How to Turn on Password Protection on an iPhone

by Jason Artman

In addition to your contact information and saved text messages, your iPhone may store email, financial records, personal pictures and other data that someone could potentially view if the iPhone is lost or stolen. To protect your privacy, the iPhone has a simple configuration screen that you can use to select a password. After enabling this option, the iPhone prompts for the password each time it is unlocked or left inactive for a period of time. If you like, you can also disable password protection if you find password entry too inconvenient.

Select the "Settings" icon on your iPhone's Home screen. If you are using an application, minimize it by pressing the "Home" button.

Scroll down and select the "General" heading.

Select the "Passcode Lock" heading. The iPhone prompts you to select a four-digit password. Type the desired password to continue to the "Passcode Lock" screen.

Move the "Simple Passcode" slider to "Off" to change your numerical password to a more complex one using the iPhone keyboard. If you do this, the iPhone prompts you to enter your four-digit password again before displaying the keyboard.

Open the "Require Passcode" menu and select the amount of time the iPhone should wait after being locked before unlocking it requires a password. If you select "Immediately," the iPhone always displays a password prompt when you unlock it.

Move the "Erase Data" slider to "On" if you would like the iPhone to erase itself automatically when an incorrect password is entered ten consecutive times. This helps to eliminate the possibility of someone unlocking your phone by guessing the password.

Push the "On/Off" button at the top of the iPhone to display the Lock screen. If you selected an option other than "Immediately" in Step 5, wait the number of minutes you selected before continuing.

Drag the slider on the Lock screen to unlock the iPhone. A password prompt appears. Enter the password that you selected to complete the unlock process and confirm your password works.

Tip

  • A strong iPhone password consists of uppercase and lowercase letters as well as numbers and symbols; for maximum security, select a password containing a random combination of all four.

Warnings

  • While selecting a complex random password is the best way to ensure that no one will be able to guess it, doing so carries some risk as you may lose access to your iPhone if you forget your password. Consider writing the password down and storing it in a secure location such as a safe deposit box.
  • If you store a backup of your iPhone's contents on your computer, it may be possible for a hacker to see your private information if your computer is stolen -- even if you have enabled password protection on the iPhone itself. To prevent this, use iCloud for backup storage or encrypt the iPhone backups on your computer. To encrypt your backups, select the "Summary" tab after synchronizing your iPhone with iTunes and click the "Encrypt iPhone Backup" check box below. Select a password when iTunes prompts you and synchronize the iPhone with your computer again. In the future, iTunes will require you to enter the password to view your iPhone backups.

About the Author

Jason Artman has been a technical writer since entering the field in 1999 while attending Michigan State University. Artman has published numerous articles for various websites, covering a diverse array of computer-related topics including hardware, software, games and gadgets.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images