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Getting Locked Out of Your Android Phone

In a world filled with passwords and PIN numbers, it's inevitable that you'll eventually draw a mental blank when prompted to enter this information. If a brain freeze has locked you out of your Android phone, it's not the end of the world. With these tips, your mobile device will be functional again in no time.


How do Lockouts Happen?


Android phones include a security feature known as pattern lock. Similar to a password-protected screensaver on a computer, the Android prompts users to enter their "pattern" using a screen filled with nine dots. If you can't remember the pattern, you won't be able to use your phone.


Trying random patterns can cause a bigger problem; after three failed attempts, an electronic lock is created. To unlock the phone, the Google account and associated password used to set up the phone must be entered. If you've forgotten those two pieces of information as well, extra steps are necessary to fix the problem.


Try These Workarounds


If you can't remember your Google account and password, try these workarounds in order until you find one that works. Because these fixes are dependent on the individual configuration and model, they may not work for your specific phone.

 

  • Enter your Google username and leave the password blank. This is known as entering a "null" password.

 

  • Enter your Google username without the "@gmail.com" domain name with your password.

 

  • Enter your Google username without the "@gmail.com" domain name with a null password.

 

  • Use another phone to call your Android. Answer the phone and push the "home" button followed by the "menu" button without hanging up. Sometimes, this combination will open the phone's settings so that you can disable the pattern lock.

 

  • Use another phone to call your Android. This time, hang up and immediately press buttons randomly as fast as you can for 30 to 60 seconds. Hit the "home" button last. This is another way to get into the phone's settings to disable pattern lock. Timing is key with this workaround; it might take several tries to get it right.

 

  • Gmail.com offers a password recovery routine. Most users report that it doesn't work for them, but it's worth a try. Start at the beginning and follow each step carefully.

 

The Last Resort: A Factory Reset


As a last resort, set your phone back to its out-of-the-box condition using the factory-reset function. With this option, you will lose everything you've added to your phone including call logs, application settings, and text messages. This option can be a hassle, but it works 100 percent of the time. After the factory reset, you should be able to recover the following items:

 

  • Your synced contacts and emails.

 

  • Any downloaded apps. You can find them at the Android Market under "My Downloads."

 

Some user manuals include the instructions for a factory reset. If your documentation doesn't have this information or you've lost the booklet, visit the manufacturer's website for detailed instructions.

 

Even if your memory is as sharp as a tack, you can still get locked out of your Android. All it takes is for someone to mistake your phone for theirs. To prepare for a lockout, record the Google account information used during setup and backup your important data on a regular basis.

Android™ is a trademark of Google, Inc. The Android Robot is reproduced or modified from work created and shared by Google for use according to terms described in the Creative Common 3.0 Attribution License.