You need to enter your Apple ID and password every time you buy an app on the Mac or iOS App Store, when you buy music and movies from iTunes, if you want to buy something from Apple’s online store, and when you access your iCloud email or other iCloud services such as Pages or Numbers via the web. You’ll also need to use it whenever you update the software on your iPhone or Mac.

Most of us find we are entering the email address and password associated with our Apple ID so frequently that it becomes a little tiresome. Luckily when Apple introduced Touch ID on the iPhone and iPad it meant that we no longer needed to log on to our the Apple ID every single time we made a purchase because we could use our fingerprint instead.

You’d think that since we have to use it so frequently there wouldn’t be much chance of forgetting your Apple ID password - but from time to time we are supposed to update our passwords and when you do, it’s easy to get confused about what you changed it to, not least because we are supposed to pick a complex password that won't be easy to crack. What do you do if you forget your Apple ID password? (Here's how to choose a good strong password)

Another reason your might find your password isn't working for your Apple account is if its been locked by Apple for security reasons, perhaps because an attempt had been made to hack it. Should this happen to you we suggest you follow this tutorial: How to unlock a disabled Apple ID that's been locked for security reasons.

How to reset your Apple ID password

If you need to reset your Apple ID password in order to regain access to your account this is what you need to do:

  1. Go to the Apple ID webpage at appleid.apple.com and click on Forgot Apple ID
  2. Enter the email address you use with your Apple ID and click continue (if you can’t remember which email address you use we address that here).  
  3. You will also need to add some text to prove you are not a robot (tip, if you can't read it, you can keep clicking until you can).
  4. The next step will depend on the type of security you have set up for your Apple account. If you have set up two-step verification or two-factor authentication this will involve receiving details via another device - we explain the difference between two-step verification or two-factor authentication here.
  5. If you haven’t set up either of these extra levels of security it will be a case of getting an email or answering some security questions.

We will look at the different ways you can reset your Apple ID password below:

Answer security questions to reset Apple ID (and what to do if you’ve forgotten them)

At some point when you set up a new iPad, iPhone or Mac you may have been asked to enter some answers to security questions. The security questions are things like the name of the road where you grew up, or your nick name, a childhood friend, or maybe the name of a favourite teacher.  

Hopefully you will remember the answers you gave to the questions - and the way you wrote them, don’t spell something wrong or shorten Avenue to Ave if you might end up forgetting you did that! (If you worry that you have forgotten your security questions and answers you can change them here - as long as you have your password).  

If you choose to answer your security questions these are the steps you will need to go through:

  1. Start by entering your date of birth.
  2. Apple will then ask you two questions. Enter the correct answers and you will arrive on a Reset Password page.
  3. Now enter your new password twice (so that Apple can confirm you have spelled it the same way). Your password needs to have 8 or more characters, upper and lowercase letters, and at least one number.

What do you do if you forget the answers to your security questions? As long as you haven’t forgotten your password your can change them by going to appleid.apple.com. You'll need to log on with your Apple ID and password then chose the option to reset your security questions.

If you have forgotten the answers to your security questions you should still be able to request that the link to change the password for your Apple ID is sent to the alternative email you registered to the account.

Send a Password Reset Email

If you decide that answering the security questions is to risky you could choose instead to have a password reset email sent to you. The password reset email will be sent to a second email address you have associated with your Apple ID - perhaps a work email. Before you select this option make sure you have access to the email, luckily you will get a hint as to which email address Apple is using - you will see part of the address.

  1. From the Reset Password screen at https://iforgot.apple.com/password/verify/appleid choose Get an email and press Continue
  2. The email will arrive at the second email address associated with your account with the title: “How to reset your Apple ID password”.
  3. Click the Reset now > link in the email.
  4. The email will come from [email protected] and will include a warning in case it wasn’t you who requested the change of password.

Change your password if you use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is an extra level of security you may have set up for your Apple account. With the roll out of iOS 10 and macOS Sierra Apple has been pushing for people to update to this (read this to find out more about it and reasons why you might not want to update to two-factor authentication). Essentially if you have set up two-factor authentication as well as entering your password you will be required to enter a code Apple sends to your iPhone or Mac.

If you have set up two-factor authentication and you want to change your password you will still need to go to appleid.apple.com and click on Forgot Apple ID.

