How to reset and get into a locked iPhone or iPad

Posted:
in iPhone edited July 2017
Picture this -- you've got a family member who changes the password on a device that you've given them, and promptly forgets it. Or, maybe, a child has locked a device with a passcode that didn't have one before, and either denies it or just doesn't remember the code. What do you do?




This is not how to circumvent an iCloud lock for a device you don't own. If you legally own the locked device, and would like to use it again and have the proper credentials, here's how to do it.

With iTunes

If you've ever synced your iPhone or iPad with iTunes, you can restore your device. In doing so, it wipes out the data on the device since the last backup and its password preventing you from accessing it.

Connect the device to a computer running iTunes. Once the initial handshake is done and the Set Up Screen is reached on the device, click the Restore button as shown, and not Restore Backup.


If Find My iPhone is enabled

If, before the unfortunate password incident occurred, you configured "Find My iPhone" through iCloud, you can use that to erase and restore the device, assuming it is connected to wi-fi or wireless.

From another device, go to the online iCloud device locator, and sign in with your Apple ID password. Select the device you want to erase, and click Erase.




Following the erase procedure, you can restore from a backup, or set up the device as a new one.

Failing all that...

There is a last resort for users to try -- Recovery Mode. Plug the device into a computer, and launch iTunes.

On devices with a mechanical home button, press the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button at the same time past the Apple logo, until you get the recovery mode screen.




On devices with a solid state Home button like the iPhone 7, press the Sleep/Wake button and the volume down button, again past the Apple logo, until you get the recovery mode screen.

Following the iTunes connection, hit Restore.




Following the restoration process, the device will be able to be set up and use.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,559member
    Which is why EVERYONE should connect their devices to a computer and iTunes every now and then.  You don't have to be religious about it, but you should do it.  I briefly worked as an Apple At Home Advisor and the worst calls were the ones from customers who had never synced to iTunes.  

    Some drunk girl called me and repeated her story multiple times that her friend has changed her password and she needed me to fix it.  She told me she was "a little intoxicated" at the time.  Lady you were still intoxicated when you called me the next morning and were locked out of your phone.  Natch she had never synced to iTunes.
    baconstangwatto_cobraGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 2 of 20
    netroxnetrox Posts: 563member
    yeah... but iTunes is just awful which is the reason I rarely use. It's not intuitive. It's confusing. Why bother to tell me about "purchases" when I try to back up... backing up should never ask such dumb questions. Why can't Apple just make a simple program that's dedicated to just backing up iOS devices than to deal with confusing interface of iTunes. Like... open backup software, plug in, back up, done. And when I do back up, it doesn't give me indication where the backup package is saved. I had to navigate through that. So much for intuition especially when you have a very limited space on a MacBook and you want it backed up on an external drive. iTunes is just a joke. It is the worst software made by Apple. Ever.
    anantksundaramadm1GeorgeBMacSpamSandwich
  • Reply 3 of 20
    The author left out a very important detail about tip #3:

    If "Find My iPhone" was enabled before restoring the iPhone or iPad, the device will still ask for the previous owner's iCloud credentials.  At this point, the device is as good as a paperweight.
    SpamSandwichjbdragon
  • Reply 4 of 20
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 18,463member
    netrox said:
    yeah... but iTunes is just awful which is the reason I rarely use. It's not intuitive. It's confusing. Why bother to tell me about "purchases" when I try to back up... backing up should never ask such dumb questions. Why can't Apple just make a simple program that's dedicated to just backing up iOS devices than to deal with confusing interface of iTunes. Like... open backup software, plug in, back up, done. And when I do back up, it doesn't give me indication where the backup package is saved. I had to navigate through that. So much for intuition especially when you have a very limited space on a MacBook and you want it backed up on an external drive. iTunes is just a joke. It is the worst software made by Apple. Ever.
    Couldn't agree more about the quality of iTunes (although, I grit my teeth and back up both my iPhone and my iPad at least once a month. You just have to be around while it's plugged in, because it stops the backup to ask all sorts of stupid, random questions that you need to answer before it will continue).
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 5 of 20
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,557administrator
    The author left out a very important detail about tip #3:

    If "Find My iPhone" was enabled before restoring the iPhone or iPad, the device will still ask for the previous owner's iCloud credentials.  At this point, the device is as good as a paperweight.
    This piece has nothing to do about previous owners, and not having iCloud credentials. It is about what happens if you lose the device passcode. Precautions and best steps to follow after buying a second-hand device is another piece.

