How To: Set a Long Passcode on an iOS Device

On the most recent episode of The Committed Podcast, we were discussing security and iPhones, and one of my co-hosts, Ian Schray, mentioned not using a four-digit passcode, that it’s too insecure to use such a simple passcode. I realized after the recording that a lot of people may not know how to set up a longer passcode. Hence, this how-to.

First, why would you want to use a long passcode? If you have a device that offers Touch ID, you’ll use your fingerprint most of the time, and only need to type a passcode when you restart the device, or when Touch ID doesn’t work. The latter only happens when my hands are sweaty; Touch ID has always been very reliable for me, though I know many people who have problems with it.

Your four-digit passcode isn’t very strong, and someone could try a bunch of combinations, unless you have activated a setting (in Settings > Passcode Lock) to erase the device after ten failed passcode attempts. So you might want something more robust.

To set a long passcode, open the Settings app, tap Touch ID & Passcode, and then enter your passcode. Scroll down to where you see a toggle for Simple Passcode, and turn this off.

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Enter your passcode to approve this change, then you’ll see a screen allowing you to enter a passcode. Unlike the standard screen, which only displays numbers, this one shows a full keyboard, and you can choose a passcode with letters, numbers, and even symbols and punctuation.

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Type the new passcode, and then tap Next; type it again to confirm, and you’ll have a long passcode. Now, whenever you access your device with a passcode, you won’t be limited to just a number pad; you’ll have a full keyboard, and can enter your passcode.

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You can still use Touch ID, but whenever you do need to enter a passcode, it will be more secure.