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Android typically protects your device by requiring a PIN, pattern, or full password. Your phone is not useless if you forget the unlock code – you can skip it and re-enter.

As Google tightens security, this has become more difficult on modern versions of Android. But there is always a way to make your phone usable again, as long as you remember your Google account username and password.

Modern versions of Android (5.0 and above)

Android used to have a way to bypass your PIN or password, but that feature was removed in Android 5.0.

Unfortunately, this means there’s no built-in way to simply reset your pattern, PIN, or password and gain access to your phone or tablet. However, this helps provide additional protection for your data: attackers have no way to bypass the passcode unless they actually know about it.

Update, 09/23/22: Android 13 was released in August 2022. Android 13 also does not contain any features that are comparable to the recovery methods present in older versions of Android prior to Android 5.0.

RELATED: Use Smart Lock on Android 5.0 and never unlock your phone at home again

Android Smart Lock feature can save you. For example, let’s say you’ve set up Smart Lock on your Android phone and have it sign in automatically when you’re connected to your home Wi-Fi network. You can bring your phone to that home Wi-FI network and it will unlock automatically, even if you can’t remember the normal unlock code.

You have a few other tricks left that might work. For example, on Samsung devices, if you signed in to the device with a Samsung account, you can go to the Samsung Find My Mobile website, sign in with the same Samsung account, and use the “Unlock my screen” option to remove the lock screen. lock your device. Other manufacturers may offer similar features if they have a device tracking website that you have signed up with.

If you’ve already unlocked your bootloader and installed a custom recovery, you may be able to use that environment to remove the code. However, it’s probably not possible to install a custom recovery without factory resetting your device if you haven’t already done so.

An Android 12 warning about too many failed PIN entries.

Android 4.4 and below

RELATED: How to bypass and reset the password on all operating systems

Earlier versions of Android (Android 4.4 KitKat and earlier) have a built-in way to bypass your pattern, PIN, or other password if you forget it. To find this feature, first enter an incorrect pattern or PIN five times on the lock screen. You will see a “Forgot pattern”, “forgot PIN” or “forgot password” button appear. play it You will be prompted to enter the username and password for the Google account associated with your Android device.

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When All Else Fails: Factory Reset Your Device

Assuming you don’t have the easy option of resetting your device using one of the tricks above, you should probably give up the data stored on your device. You can get your device back to a usable state, but that will involve performing a factory reset, wiping the device’s storage, and setting it up again from scratch.

This isn’t as bad as it sounds, as most data on a modern Android device should be synced online. Sign in with the same Google account and you’ll have access to your emails, contacts, apps, and just about everything else. You will then be able to set a new unlock code.

If your device has a removable SD card, you’ll probably want to remove the SD card before doing the factory reset, just to make sure the files stored on it aren’t overwritten. It’s probably best to turn off your Android device, remove the SD card, and then continue.

RELATED: How to find your lost or stolen Android phone

You can visit the Find My Device website and sign in with the same Google account you use on that Android device. Select the device that is locked and select “Wipe” to remotely wipe it. You will be able to set it up from scratch afterwards: the lock code will be removed, but the device will also be erased.

If you have enabled another remote phone or tablet tracking service, you can probably also use their website to remotely wipe your device.

The page "find my device" can also be used to wipe your device.

If you can’t reach your phone through the Find My Device page to perform a reset, don’t worry, you have other options. You can factory reset your phone or tablet even if you can’t unlock it.

RELATED: How to Factory Reset Your Android Phone or Tablet When It Won’t Boot

Exactly how you’ll do this is different on different phones and tablets. You will need to launch your device’s system recovery menu and wipe it from there. To do this, you will need to turn off the device and turn it on while holding the correct buttons. For example, on the Pixel 6, you need to press and hold the Volume Down and Power buttons at the same time, then when you see “No command”, quickly press and hold the Volume Up and Power button. Use the recovery menu to wipe the device.

Google offers a list of ways to access recovery mode on Pixel devices. You may need to do a web search or check your device manufacturer’s support pages to find out how to reset your device.

On devices running Android 5.1, you may need to enter the Google account username and password that was previously associated with the device after doing this. This prevents someone else from rebooting and using your device. However, you will not need the old unlock code to regain use of your hardware.

Modern Android devices work much more like Apple’s iPhone and iPad. If you forget the code, you will need to reset it to its factory default settings to regain access. This starts to make sense when you consider Google’s desire to automatically encrypt all Android devices out of the box. The PIN or password is used as part of the key to decrypt data stored on an encrypted Android device.