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If you keep personal information on your iPhone or iPod touch or if you just want to make sure that no one will be able to use your device just by picking it up or if it's been lost or stolen, it's a good idea to use the Passcode feature found in Settings>General>Passcode Lock. All right. So let's look at the Settings here, starting with Turn Passcode On. When I tap that button, I am prompted to enter a four-digit Passcode. This is a four-digit code of your choosing. Tap one in, and then enter it again to confirm that you typed it correctly.
Now at this point, it's important to stress that you have turned the Passcode option on, meaning that if you locked your screen now, and then you go to wake up the phone again, you're going to be prompted to enter the Passcode before you can access your phone. So it's very, very, very important that you don't forget what this code is. If you forget your Passcode, the only way to access your phone or iPod touch again is to restore it in iTunes, which involves completely wiping the device and restoring it back to Factory Settings.
Now if you regularly sync your iPhone or iPod touch, you have a backup copy of mostly everything on your device, but having to restore your entire device is still pretty inconvenient and time-consuming. So avoid having to restore your device by remembering your Passcode. Once you have Passcode Lock on, you'll need to enter your Passcode to re-access the Passcode Lock settings. Okay and working our way down, the next option here is Change Passcode. So if you're not sure your current Passcode is secure, maybe a friend or coworker guessed it, you can come in here and change it.
First, type your old passcode, then enter a new one, and then confirm it. That dumps you back into the Passcode Lock settings and your new passcode is now in effect. Again, don't forget it. Next, we can determine how soon after locking your phone or iPod, you want to require the Passcode. The default is Immediately and we just saw that once I locked my screen, I had to enter my passcode right away, when I tried to wake it up again. But you can choose 1, 5 or 15 minutes or even 1 or 4 hours.
Note that shorter times are more secure. Also, if you have set up a Microsoft Exchange server account on your device, you will only have the 1, 5 and 15 minute and 1 hour options available here. If you want to choose the 4 hour option, you will have to disable the Exchange account on your iPhone or iPod touch. So for this example, I'll choose After 1 minute. That way, if I put my iPhone to sleep and then change my mind, I can just wake it up immediately without having to enter the Passcode. Notice I can now put the phone to sleep, and when I wake it up right away, I don't have to enter the code.
Let's go back to Passcode Lock settings. The next option, which is on by default, is Simple Passcode. A Simple Passcode is the four digit number system we've been using so far. But if you're really serious about keeping your iPhone secure, you might want to consider a more secure password. So slide Simple Passcode to Off. Then enter your old passcode, and now you're free to enter an alphanumeric passcode, meaning you are not just limited to four numbers. You can now have a Passcode with letters, numbers, and even special characters.
I'm just going to cancel this for now and leave my Simple Passcode on. On the iPhone 4S and later and the fifth generation iPod touch, the next option is Siri, while in the iPhone 4 and 3GS, the next option is Voice Dial. By default, you can use the iPhone's voice dialing or Siri commands even when the screen is asleep and locked. So technically, even if your screen is passcode-protected, someone who knows about voice dialing, could pick up the phone, hold down the Home button to invoke voice dialing and make a call with your phone. In the case of the Siri-enabled devices, they could do even more, since Siri can do things like look up information, read and send text messages, and access your calendar.
If you want to prevent that from happening, you can turn Voice Dial or Siri off here. But that does mean you will have to unlock your phone in order to use Siri or Voice Dial. Similarly, Passbook and Reply with Message also function when your device is locked. If you don't want to have access to those services on your locked phone, you can shut them off here. That will just require you to unlock your phone in order to use them. The last option here is the really serious one. If your phone or iPod is stolen and you have it passcode-protected, and you have Erase Data turned on, your device will automatically erase itself if someone unsuccessfully tries to unlock your phone 10 times.
Now some people have asked well, what if my kid picks up my phone and starts playing with it. If he is just typing in numbers on the Passcode, could he erase my phone? And there are actually significant safeguards built-in to prevent this sort of thing. After six unsuccessful attempts at entering the Passcode, you have to wait one minute before the iPhone or iPod touch will let you try again. After that, the waiting period increases each time to 5 minutes, 15 minutes, one hour, and four hours. So you have to be deliberately trying to break into the iPhone or iPod before you hit 10 attempts and the phone is erased. So there's very little chance of that happening accidentally.
But if the feature still makes you nervous, you can always leave Erase Date off. Lastly, if you don't think you need the Passcode protection and want to turn it off, just scroll back up to the top of the Settings and Turn Passcode Off. You'll be prompted to enter you Passcode one more time to confirm it's you, and then your iPhone or iPod touch will be un-passcode protected.
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