How to Reset a Passcode Without Losing Data

By Jeff Grundy

The Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod all include a feature that lets you lock them with a passcode. The passcode acts as a privacy safeguard, in case you lose your phone or someone steals it, as iOS will disable the device after too many incorrect code attempts. If you see the "Disabled Connect to iTunes" message on your iOS device, you can regain access and reset your passcode using iTunes. With iTunes, though, a reset means you lose any data not saved in an iTunes backup. However, using a third-party tool, you can discover the passcode on most iOS devices without losing your important data.

Enable Device Firmware Upgrade Mode

Step 1

Power off your iPad, iPhone or iPod completely.

Step 2

Close iTunes if the program is active, and then connect your iOS device to the computer using the data sync cable.

Step 3

Press and hold the "Power" and button until the Apple logo appears on the iOS device screen, and then immediately begin pressing the "Home" button until the screen goes black. After the screen goes black, release the "Power" button only. Continue holding the "Home" button until iTunes opens on the computer and displays a message that you need to restore the iOS device.

Bypass Disabled Screen

Step 1

Open your Web browser and download the latest version of the Gecko Toolkit (links in Resources). Press "Windows-E" to open File Explorer. Navigate to the folder where you save the Gecko Toolkit. Right-click the compressed file, and click "Extract" or "Extract Here" on the shortcut menu. Windows creates a new uncompressed version of the Grecko Toolkit file in the same folder.

Step 2

Double-click the uncompressed version of the Gecko Toolkit file in the File Explorer window to launch the utility. Click the "Bypass iTunes Disabled" tab.

Step 3

Select your iOS device type in the drop-down list on the Bypass iTunes Disabled tab (iPhone 4G or iPod Touch 4G.) Click the "Bypass" button. Click the "OK" button to confirm that you already placed the iOS device in DFU mode. Wait a few seconds for a couple of new windows to open on the monitor screen.

Step 4

Look at the iOS device screen and verify that it flashes white briefly while the windows open on the monitor and text begins to display. Wait a few more seconds for an Apple logo with a progress bar to appear on the display screen. The progress bar will not move or advance.

Step 5

Close all of the Gecko Toolkit windows except the main program window. After a few seconds a new pop-up window appears. When it does, click the "OK" button.

Step 6

Type "n" and press "Enter" when the new Command Prompt window opens, and then wait a few seconds for the window to close automatically. After a few seconds, the iOS device restarts and no longer displays the "Disabled – Connect to iTunes" message. At this point, if you remember your passcode, enter it to access the device normally.

Find the iOS Passcode

Step 1

Open your Web browser and navigate to the Forgot iPhone Password website (link in Resources). Download the 5.0.1 IPSW configuration file for your particular iOS device.

Step 2

Launch the Gecko Toolkit on the computer. Click the "Read Lockscreen Password" tab and select the model of your iOS device in the Step 1 drop-down list box. Click the "Boot" button, and then click "OK" when prompted.

Step 3

Browse to the folder on your computer where you save the 5.0.1 IPSW file for your IOS device. Select the file, and then click "Open." Click the "Boot" button again.

Step 4

Click the "Next" button in the RedsnOw pop-up window that appears. Place the iOS device into DFU mode, and then wait for the utility to run and the iOS device to reboot automatically. After the utility completes the process, you will see a lot of text on the iOS device screen along with a large "OK."

Step 5

Click the "Cancel" button in the RedsnOw window on the monitor screen. Click the "Launch" button in the Gecko Toolkit window. Wait for the Gecko Toolkit to search for and reveal the passcode. Be patient while the utility works, as the process may take up to an hour to complete. After a while, information about the iOS device appears in the Gecko Toolkit window, including the iOS passcode.

Step 6

Reboot the iOS device and enter your iOS passcode to access the unit normally.

Tips & Warnings

  • The above method works for most iOS devices, but not all. You cannot use Gecko Toolkit to recover passwords for the iPhone 4S, 5 and 5S models. The only way to gain access to the iPhone 4S, 5 or 5S after to forgetting your passcode is to use iTunes to restore the device. If you use the restore function in iTunes, though, you will lose any data saved to the iPhone since your last backup.