Recover your iPhone Screen Time or restrictions passcode

Cover image for: Recover your iPhone Screen Time or restrictions passcode

What this guide will help you achieve

Difficulty: easy

Steps: up to 5

Time needed: 5 minutes

We've been covering changes in iOS restriction passcodes since iOS 2. Experience has taught us that Apple changes the mechanism at least a little with every major release of iOS, and the release of Screen Time in iOS 12 added more great functionality. We've kept up with this, and iPhone Backup Extractor is able to recover the Screen Time passcode or restrictions passcode from any Apple device on any version of iOS, through iCloud or iTunes backups.

If you forgot your iPad or iPhone's Screen Time passcode and need it to prevent accidental in-app purchases, or if you need to remove unwanted apps but can't, we've got you covered!

To get started, you'll need the following:

Windows PC or Mac

Windows PC or Mac

iCloud account and credentials

iCloud account and credentials

An iTunes backup

Or an iTunes backup

Forgotten your iPhone's Screen Time or restrictions passcode?

Forgetting a passcode can happen to anyone, especially if these are settings that you don't change regularly. What to do if you find yourself locked out of the "restrictions" settings?

Fortunately, there are ways to retrieve your restrictions settings without the need to restore your iPhone as a new device or jail-breaking it. Anyone that has been told this is difficult or that "you need to restore your iPhone as a new device through iTunes" should read on!

You'll need an iTunes or iCloud backup to retrieve your iPhone’s restrictions passcode. Make sure your backup was created after the phone had the restrictions PIN applied. You can do this by syncing with iTunes, and if you've already synced your iOS device since the "restrictions passcode" was set, you won't need to sync again.

How to recover your Screen Time passcode or restrictions passcode from an iTunes or iCloud backup with iOS 13

  1. Ensure you have recent encrypted iPhone backup.

  2. Before proceeding, turn off “Find my iPhone” in Settings[iCloud account name]Find MyFind my iPhone

  3. Connect the phone to iTunes with its USB cable, and click "Restore iPhone...". This will trigger iTunes to download the latest firmware for your phone, before erasing it and updating it. It is really important you have a backup before doing this.

    iTunes confirming the restore choice
    iTunes confirming the restore choice

    Choosing "Restore iPhone" in iTunes
    Choosing "Restore iPhone" in iTunes

    iTunes will double-check you've got a recent backup:

    iTunes asking to back up before a restore
    iTunes asking to back up before a restore

  4. Once the firmware upgrade has completed, iTunes will ask you to choose a backup to restore from. Select the backup you made earlier and restore it. Once it is restored, you phone will be how it was -- but without the Screen Time passcode.

How to recover your Screen Time passcode or restrictions passcode from an iTunes or iCloud backup with iOS 12

  1. Download and install iPhone Backup Extractor for Windows or Mac, then open it.

  2. Ensure you have an encrypted iTunes backup or an iCloud backup. (iPhone Backup Extractor can recover a Screen Time passcode from encrypted iTunes backups, or the older restrictions passcode from iTunes or iCloud backups. If your backup isn't encrypted, the passcode won't be stored in it.)

    If you want to use an iCloud backup instead of an iTunes one, use this guide to see how to download it on your computer. You'll need a license if you want to use an iCloud backup to get your restrictions passcode back. Once the file is downloaded, it can be used by the iPhone Backup Extractor like any regular iTunes backup file.

  3. On the left side of the application, you’ll see a list of backups. Select the backup with your passcode.

  4. Go to “Utilities” menu, click on “Recover Screen Time / restrictions passcode” then click on the “Start” button and wait.

    The Utilities → Recover Screen Time / restrictions passcode menu
    The Utilities → Recover Screen Time / restrictions passcode menu

    Then press the "Start" button and it'll start recovering your Screen Time restrictions code.

    Press "start" to recover the Screen Time or restrictions passcode
    Press "start" to recover the Screen Time or restrictions passcode

  5. In a few seconds, your iOS Screen Time passcode or restrictions passcode will be recovered. For demo purposes, the PIN recovered in the screenshot below is 1234, but this should be the passcode you forgot.

    The recovered Screen Time passcode!
    The recovered Screen Time passcode!

