If you turned on passcode locking, and then forgot your passcode, you’re going to need a backup of your iPad from before you set the passcode to recover your data. Apple has a support article that helps you recover your iPad from being “disabled”, but you still won’t be able to access your iPad without the passcode. Here’s what you can expect if you’ve forgotten your passcode.
You’ll probably start by entering every code you can think of. If you enter the wrong passcode more than six times you’ll end up with a message that your iPad has been disabled, and to try logging in again in 1 minute. If you get it wrong again, you’ll need to wait 5 minutes for another try, then 15 minutes, then an hour.
Eventually, you’ll be told you need to connect to iTunes. If you get to that point (or at any point before that), and you have the computer it last synced with via USB, follow these steps:
- Connect your iPad to the computer you normally sync with and open iTunes.
- Right-click your iPad in the left column under Devices in iTunes and select “Back up”.
- When the backup is complete, select “Restore” from the main iTunes window.
- When the restore is finished, right-click your iPad, select “Restore from last backup”. If you have a backup from before you set the passcode, choose it and you’ll be able to recover the data you had at that point in time. If the only backup you have is the one you just made, or your most recent backup was from after you set the passcode, restoring it will get you past “disabled”, and back to being locked out of your iPad, you’ll still need to enter the passcode to use it.
If you don’t have the computer that last synced with your iPad, or you do but you get a message like ”iTunes could not connect to the iPad because it is locked with a passcode. You must enter your passcode on the iPad before it can be used with iTunes”, or you tried the steps above and still don’t know the passcode, then you’ll need to run through these steps which will erase everything on the iPad; you’ll start with it just like day one:
- Disconnect the USB cable from your iPad, but keep it connected to your computer’s USB port.
- Turn off your iPad by pressing and holding the Sleep/Wake button for a few seconds until a red slider appears, then slide the slider and wait for your iPad to turn off.
- While pressing and holding the Home button, connect the USB cable to your iPad, it should turn on. If you see an image of a battery, let your iPad charge for 10 minutes, then go back to step 2.
- Continue holding the Home button until you see a “Connect to iTunes” screen. When the screen appears, release the Home button.
- iTunes should alert you that it has detected a device in recovery mode.
- Click OK, and then click “Restore”. Note that you will loose all data, apps and settings, though apps can be reinstalled through the App Store. Note that restoring previous settings from iTunes or iCloud that were backed up after you set the passcode will likely restore your iPad to being passcode locked!
If you’ve had any luck recovering data from your locked iPad without having a backup, please share your secret in the comments!