What is Apple Account Recovery and how do Recovery Contacts work?


While at WWDC 2021, Apple announced some improvements to Apple ID and iCloud. One of those improvements, Account Recovery, allows you to get back into your account if you ever forget your password or get locked out. Apple promises it’s secure, easy to set up, and fast to use.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is Account Recovery?

Account Recovery is a new feature for your Apple ID account. With it, you’ll now have the option to add people you trust, like family and friends, to a “Recovery Contact” list. They won’t ever get any access to your account. But, if you ever forget your password, you can call them to get a “Recovery Code”, which you would then enter into your device to gain access to your account.

When will Account Recovery be available?

Account Recovery and the ability to set up Recovery Contacts will be available when iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey roll out to consumers in autumn 2021. Currently, developer betas of those software updates are available for testing, and the public betas are set to arrive this summer. However, you’ll likely want to wait until they officially roll out later this year, to ensure they’re free of any major bugs and glitches before you start using Account Recovery. 

How Account Recovery works

Since Account Recovery is not yet available for consumers (although you can test it in the iOS 15 developer beta), everything below is subject to change. 

Getting started

Before you set up Account Recovery, ensure all your Apple devices are registered to your Apple ID and running the latest version of iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.

Setting up Recovery Contacts

The people you choose to be a Recovery Contact must be over the aged 13 and above and have an Apple device.

Go to Settings.Click on your Apple IDThe first option on the Settings screen.Select Password and Security.Go to the Account Recovery option and select it.Select Add Recovery Contact.Unlock this option using Face ID.Or, unlock it using your default unlock option.Enter your Apple ID password.Follow the on-screen instructions.

You can add more than one contact. Presumably, they will need to consent and accept the invite from their Apple device in order to be your official Recovery Contact. At some point, you will need to provide an Approval Code to your Recovery Contact over the phone or in-person to help verify their identity.

Request a Recovery Code

Once your Recovery Contacts are set up, anytime when you need to gain access to your Apple ID account – say you forgot your password or get locked out – you’ll need to make a phone call to your trusted person and request a Recovery Code from them. Apple has yet to detail how they’ll be able to find and supply this code to you. We’re guessing you have to trigger something from the Account Recovery section in your Settings app, but that’s not quite clear.

We’ll update you when we know more.

Enter your Recovery Code

When your Recovery Contact supplies the Recovery Code to you, Apple then said to “follow the instructions on your screen to regain access”. Again, it’s not quite clear how your device will know you are ready to enter a code, unless you triggered that somehow. Pocket-lint hasn’t been able to arrive here yet, as the feature is currently in beta.

Want to know more?

So do we! Pocket-lint plans to update this guide as soon as we have the latest information about how Account Recovery works.


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