What to Do If You Forgot Your Screen Time Passcode on iPhone or iPad

This article will tell you what to do if you forgot your Screen Time password including how to recover your Screen Time passcode and how to turn off your Screen Time password. Forgot the Screen Time passcode (formerly known as the Restrictions passcode) or need a Screen Time passcode reset? Don't panic! Here’s what to do if you forgot your Restrictions passcode on your iPhone or iPad.  

Related: How to Find Hidden Apps on iPhone

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What Is a Restrictions Passcode? What Is a Screen Time Passcode?

If you had Restrictions enabled on your iPhone or iPad before iOS 12, your Restrictions passcode is now called your Screen Time passcode. If you have an older device running iOS 11 or earlier, you still have Restrictions and a Restrictions passcode rather than Screen Time. The steps are the same for recovering either type of passcode.

A Screen Time passcode prevents unauthorized changes to Screen Time settings. Screen Time replaced Restrictions starting with iOS 12 and is Apple's way of letting parents set limits on their child's iPhone and iPad use and also of helping its users monitor and reduce their iPhone and iPad use. It allows users to set limits on which apps they can use on their device and for how long. If you choose to set a passcode when setting up Screen Time, that passcode must be entered in order to change the Screen Time restrictions or to turn off Screen Time altogether. Most adults choose not to set a Screen Time passcode on their own devices. Most parents prefer to set a Screen Time restrictions passcode when enabling parental controls on their children's iPhone or iPad. 

Ultimately, this has come back to bite a lot of people who set up the restrictions passcode so long ago that it is now forgotten. Although Apple hasn't set up a way to turn off iPhone restrictions when you forget your restrictions passcode on your iPhone or iPad, this article has a sure-fire way to recover it without restoring your device or losing your data. 

What to Do If You Forgot Your Screen Time Passcode

If you forget the Screen Time or Restrictions passcode on your iPhone or iPad, you will need to recover it. It's a different process than something like change your email password on your iPhone. After that you may want to reset or turn off the passcode. You may even want to turn Screen Time off completely. Here's how to get around screen time limits.

How to Recover Your Screen Time (Restrictions) Passcode

To reset a forgotten Screen Time passcode on your iPhone, you will first need to create an encrypted backup of your iPhone on a computer, download the free online software that we recommend, and then use the software to recover the forgotten passcode from your backup. If something goes wrong, you can also use the backup to restore your iPhone. 

How to Back Up Your iPhone to Your Computer:

  1. To back up your iPhone to a PC or a Mac running macOS Mojave or earlier, simply plug your iPhone into your computer and open iTunes.
  2. To back up your iPhone to a Mac running macOS Catalina or later, plug your iPhone into your Mac and open Finder.
  3. Select the little phone icon that appears when you plug in your iPhone.
  4. Under Backups, select This computer and make sure Encrypt iPhone Backup is checked. (The Screen Time passcode will only be saved in encrypted backups.)
  5. If you haven’t encrypted your iPhone backup before, you'll be asked to set a password. Make sure it is something you will remember. If you think you won't remember it, come back and turn off backup encryption right away after recovering your passcode.
  6. Click Back Up Now.

How to Download Decipher Backup Browser:

I was able to use Decipher Backup Browser to recover my Screen Time passcode without problems; however, there is always a risk when downloading software from the internet, so keep that in mind.

  1. Open https://deciphertools.com/download-decipher-backup-browser.html in a web browser on your computer.
  2. Download the free trial version you need: PC or Mac.
  3. Open the file that downloads and drag the software icon into your Applications folder (on Macs).
  4. Open Decipher BackupBrowser.

  5. The first time you use Decipher BackupBrowser you will see a Welcome screen that explains how to allow Backup Browser to access your iPhone’s backup.
  6. To grant Decipher Backup Browser access to iPhone backups on your Mac, go to System Preferences

  7. Click Security & Privacy > Privacy > Full Disk Access.
  8. If necessary, click the lock icon and enter the administrator username and password.

  9. Tap the Plus icon

  10. Select Decipher BackupBrowser from your list of applications and click Open.

  11. Quit Decipher Backup Browser and then relaunch it.
  12. Click on the backup of your iPhone.

  13. Enter your backup encryption password and click OK.

  14. The contents of your iPhone backup will appear in the center column.
  15. Click on Screen Time Passcode (or Restrictions Passcode Cracker for iOS 11 and earlier.)
  16. Your passcode will appear in the right-hand corner.

Now you can open Screen Time on your iPhone, enter the passcode, and change what you need to or turn Screen Time off.

Once you have successfully recovered and removed or changed your Screen Time passcode, I recommend returning to System preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Full Disk Access and unchecking the box next to BackupBrowser. You can also delete the software from your computer by opening the Applications folder on your Mac and dragging BackupBrowser to the Trash.

How to Reset the Screen Time Passcode on Your iPhone

If you no longer want to use the recovered Screen Time passcode, you can change it in the Screen Time settings.

  1. Open the Settings app.

    Settings app icon
  2. Tap Screen Time.

    Screen Time settings
  3. Tap Change Screen Time Passcode.

    Change screen time passcode
  4. Confirm by selecting Change Screen Time Passcode from the menu that pops up.

    Confirm change screen time passcode
  5. Enter the forgotten Restrictions passcode you just got using the information above.

    Enter old screen time passcode
  6. Enter your new passcode and then re-enter to verify.

    Enter New Screen Time passcode

How to Turn Off Screen Time Passcode on iPhone or iPad

Here's how to disable the recovered screen time passcode.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Screen Time.
  3. Tap Change Screen Time Passcode. 

    Change screen time passcode
  4. Select Turn Off Screen Time Passcode from the menu that pops up.

    Turn off screen time passcode
  5. Enter the passcode you just recovered.

    Enter screen time passcode

The Screen Time passcode has been turned off.

How to Turn Off Restrictions on iPhone or iPad

If you'd like to disable this feature, follow the step below to learn how to turn off Screen Time completely. Once you do, Screen Time will no longer be reported, and all limits and privacy restrictions will be turned off.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Screen Time.
  3. Tap Turn Off Screen Time.

    turn off screen time
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Author Details

Jim Karpen's picture

Author Details

Jim Karpen

Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.