Troubleshooting Screen Time passcode recovery

If the Screen Time recovery option is greyed out or you're unable to get your code back, there are a few potential causes:

  1. You don't have a backup. That's easy to fix: it's free and quick to make one with iTunes.

  2. Your backup isn't encrypted. The Screen Time passcode is only stored in encrypted backups. That's easy to fix: head into iTunes, tick the "Encrypt this backup" box, and then hit "Back up now".

  3. iPhone Backup Extractor is still loading your backup. The "Recover Screen Time passcode" menu item will be greyed out until the backup is fully loaded.

  4. The passcode can be unavailable on a parent's device. If you've set the passcode on your device to enforce Screen Time on your child's device, we've found that sometimes the passcode is only recoverable from a backup of the child's device. We're investigating a fix for this.

If you run into any issues or questions why not drop our expert customer service a note or live chat, or leave a comment below? We'd love to help.

Tips for figuring out a lost Screen Time passcode

We've got a handful of tricks you can try if you're being prompted for a Screen Time passcode that you don't recall setting.

  1. Try 0000 as your passcode. We've read quite a few reports from users who were prompted for a code but hadn't set one, and this had tended to work for them.

  2. Users who insist they'd not set a Screen Time passcode before sometimes report that their "Guided Access" passcode works. It's worth giving it a go.

  3. Change the time on your phone to allow yourself more tries at the passcode. If you're prevented from trying again for a few minutes, bump the time forward by an hour. This'll let you retry.

  4. Apple's canonical solution for this is to erase your phone entirely and to start again. If you have a backup that predates adding a Screen Time passcode, restoring this will remove it. However, you'll also lose any messages or data you'd created in the meantime.

How it works, and how to manually recover the restrictions passcode for free!

If you're tech-savvy and think you could manage to manually hack your way to modifying the restrictions Plist yourself, here's our guide on how to reset the restrictions code using the free edition of iPhone Backup Extractor.

Depending on the version of iOS on your device, restriction passcodes are handled differently and stored in different places. iPhone Backup Extractor bundles all of this in automatically, but it's important to know if you're doing it manually. Let's take a look at the history.

iOS Plist & notes
12+ Migrated into "Screen Time"
7 - 12
5 - 6
Reset only
1 - 4
iOS SHA-1 file hash
12+ N/A
7 - 12 398bc9c2aeeab4cb0c12ada0f52eea12cf14f40b
5 - 6 662bc19b13aecef58a7e855d0316e4cf61e2642b
1 - 4 662bc19b13aecef58a7e855d0316e4cf61e2642b

Instructions for iOS 12 and up

With the release of iOS 12, Apple migrated the restrictions passcode data to a more secure location on the iPhone, and one which isn't practical to share manual instructions for. It's just too complex to recover by manually, but we have built the functionality to recover Screen Time restrictions into iPhone Backup Extractor since the iOS 12 betas.

Instructions for iOS 7 - 11

iOS 7 and up hashes the passcode using PBKDF2, which requires some unscrambling.

You can use the same steps as for earlier versions of iOS, but you'll need to grab

Once you've got it, look for these values:


The key and salt are derived from your PIN with PBKDF2, and are relatively easy to unscramble with brute force. There are only 10,000 combinations!

Instructions for iOS 4 and below

Step 1. Extracting the file

Once iPhone Backup Extractor is open, click on the "Expert mode" tab. This will open an explorer window where you can see all the files in your iTunes or iCloud backup. To find the file navigate to Home DomainLibraryPreferences.

Finding springboard.plist in "Expert mode"
Finding springboard.plist in "Expert mode"

The list of files in this folder is alphabetical so it should be easy to find. Once you've found it, tick the box next to the mentioned file and click the "Extract" button. You'll then be asked to save the file, extract it somewhere easy to find like your desktop.

Step 2. Opening the file

Let's open the Plist using iPhone Backup Extractor's built-in Plist editor. This is available in the menu under FileView / Edit Plist. Click that, and choose the Plist you extracted earlier.

Finding the Plist viewer
Finding the Plist viewer

Step 3. Viewing the "SBParentalControlsPin" aka the "Restrictions Passcode"

Scan down the file until you get to the line saying <key>SBParentalControlsPin</key>: the line under it should read something like <string>1234</string>.

