caption
If you’ve completely forgotten the passcode to a now-disabled iPhone, you’ll have to factory reset the device.
source
Dave Johnson/Business Insider
  • If you enter the wrong passcode too many times, you
    will be locked out of your iPhone.
    There’s no way to bypass the passcode without factory resetting
    the phone.
  • Using iTunes, you can reset your disabled iPhone to
    its factory settings and then restore your apps and data from a
    recent backup.
  • If you don’t have iTunes or a computer nearby, you can
    restore the iPhone to
    factory settings using Apple’s Find My iPhone web
    page.
  • Visit
    BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

The good news about iPhone security is that a
thief or over-curious stranger has virtually no chance of getting
to the data on your phone unless you’ve put the passcode on a
yellow sticky note and affixed it to the back of the case. (Even
the FBI has been unable to
crack suspects’
iPhones
after major
crimes.)

After entering the passcode
incorrectly just a few times, your iPhone will lock you out from
attempting more codes for a short time. Continue to enter the
wrong passcode, and you might find yourself
locked out
permanently
.

Here’s what you can do if that
situation arises.

How to unlock a disabled iPhone using a computer

If your iPhone is disabled, the bad
news is that there’s no way to bypass the passcode and simply
restart the iPhone; if that were possible,
anyone would be able to do that, and it would defeat the point of
the passcode’s security.

disabled 1


caption
A disabled iPhone will warn you that you can’t log in for some period of time, which might be anywhere from a minute to forever.
source
Dave Johnson/Business Insider

Instead, you need to reset the
iPhone to its factory settings
and then restore your apps and data from a backup. It’s worth
pointing out that this is one reason you should always have a
current backup. See our article, “How
to backup your iPhone to iCloud, your computer, or an external
hard drive
,” to make
sure your iPhone is regularly creating a
backup.

1. On your
computer, start iTunes and connect your iPhone using a USB
cable.

2. Start your
iPhone’s recover mode. Depending on which model iPhone, you’ll
need to do one of these two things:

  • If you have an iPhone 8 or
    later, press the Volume Up button, followed by Volume Down,
    then press and hold the Power button until you see the “connect
    to iTunes” screen.
  • If you have an iPhone 7, press
    and hold the Power button for three seconds, then swipe the
    “Power off” slider to the right. Finally, press and hold the
    Volume Down until you see the “connect to iTunes”
    screen.
  • If you have an iPhone 6s or
    older, press and hold the Power button for three seconds, then
    swipe the “Power off” slider to the right. Then press and hold
    the Home button until you see the “connect to iTunes”
    screen.

3. On your
computer, click “Restore.”

disabled 2

caption
When iTunes senses that your iPhone is in Recovery Mode, it’ll give you the option to restore it to factory settings.
source
Dave Johnson/Business Insider

4. After this
process completes, your iPhone will be reset to its factory
conditions. Then follow the on-screen instructions to restore
your iPhone with a recent backup.

How to unlock a disabled iPhone using Find My
iPhone

Another way you can accomplish
the same thing is by using Apple’s Find My iPhone feature, which
lets you track your iOS devices and – worst case – reset them if
they’re stolen and can’t be recovered. You can take advantage of
that ability for your disabled iPhone as well.

1. Open
the Find My iPhone website
in any web browser.

2. Find your
iPhone in the list of devices in the drop-down menu at the top of
the screen and click on it.

3. Click “Erase
iPhone” and then click “Erase” to confirm. You’ll still need to
enter your Apple ID password to do this, but you won’t need the
iPhone’s passcode.

disabled 3

caption
Using Find My iPhone, you can erase your disabled device and return it to factory settings.
source
Dave Johnson/Business Insider

4. After it’s
erased, it’ll be returned to its factory settings and you can
follow the directions to restore the iPhone with a recent
backup.



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