How to secure your iPhone or iPad with a 4-digit passcode

How to secure your iPhone or iPad with a 4-digit passcode

Leaving your iPhone or iPad might feel like a convenience, but if you ever leave it unattended, lose it, or have it stolen, it leaves you open to everything from pranks to having all your personal data exposed. By enabling a simple, easy-to enter 4-digit Lock screen passcode, you not only make it much, much harder for someone to get at your data, but you also make it much harder for them to do anything but user it as a paperweight if you ever lose it or have it stolen.

How to enable a passcode on your iPhone or iPad Lock screen

  1. Launch Settings from your Home screen.
  2. Tap Passcode (or Touch ID & Passcode).
  3. Tap Turn Passcode On.
  4. Enter 4 digits to use as your passcode.
  5. Re-enter the same 4 digits to confirm your passcode.

You can choose to require passcode entry immediately, for maximum security, or after up to an hour, for increased convenience.

You can also choose to have 10 incorrect passcode entries trigger a data wipe. That means anyone who gets your iPhone or iPad and tries to brute-force their way through your passcode by entering different numbers over and over again, will be limited to 10 tries.

Note: Originally published March 2009. Updated April 2014.

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

How to secure your iPhone or iPad with a 4-digit passcode

45 Comments

This lock is OK but (as an iPhone junkie) I'm totally jealous of my brothers lock option on his Google G1 (android) that combines the swipe with a "security" code in one motion. Totally cool. They stole "borrowed" enough ideas from Apple, can we "borrow" this one from them?

I didn't use this for the longest time because I always thought it would be too inconvenient. But it really is slick to have the timer set (15 minutes for me). I rarely ever have to enter my passcode... but if I lose my phone, I'm protected. It's definitely worth the one extra second of time it takes for the piece of mind.

My problem is that if a set my passcode, I am obligated to have the passlock on, I want to be able to set it, so that no one can change it. Currently if I don't have it enabled anyone can come and set their lock on my phone.

Ok - I have a problem... I have forgotten my passcode ? I set it to quickly and now I can not get in my phone. Help????

I just got my iphone yesterday. I set the passcode lock, entered my four digit pin and a call came through. I didnt think it took, (not used to it!) then a few minutes later I went to use it and it was locked. Oddly enough the four digits I had used did NOT unlock the darn thing. Does anyone know if this happens often? I know I entered them the same. I'm locked out for 60 minutes now. Thanks

This works, but how to lock the phone without having to wait for the time until it get locked automatically. In another word, if I want to lock it now without having to wait for the one or 10 minute? i could not see an option for this..Thanks

I have set the passcode lock, but does it really able to block my data if it is stolen. I understand from my subscriber that it is still not of any use as the thief can just change a sim card and still access to my data. is it true ?

With that 10 failed attempt erase thing, is it 10 in a row? Or like try it three times, shut it off, try it again 9 times, shut it off, try again 5, etc? Or 10 total no matter what?

I know the procedure to set pass lock but it does not work. I cannot get it from "off" to back to "on"

I have a problem, I reset my passcode and totally forgot what it was, after the ten failed attempt thing it totally won't do anything but display the apple logo, does this wipe the OS out with all your data in it and how do I reset this , please someone help

I set the passcode to go off at 1 minute but after one minute of using, it doesn't seem to turn up! I can lock and unlock without the password coming up. Why? Btw, I am on firmware 3.0

i have a new 3G and set my passcode, but now I want to turn off the passcode lock feature and there is no icon for "passcode off" under the passcode lock page, it should be above the "change passcode" icon by pictures i have seen

I have the same problem with scott. There is no “passcode off" icon on passcode lock menu. Please help me to turn off the passcode lock I've already set.

I have the same issue as Scott and fetcom. No button for "turn passcode off" I've tried syncing, re-installing the latest software, etc. I could really use help on this!

Same here, I have NO "turn passcode off" in my new 3G iphone settings and I have the latest software updates from iTunes. I have tried all re-configure possibilities and I need desperatly to not have to type in a passcode when I recieve a new e-mail.
Tried leaving a comment on http://www.apple.com/feedback

Same problem: There is no passcode off button
Is it because of their marketing or windows large quantity of failures that we think apple doesn't make mistakes

Apple should make an optinion that could make the lock have more numbers. I don't think four is enough.

To turn the pass code off go back to SETTINGS select GENERAL select PASSCODE LOCK ON enter your code, from here you can turn the pass code on or off as well as change the code

Thanks for the info about the Iphone passcode. So simple but I passed over it several times. Thanks again.

I have the same problem with my new 3GS. The submenu for Passcode lock does not have a button to turn passcode lock off.

My problem is that I cannot see the "Passcode Lock" and "Restriction" feature on my iphone. Anyone has heard of this?

Hey, Ryan, I just figured out how to do this!!! What you do is go to http://www.apple.com/support/iphone/enterprise/ then download the utility. Launch the utility, then plug in your iDevice and make sure your photo program and iTunes are closed. Then create a new configuration file. Name it PasswordPro or something like that. Select the configuration profile and under general their will be a text feild labeled discription or something like that. Label that Password. Then go under passwords. Select the default duration to anything other that 4. Go to your device in the program. Unlock your iPod or iPhone. MAKE SURE YOUR UNLOCKED AND IN THE HOME SCREEN. Now select the profile (under one of the tabs in the device list thing) and click install. A window will pop up. Click allow or install on your Idevice. Your good to go as the rest is self explainitory.
Hoped that helped. Email me at webmasterjab @ gmail . com if you wish to contact me or require more instructions (writing my email this way stops spam bots)

my iphone dosen have pass loc in setings what is the meater can sombady help wat to do how to get it back

I would just like to say that this can be dangerous. My iPhone 3GS slipped out of my pocket in a Vegas cab at 2AM. The passenger that found it called my recents and left it at the Mandalay bay where i picked it up at 4am. About 6 months later it fell out in a parking lot while I was in the store. Someone picked it up and called my recents who was with me at the time and said I'm outside in the parking lot with your iphone.
Think about this next time you lock your phone. Had I been a locker I would be out $1,200 right now.

When you say that all data will be erased after 10 attemptes, what does that accually mean. Does it only include messages and notes or does it include music that you have bought from iTunes from the iPhone.

If the phone is locked and you would like to allow someone to use your phone to make a call, you have to unlock it. How do you lock the phone while the call is still active? (first generation iPhone)

If you lock your iphone with mobileme....If someone makes a call to your iphone and the person who stole it answers it, can they get into your phone?

I forgot the passcode to use my phone. My son was playing with and does not now what he hit. Do I have to reinstall the software to unlock it? That seems crazy.