One of the wisest decisions you can make is using your Android smartphone’s built-in locking mechanism, whether that be a lock screen pattern, PIN or password.

You wouldn’t want to leave your phone unattended, get stolen, and have some stranger gain easy access to your files and sensitive information because of the lack of security.

However, and it happens to the best of us, sometimes you forget the PIN, lock screen pattern or password yourself. All is not lost. Here, you can find several methods of recovering your phone, as well as steps to take to prevent it from ever happening again.

Be warned: A few solutions require completely resetting your phone to varying degrees. If your phone’s gallery is backed up by Google Drive, losing photos and videos isn’t a concern. Burn through the solutions that don’t require resets first before you move to more drastic measures.

1. ADM – Android Device Manager

This solution, unfortunately, only works if your phone had Android Device Manager enabled before the lockout. By default, this option should be enabled, “should” being the keyword. If you aren’t sure, follow the first few steps to see if your phone can be traced, but if not, continue onto the next available solution.

You’ll need another phone or a computer to continue:

  1. Go to Android’s dedicated device manager.
  2. Sign in using your Google account. Log into the one that is linked to your phone. If ADM was activated on your phone, you should see it listed.
  3. Select your device.
  4. Click on Secure Device. You’ll be provided with the opportunity to enter a temporary password.
  5. Click Lock. Success of this step will prompt a box reading Ring and Lock and Erase.
  6. Your phone should now have a password field ready for the temporary password you chose.

Don’t jump for joy yet. You still need to remove the temporary password. Head into your phone’s Lock screen settings and temporary password.

2. Android Lock Screen Pattern

Many smartphones come with the option to use a pattern. This consists of several dots that need to be connected in the correct order to gain access to the device. As you could imagine, just like a numbered lock, after so many times of incorrect combinations you’ll be locked out.

When you’ve failed a number of times, Android will provide you with a new lock screen option: “Forgot Pattern?” Start the process by selecting it.

You’ll be provided with the opportunity to enter a backup PIN or you can log into the Google account associated with the device.

If you provided the correct PIN or Google account, you’ll gain access to your device.

3. Samsung Smartphones – Find My Mobile Tool

Samsung’s line of Androids offer their own tool similar to Android Device Manager, known as Find My Mobile Tool.

  1. Go to Find My Mobile and sign in. On the left-hand side panel, you’ll see the device that is currently registered to the account, as well as several device options.
  2. Select Unlock my screen.
  3. Select Unlock.
  4. Wait for your phone to unlock.

You’ll be notified the process was a success and now you have access to your phone once again.

As helpful as the above solutions can be, they don’t always work. For example, Android Device Manager won’t always successfully unlock your phone, in which case, there is a second solution if you aren’t worried about the repercussions.

4. Erase Device via Android Device Manager

This solution isn’t such a bad idea since Google already houses your contacts and information.

It is possible to simply import all that information back onto your phone. Applications, on the other hand, won’t be transferred, nor will passwords unless you have them stored somewhere else.

So, if you don’t mind downloading your favorite apps again, by all means, use this solution. You’ll have access to your phone if you’re successful.

You’ll need another phone or a computer to continue this process.

  1. Go to Android’s dedicated device manager.
  2. Sign in using your Google account. If ADM was activated on your phone, you should see it listed.
  3. Select your device.
  4. Click on Erase Device.
  5. ClickErase Device again. However, you will be prompted to sign in to your Google Account again to continue the process.

Your Android smartphone will start the process and afterward, you’ll have access once again without entering a password.

5. Factory Reset

If you were unfortunate enough that none of the above solutions worked for you, you should factory reset your device. Factory resetting is like choosing to erase, however, factory reset goes a step further, almost like you just pulled the phone out of the box.

While these steps are specific to Android’s Nexus line of phones, many of these steps are almost interchangeable with other Android phones. If some steps aren’t matching, head on over to your phone’s support page.

A few caveats to be aware of

  1. Your Nexus device’s version matters. Android 5.1 and higher will ask for your Google username and password associated with the device in question after the factory reset is complete. Don’t continue until you have your login information.
  2. If you don’t have this information, your phone can end up being unusable. you’ve been warned.
  3. An internet connection is required.
  4. Google password changes that were made within the last 72 hours will barr you from continuing with this solution. After 72 hours, the process can be started.

You can now continue with the solution. Before you begin, turn off your phone.

  1. Press and hold the Down Volume button and the power button. Successfully do so will start bootloader along with the Android mascot laying comically on its back. Use the volume buttons to navigate the menu. Confirm by using the power button.
  2. Select Recovery Mode.  This will send it into its recovery mode.
  3. Hold the power button and the Up Volume button. Successfully doing will prompt Android Recovery.
  4. Select Wipe data/factory reset. It will prompt again if you’re sure. Use the volume buttons yet again to navigate.
  5. Select Yes – erase all user data. Use the power button to start your phone’s factory reset.

Once the reset is finished, go ahead and turn it back on and from here, you’ll have the opportunity to set everything back up as if you just came home with the phone.