Often forget your Apple ID password? Add someone as your Apple ID account recovery contact!

Apple ID Account recovery contact add contacts using iPhone in Settings app for Apple ID

If you don’t keep track of your Apple ID password using iCloud Keychain or a third-party password manager (like 1Password), you probably had to go through the laborious process of resetting your Apple ID’s password or waited multiple days for Apple’s account recovery waiting period to end. And the truth is you are not alone! 

In iOS15+, Apple introduces Account Recovery, which finally recognizes that many people forget their Apple ID passwords. So much so that they often lock themselves out of their accounts and need to contact Apple Support for help. 

With Account Recovery, you can get back into your Apple ID and iCloud account with just a phone call to your designated trusted family members and friends.

Account Recovery allows you to add a recovery contact who then provides you a recovery code to unlock your account. And you can add more than one recovery contact, so if one person isn’t available, another one might be!

Now, this only works if you and your family/friends use iOS15+, iPadOS15+, or macOS Monterey and you set up the Account Recovery feature. It is not enabled by default because you need to choose who you want to act as your recovery contact(s.)

For folks using older versions, see this Apple Support document for steps to recover your Apple ID account.

Now, let’s show you how to set up your own Apple ID recovery contact.

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How to add someone as your Apple ID account recovery contact

Before we start, make sure your devices and those of your trusted contacts run at least iOS/iPadOS 15+ and, for Mac users, macOS Monterey.

At this time, you can only set up this feature if all your Apple devices using your Apple ID run the latest version of iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. For most of us, that’s a tall order (especially for folks that own older Macs!) 

Finally, any person you want as a contact needs to be listed in your Contacts app–so if that person isn’t there, add them first.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone and tap your Apple ID at the top (usually your name.) 
  2. Select Password & Security.
  3. Scroll down and tap Account Recovery. Account Recovery in iPhone Settings app for Apple ID account recovery contacts
  4. Choose to Add Recovery Contact. Add Recovery Contact for Apple ID option on iPhone in Settings app for Apple ID
  5. Apple authenticates your identity via Face ID or Touch ID and asks you to enter your Apple ID’s password.
  6. Once authenticated, select a listed Apple family plan member or tap Choose Someone else to add a trusted family member or friend from the Contacts app who you want to designate as one of your Apple ID account recovery contacts. add a recovery contact for your Apple ID using the Settings app on iPhone or iPad
    1. Each selected contact must have their own Apple ID and use a device updated to iOS15, iPadOS15, or macOS Monterey. You cannot select a contact that uses Android or non-Apple devices.
    2. Any person you add as a Recovery Contact does not have access to any of your Apple ID and iCloud account data. They only get an access code that they provide to you.
    3. You cannot select any child under age 13 to act as your recovery contact.
  7. If you want to add more than one recovery contact, repeat step 6. Once you add all your contacts, tap Next.
  8. After setting your recovery contacts, they receive notification of your invitation to act as a recovery contact. They can accept or reject your invitation.

How to recover your Apple ID account using an Apple ID recovery contact

If you cannot remember your Apple ID password and can’t sign in or reset your password, contact your Apple ID account recovery contact to regain access! Your trusted friend or family member is just a phone call away to get you out of this mess!

If you forgot your Apple ID’s password, your first steps should still be to reset your Apple ID password using Apple’s iForgot website

  1. Open Apple’s iForgot site using a browser and enter your Apple ID’s email address.
  2. Select I need to reset my password.
  3. To verify your identity, choose to get an email or answer security questions.
  4. Follow the steps in the email or on-screen to answer your security questions.
    1. Look for an email from Apple with the subject line How to reset your Apple ID password.
  5. Once you answer the questions or open the email, choose Reset now.
  6. Select a new password and confirm it. Then, click Reset Password to make the change.
    1. Remember to save your new Apple ID password, write it down, or otherwise store it for future use.
  7. Log into your Apple ID using the updated password.

If you know your password but forgot your Apple ID user ID, use Apple’s lookup tool

  • You’ll need your First name, Last name, and the email address you associated with your Apple ID.

Phone your Apple ID Recovery Contact(s)

If you could not reset your password using the steps above or get locked out of your account, contact one of your Apple ID Recovery Contacts by phone.

Ask them to use one of their supported Apple devices, then locate and send you the recovery code via text, email, or other chosen shared method.

On iDevices, they find that code in Settings > Apple ID > Password & Security > Account Recovery. Settings options for Apple ID Account recovery

On your device, follow the instructions on your screen to regain access. You enter this recovery code into your Apple device to reset your Apple ID password and re-gain access to your Apple ID and iCloud account!

Can’t add Apple ID Recovery Contacts?

If you tried adding a recovery contact to your Apple ID account, but it’s not working, one or more of these things are likely causing issues:

  • Your chosen contact isn’t using an Apple device that’s updated to iOS15+, iPadOS15+, or macOS Monterey and above.
  • Your chosen contact isn’t in your Contacts app or uses a non-supported device, like an Android phone or Windows computer. Apple ID recovery contacts only work with Apple devices and users with Apple ID and iCloud accounts.
  • Your Apple ID is associated with Apple devices running older iOS, iPadOS, or macOS versions. At this time, all devices listed under your Apple ID must update to iOS15+, iPadOS15+, or macOS Monterey and above. Must update to latest operating system for iPhone, iPad, and Mac to use Apple ID Account Recovery Contacts
    • If you have many different Apple devices, you can use Account Recovery by updating them (if possible) or removing them from your Apple ID (not ideal, we know.)

Final thoughts

With iOS & iPadOS 15+ and macOS Monterey, Apple is finally helping folks out that forget their Apple ID passwords and are locked out of their iCloud and Apple ID accounts with a feature called Account Recovery!

Account Recovery helps people avoid those long Apple Recovery waiting periods by allowing users to add one or more trusted family or friends as their chosen account recovery contacts.

When someone is locked out of their Apple ID and iCloud account, users with recovery contacts can call that contact and get an access code to reset their Apple ID password and gain access to the account again.

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A. Beth Whittenberger
I started my love affair with computers way back in elementary school with the Apple II. Since then, I've worked with technology in my career as a media educator and videomaker. I have an MFA in media making from Temple University, where I also taught undergrads as an adjunct faculty member. Additionally, I was a writer, content producer, and editor on the popular tech blog AppleToolBox. So I know a thing or two about teaching others and creating how-to guides! After a cancer diagnosis, I turned to mobile technology like my Apple Watch to help me monitor my health throughout my chemotherapy treatment and later, to regain my wellness once in remission. I love sharing how to understand and use mobile tech, like smartwatches and phones, as a tool for empowerment to live our best and healthiest lives! Connect with me on LinkedIn!


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