How to Unlock an Android Phone After Too Many Pattern Attempts Without Using Gmail
By Shea Laverty
Google's Android operating system features a lock mechanism to secure your phone, known as pattern lock. When setting the pattern, you must drag your finger along lines on the screen between different nodes. Afterward, to unlock the phone, you'll need to replicate the pattern drawn. If you fail to solve the pattern too many times, the phone locks and cannot be unlocked without logging into the associated Google account. If you can't log in, you'll have to employ some other methods to restore control of your phone.
Google Account Log-In
The easiest way to restore control is to provide the Google account or Gmail account information associated with your phone when prompted. This will send an email to your account, which you can use to disable or change the unlock pattern on your phone. While this is the most common solution, it is hampered by the issue of connectivity. If your phone was not connected to a Wi-Fi connection when the lockout occurred, an email can't be sent, and you will need to find an alternate solution.
Android Debug Bridge
Another tool you can use is the Android Debug Bridge, a tool included in the Android software developer's kit (see Resources). The SDK can be downloaded for free and includes a wide range of development and debug tools for the Android operating system and Android devices. To bypass the pattern lock, your phone will need to have had USB debugging enabled before the lockout. The device will have to be connected to your computer via the manufacturer-supplied USB cable, at which point you can launch the Android Debug Bridge on your computer and begin the debug process. Once ADB is launched, enter the following command exactly as transcribed to reboot the phone, pressing "Enter" at the end of each line:
adb shell cd /data/data/com.android.providers.settings/databases sqlite3 settings.db update system set value=0 where name=’lock_pattern_autolock’; update system set value=0 where name=’lockscreen.lockedoutpermanently’; .quit
If this command doesn't work, enter the following command instead:
adb shell rm /data/system/gesture.key
Once you restart the phone, it will accept any pattern to unlock, and you can set a new pattern.
If your Google account or resetting the pattern aren't options, then you'll likely have to reset your phone to factory defaults. This will unlock the pattern and restore control of your phone at the cost of all of your saved data and applications. Applications can be re-downloaded and installed from the Google Play store at no cost, while your other data will need to be restored from a backup. Otherwise, this data is lost. In order to perform the hard reset required, you'll need to look up the hard reset instructions for your particular device. The method of resetting outside of the Android OS differs from one manufacturer and model to the next. Once the device has been reset, you can begin reloading your apps and data as well as set a new security pattern.
Factory resetting your Android device should be a last option, and the best way to prevent it is to prepare ahead of time. Make sure your Google account is set up and easy to remember, and make sure that your device has Wi-Fi enabled whenever possible in case of a lockout. Back up your Android device regularly to keep a copy of your data on hand in case you are forced to factory reset and lose all of your original data.