So you’ve typed your passcode into your iPhone several times and…it’s not unlocking. Did you type it in right? Did you forget what you changed it to last week when your friend convinced you that “000000” isn’t a good passcode just because Kanye uses it?
Well, we have good news and bad news. The bad news is, you have to reset your iPhone and set it up again as if was new. And you’ll need your Apple ID password (not your iPhone passcode) to do it.
The good news is, Apple has made this a lot easier as of iOS 15.2 (and iPadOS 15.2). It used to require plugging into a computer via USB, entering recovery mode…it was a whole process. On iOS/iPadOS 15.2 and later, Apple has made it a lot more straightforward.
- On the Lock Screen, enter a passcode several times until you get a Security Lockout with a warning to try again later.
- You’ll see Erase iPhone (or iPad) at the bottom of the screen. Tap on that.
- Tap Erase iPhone/iPad and then tap it again to confirm.
- You’ll be prompted to enter your Apple ID password to sign out of your Apple ID on this device. This will allow you to reset the device and turns off activation lock.
- Tap Erase iPhone/iPad when prompted again to permanently delete all your apps and data and reset the device.
After a few minutes, your iPhone or iPad will restart and you’ll be at the setup screen, as if it was a new device you just took out of the box. For obvious security reasons, there’s no way to reset your iPhone after a lost passcode without erasing all your apps and data. It would provide an exploitable loop for bad actors to get around the passcode timeouts and such. But as long as you back up your iPhone regularly (either via iCloud or with a connection to your computer) it shouldn’t be too onerous to start over.
I have written professionally about technology for my entire adult professional life – over 20 years. I like to figure out how complicated technology works and explain it in a way anyone can understand.