How to remove or reset forgotten screen passcode on iPhone and Mac

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Judit Llordés
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Screen Time is a phenomenal addition to iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It allows you to easily track habits, impose time limits, set restrictions on various apps and services, and more. But to protect any changes to Screen Time, you need to create a Screen Time passcode. It is especially important to do this when handing the device to others.

However, you don't use the Screen Time passcode that much (as opposed to the device passcode), which makes you prone to completely forget the thing. And when Screen Time was first introduced in iOS 12, it was nearly impossible to change or remove a Screen Time passcode if you didn't remember it using normal means,

The only “official” way to get rid of the forgotten Screen Time passcode was to restore your iPhone or iPad with an iTunes backup without a passcode or set it up as a new device. Absurd, I know. There was a workaround that involved using encrypted iTunes backups to recover the Screen Time passcode in iOS 12. But again, it didn't work with iOS 13 and iPadOS 13.

Thankfully, Apple has come to its senses. Now you can change or remove the forgotten Screen Time passcode quite easily. The same goes for the Mac. Let's find out how.

Remove or reset forgotten screen passcode - iPhone and iPad

To restore or remove a forgotten Screen Time passcode, you must have your iPhone or iPad running at least iOS 13.4 or iPadOS 13.4, respectively. You can find out your current iOS / iPadOS version by going to Settings> General> About> Software version. If your device needs to be updated, go to Settings> General> Software Update, then apply the pending updates.

The actual process of resetting or removing the Screen Time passcode then becomes incredibly easy. You can use the Apple ID and password instead of the current Screen Time passcode to change or remove it.

Step 1: open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad, then tap Screen Time. In the list of usage time settings that follows, scroll down and then tap the option labeled Change usage time passcode.

Step 2: a depending on what you want to do, select Change screen time passcode or Turn off screen time passcode. When the device asks you to enter your current Screen Time passcode, tap "Forgot your passcode?" option just above the numeric keypad on the screen (not visible in the screenshot below).

Remember: you will not see the message "Forgot your password?" if you don't have iOS 13.4 / iPadOS 13.4 or later running on your iPhone or iPad.

Step 3: enter your Apple ID and password. Tap OK.

And voila! You can then reset the Screen Time passcode or remove it entirely.

If you've changed or removed the Screen Time passcode and want to apply it to the rest of your devices, turn on the switch next to Share on devices (if it's not already enabled). It is located just below the Change Screen Time Passcode option that you used in Step 1.

Remove or reset forgotten screen passcode - Mac

Starting with macOS 10.15 Catalina, you can also use Screen Time on the Mac to do many things like monitor app usage, disable program features, block websites, and so on. But just like with iPhone and iPad, forget about the Screen Time passcode and it becomes nearly impossible to make any changes to the Screen Time settings.

If your Mac is running at least macOS 10.15.4 Catalina or later, you can easily change or remove a forgotten Screen Time passcode using your Apple ID credentials.

You can find the current version of macOS by opening the Apple menu and then clicking About This Mac. If your Mac needs to be updated, type software update in Spotlight, select Software Update, then install any pending updates.

Step 1: open the Apple menu, then click System Preferences.

Step 2: do click the box labeled Screen Time.

Step 3: switch to the Options side tab.

Step 4: a depending on what you want to do, uncheck the box next to Use Screen Time passcode (to remove the passcode) or click the button labeled Change Passcode.

Step 5: do click on "Forgot password?" when prompted for the current Screen Time passcode.

Remember: you won't see this option if you don't have macOS 10.15.4 Catalina or later installed on your Mac.

Step 6: enter your Apple ID and password, then click Next.

You can then change or remove the Screen Time passcode. If you've enabled the box next to Share on devices (found under Options), your Screen Time passcode will sync to any other device with the same Apple ID.

A new beginning

The ability to quickly remove or reset the Screen Time passcode is a vital addition to any iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Nobody knows how Apple hasn't dealt with this problem for nearly a year. This has been a big deal for people who have forgotten their passcode and had to subject their device to dangerous backup restores or factory reset procedures. Better now than ever, I guess.

Further Reading:

  • What is screen passcode and how to protect iPhone with it
  • How to unlock iPhone without passcode
  • iPhone XS Max - Forgot PIN password - What to do
  • How to set usage time on iPhone
  • iPhone X - Forgot PIN Password - What to do?

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