can swap recovery contacts as needed. Just be sure you always have at least one active recovery contact set up for account security.

Recovery contact for families

Setting up an Apple recovery contact can be especially useful for families. Parents of young children or adults caring for elderly parents can benefit from being the recovery contact.

For kids, parents can set themselves as the recovery contact on the child’s Apple ID. This allows parents to help their kids recover access if they forget passwords or get locked out. It provides parents an extra level of protection and oversight for their children’s accounts. As Apple notes, recovery contacts should be someone trusted, so a parent makes sense for young users.

Similarly, adults can set themselves as the recovery contact for elderly parents’ Apple IDs. As parents age, they may have trouble recalling passwords or get locked out of accounts. Having an adult child as the recovery contact allows them to easily help parents reinstate access, avoiding frustration. It also provides security in case the parent’s account is compromised. With aging users, having a recovery contact is prudent.

For families, the Apple ID recovery contact provides an extra safeguard for both children and elderly users. It allows trusted family members to recover account access when needed, while still maintaining security and oversight.

Security tips

Choosing a recovery contact is an important security decision. Here are some tips:

Choose someone trustworthy that you know well and who is responsible. This should be someone you trust to have access to your account if you can’t access it yourself. Avoid choosing someone who may have motive to misuse your account.

Keep your recovery contact up to date. If your relationship with your chosen recovery contact changes, make sure to update your selection to someone you currently trust. For example, if you choose an ex-spouse and later divorce, you will want to change your recovery contact.

Never share your Apple ID password or verification codes with anyone, including your recovery contact. Your recovery contact can only assist with account access, not obtain your password.

Consider security tradeoffs. While a recovery contact improves account security if you’re locked out, it also provides that contact with a way to assist with accessing your account. Make sure you fully trust your selection.