Security is important, and it would be wonderful if we can be a bit more careful with the data that we consider personal. An iPhone is a personal device; it contains our photos, notes, calendar, emails, and such. Thankfully Apple agrees and offers not only a way to backup your iPhone, but it stores its data securely on your system through encryption.
tl;dr: You can find your iPhone backup password by loading the Mac app ‘keychain’, via search > ‘iPhone backup’ (most recent) > get info > show pass > enter Mac account password.
But with security and the way we human-beings are by nature, comes laziness and convenience. It’s a mix that doesn’t go well together. You want it stored securely, but you don’t want to think too hard about all those settings you get presented with when you first connect your iPhone to iTunes. So you just enter an easy to remember pass (which means you won’t actually remember it over time). And you are too lazy to write it down in an app like 1Password (Get it, I mean it).
The result is that time has passed, and you want to restore from a back-up, and you realise that you’ve got no clue what the password is that you’ve set ‘ages ago’. Now what? Apple informs you about a few things in their support documentation. It mentions you can remove the device, re-add it, and set a new pass, and what not. A bit drastic and it gives the feeling you might lose *everything*, especially since it doesn’t mention that it will keep those backups. It creates more questions with the inexperienced than it answers.
Therefor I recommend the Floris method of “I lost my password”. It is a easy and fast way to restore a lost password to almost anything on a Mac related. From website logins to yes, your lost iPhone backup password. Hence why I felt it might be nice to just share this via this blog post.
Start up your iPhone and unlock it (You have a PIN set, right?), and connect it to iTunes. Once it’s mounted you can go to the device as usual and there you will see that iTunes can store the back-up securely, excellent. This means if you make a back-up now, wipe the phone to factory settings and during the first boot of the phone it asks if you want to restore from a back-up, it will ask for this password. Okay, that’s where the problem is right, you forgot your iPhone backup password.
No worries. Clearly you have access to the (Mac) machine where you have iTunes installed on. Go to spotlight in the top-right of the screen and type in ‘keychain’, find the app and start it. Once it’s loaded, in the search field type in ‘iPhone backup’, and it should come up with one or more results. Select the one with the most recent date, and click on ‘get info’. This makes a little window popup where it says ‘ show password’, click the checkbox and when it asks for a password, this is the password you use to login to your Mac computer. Obviously you know this password. And here’s the magic. If you enter your Mac login password, you will see your iPhone backup password in plain-text. Oh, NOW you remember what you set it to huh? Excellent. Copy this password, and use it when the iPhone asks for it.
Final tip, or rather, a friendly reminder: Now change this password and then write it down in the 1Password app.