What to do if I forget my lock pattern? [Android 101]



Android has several options available for preventing others from accessing your device. One of the most popular options is the lock pattern, which is exclusive to Android. Instead of typing in a four digit number or password you can simply draw a pattern. It’s an extremely handy way to put a layer of security on your device. However, unlike a pin code or password it can be easy to forget. What do you do then?

First of all, before you set up any type of security you should make sure your device is set up to be recovered easily. This way if someone steals your device, or you have to wipe it because you forgot your password, it will be easy to get everything back. To do this go to Settings > Backup & reset and make sure everything is enabled. This is especially handy for devices like the HTC One M8 which will reset your phone after 10 failed unlock attempts.

What to do

Okay, now that we have that out-of-the-way it’s time to help you get back into your device. The good news is Android has a built-in feature to bypass the pattern lock if you can’t remember it. To make things even better, this method won’t work for a thief that has stolen you device. Here’s what to do:

  1. After 5 failed attempts you will be locked out for 30 seconds.
  2. A button will appear underneath the pattern grid that says Forgot Pattern. Tap it.
  3. You will be asked to sign into your Google account.
  4. That’s it!

The only way to get back into the phone if you don’t know your Google account credentials is to perform a factory reset. This will erase all of your data and settings, which is why you want to perform a back-up before setting up any security. We should also mention that this will work with the pin code and password lockscreen security.

To help remember your pattern you could draw it on a piece of paper and put it somewhere safe. As long as you know your Google account credentials it’s not really a big deal if your forget. The important part is a thief won’t be able to get in. Do you use a pattern lock on your Android device? Have you ever forgotten it?


Joe Fedewa
Ever since I flipped open my first phone I've been obsessed with the devices. I've dabbled in other platforms, but Android is where I feel most at home.

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  1. If you’re on a rooted device, you can also reboot to recovery and remove your lockscreen pattern.

    adb shell rm /data/system/gesture.key

    Then reboot!

    1. I love adb

      1. ADB is great! Just as long as everyone understands that rooting and unlocking your bootloader pretty much remove any sense of security you had on your device if someone would happen to get a hold of it.

        1. Upvote for “sense of security” :)

        2. Well except in the case where if you have rooted you have put your device on encrypted mode and in addition to that you have cerebrus and wheres my droid that allows you to take control of your phone and wipe data remotely.

          1. Pretty much. Encrypted device here, as well.

          2. Cerberus be OP, though.

        3. 99% of people wouldn’t know how to do this lol I still feel pretty damn secure

  2. What happens if you have 2 factor authentication? How would you do this w/o Google Authenticator on your phone?

    1. You’re redirected to the 2 factor sign in page where you enter token. If you can’t receive a text message or open the application because this is the phone number and phone with the app, just use your backup phone (spouse?) or enter one of your printed recovery codes (I keep mine in my wallet).

      1. I also have a second Authenticator device, and a third one, just in case… All PIN-locked.

      2. Cool thanks!

  3. I can’t stand it when I’m at best buy and want to check out a phone or tablet that just came out and someone put a pattern lock on it so no one can do anything on it.

    1. OH MY GOSH!! IKR!? >=.[

    2. Try and see if the fingerprint marks might reveal the pattern.

      1. I’ve tried that but usually by that time a dozen people have tried and there are finger prints all over the place.

  4. Im more interested to know where I can get the wallpaper from that gif :P

      1. Awesome, thanks man

      2. Where do you people find this stuff? When questions like this get answered it shows me just how large the community here really is.

        1. It helps that I wrote the article ;)

  5. I can’t enjoy your website anymore on my phone please disable this!!!!!

    1. As long as you have cookies enabled, this should only happen once and then not ask you again for a month. Do you have cookies enabled? Do you see this every page load? Any more information you can provide to help us resolve this issue?

      1. yes I have cookies enabled.yes every time I got forums, homepage, click on article, this happens….hope this helps…Any info you need, let me know..always willing to help!!!!!

        1. This should be fixed now!

          1. yup..great work!!!!!!!

    2. This makes me crazy too, I hate tapatalk because of this. I already have an app to handle websites, its called Chrome.

      1. That’s kinda like saying you already have a device to handle websites, it’s called a computer. Not that preferring Chrome is bad or wrong, but there are plenty of people who prefer the app. But asking on every page load? Yeah… that’s idiotic of us and it was a bug in the code that is now fixed :)

  6. My 6 year old daughter discovered that she can unlock her brothers phone by rebooting it and unlocking as soon as it boots up. She takes after her daddy.

  7. On a related note, to make the pattern more complicated, you can got back and forth on the same buttons when setting your unlock pattern. Ex:
    start from top left, go down to bottom left, up to middle left, right to middle right, and back to center.. This way no one can read the smudge on the screen to figure out your pattern.. :)

    1. Haha that’s pretty clever.

      1. Most people do not know this.. I discovered it by accident.

  8. Yeah 5 unlock attempts then password unless your company exchange account changes it to 5 attempts then auto-wipe. But I can’t say anything bad about that email server policy since I’m the admin who created it :)

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