How to reset forgotten Android password

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Google takes smartphone security seriously. Regaining access to your phone isn’t as easy as it is with most online accounts where you just have to tap on “Forgot my password” and then answer a few personal questions or get a recovery email. Here’s how you can get your phone back, even if your password, PIN or pattern is lost to the wind.

Reset a pattern with Android 4.4 or lower

Chances are good your phone is running a much more recent operating system than Android 4.4, but those of you still rocking an Android antique can use your Google account to perform a reset.

Once you’ve tried and failed to unlock with your pattern enough times, you will see a “Forgot pattern” notice. Tap on this and enter your Google account username and password. You can then reset your screen lock. As old Android devices disappear, so will this workaround.

When you’ve totally forgotten your Android PIN, password or pattern

Let’s move on to the worst-case scenario. The fingerprint reader isn’t working (or you have a phone with no reader) and you’ve forgotten your pattern, PIN or password. You’ve tried everything. You can’t get into your phone and you’re now out of attempts. This is a frustrating situation, but take a deep breath. You’re going to need to erase your phone.

You should already have Google’s Find My Device feature set up for your phone.

If you use a Google account, most of your data should already be backed up. This makes restoring your smartphone a lot easier than you might think. Tap or click here to learn what Google backs up and how to protect other types of data.

Make sure you have your phone with you. Reset it by heading to Google’s Find My Device page in a browser. You may need to sign in. Click on Erase Device and then again on the green Erase Device button on the next screen. Follow the instructions to clear your smartphone. You will likely have to sign into your account again.

By Amanda Kooser

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