How to reset a forgotten Apple ID password
iPhone and Mac users have to enter Apple ID details so frequently – when buying an app or iTunes music, accessing iCloud email or other services, updating an OS – that you wouldn’t think we’d forget our passwords. But we do.
Maybe you got confused when Apple made us change to a new password; maybe you picked one that was just too complicated to remember. (Here’s how to choose a good strong password.) Whatever the reason, forgetting the password to your Apple ID account can be a serious pain – so we’re going to explain how to reset it.
One last thing before we get started: your password might not be working because it’s been locked by Apple for security reasons – perhaps because an attempt had been made to hack it. Should this happen to you, try this tutorial: How to unlock a disabled Apple ID.
How to reset your Apple ID password
Assuming you can’t just think really hard until you remember what the password is, your best bet is to reset it. Here’s how to do that.
- Go to the Apple ID web page at appleid.apple.com and click ‘Forgot Apple ID or password’.
- Enter the email address you use with your Apple ID and click continue (if you can’t remember which email address you use we address that here).
- You will also need to enter some text to prove you are not a robot. (Tip: if you can’t read the text, just keep clicking until you can.)
- The next step will depend on the type of security you have set up for your Apple account. If you have set up two-step verification or two-factor authentication this will involve receiving details via another device – we explain the difference between two-step verification and two-factor authentication here.
- If you haven’t set up either of these extra levels of security it will be a case of getting an email or answering some security questions.
We look at the different ways you can reset your password in more detail below.
Answer security questions
When setting up a new iPad, iPhone or Mac, or when creating an Apple ID, you were probably asked to enter answers to some security questions: the name of the road where you grew up, perhaps, or the name of a favourite teacher.
If you choose to answer your security questions these are the steps you will need to go through:
- Start by entering your date of birth.
- Apple will then ask you two questions. Enter the correct answers and you’ll arrive on a Reset Password page.
- Now enter your new password twice (so that Apple can confirm you’ve spelled it the same way each time). Your password needs to have 8 or more characters, upper and lowercase letters, and at least one number. It also cannot contain the same character three times in a row (or any spaces), and you’re not allowed to reuse a password you’ve used in the past year.
What if you forget the answers to your security questions?
Remember that it’s not just the answers, but also the way you wrote them: watch out for misspellings or shortenings (Avenue becoming Ave, for instance). It’s has to be exactly the same as the way you answered during setup.
It’s possible to change the questions and/or answers by going to appleid.apple.com, but you’ll need to log on with your Apple ID and password. So that may not be useful for those of you reading this article.
Still, even if you’ve forgotten the answers to your security questions you should still be able to request that the link to change the password for your Apple ID is sent to the alternative email you registered to the account.
Send a password reset email
Rather than answering the security questions you can choose instead to have a password reset email sent to you. The password reset email will be sent to a second email address you have associated with your Apple ID – perhaps a work email.
Before you select this option make sure you have access to the email. Luckily you’ll get a hint as to which email address Apple is using, because you’ll be shown part of the address.
- From the Reset Password screen at https://iforgot.apple.com/password/verify/appleid choose Get an email and press Continue
- The email will arrive at the second email address associated with your account with the title “How to reset your Apple ID password”.
- Click the ‘Reset now’ link in the email.
- The email will come from [email protected] and include a warning in case it wasn’t you who requested the change of password.
Two-factor authentication is an extra level of security that Apple has been pushing since the roll out of iOS 10 and macOS Sierra. (Here’s how to set up two-factor authentication, although here are some reasons why you might not want to use it.)
Essentially, if you’ve set up two-factor authentication as well as entering your password you will be required to enter a code Apple sends to your iPhone or Mac.
If you’ve set up two-factor authentication and you want to change your password, you’ll still need to go to appleid.apple.com and click on ‘Forgot Apple ID or password’.
- At the Apple ID page you’ll be asked to enter the email address (and characters to prove you aren’t a robot). Then you will be asked for the mobile number associated with your two-factor authentication.
- Once you’ve entered the correct number you’ll see a screen offering to let you reset your password from another device or from a trusted phone number. Obviously you need to make sure you have access to these.
- If you choose to reset it from another device you’ll receive an alert – in our case the alert arrived on the MacBook Pro we were using, and we were given a link to System Preferences > iCloud and the option to Reset Password.
- If you choose to reset it from a trusted phone number you will see a warning that Account recovery is require to reset your password from the internet. If you have access to a device running iOS 10 or macOS Sierra or later you will be able to use that to reset the password. If that’s the case you should cancel and choose the ‘reset it from another device’ option as per step 3. Otherwise, choose Start Account Recovery.
- WARNING: It can take a few days or even longer to regain access to your account so we don’t recommend you use this step unless it is a last resort! If you do go through this step Apple will send a text message to you once your account is ready for recovery. You will then need to enter a verification code sent by Apple in order to regain access to your account.