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What to do if you forget your pattern lock on the Galaxy S3 or S4

Kris Carlon

Everyone forgets their lock screen pattern at some point. Fortunately, Android provides a simple method to bypass the lock screen when you've forgotten your lock pattern so you can get back in and change it to something you'll actually remember. Here's how to do it on the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4, but the same process works on many other Samsung devices too. 

sicherheit schloss
If you've locked yourself out of your Galaxy, Android provides a simple way to let you back in. / © Gerd Altmann /

Try, try, try again

Perhaps not surprisingly, once you use up your attempts to unlock your device it doesn't self-destruct or automatically wipe its contents. It simply prompts you to unlock it another way – with a backup PIN you would have already set up or with the Google account information on the device. Once you've used up your pattern attempts, you'll see a popup window telling you to wait to retry along with the bypass prompts at the bottom, so either use your PIN or enter your account details and sign in. Your Galaxy will unlock and you'll be taken to your lock screen options page!

Note: The bypass prompts only appear for a pattern lock. If you are using a password or PIN you just have to wait thirty seconds and retry. Thanks to @Philipp Junghannß for pointing this out!

AndroidPIT S4 Lockscreen Bypass 1
When you first set a pattern lock you'll be prompted to add a backup PIN. / © AndroidPIT
AndroidPIT S4 Lockscreen Bypass 2
If you try too many times you'll see bypass options at the bottom (left) and the popup message (right) to try again in 30 seconds. / © AndroidPIT
AndroidPIT S4 Lockscreen Bypass 3
If you remember your PIN, use it (left) but if not, enter your Google account info (right). / © AndroidPIT
AndroidPIT S4 Lockscreen Bypass 4
You will bypass the lock screen and be prompted to select a new one (left) which will then replace your old one on the lock screen (right) / © AndroidPIT

Have you ever locked yourself out of your smartphone? How long did it take you to remember your password?

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Write new comment:
  • Ann Droid 10 months ago Link

    Not 'everyone' forgets their unlock/password. It's never happened to me in 59 years.

    Good article though, thanks.

    • User picture
      Kris Carlon 10 months ago Link

      Maybe I should just tell you mine and then call you when I forget it!

      • Ann Droid 10 months ago Link

        Okay! Wait, do you use Google Wallet :)

    • metz2000 9 months ago Link

      What phone did you own 59 years ago? :-p

      • Philipp Junghannß (My1) 9 months ago Link

        I dont think that this was phone related rather than being general and stating that (s)he never forgot his/her passwird/pin WTF-ever in his/her 59year life...

      • Carel de Nysschen 9 months ago Link

        Yet. Watch this space.

  • Philipp Junghannß (My1) 10 months ago Link

    change the title. only works when using pattern. when I have a PIN set, than then I just get the 30 sec. block on the 5th fail...

    • User picture
      Kris Carlon 10 months ago Link

      Correct as always @Philipp! Edited and credited, thanks.

      • Philipp Junghannß (My1) 10 months ago Link

        but maybe you can introduce the stock recov wiping option as the final attempt, but also set a warning for the reactivation lock...