How To Create An Alphanumerical Passcode On Your iOS Device [iOS Tip]



When we have an iOS device stolen, thieves don’t just obtain our precious iPhone, but they also obtain all the information that’s stored on it. Our devices are filled with personal data such as names and addresses for our friends and family, and for our convenience, they save usernames and passwords for all kinds of different services.

That’s why we secure our devices with passcode locks. But did you know you can use an alphanumeric passcode to make it even more secure?

To apply an alphanumeric passcode, open up the Settings app on your iOS device and tap on the General tab, then on Passcode Lock.

If you already have a passcode set, you’ll have to enter it in order to change the settings. If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to create one. But before you hit that button at the top that says “Turn Passcode On,” toggle the switch beneath it so that “Simple Passcode” is set to “OFF.”

Now turn on the passcode lock and create your passcode. This can be as many characters as you wish, and you can use letters — uppercase and lowercase — numbers, and symbols.

To be really secure, try to create a passcode that no one else will be able to guess. For example, don’t just use your name, or something like “abc123.” Once you’re happy, hit the ‘Next’ button in the top right-hand corner and your passcode will be applied. It will now prevent your device from being unlocked until the code is entered.

  • Kris Henderson


  • macgizmo

    Kewl! But then, the more “secure” your password, the longer it takes you to unlock it… every time you want to use it. PITA.

  • FriarNurgle

    How about putting a poll together to see how many people even use a passcode.

  • 69Voltage

    I turn on the Passcode feature only when I’m on vacation, bar hopping, etc., when I have a chance of forgetting/losing the phone.

  • Jordan Clay

    I have to have a passcode lock on my devices since it has company info and access to company servers. I just use the simple passcode.  I cant justify having to type in so many characters 765x a day.

  • MacHead84

    No passcode for me, drives me nuts typing that in to access my phone….wouldnt mind being able to passcode specific apps tho. Like Mail or Photos

  • prof_peabody

    I’m surprised that there is anyone with an iPhone that doesn’t already know this.  

    I’m also surprised that anyone using just the numbers for their passcode believes they are in any way more secure than an iPhone without an alphanumeric passcode.  Anyone with half a brain can figure out the number combination in less time that it would take you to remotely wipe the phone.  

    It’s also trivial to look over someones shoulder and see the passcode when they are just using four numbers from the giant number keypad, whereas if they are using an alphanumeric code, the keyboard is much smaller and almost impossible to see.  

    If you are just using numbers, you’re wasting your time and would be just as well off not having a code at all.  

  • ErgoOrgo

    So let’s kick off the iPhone security poll! 
    1. who uses a passcode with numbers?
    2. who uses an alphanumeric passcode? If so, how many characters long?
    3. who doesn’t use a passcode at all?

    My answer is option 1. For me it feels like the most appropriate compromise between some varying factors – set out below. Prof Peabody – don’t look down on me too much!

    A. There is a difference in need between a passcode on a main computer to a smartphone. A full on computer is more likely to contain sensitive information (photos, emails stored locally, letters, work details, bank statements), whereas phones often have less information on them that is readily accessible – i.e. theft poses less of a security risk to me. On the flip side, there is greater opportunity for a smartphone to be stolen, given it is of course in your pocket all day.

    B. There is also more of a trade off with a passcode on a tiny touchscreen phone than on a proper computer: in that typing is slower and the frequency of usages per day higher (i.e. there are more, shorter periods of use).  

  • Michael Byers

    The real trick is turning off Simple Passcode but then still using only numbers. That way you can have five, six or any length numerical passcode but the unlock screen still only shows just the simple keypad.

  • cliqsquad

    See the areas that iOS is behind Android. I love my iDevices, but I can admit when they are behind. I am not talking about face unlock, but like pattern unlocks. Choose a pattern that not only unlocks the to home screen but acts security code. I am sure there are ways Apple could think of a unique integrated lock screen, but neglects to like so many other simple things.

  • MacHead84

    There are certainly a few features Id like to see in iOS but nothing important enough to even think about going to Android. Pattern unlocking is actually a patent of Googles so Im not sure that will ever make its way to iOS if thats the case. Apple will probably be more interested in bio-metric or siri assisted unlocking over patterns in the future.

  • MacHead84

    Im too lazy to test this on the lock screen but Id assume its the same as regular keyboards….letters are not small when you press them. They enlarge so all you have to watch is the giant letters popup. But maybe apple disables the popping letters on lockscreen keyboard….

  • MacHead84

    Not that I necessarily think those are two good ideas….just a hunch of what I wouldnt be surprised about. 

  • cliqsquad

    Bio-metric is actually what I was thinking myself/fingerprint reading from the touch screen. Siri was further down the list of my ideas. I have had every iPhone since the 3G, it is just annoying that some simple things are missing. I love Apple because they always look at the big picture the next big thing being the visionary. Problems is they always leave the small things out, like custom alert tones. Finally iOS 5 did it.

  • MWinNYC

    O.K. this is good info.  But what is the blue “Emergency Call” button on the bottom right?  And what’s its’ purpose.  I don’t use a passcode because if I’m ever in an accident and laying in a trauma bay somewhere obtunded, I would like for someone to have access to my emergency contacts.  (All of my “important” data/info is stored in apps that have encryption.)  And if I’m ever in this situation, I would like my fancy iPhone to be useful. I guess I worry about these things because I’m a doctor.  Any thoughts, or known apps that might be useful in this situation???

  • Richard Hastings

    I make a custom lock screen image in photoshop with a little box with an emergency contact on it. you can probably add additional medical information on there (allergies, conditions, etc…) 

  • ErgoOrgo

    I agree with Richard that a custom image with emergency details works well and is easier in an accident than going through one’s address book.

    The ’emergency call’ button is to give you immediate access to dialling the emergency services without having to enter the password. Another reason not to worry about using at least a simple pass code!

  • Kevin Miles

    WOW – Really you WORK in the Medical field and have no CLUE what the blue emergency call button is for – REALLY?   Personally, I would worried to find out a Doctor has not education. Sorry, I don’t mean to attack you just the STUPID question.  If you are a Doctor you have to use a lot of computerized equipment I would HATE to think you as a doctor working in some form of life saving situation you could not figure out how to use the equipment to save someone’s life.   –  If you are that paranoid about dying or something maybe put your important information in your wallet or elsewhere! so it can be found! If needed.  To put all of your information only on a cell phone is pure ignorance on anyone’s side.

  • Kevin Miles

    I use only a passcode on my Business Own iPhone.  Its only the 4 digit passcode and only because my company requires one since I get work related email on it.  There is nothing important on that phone  so, I personally do not believe there needs to be a hard to crack code.  Besides, i don’t do and am not all that someone could get enough information from my iPhone.     On my Personal iPhone there is no code as I again there is nothing I have to worry about.  Neither phones are ever that far from me that i have to worry about.  If I do travel then I put the passcode lock on my personal one just to have it locked long enough to help me find it if it does come up missing since the phone is pretty much stuck on me at all times.  I would know if its missing.

  • Lisa Beyer

    I have set up a longer alphanumeric passcode for my iPhone . However after the passcode was turned on n I want to enter my alphanumeric passcode, only the Number keypad was shown on the screen. I need the QWERTY keypad in order to enter the letters in my passcode. Any idea how to pull the QWERTY keyboard out? Thanks!