The parental controls PIN! 🎉
The parental controls PIN! 🎉

Make a note of this number and enter it back into your iPhone when the "restrictions passcode" is requested. Voilà, you should now have full access to your lost "restrictions" settings!

We're looking forward to hearing your Screen Time passcode stories, and to see if we can help. If you have any other helpful iPhone hints you would like to share, please let us know or leave a comment below. If you get stuck, please reach out and we'll make it easy.

Frequently asked questions

Why does Apple make it difficult to reset / disable this passcode -- why can't it be done via iCloud?

We believe it is to cater for users who don't set up an iCloud Family Sharing unit with their kids, but instead give them their own iPhone with their own iCloud account. Short of separately being able to register a parent on TouchID or FaceID, a secondary code is needed, as the child would have full access to their own iCloud settings.

It's also helpful to use a passcode rather than an iCloud account where these restrictions are applied en masse via MDM across many devices where there isn't a parent as such, such as on a school or company's devices. It's not just for restricting access for children using the device.

When the family are tied together in an iCloud Family share it would be possible. However, users would always need the option of some sort of passcode override for times when it matters: like being on a long journey with the family where there's no Internet. Most of the world doesn't have Wi-Fi during flights, for instance, so without a code it wouldn't be possible to change Family Sharing settings.

About the author

Aidan Fitzpatrick founded Reincubate in 2008 after building the world's first iPhone data recovery tool, iPhone Backup Extractor. He's spoken at Google on entrepreneurship, and is a graduate of the Entrepreneurs' Organisation's Leadership Academy.

Reincubate's CEO at Buckingham Palace

Pictured above are members of Reincubate’s team meeting HM Queen Elizabeth Ⅱ at Buckingham Palace, after being awarded the UK’s highest business award for our work with Apple technology. Read our position on privacy, safety and security.


iPhone Backup Extractor runs on any Mac (10.10+) or PC (Windows 7 SP1 or newer).


Supports every iOS device

iPhone 11, 11 Pro Max. Everything older, including iPad and iPod Touch.


Supports every iOS & beta

iOS 13 and 12, and every earlier version. We started with iOS 1.


No recovery drama

We were first to support encrypted backups, iCloud & 2FA. Corrupted backups, too!

Ready to test it with your iPhone?

See what iPhone Backup Extractor can do for you.

30 day money back guarantee
All iOS versions
Every iPhone, iPad and iPod

Comments (52)

Good Morning. can you inform me if you already have iOS 11 support for code restriction?

We certainly do! Reach out if you need help. ✌️

OMG!! I have been trying for months to find my code that if didn't know I set... got a new phone and realized that it automatically put it in the new phone! Thanks you so much for solving this problem that not even Verizon could help with!!!


Hey Beji, it sure does. Please drop us a note directly via the live chat or on email and we'll do our best to help. 🙏

This can also work on IPods, specifically on Ipod touch 5?

It sure does!

The free edition will not recover the restriction passcode. One must buy the Home pr Pro edition to do so.

thnx alot man ... i could restore because putting all jailbreak data is hard

Worked perfectly ... easy to follow ... many thanks :-)

Is there a way without backing it up or restoring it ? Because personally id rather not download anything. Apple isnt helping me either ?

Hi Julianna, thanks for writing. We're afraid not. Sorry!

thanks guys really work,, muchas gracias

Thanks it worked!

Yes! You are my savior! Bless the heavens for this article!

Has anyone figured out where the restrictions passcode is in newer versions? I have iphone 5 running 6.1.3. I never set the pin, but it asks at the restrictions "tab".

Hi AR, please send us a message on live chat and we'll help you out.

I too cannot find the control pin. I've looked and tried several times and there is no 4 digit number to be found anywhere. I am currently running 6.1.3

The application worked as explained....but there was no SBParentalControlsPIN I have 8 failed attempt. Running iPhone 5 6.1.3 version. Any suggestions how I can get this passcode for restrictions

@David, check out our guide on how to reset the code on iOS5 and iOS6.

Thanks for saving me and my data on the iphone. Appreciate


THANKS Andy ... worked just as described .. worked just great ...kudos

I'm using IOS 6.1.2 and it wont work do you have any tips?

