Forgotten Your Phone Code? Here’s What to Do

by Dan Forster - , Last Updated on November 9, 2015, How To Guides

Putting a passcode on your phone is generally considered a good thing to do. With most of us keeping a whole bunch of personal information on our smart phones the last thing we want is for someone else to be able to get into our mobile. But what happens if you’ve forgotten your code? We’re taking a look at what your options are (and not all of them include losing all your data!).

The Basics

Alrighty, let’s start with the basics here. First up, don’t panic. If you haven’t yet locked up your phone, meaning you haven’t used up all your opportunities to get into it, then stop entering possibilities right now. Sit back, relax, maybe leave it over night, and then try again. You might get lucky and remember! Even if you don’t remember, still don’t panic. You haven’t lost everything, or probably not, and there are work arounds for the problem. Android users tend to be a little better off than iOS users, but both have options. The methods for iOS and Android are different though, so we’ll take iPhone fans first.

Forgotten Your iPhone Code?

Bad news first. If you’ve lost your iPhone code then you are going to need to completely reset your phone. There is no other way of getting around the code, and if you’ve got no back ups around then yes, you’re going to lose all your data. However, most of us do have back ups around, particularly since modern iPhones automatically back up to the Cloud by default. You have three options for resetting your iPhone, two of which will allow you to keep all your data.

If  You’ve Synched with iTunes

If you’ve previously synched your iPhone to iTunes using your computer then you might be able to make an automatic back up. First, connect your phone to your computer and open iTunes. In some cases this will prompt iTunes to ask you for a passcode. If it does, then this isn’t going to work for you (since obviously you don’t know the passcode). If you get asked for a passcode then try one of our other methods, or alternatively if you’ve synched to iTunes on another computer then try that one.

If you’re not asked for a passcode then click on the device summary tab and then hit “Back Up Now.” This will make a new back up of everything on your phone (yes, even without you opening the phone). When the back up is complete, click on “Restore iPhone” and you’ll restore your phone with the back up that you’ve just made and will be able to set up a new passcode in the process (a passcode that you might want to write down somewhere this time…). All should then be fine.

If You’ve Set Up Find My Phone

If you’ve been smart enough to set up the Find My Phone option on your iPhone then things are even easier. Go to iCloud.com and select the Find My Phone page, find the device that you want to deal with, and then hit “Erase.” This will wipe your phone! But… when you turn on your iPhone again and begin the set up process (just as you would with a new phone) your data will be restored from the iCloud back up. Smart, right?

If You’ve Done Neither of These Things

If you’ve done neither of these then you ARE going to lose your data, and you’ll need to reset your phone from recovery mode. Plug your phone into a computer running iTunes, press and hold the power and home buttons simultaneously and keep pressing! A message will appear on iTunes telling you there is a problem and offering you the option to update or restore your phone, you’ll need to press restore. Your phone will then be as new and you’ll need to set it up again.

Forgotten Your Android Code?

If you’re an Android user then there are a couple of options depending on which version of Android you’re running.

Running Below Android 5.0

For anyone running below Android 5.0 there’s an easy solution. Simply enter the wrong code five times and then you’ll get an option to press “forgot pattern/PIN/password.” Do this and enter your Google account info (gmail address and password) and you’ll be let back into your phone (don’t forget to go into security settings and change the password to something you’ll remember though).

Running Android 5.0 or Higher

Security is a little tighter with Android 5.0 and above, but you still have a couple of options. If you’ve got an account with your phone’s manufacturer (such as Samsung), you can try logging onto that online and you may get an option to remotely unlock your screen. This isn’t a guarantee, but it’s worth trying.

Your other option is to factory reset your phone, but this isn’t as bad as it seems since most of your phone’s data on a modern Android device is synched automatically to the cloud anyway. Factory resetting an Android depends on the model of phone you have so you’ll need to go to Google and type in “factory reset Samsung Galaxy S5” for example, to get instructions. It’s generally a very easy process though. Once done your phone will be like new and you can go through the set up process again. You will probably have lost some data, but the majority of data will be stored inside your Google accounts and will be restored automatically to your phone when you register the mobile to that gmail address.

And there we have it. Forgetting your phone code, password or pattern isn’t the end of the world, though it might take a little time to get back into your phone. You shouldn’t have to lose all your data either. In the future you might want to choose a more memorable code, and think about signing up with find my phone apps, since these often offer a remote erasing/restoring procedure or even a bypass code feature!