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How to Unlock an iPad if Passcode Disabled or Forgotten

It’s the type of scenario nightmares are made of. You’ve just restarted your iPad 10.2 and put your fingers on the keyboard, ready to type in your password— only to find out you’ve completely forgotten what it was.  Could it be threehandedcow495? No, that was the desktop password. What about spicy!duck? No, that was your myspace password from grade school. You madly try every combination of every word and number that has meaning to you, only to end up with a lock screen that makes you wait 453 minutes before you can try again.

It’s easy to forget seldom used passwords, and if you hardly ever restart your iPad and usually get by with Face ID your device’s password may have gone rusty with use. If you’ve just changed your password and forgot to write it down, you’ve also got a high chance of forgetting before the next time it is demanded of you. Here’s our advice: keep it written down somewhere, be that be on an index card at the back of your sock drawer or the flyleaf of your favorite novel.

But hindsight is 20/20, and we may be just a little too late with that advice. If you’re sitting there with your locked password and your brain a complete blank, wondering if you’ll have to sell the iPad for parts on eBay, here’s the good news: you don’t have to. There are ways to unlock an iPad if the passcode is disabled or forgotten. The main problem you may face is loosing your data: unlocking your data means returning it to factory settings. If you’ve got a backup, though, you’ll be able to get back to the point in time right before the back up was taken. 

Unlocking an iPad with iTunes

If you regularly connect your iPad to your laptop, you probably have iTunes on your computer. You probably also have collection of backups made just in case of disaster. If you’ve got a recent one; you’re in luck.  Unfortunately unlocking your iPad with iTunes always involves erasing the entire device, but if you restore from your backup you’ll hit the ground running and hardly know you had to build from the ground up. 

To unlock an iPad with iTunes:

  • First, open iTunes on your computer and connect your iPad using a USB cord. 
  • Press the volume up, press the volume down, and then press the power button. Keep the power button pushed until you see a recovery mode screen on your iPad
    • [Note: if your iPad has a home button, the procedure is slightly different. You’ll have to press and hold both Home and power, at the same time, until you see that same recovery mode screen.)
  • iTunes will give you a pop up dialog box with a message that should read something like “There is a problem with the iPad XXX that requires it to be updated or restored.’ This will be followed with a few warnings you may want to take note of. 
  • You’ll have the option to cancel, and another to restore. Choose restore, and let the computer and iPad figure things out between them.  Don’t disconnect till you’ve been given a green light to do so. Your device will restart, and then you’ll have the option to restore from your backup. 

    Unlocking an iPad without iTunes

    If you don’t have iTunes on your computer, you probably don’t have any physical backup either, but you may be backed up to the cloud. You can use this backup to restore your device. If it turns out you didn’t set up cloud backups, you’ll have to start from scratch,  but do make sure you put in place a robust backup plan for the future just in case this happens again.

    To unlock an iPad without iTunes:

    • Navigate to the Find My iPhone website on your computer, or visit the app on your other iOs device.
    • Login with your Apple ID and password. If you don’t know your AppleID password, click on ‘forgot my password’ to get a reset email that will enable you to set a new one.
    • Click on ‘all devices’, then choose the iPad you’d like to unlock. If you’re on the app, you should see the list of devices right on your screen.
    • A small popup will show a picture of your iPad and you’ll see three options: play sound, lock, and erase iPad. Click erase. 
    • A pop up window will ask you to confirm that you really want to erase your iPad, reminding you that this will eliminate all your content and settings. You already knew that, so click Erase. 
    • Your iPad will erase and you’ll see it restart. It should look the same way it did when it was new, straight from the box, and you’ll be able to restore from any recent backup.

              Passcode Disabled: What does this mean?

              If you’ve tried to enter your password over and over again, getting it wrong each time, your passcode will be disabled. What this means if even if you go make yourself a coffee,  look out into the far distant horizon, and suddenly remember it, it won’t be any use to you anymore. Your iPad has decided that you are persona non grata, and it is fully determined to protect the contents of your iPad from you at all costs.

              If your passcode is disabled, you can still go through the steps above and restore your iPad. You’ll loose your data unless you have a backup, but if you have a recent backup everything in it will be automatically returned to your device. Pictures, apps, settings, and emails will all be re-loaded to your device and the only thing different will be the brand-new password which, this time, you’re not going to forget. 

              So write down your password, make your backups, and keep your data safe. If you care about what’s on your iPad, you’ll want to protect your device with an iPad 10.2 case as well— and we do have a recommendation or two.