    edited July 2017 GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 6 of 20
    tommikeletommikele Posts: 232member
    netrox said:
    yeah... but iTunes is just awful which is the reason I rarely use. It's not intuitive. It's confusing. Why bother to tell me about "purchases" when I try to back up... backing up should never ask such dumb questions. Why can't Apple just make a simple program that's dedicated to just backing up iOS devices than to deal with confusing interface of iTunes. Like... open backup software, plug in, back up, done. And when I do back up, it doesn't give me indication where the backup package is saved. I had to navigate through that. So much for intuition especially when you have a very limited space on a MacBook and you want it backed up on an external drive. iTunes is just a joke. It is the worst software made by Apple. Ever.
    You find backing up with iTunes difficult? Hard to understand? Not intuitive? Wow, you've got some issues. Sounds like you are looking for the Sesame Street version instead of the must have a high school diploma to understand version.
  • Reply 7 of 20
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 5,912member
    netrox said:
    yeah... but iTunes is just awful which is the reason I rarely use. It's not intuitive. It's confusing. Why bother to tell me about "purchases" when I try to back up... backing up should never ask such dumb questions. Why can't Apple just make a simple program that's dedicated to just backing up iOS devices than to deal with confusing interface of iTunes. Like... open backup software, plug in, back up, done. And when I do back up, it doesn't give me indication where the backup package is saved. I had to navigate through that. So much for intuition especially when you have a very limited space on a MacBook and you want it backed up on an external drive. iTunes is just a joke. It is the worst software made by Apple. Ever.
    Well at least your opinion in the tiny minority. Millions upon millions of Apple customers enjoy using iTunes every day and I’m one of them. I find it completely intuitive, easy to use. I have all of my music and movies in iTunes. It just works. Needless to say I find your opinion to be baloney.
    aegeanwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,112member
    netrox said:
    yeah... but iTunes is just awful which is the reason I rarely use. It's not intuitive. It's confusing. Why bother to tell me about "purchases" when I try to back up... backing up should never ask such dumb questions. Why can't Apple just make a simple program that's dedicated to just backing up iOS devices than to deal with confusing interface of iTunes. Like... open backup software, plug in, back up, done. And when I do back up, it doesn't give me indication where the backup package is saved. I had to navigate through that. So much for intuition especially when you have a very limited space on a MacBook and you want it backed up on an external drive. iTunes is just a joke. It is the worst software made by Apple. Ever.
    Totally agree!
    iTunes makes Microsoft look good.   No, not good:   G R E A T !
    ...  It's a total, confusing, difficult to maneuver mess.

    Its a hodge-podge of different functions for different purposes yet maintains the original Jobs' simplicity philosophy of "Avoid Klingons".  So it gloams a bunch of different functions together without much distinction -- so it just ends up being a big grey, mushy mess...   In addition, it's S L O W.....

    In short:   it's a pain.
  • Reply 9 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,112member
    The author left out a very important detail about tip #3:

    If "Find My iPhone" was enabled before restoring the iPhone or iPad, the device will still ask for the previous owner's iCloud credentials.  At this point, the device is as good as a paperweight.
    That's true.   It does.
    But the article is not talking about forgetting one's AppleID or password.  It's talking about forgetting the logon PIN so you can't get into the iPhone, iPod or iPad.

    BTW, a similar technique may be required if you lose or forget your restrictions PIN (or your kid changes it so he access the "good" stuff).
  • Reply 10 of 20
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,092member
    netrox said:
    yeah... but iTunes is just awful which is the reason I rarely use. It's not intuitive. It's confusing. Why bother to tell me about "purchases" when I try to back up... backing up should never ask such dumb questions. Why can't Apple just make a simple program that's dedicated to just backing up iOS devices than to deal with confusing interface of iTunes. Like... open backup software, plug in, back up, done. And when I do back up, it doesn't give me indication where the backup package is saved. I had to navigate through that. So much for intuition especially when you have a very limited space on a MacBook and you want it backed up on an external drive. iTunes is just a joke. It is the worst software made by Apple. Ever.
    Couldn't agree more about the quality of iTunes (although, I grit my teeth and back up both my iPhone and my iPad at least once a month. You just have to be around while it's plugged in, because it stops the backup to ask all sorts of stupid, random questions that you need to answer before it will continue).
    I backup my devices several times a week and everytime I'm reminded what a confusing mess is the iTunes UI. I like the idea of a Backup app. Logically, it should be part of Time Machine's functions... just fire up Time Machine while an iOS device is connected, then it should ASK YOU if you'd like to backup your device(s).

    And here's another idea: Have a Backup app on the iOS device! Open the app, if you're already connected to your computer, select an icon for your computer to initiate the backup process, OR schedule it to be instantly backed up the next time you connect it. There's absolutely no reason a person should have to screw around with iTunes to have this happen.
    edited July 2017
  • Reply 11 of 20
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,700member
    The author left out a very important detail about tip #3:

    If "Find My iPhone" was enabled before restoring the iPhone or iPad, the device will still ask for the previous owner's iCloud credentials.  At this point, the device is as good as a paperweight.
    Which is where I'm at on my Grandma's iPad Mini. It's at paperweight stage. She has no idea who passworded the thing, locked it into the cloud. I've tried everything to get it to unlock. It was never connected to her Windows PC and itunes as I've tried all the tricks. Activation Lock is on.
  • Reply 12 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,112member
    jbdragon said:
    The author left out a very important detail about tip #3:

