If You Forgot Your iPhone Passcode What Do You Do

Talking about iPhone passcodes, they had hit the headlines back in March 2016. A news was doing the rounds that the FBI had confiscated an iPhone 5c which was used by one of the shooters involved in the San Bernardino terrorist attack. But, they couldn’t get past the passcode security. The phone was locked and they wanted to obtain additional information by breaking into the phone.

The Feds did manage to get a court order that instructed Apple to assist them and break into the phone. However, Apple refused.

As the case progressed, eventually government realised that they did not need Apple’s help after all, and that a third party was ready to do the hacking for them. After a week the case got dissolved, and the FBI announced it had opened up the phone without Apple’s help.

Since the court subsequently ruled that the details about how the FBI cracked the iPhone were national security secrets and were exempt from disclosure, there is no solid proof of how they could unlock the passcode protected device.

iPhones are safe, we all agree to that. And pertaining to how seriously Apple takes its users’ security, it is safe to assume that your phone’s data is secure if it falls in a layman’s hand. But, what if you, the owner of the phone, is not able to unlock it?

What should you do in the cases when you forget your iPhone or iPad’s passcode and cannot open the lock?

Try to unlock the disabled device using iTunes

There is a high chance that you must have previously synced your device with iTunes. You can utilize a recent backup in order to restore your iPhone/iPad and reset the passcode.

Following are the steps to erase your device using iTunes:

  1. Connect your device to a PC with which you have previously synced the device.
  2. Open iTunes and if it allows you to proceed ahead without prompting for a passcode, you can go ahead.
  3. In case if it asks for a password, connect your device to another computer you might have synced with. Remember, this may not work if you have never synced with any other computer.
  4. Wait for some time before iTunes syncs your device and then make a backup.
  5. After the sync is completed, click on the ‘Restore iPhone’ button and let the restoration process complete. This process will reinstall the entire iOS from scratch.
  6. When completed, you will see the iOS setup screen on your device. On this screen, tap on Restore from iTunes backup .
  7. You will have an option to choose the latest backup to restore from.

By doing so, it will restore your entire data to the point in time when you made the backup. And this also removes the passcode entirely which will give you a chance to set up a new one from scratch.

What if you have never synced your device with iTunes?

In the case of Apple, if you have entered the wrong passcode too many times, the device will show a message stating that your device is disabled. In unfortunate circumstances, if you cannot remember your passcode, you’ll need to erase your device, which will also delete all of your data and settings, including the passcode.

Until and unless you made a backup before you forgot your passcode, there is no way to save the data on your device. Below are the steps to remove your passcode:

iPhone X or later, and iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

Continue to press and hold the Side button and either one of the volume buttons until the power off slider appears. Simply drag the slider to turn off your device. Now, you will need to connect your device to a computer while still holding the Side button. You will see a recovery-mode screen if you keep holding the Side button.

iPad with Face ID

Press and hold the Top button and either one of the volume button till the power off slider appears on your device. Turn the device off by dragging your slider. After you connect your device to a computer while holding the top button, you will see the recovery-mode screen.

Phone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and iPod touch (7th generation)

Continue to press and hold the Side (or Top) button until the power off slider appears and turn the device off after that. Connect your device to a computer while you continue holding the Volume down button until you see the recovery-mode screen.

iPhone 6s or earlier, iPod touch (6th generation or earlier), or iPad with Home button

Continue holding the Side (or Top) button until the power off slider appears. Drag the slider to turn off your device. Connect your device to a computer while you keep holding the Home button. By doing so, you will see the recovery-mode screen.

Now in iTunes, when you see the option to Restore or Update, choose Restore. iTunes, this will download software for your device. In case if this whole process takes more than 15 minutes, the device will exit recovery mode and you will need to repeat the above steps..

Use forensics software

Just like an iPhone app development company, you will most definitely find a company that develops software that utilizes a technique to bypass the Apple Passcode. This can be called as a finger-tapping trick which enables the person to access something on the locked phone. This can either be Contacts or Messages. By doing so, you are not hacking the passcode, you are merely bypassing it.

Do not linger on the finger tricks that you see in YouTube videos. It is quite possible to hack the passcode. But, you will need serious software to do so. This is what we call forensics software since law enforcement agencies use them when they want to analyse a mobile phone. Just like we discussed in the starting of this post.

There are a number of reliable means of cracking an iPad’s passcode available today. Alas! this software is not available to the general public and you will need to apply for a licence and need to show your credentials before you get your hands on that software.


Apple takes the security of their devices quite seriously. It is not easy to crack the passcode if in case you have not synced your device. This is one aspect where Apple stands out from among its competitors.

written by for Apple, iPhone section(s).