  1. At the Apple ID page you will be asked to enter the email address and the characters displayed in a box that prove you aren’t a robot then you will be taken to a screen that requests the mobile number you have associated with your two-factor authentication.
  2. Once you have entered the correct number you will se a screen offering to let you reset your password from another device or from a trusted phone number. You need to make sure you have access to your devices and your phone.
  3. If you choose to reset it from another device you will receive an alert on a device - in our case the alert arrived on the MacBook Pro we were using, and we were given a link to System Preferences > iCloud and the option to Reset Password.
  4. If you chose to reset it from a trusted phone number you will see a warning that Account recovery is require to reset your password from the internet. If you have access to a device running iOS 10 or macOS Sierra or later you will be able to use that to reset the password. If that’s the case you should cancel and choose the ‘reset it from another device option’ as per step 3. Otherwise, choose Start Account Recovery.
  5. WARNING: It can take a few days or even longer to regain access to your account so we really don't recommend you use this step unless it is really a last resort! If you do go through this step Apple will send a text message to you once your account is ready for recovery. You will then need to enter a verification code sent by Apple in order to gain access to your account again.

Change your password using two-step verification

If your devices can’t be updated to iOS 9 or El Capitan you are stuck with two-step verification for your extra level of security as two-factor authentication doesn’t work with older devices.  

Two-step verification is an older security system that Apple introduced a few years ago after there was a lot of negative publicity about iCloud security (celebrities were having their iCloud accounts hacked, which meant that personal photos were leaking online). If you were concerned about security at the time all that happened you may have two-step verification set up for your Apple ID. When you did so you would have been sent a 14-character Recovery Key that Apple advised you to print and keep in a safe place.

If you are using two-step verification, every time you want to sign in to iCloud you need to enter your Apple ID and password as well as a verification code that will be sent to one of your devices.

If you don’t have both a verification code and password you will be locked out of your account, and should this happen you need to use your 14-character Recovery Key to gain access again.

If you are still using two-step verification password recovery depends on whether you know that this Recovery Key is. If you don’t then you won’t be able to recover your account. Even Apple is unable to reset your password if you don’t have this Recovery Key so don’t lose it!

If you have this form of security and don’t know where your Recovery Key is then you can get a new one by going to your Apple ID account, signing in with your password and email address and choosing Replace Lost Key.

What to do if you don’t know which email address you use for the Apple ID

Along with your password you will need to enter your Apple ID, which is usually an email address you associate with the account.

Perhaps it’s less likely to happen, but if you don’t often sign in for Apple services and to buy things from Apple, you might forget which email address is tied to your Apple ID. Should that happen, here's what do you do if you forget which email address you use for your Apple ID.

Luckily, there’s a quick way to find out which email address you need. You just need to find a device that is already signed on to your Apple ID.

On an iPad or iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings > iTunes & App Store. You should see your Apple ID at the top if you are logged in.
  2. Alternatively go to Settings and tap your name at the top of the page. If you are logged in here you will see the email associated with your Apple ID under your name.
  3. You may also see the email address in Settings > Messages > Send & Receive; Settings > FaceTime, or Settings > Mail.  

On a Mac or PC:

  1. Go to System Preferences > iCloud. Again you should see you'd Apple ID is you are logged in.
  2. If you aren’t logged in here you may find the email in Mail >  Preferences > Accounts.
  3. Alternatively, if you’ve used them on the Mac, you may find the details in FaceTime (select FaceTime > Preferences > Settings) or Messages (Messages > Preferences, then click Accounts).
  4. Another way to find your Apple ID is to open iTunes and check for previous purchases. In iTunes find a purchase, right click and choose Get Info then File. You may see the email address beside your name.

Online

If you fail to find your Apple ID after trying those methods, you will need to visit the Apple ID page online at appleid.apple.com and below the boxes for Apple ID and Password click on Forgot Apple ID or password.

Enter your first name, last name, and email address. If you enter the wrong email address, you can try again with a different one until the email address is recognised. One problem here, we entered the email address we know is associated with our Apple ID and we were greeted with the No Apple ID Found message. Hopefully you'll have more luck than we did.

Once you have changed your Apple ID password you will need to update it in the iCloud settings in any Apple devices you have.

Related content:

Sometimes an Apple device can get caught in a loop of asking over and over again for you to log into your Apple ID. This can be pretty frustrating. If it happens to you we suggest reading: How to fix an iPhone that keeps asking for your iCloud login and password.

A similar problem occurs when you inherrit someone elses device and it keeps asking you for the old owner's Apple ID and password. Should this happen read: How to get someone else's Apple ID off your iPhone our