I've got a rather peculiar problem. My wife's iPhone got stolen and we bought a new one from the insurance money. When trying to restore the backup file to her new phone, iTunes asks for the password:

Enter the password to unlock your iPhone backup file.

The problem is, that she removed the password a long time ago. Hence she can not remember it. All we know is that it must be a number between 1111 and 9999.

Is there any way to brute force this? Other than by hand?

  • Just to clarify, you're talking about the password for the backup, which is different than the phone's lock code.
    – roguesys
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 21:49
  • Yes. My wife used to have a 4 digit code on her Phone. She then removed it and Synced her phone. It seems that somehow the backup file continues to require a Password. Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 8:57
  • 1
    What I'm saying is, the 4 digit code is not, by default, the passcode used for the backup. Maybe she can try some of her common passwords when iTunes prompts. Also, @Asmus' answer is another way to try and find it, if the password was saved in the keychain.
    – roguesys
    Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 19:48
  • Yea the password isn't the same as the lock code and on another note, she needs a better pass code! If you have contacts and pictures synced she could just setup as a fresh phone?
    – ingh.am
    Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 9:36
  • I think you will find it is the password that you use for your Apple ID.
    – user11972
    Commented Oct 14, 2011 at 0:48

5 Answers 5


The password used to encrypt the backup file might have been saved to the user's keychain.

  1. from /Application/Utilities open the Keychain Access utility
  2. make sure that on the left side "All items" is selected under categories
  3. in the upper right search field enter "iphone" and then look for a keychain item named "iPhone Backup" of kind "application password". If there is no such item, you´re mostly out of luck
  4. double click on the "iPhone Backup" entry and in the new window that will open, click on the "show password" checkbox
  5. you will now be prompted to enter your password (the one your user has on your Mac) to show the iPhone backup password; click Allow (once). You should now see the iPhone Backup password in clear text.

I don't think windows has an equivalent store for saving the password. If not, you will have to try brute forcing it in iTunes - just me methodical - write down all sorts of passwords that may have been used - brainstorm a bit. Then try them one by one. Hopefully with the pressure off a bit you will stumble upon the pass phrase that was used.

  • Voted up, as this might work in most cases. Unfortunately there is no such entry in our keychain ;( Commented Feb 14, 2011 at 20:48

On my Mac when this happened to me unexpectedly, I simply entered the password for the machine I synced the phone with and it worked. So the password is likely to be the password for the user account you sync your phone to.

You might also try the password for your AppleID as many people will enter that thinking that iTunes wants the AppleID password when in fact they are independent.

  • Yes, but still strange: In my case the password was not my Apple id password and it was not the login password on the machine that contained the backup. It was the login password for a different machine that my phone had not been plugged into for many months!!
    – bdemarest
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 7:17

There are a wide variety of brute force cracking options that will repeatedly try passcode or other engineering to crack the protection.

Most of these run in the $50 range for price, and depending on what password was used, it might take weeks or years to try all possible combinations before the software "guesses" what you used.


Brute force is possible to crack the password unless:

  1. The password is week. According to my test, it took 8 hours to break a password with 6 pure digits.

  2. The Computer should have a high profile especially for GPU.

  3. The backup made by lower version of iTunes has more possibilities for breaking.

Edit: Here is a step by step guide to unlock iTunes backup password in response to the comment.

  • The question wasn't about the theory of brute-force attack, but how to perform it. Quote: "Other than by hand?" How does GPU help entering the passwords?
    – techraf
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 12:02
  • With GPU, the password breaking speed will be increased dramatically.
    – uumi360
    Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 1:38
  • OP asked about the method of inputting numbers from 1111 to 9999. How does GPU help in achieving that?
    – techraf
    Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 1:40

It's 1234 - I never set this password I am quite sure, and someone on the Apple discussion board suggested it and it works. Crazy, but it works.

  • 5
    It's not 1234 unless you set it to be 1234.
    – TJ Luoma
    Commented Oct 15, 2011 at 16:59
  • 2
    Can you link to the relevant Apple discussion board?
    – Daniel
    Commented Nov 9, 2011 at 3:19
  • Ditto what Daniel said.
    – daviesgeek
    Commented Nov 12, 2011 at 21:07
  • 3
    "1,2,3,4? That's amazing! I've got the same combination on my luggage!"
    – gentmatt
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 11:53

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