Forgot Your Restrictions or Screen Time Passcode? How to Reset It without Restoring Your iPhone

* This post is part of iPhone Life's Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

Your iPhone restrictions passcode (now your Screen Time passcode as of iOS 12) can be reset without restoring your iPhone. Apple hasn't set up a fail safe for turning off restrictions when you don’t know the password; but if you forgot your restrictions passcode on your iPhone or iPad, this is a sure-fire way to recover it so you can either turn off Screen Time on your iPhone or reset the Screen Time passcode. Here’s how to recover and reset your forgotten Screen Time or Restrictions passcode on your iPod, iPhone, or iPad.  

Related: New for iOS 12: How to Use Screen Time to Set Content Restrictions on Your iPhone & iPad

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Restricting the use of certain apps and settings for kids is one of the iPhone's best features; and it's only gotten better with the introduction of Screen Time parental controls in iOS 12. Now you can set app time limits in addition to content limits, and you can do it remotely! If you had Restrictions enabled on your iPhone or iPad before iOS 12, your Restrictions passcode is now your Screen Time passcode, without any extra effort on your part. But some users didn't even know they had Restrictions enabled until they updated to iOS 12 and tried to use Screen Time, which means they forgot their restrictions passcode a long time ago. And now they need to know how to reset the Restrictions passcode on their iPhone

But if you forget your Restrictions/Screen Time passcode, it’s nearly impossible to reset the passcode without this work around. To reset the Screen Time/Restrictions passcode on your iPhone, you will need to download a free online software. I tried to find the least sketchy software out there and was able to use it to recover my Screen Time passcode without problems, but keep in mind before doing this yourself that there is always a risk in downloading software from the internet.

How to Recover Your Forgotten Screen Time of Restrictions Passcode

First you need to make an encrypted backup of your iPhone in iTunes on your computer. You need to do this for two reasons:

  1. If something goes wrong, you'll be able to restore your iPhone.
  2. You’ll use the iTunes backup of your iPhone that’s stored on your computer to figure out the Restrictions passcode or Screen Time passcode you forgot.

How to Back Up Your iPhone to iTunes:

  • To back up your iPhone to iTunes, simply plug your iPhone into your computer and open iTunes.
  • Select the little phone icon near the top that appears when you plug in your iPhone.
  • Under Backups, select This computer and make sure Encrypt iPhone Backup is checked. (As of iOS 12, the Screen Time passcode will only be saved in encrypted backups.)
  • 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, return to iTunes after recovering your passcode and turn off backup encryption.
  • Click Back Up Now.

Once you've created a backup:

  • The first time you use Decipher BackupBrowser you will see a screen called Getting Started that explains how to allow BackupBrowser to access your phone’s backup

  • To grant Decipher BackupBrowser access to iTunes backups on your Mac, go to System Preferences. 

  • Click Security & Privacy > Privacy > Full Disk Access.
  • If Necessarey, Click the lock icon and enter the administrator username and password

  • Drag the BackupBrowser icon from the open BackupBrowser window into the list of applications with full disk access.

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

  • Enter your iTunes backup encryption password and click OK.

  • The contents of your iPhone backup will appear in the center column.
  • Click on Screen Time Passcode (or Restrictions Passcode Cracker for iOS 11 and earlier.)
  • 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 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 drag BackupBrowser to the Trash.

How to Change the Screen Time Passcode on Your iPhone

  • Open the iPhone Settings app.
  • Tap Screen Time.

  • Tap Change Screen Time Passcode and then select Change Screen Time Passcode from the menu that pops up.

  • Enter the forgotten Restrictions passcode you just got using the information above.

  • Enter your new passcode and then re-enter to verify.

How to Turn Off the Screen Time Passcode on Your iPhone

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Tap Screen Time.
  • Tap Change Screen Time Passcode and select Turn Off Screen Time Passcode from the menu that pops up.

  • Enter the passcode you just recovered.

  • The Screen Time passcode has been turned off.
  • To turn off Screen Time completely, tap Turn Off Screen Time.
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Jim Karpen's picture

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.