Don't worry, Boris – here's how to reset your iPhone password if you forget it

Forgetting your passcode isn't the end of the world – in a few steps, you can have your device restored

A disabled iPhone on top of a yellow and red background
(Image credit: Apple)

While having a passcode on your iPhone is really handy for security, it can pose issues. Namely, if you forget what that passcode is. You'll be locked out of the device, with disabled periods lasting longer and longer as you input the incorrect code.

It's something which affects us all. In recent news, former UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, fell foul of this. As reported by LBC, Johnson has found himself unable to hand over old messages to the Covid inquiry, after forgetting the passcode for his old iPhone.

Fortunately, there is a solution. In a few simple steps, you'll be able to recover your device and set it up as new – hopefully with a more memorable passcode, this time. There is a caveat, though. You'll need to have a backup of the data on your device to re-install, as the process does delete everything on the device. That's the issue which Johnson and his team have reportedly been grappling with.

How to reset your iPhone when you've forgotten the passcode

The first thing you'll need is a laptop or MacBook with iTunes installed. If you're using a Windows device, you'll also want to ensure it's running Windows 10 or later. You'll also need a cable to connect your phone to the computer you're using. If you don't have access to an appropriate device, you'll need to take your handset to an Apple Store.

Once you've got everything you need, you'll need to turn off your phone. Once you've pulled the slider to turn it off, Apple recommend giving it a moment to ensure it's totally finished that process.

Next, you'll need to put the device in Recovery Mode. To do that, you'll need to find the appropriate button. On modern handsets – anything from the iPhone 8 through to the current iPhone 14 generation – that's the power button found on the right-hand side of the device.

If you're still using an older device, it's a different button. iPhone 7 series devices use the volume down button, while the first generation iPhone SE and earlier use the home button. Check out this guide on the Apple website which will give you more information on the right button for your handset. 

Once located, you'll need to hold down that button, while simultaneously plugging the device into the computer. It's important that you don't let go of the button during this, too. Keep holding the button down until you see the Recovery screen, pictured below. 

The recovery screen on an iPhone, against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

Once you've done that, head into iTunes on the connected computer and locate your device in the finder. Once selected, you should see a pop-up window with options to Update or Restore. Hit Restore and the process should start.

Software should download on your computer, which then transfers onto the phone. Once completed, the device should restart and show a setup screen. From there, you can reconfigure the device as you would with a new one. 

Sam Cross
Staff Writer

Online news writer at, Sam has five years of experience in online and print journalism, with work featured in publications like Metro and Last Word on Sports. After years writing about music and football, Sam now turns his hand to bringing you news about new phones, smart home products, smart watches, laptops and TVs. Sam is a longtime fan and user of Apple products, including iPhones, MacBooks and Apple Watches.He’s also T3’s resident football expert, bringing you everything you need to know about the big games, including how to watch them. In his spare time, Sam is a keen guitarist, watch lover and (very) amateur golfer.