    If "Find My iPhone" was enabled before restoring the iPhone or iPad, the device will still ask for the previous owner's iCloud credentials.  At this point, the device is as good as a paperweight.
    Which is where I'm at on my Grandma's iPad Mini. It's at paperweight stage. She has no idea who passworded the thing, locked it into the cloud. I've tried everything to get it to unlock. It was never connected to her Windows PC and itunes as I've tried all the tricks. Activation Lock is on.
    If she just doesn't know the password Apple may be able to help guide you through changing the password (with security questions and such).   If she doesn't know the id, that maybe more of a problem.
  • Reply 13 of 20
    If you put the device into lost mode you have the option to change the PIN code remotely. Not sure why erase device would be your go to option.
    Mitchen7777
  • Reply 14 of 20
    I just tried to unlock my disabled iPad using the "Find my iPhone". At the last step, it tells me the erase is pending and that it will be erased when it connects to the internet. Since the iPad is disabled, it obviously will not connect to the internet.
  • Reply 15 of 20
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,557administrator
    Sdiego18 said:
    I just tried to unlock my disabled iPad using the "Find my iPhone". At the last step, it tells me the erase is pending and that it will be erased when it connects to the internet. Since the iPad is disabled, it obviously will not connect to the internet.
    No - it still should. Its designed to connect to LTE or known wi-fi to check for this kind of thing even locked.
  • Reply 16 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,112member
    Sdiego18 said:
    I just tried to unlock my disabled iPad using the "Find my iPhone". At the last step, it tells me the erase is pending and that it will be erased when it connects to the internet. Since the iPad is disabled, it obviously will not connect to the internet.
    No - it still should. Its designed to connect to LTE or known wi-fi to check for this kind of thing even locked.
    Yes, OK...
    But that points out a serious "hole" in the Find my iPhone" when applied to iPods, iPads and Apple Watches (most of which are WiFi only):   Once it is out of range of known WiFi -- or the battery dies -- Find My iPhone is pretty much worthless...

    That isn't to trash Apple or Find My iPhone in anyway -- because there is no "fix" for that issue.  But it is a limitation that iPod, iPad, Apple Watch wearers need to be aware of...

    Another limitation is:  Turning a phone off.   When somebody stole my friend's iPhone, they immediately powered it off so that Find My iPhone would no longer work.
  • Reply 17 of 20
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,557administrator
    Sdiego18 said:
    I just tried to unlock my disabled iPad using the "Find my iPhone". At the last step, it tells me the erase is pending and that it will be erased when it connects to the internet. Since the iPad is disabled, it obviously will not connect to the internet.
    No - it still should. Its designed to connect to LTE or known wi-fi to check for this kind of thing even locked.
    Yes, OK...
    But that points out a serious "hole" in the Find my iPhone" when applied to iPods, iPads and Apple Watches (most of which are WiFi only):   Once it is out of range of known WiFi -- or the battery dies -- Find My iPhone is pretty much worthless...

    That isn't to trash Apple or Find My iPhone in anyway -- because there is no "fix" for that issue.  But it is a limitation that iPod, iPad, Apple Watch wearers need to be aware of...

    Another limitation is:  Turning a phone off.   When somebody stole my friend's iPhone, they immediately powered it off so that Find My iPhone would no longer work.
    I'm not sure where you're going with this. You're certainly not wrong -- but all of this should be common sense.
  • Reply 18 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,112member
    Sdiego18 said:
    I just tried to unlock my disabled iPad using the "Find my iPhone". At the last step, it tells me the erase is pending and that it will be erased when it connects to the internet. Since the iPad is disabled, it obviously will not connect to the internet.
    No - it still should. Its designed to connect to LTE or known wi-fi to check for this kind of thing even locked.
    Yes, OK...
    But that points out a serious "hole" in the Find my iPhone" when applied to iPods, iPads and Apple Watches (most of which are WiFi only):   Once it is out of range of known WiFi -- or the battery dies -- Find My iPhone is pretty much worthless...

    That isn't to trash Apple or Find My iPhone in anyway -- because there is no "fix" for that issue.  But it is a limitation that iPod, iPad, Apple Watch wearers need to be aware of...

    Another limitation is:  Turning a phone off.   When somebody stole my friend's iPhone, they immediately powered it off so that Find My iPhone would no longer work.
    I'm not sure where you're going with this. You're certainly not wrong -- but all of this should be common sense.
    Common sense -- yes.   Once you realize that it is a limitation...
    But Apple's emphasis on simplicity tends to hide that awareness for "average" users...   These people like Apple products because they "just work" without getting involved in a bunch of user manuals and documentation.   While that approach has definite advantages, it also has inherent limitations.   In this case, it is one of expectations:   An "average" non-technical user will assume that Find-My-Phone will find their phone....

    A consultant to an IT company I worked for years ago gave some excellent advice about "managing expectations":   He wisely told us that it really didn't matter how good we were, if our performance didn't measure up to our customer's expectations, it wasn't good enough.  So, his solution was, instead of trying to become perfect, to better manage expectations.   I followed that advice religiously and was very open about where the holes and weaknesses were in my systems and in my support of those systems -- and, while nobody was overly happy, neither was anybody dissapointed or unhappy.

  • Reply 19 of 20
    gnuloki said:
    If you put the device into lost mode you have the option to change the PIN code remotely. Not sure why erase device would be your go to option.
    Agree!
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