What to do if you lost or forgot your iPad passcode

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So you created an awesome passcode for your iPad.  You were extremely proud of this passcode, too.  For once, you selected one that wasn’t a birthday, or anniversary or special day that was easy to remember.  You finally listened to all the published articles about how important it is to use arbitrary info with a combination of numbers _and_ letters.  However, for some reason one day you simply forgot it or lost the “cheat-sheet” you typically use to save all your passwords?  For the sake of this tutorial, let’s just assume that you didn’t set-up Touch-ID, no one else knows your code, and you have no other known way to retrieve it.  Now what?

After that sixth time of entering the wrong code, your iPad is now disabled, and you are locked out.  No worries yet–if you just remembered your passcode, you can try again in one minute.  However, if you enter the wrong code one more time–you will now have to wait an additional 5 minutes to try once again.  For the sake of expediency, let’s assume this is where your passcode game ends.  Now you’re locked out of your iPad for good–right?  Now what options do you have–if any?

Hopefully, you have recently backed up your iPad at one time or another, or this tutorial is about to get a lot more depressing for you.  Don’t worry, you will still have options either way, but the end result is a loss of all your data that hasn’t been backed up–either manually via iTunes, or with an auto-backup over iCloud.

If you saved your data in the recent past (or anytime, really) you will at least be able to restore your iPad back to the state of that last save.  Now you are faced with the dreaded “Erase & Restore” option–which sounds a lot worse than it really is.  At this time you have three different options available to erase your iPad and restore any saved data.

erase-and-restore-iPadRestore your iPad via iTunes is probably the most popular/plausible option for users–even with the increased popularity of iCloud and cloud services in general.  Mind you, this option is only helpful if you have saved a back-up of your iPad within iTunes at least once in the past.  If you are currently asking yourself “what’s iTunes” then perhaps this option is not for you.  However, if you are still reading this, here are the basic steps involved with erasing & restoring your iPad using iTunes.

Connect your iPad via USB cable to the computer.  Open iTunes, and select the summary tab for your device. Turn off, Find my iPad, if you’ve activated this service in the past, and click on “Restore iPad.”  When the set-up assistant is prompting you to set-up your iPad you can choose to restore from your most recent back-up.


Your next option is to erase and restore your device through Find my iPad.  Start by visiting iCloud and sign-in with your Apple ID.  Next you need to select the “All Devices” button at the top middle of the page and select the iPad you want to erase and restore. Once you select erase iPad your iPad and forgotten code will be erased.  Now go through the Set-up Assistant on your iPad to restore from your most recent iCloud back-up, or set-up as new if you ave never turned on iCloud back-ups.


Your last option to erase and restore your iPad is by putting it in Recovery Mode.  This is the last option, and is what you’ll have to do if you’ve never backed it up via iTunes or iCloud.  Make sure your iPad is not connected to you computer or anything else at this point.  Follow these steps exactly…

  • Turn off your device
  • Press _and_ hold the Home button and plug your iPad into your computer
  • Your iPad should automatically turn on–if not, then manually turn it on
  • Maintain pressing your Home button until you are greeted with a “Connect to iTunes” prompt.
  • iTunes should open automatically–if it hasn’t go ahead and open it
  • You will now see a prompt in iTunes that it has detected an iPad  in recovery mode
  • Now restore your device


image credit: any data recovery 

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