My sister-in-law asks some of the best iPhone questions. Yesterday she asked me:
Do you know how to reset a restrictions passcode? I seem to have forgotten it.
We then waded through tons of webpages with totally outdated information about how to find out the restrictions passcode. They probably worked several years ago, but not in iOS 10, iOS 11, or iOS 12. Half of the descriptions were also pretty darn hard to read, even for me, and I work on iPhone data for my job!
So here is my contribution to the world of forgotten iPhone Restrictions / Screen Time passcode tutorials.
Update October 9, 2018: As of iOS 12, the Restrictions passcode setting has changed to the iOS 12 Screen Time passcode and the storage of the passcode has changed. Decipher Backup Browser has been updated to also show the Screen Time passcode from an encrypted iPhone/iPad backup.
Update October 24, 2019: As of iOS 13, the Screen Time passcode appears to no longer be stored in the backup. Since there is no Screen Time passcode data to read in the backup, Decipher Backup Browser cannot recover the Screen Time passcode from a backup made with iOS 13. Decipher Backup Browser can read the passcode from a backup made from iOS 12 or earlier, which could still help you if you have a backup made before updating the iPhone/iPad or if you have a backup of the previous iPhone/iPad that was used to set up the new device.
How to recover your iPhone or iPad Screen Time passcode (iOS 12)
In iOS 12, the Restrictions passcode was used to set up the new iOS 12 Screen Time passcode. Download Decipher Backup Browser and make a backup of the iPhone/iPad if you don't have a backup already. The passcode is only stored in if your backup is made with encryption turned on, so as part of recovering your Screen Time passcode, you'll need to make sure your backup is encrypted.
How to recover a forgotten iPhone or iPad Screen Time passcode:
Click on the backup of your iPhone/iPad in the left column of Decipher Backup Browser.
Select "Screen Time Passcode" from the center column.
Your iPhone Screen Time passcode will show in the right column.
(I've got the same combination on my luggage!)
If you do not see Screen Time passcode as an option, please make sure your backup was made with iTunes backup encryption turned on. Here are instructions from Apple for how to turn on encrypted iTunes backups.
How to recover your iPhone Restrictions passcode (iOS 11 and lower)
Since about iOS 8, the restrictions PIN itself is no longer stored in an iPhone backup. However, the verification for the restrictions passcode is stored instead, much like how a website wouldn't store your passcode for your account, but instead stores information to verify it.
The good news if you forgot your iPhone restrictions passcode is that it's really easy to have a computer guess and check it for you. The passcode is only four digits, which is a small search space for a computer, and the steps to verify the passcode against the info stored in an iTunes backup are fast. (This is why iOS built a delay in allowing you to guess the restrictions passcode on the iPhone itself.)
We've built a little iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch restrictions passcode recovery tool, and put it into the free trial version of Decipher Backup Browser. You don't need to purchase a license code to use the restrictions passcode guesser.
Download Decipher Backup Browser and make a backup of the iPhone with the restrictions passcode if you don't have a backup already.
How to recover a forgotten iPhone restrictions passcode:
Click on the backup of your iPhone in the left column of Decipher Backup Browser.
Select "Restrictions Passcode Cracker" from the center column.
After a few seconds, your iPhone restrictions passcode will show in the right column.