My iPhone Will Not Accept the Passcode

By Amanda Gronot

To reach the home screen, you may need to enter a passcode.
i Daniel Barry/Getty Images News/Getty Images

To protect your privacy, you can set a passcode for your iPhone. When you set this code, you are prompted to enter it after you swipe the "slide to unlock" bar on the lock screen, which appears whenever you wake or turn on the phone. If you are unable to enter the correct passcode, especially if someone enters the wrong passcode too many times, you may need to restore the iPhone.

What is an iPhone Passcode?

The iPhone's passcode is a set of four numbers -- similar to a PIN number -- that you can set to protect your personal information, preventing unwanted eyes from accessing your email, text messages and other programs. You don't have to set a passcode, but if you do, you are prompted to enter it whenever you unlock the iPhone, which you must do whenever you turn on the phone or wake it from sleep mode.

Setting the Passcode

You can turn the passcode on or off directly from the phone. Tap the "Settings" app, which looks like a silver square with gears and then tap "General." Select "Passcode Lock." Here you can tap "Turn Passcode On" or "Change Passcode." You can also choose how quickly a passcode is required, and you can set other options, such as requiring a simple passcode, activating Voice Dialing, and opting to erase all the data on your iPhone in the event that anyone ever tries to enter the wrong passcode 10 or more times.

Potential Problems

The iPhone never abruptly changes its own passcode, even if you install new software, so the only way the passcode can fail is if you enter the wrong one. You may have forgotten your own, or you may be using someone else's. Once an incorrect passcode is entered, however, the iPhone becomes disabled and displays a screen indicating that it will not accept new attempts for a certain amount of time. If you continue to enter the wrong passcode, the length of time between accepted attempts becomes longer and longer.


If your iPhone becomes disabled, or if you simply can't remember your own passcode, you need to restore the device, or set it back to factory settings. You can do this by plugging it into the computer with which it was last synced. This process won't work on any other computer to prevent thieves from wiping stolen iPhones. With the phone plugged in, open iTunes and click on your iPhone's name under "Devices" on the left side. Click the "Restore" button in the center of the screen. Follow the prompts to complete the process, leaving the phone plugged in at all times.