Set a passcode on your iPhone or iPod touch to protect the personal information — financial details, photos, emails, texts, and more — that’s stored on the mobile device. Without a passcode, anyone who has physical access to the device can access that information. Putting a passcode on a device introduces a strong layer of security for sensitive data. Also, you must establish a passcode to use Face ID or Touch ID.
All currently supported versions of iOS support passcodes. Touch ID requires an iPhone 6 through iPhone 8, or a current-generation iPod touch. Face ID requires an iPhone X or newer.
How to Set a Passcode on iPhone
To set a passcode on your device:
Open the Settings app.
Tap Touch ID & Passcode (or Face ID & Passcode on iPhone X or newer devices). If you registered a passcode, enter it to open the Settings screen.
Tap Turn Passcode On.
Enter a 6-digit passcode. Choose something you can easily remember.
Confirm the passcode by entering the same passcode again.
If you think you’ll forget it, you can write your passcode down and keep it in a safe place. If you lose the passcode, check out our article on how to deal with a forgotten passcode.
You may also be asked to log into your Apple ID. If so, enter your Apple ID password and tap Continue.
The iPhone is now secured by a passcode. You’ll be prompted to enter it when you unlock or turn on the iPhone or iPod touch. A passcode makes it difficult for unauthorized users to access a phone.
Touch ID and iPhone Passcode
All iPhones from the 5S through the iPhone 8 series (and several other Apple mobile devices) are equipped with the Touch ID fingerprint scanner. Touch ID takes the place of entering a passcode when you purchase items from the iTunes Store and App Store, authorize Apple Pay transactions, and unlock the device. There are some cases in which you may be asked to enter your passcode for additional security, such as after restarting the device.
If the iPhone has been repaired, it’s potentially vulnerable to the Touch ID-related error 53. Learn about iPhone error 53 and how to fix it.
Face ID and iPhone Passcode
On the iPhone X, the Face ID facial recognition system replaced Touch ID. It performs the same functions as Touch ID — enters your passcode, authorizes purchases, and more — but does it by scanning your face instead of your finger.
iPhone Passcode Options
After you set up a passcode on the phone, fine-tune what you can or can’t do without entering the passcode (either by typing it or by using Touch ID or Face ID). The passcode options include:
- Require Passcode: This option controls how long the iPhone remains unlocked when it’s not being used. The faster the screen locks, the more secure the phone is from people looking to snoop. The trade-off is that you may have to enter the passcode more often.
Too many unsuccessful attempts to unlock an iPhone with the wrong passcode disables it. Check out our piece to learn how to fix the “iPhone is disabled” error.
- Voice Dial: Move this slider to on/green to make calls (“Call mom at work”) by speaking to your iPhone without unlocking it. You may not want this option set, though. Many people have “home” or “dad” or something similar in their iPhone address book. A thief who has the phone doesn’t need the passcode to tell the phone to call one of those contacts.
- Today View: This view of Notification Center contains information about your calendar and your day. Move the slider to off/white to require the passcode to view it.
- Recent Notifications: This is similar to the Today View setting, but provides access to a larger set of recent notifications from apps, rather than just Today.
- Control Center: Want to access the options and shortcuts in Control Center without unlocking the iPhone? Move the slider to on/green.
- Siri: On the iPhone 4S and up, access Siri from the lock screen by holding down the Home button (or, on more recent models, the Side button). This allows someone to access some features of the phone even if it is protected by a passcode. Block Siri from operating without a passcode by moving this slider to off/white.
- Reply with Message: This sends a text message from the lock screen to someone calling you — often something like “Call you in 10 minutes.” Move the slider to off/white to disable Reply with Message.
- Home Control: iOS 10 introduced the Home app, which controls smart home devices. This setting prevents anyone with the phone from sending instructions to your HomeKit security, lighting, and other devices.
- Return Missed Calls: With this option enabled, you can return a missed called from the lock screen, without entering the passcode.
- Erase Data: The ultimate way to keep data from prying eyes. Move this slider to on/green and when someone enters an incorrect passcode 10 times on the device, all the data on the device is automatically deleted. Not a great choice if you forget your passcode regularly, but it can be a powerful security tool.