How-To: Lock Your Smartphone

Why do I need a passcode?

There are many reasons why you may want to put a passcode (sometimes called a pin) on your smartphone: it can help protect your data if your phone is stolen; it can keep children from draining your battery playing games or accidentally changing your settings; it can prevent teenagers from buying stuff for themselves on the internet without your knowledge; or it can just keep others from reading your private emails and messages.

Below, we share step-by-step instructions for how to set up or change a passcode on an iPhone. Click here for instructions on how to set up a passcode on an Android phone.

How to set up a passcode on an iPhone

If you have an iPhone, open up your Settings. On iPhone X, find “Face ID & Passcode.” For earlier models, find “Touch ID & Passcode” or simply “Passcode.

Tap “Turn Passcode On.” It will request that you enter a six-digit passcode. Then, you must enter your passcode again to confirm and activate it. Make sure to write down the passcode that you choose in a private place that you will easily remember. I write my passcodes in my journal and on sticky notes inside desk drawers.

On an iPhone, you can also add a Fingerprint lock, so that all you’ll have to do is lightly rest your thumb on the “home” button. The iPhone will read your fingerprint and open without the passcode. You will still have to enter the passcode when the phone is restarted. Under the same menu where you added a passcode, click “Add a Fingerprint” and follow the instructions. You will have to lightly hold your finger at a variety of different angles on the home button until the iPhone has learned your fingerprint.

Read more on Apple Support.

What if I forget my passcode?

If you enter an incorrect passcode too many times, the data on your phone will be temporarily erased. You can access and restore this data by logging on to iTunes on a computer. For detailed instructions, visit or contact Apple Support!

Arin Yost

Arin is a Program Analyst at the Atlanta Regional Commission, where his work focuses on health disparities and equity across the Atlanta region.