The application worked as explained....but there was no "SBParentalControlsPIN" anywhere. I looked at every "SBParentalControls****" but was not able to find the "PIN" or any 4 digit string of numbers. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

I found SBParentalControlsPin but instead of showing the code it just sais false.

Thanks for commenting, sohrab. Drop us an email and we'll help you get it recovered!

I don't have <key>SBParentalControlsPin</key> though i have set it on my iphone.

Drop us a note via live chat and we'll help!

Trying to get it to work on an I Touch running 6.0.1 and dont see the code in the "list" all it says is deleted or blocked...any help?

John -- please reach out to us on live chat or through our support page, and we'll lend you a hand.

Thank you sooo much!!!!!

extremely confused :/ instructions work better with my iPod, select iPhone to back up and everything changes which doesnt let me follow the above instructions ! any ideas? many thanks!

Kay -- no problem. Ping us on live chat and we'll sort you out. 😃

does this work on ios6!?

It does! Reach out if you need help.

perfect!! thanks for this!!

tahnk you so much you saved my life!

Fab! 💪

thanks a lot, im able to unlock without any issues.

thanx it really worked after 2yrs trying to find the answer now to find it today you the man

Our pleasure. Glad we could help!

this worked amazing i was up to nine failed attempts i was scared i would lock the phone for good and doing the steps took me a minute to figure out how to get the plist to open or save right but i got it thank you so much


I can not seem to get it to work with mine either. Has anyone figured out how to find the password with the iOS 5.1.1, this is really frustrating. I really need help.

Great dude, thnx a loads! u saved me trouble! genuine! u should make it more accessible, cuz I saw millions of others just choosing to restore by losing some data

Thank you! ❤️

Awesome! Worked great, thanks!

Thank you!!! Like a dummy I set a different restriction code than the passcode to unlock the phone. Your solution worked great!

Hi, I'm trying with the new iOS version and it doesn´t work... I get SBParentalControlsBlockTimeIntervalSinceReferenceDate , SBParentalControlsFailedAttempts 7, SBParentalControlsMCContentRestrictions, Enabled and Blocked but nothing like PIN... help!

I figured how to do it for IOS 5.1 But it is kind of complicated and takes a couple restores

This is definitely not working for IOS5.1, the SBParentalControlsPin is not inside the

Check out the latest update to iPhone Backup Extractor -- it'll do it for you.

It doesn't word situ iOS 5.1 Would be great to have à new solution

Plz Help!! I have updated IOS 5. And have a restrictions code on the iPhone. I got to the doc but I cannot find the SBParentalControlsPin in the springboard plist file after upgrading to iOS 5!! Plz help!! Is it not available any more? @Andy plz help you sound smart!!

No problem. If you try the latest version of iPhone Backup Extractor it should handle it automatically for you.

fantastically easy tks

Hmmm, I cannot find the SBParentalControlsPin in the springboard plist file after upgrading to iOS 5. It seems Apple have removed it for better security.

Anybody have a clue on what to do then?

We have tested whether SBParentalControlsPin is still stored in file on iOS 5 and found it still is -- if you had updated to iOS 5 then restored data from a previous backup (non-iOS 5). Once removed/re-added iOS 5 no longer stores the Restrictions Passcode in the file.

Remember that the SBParentalControlsPin is not present if the backup you are looking at had no SBParentalControlsPin enabled.

Do not confuse this with the Passcode to access your iPhone when locked.

We have noticed during the iOS 5 update that the general Passcode becomes set to disabled and the Restriction Passcode is enabled in some instances. It's a bug in iOS 5, if you've added the Restriction Passcode in the past (even if turned off pre-update) it could turn on. We haven't confirmed this happens if you have never set your Restriction Passcode.

You'll see we've updated iPhone Backup Extractor to support this newer version.

It works on iOS 5. Thanks God, finally I know my restriction code...and does not need to restore to factory setting and enter contact one by one again!! Thanks so much professionals!

I am using 4.3.5 and followed the guide exactly and I only see <key> locked unlocked can anyone help

@Greg: The instructions will work on iOS 4.3.5, you should see your restrictions pin a few tags above the <locked-unlocked> tags as something like:


Unless you haven't added a restrictions PIN and you are referring to the phone PIN. This something entirely different and not available to view in the same way.


