The first thing you should know is that you will still be able to make an emergency call; you just won't be able to access anything else on the phone (this applies to phones running iOS 6 and up). If you're really stumped about what your passcode is, don't keep trying to guess at it, because if it's entered incorrectly 6 times or more, the phone will be disabled. To reset a passcode you can try restoring your phone, or you may need to run a factory reset.
These directions will also work for your iPad (4th Gen) or iPad mini (1st Gen).
An iPhone synced with iTunes
If you've synced your phone with iTunes in the past, then try following these steps:
- Connect the iPhone to your computer and open iTunes.
- If iTunes asks for the passcode to be entered, try another computer that has been synced with the iPhone before or follow the steps for iPhones never synced with iTunes.
- If iTunes does not automatically sync with the iPhone, prompt it to sync from the iPhone screen in iTunes
- Disable encryption and then back up
After the back up has completed, click Restore from Backup and select the most recent iPhone backup.
iTunes will indicate that it's detected an iPhone in recovery mode; click OK, and then restore the iPhone.
A phone never synced with iTunes
If your phone has never been synced with iTunes before you'll see one of these messages pop up:
- "iTunes could not connect to the [iPhone] because it is locked with a passcode. You must enter your passcode on the [iPhone] before it can be used with iTunes."
- "You haven't chosen to have [iPhone] trust this computer"
That means you'll need to try one of the methods below to unlock your phone.
iCloud remote wipe
Find My iPhone needs to be enabled for this to work.
- Log in to your iCloud account
- Click on Find My iPhone
- Click on the phone that you want to erase from the drop down at the top of the page
- Click Erase iPhone
If you've been using iCloud for backups as well, then you'll be able to restore the iPhone from that backup and reset the passcode as well.
The following steps will put the iPhone into recovery mode and it can be restored from there:
- Connect the USB cable to a computer.
- Turn off the iPhone and wait for it to completely shut down
- While pressing and holding the Sleep/Wake and home buttons (for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, hold the Sleep?wake and Volume down buttons)
- Continue holding the buttons until the Connect to iTunes screen appears
- iTunes will indicate that it has detected an iPhone in recovery mode
- Click OK, and then restore the iPhone.