Great!! Thanks!

awesome, works great, thanks alot!

Worked a charm. It took me a while though to figure it all out, here are some thoughts:

You don't need to connect your device to the computer, the program searches and uses your computer's iphone/ipod/ipad backup folder.

You don't necessarily need the computer which you normally sync your iPhone/iPod with. Any one with iTunes will do, although you'll have to back up your device to this "new" computer first (just connect it, open iTunes, right click, backup - You won't lose any data)

Do the above if you don't see your iPhone on the list in the Extractor Program. You need to have a backup present on this computer, that's what the Extractor Program searches.

There are multiple springboard files though, so for those like me who couldn't find it first time, I followed this path:

  • Select your Iphone/Ipod
  • Choose Expert Mode
  • Expand the Library folder
  • Expand the Preferences SubFolder
  • Tickbox the
  • Extract to the Desktop (for convenience)
  • Follow the rest of the instructions in the article (Go to the IPBE program again, and now click file, locate the springboard plist file. I had trouble locating it till I realised that it actually lived in the freshly appearing "library" folder on the desktop)
  • View the file, it's near the bottom

Great guide, no downloads, no nothing needed, plain and simple.

thanks a lot buddy need to know how to transfer movies to iphone 4 from pc!! if anybody helps a would be hearty thankful..

Thanks this worked great. Helped me a lot. Thanks a ton!!

This was neat! worked perfctly! Thanks a lot!

Tried this, worked BRILLIANTLY. For some reason when I saved it in desktop, the plist wouldnt open, just went to system32. After saving to my documents, tried again, the list came up and there was my code. Thank you. Really, thank you. You've saved me a restore.

thanks it worked like charm After getting the file i tried to view it in notepad but everything was scrambled and this tool let me view all things clearly thanks dmax

PS - fortunately, I've never had to do this myself yet...but there's no reason at all why it should nto easily work. I wanted my notes formatted "as is" on both by laptop and my iPhone. MS OneNote provides exactly that. The fact that you can send all your notes / emails / web pages / pdf's / spreadsheets etc etc to One Note makes it very convenient to use. It creates books of individual notes, which you can move around, edit, format, structure as you wish. MobileNoter is simply a great iPhone app designed to sync and work directly with One Note. Importantly, you can set up a password to protect entry to iPhone MobileNoter, making your notes more secure if they contain confidential info. When you launch MobileNoter, you have to enter your password before you can view your notes.

It should be possible using a combination of MS Office OneNote (can be found within MSOffice suite) and MobileNoter (an iPhone App available via the iTunes App store. First, download and install MobileNoter from the iTunes App store to your iPhone. Follow all instructions from the App provider, including installing the sync software to your PC. Once done, "print your notes" to MS OneNote (to do this, click Print and then select "Send to OneNote" as your printer). This will "print" your note (s) inside OneNote (rather like printing to PDF, except printing into OneNote. Finally, sync your OneNote book to your iPhone using the sync button in MobileNoter(I use the WiFi sync mode) and there you have it, all your notes back on to your iPhone conveniently packaged into one structured Notes App (with numerous other formatting options which make Mobile Noter so much better than the basic iPhone notes app).

Can we improve this article?

We love hearing from users: why not drop us an email, leave a comment, or tweet @reincubate?

© 2008 - 2019 Reincubate Ltd. All rights reserved. Registered in England and Wales #5189175, VAT GB151788978. Reincubate® is a registered trademark. Privacy & terms. We recommend 2FA. Built with in London.


For personal users

For businesses and pro users

Scroll down for business and pro plans



iTunes support

Works with Windows and Mac

Customer support

Preview iCloud device list

Buy Basic



iCloud and iTunes support

Works with Windows and Mac

Customer support

5 iCloud devices

Download iCloud Photo Library

Buy Premium
Jonathan Zdziarski picture

This is iPhone Backup Extractor, think of it as a "personal forensics" utility. It's pretty awesome.

Jonathan Zdziarski

Forensics and iOS expert

For business and pro users



25 iCloud devices

High priority customer support

Commercial license

All benefits of our premium plan

Buy Business
ricloud logo
Demo our APIs for enterprise

Need iCloud API access, forensic tools, bulk recovery of deleted SQLite data?

Learn about our APIs at