If you have a Mac, or in fact any Apple device, you also have your unique Apple ID — Apple’s own identifier that’s central to its whole ecosystem. You use your Apple ID when you want to buy music from iTunes, apps from the App Store, check email in iCloud, and much more. So it’s essential to keep it secure.
Since your Apple ID is so valuable, it presents a high-priority target for hackers and other scammers looking to get your personal information. But Apple is on your side, trying to keep your private life safe, and will generally manage to detect all the unusual activity (e.g. someone entering wrong email–password combinations too many times) and have your Apple ID locked to prevent it.
Seeing your Apple ID disabled is obviously both a curse and a blessing. On the one hand, your information is likely to be safe; on the other, you too can’t access it. So what do you do? How do you retain ownership over your Apple ID account page? Read on to find out.
Why Is Your Apple ID Disabled?
Normally, when you’re trying to use your Apple ID, you need access to some product or service right at that moment, and it’s frustrating to see your iCloud locked, for example. So it’s valuable to know what are the reasons for getting your iTunes account disabled.
If you see a message such as “This Apple ID has been disabled for security reasons” or “You can’t sign in because your account was disabled for security reasons,” it could either be because someone tried to log into your account too many times using incorrect passwords or giving wrong answers to security questions or even simply getting caught by Apple for suspicious activity.
All these reasons, even if annoying for a moment, are actually designed to keep your information secure — they are good free tools. You just need to know what to do when your account has been disabled in the App Store and iTunes.
How to unlock your Apple ID on Mac
Luckily, your Apple ID locked email problem can be easily resolved through the iForgot Apple ID website:
Enter your Apple ID. If you don’t remember your Apple ID, you can click the link to look it up by giving your first and last names as well as your email address.
Type in the CAPTCHA code
Next, you’ll be offered one of a few ways to unlock Apple ID, depending on the security settings you’ve previously configured.
If you have 2FA (two-factor authentication) set up, you’ll just receive a special recovery code on one of your other trusted devices (e.g. iPhone). Sometimes, Apple could ask you for your 14-digit recovery key as well, so make sure you have it ready.
In case you don’t have 2FA set up, you can unlock your Apple ID using your password or answer a few security questions. If for some reason you don’t remember your password, you can change it as well, which would require access to your email. Try to correctly answer all the security questions and enter the right password. Otherwise, your account might stay locked at least until the next day.
What happens when your Apple ID is hacked
More often than not it’s you who triggers the algorithm to get your Apple ID disabled, either by entering an incorrect password too many times or by trying to access your Apple ID account page from unusual locations (e.g. while travelling).
However, sometimes you might get an email from Apple, saying that someone has requested to reset your Apple ID. If that wasn’t you, first check that the email actually came from Apple by clicking on the sender and looking at the actual email address in the dropdown. Then immediately go to iforgot.apple ID page and reset your password:
Visit iForgot Apple password reset page at iforgot.apple.com
Enter your Apple ID ➙ Continue
Confirm your phone number ➙ Continue
Reset the password by tapping Allow or clicking Show on the iforgotapple notification sent to your trusted devices
Follow the instructions provided
Occasionally, Apple could also send you notifications that someone signed in with your Apple ID from an unusual location. If it wasn’t you travelling and you’re not using a VPN (virtual private server) to route your traffic to somewhere else, go to the iforgot.apple.com and reset your password, as shown above, right away.
How to avoid getting your Apple ID hacked
Good news is, knowing that hackers are an existing threat, you can prepare your Apple ID account page for the challenge. First of all, use a really strong password that you can’t simply remember: ideally, a long combination of letters, digits, and special characters. Second, turn on your 2FA, so you can receive verification codes on your trusted devices for all the important actions (e.g. resetting your password):
On Mac, open System Preferences ➙ Apple ID
Navigate to the Password & Security tab
Click Turn On next to Two-Factor Authentication
Finally, be extra careful about all the official-looking emails you get, such as the ones from Apple. Always click on the sender to make sure you see the actual email the message is being sent from. Moreover, instead of click links in the email, go to the iforgot.apple.com unlock feature directly from your browser.
How to set and remember complex passwords
It’s no wonder that the world’s most popular password is “12345” — more exotic combinations are often hard to remember and easy to forget. So we not only default to the easiest solutions but also use them across all our internet accounts.
This is when all internet security experts actually tell us we need to do exactly the opposite: use passwords that are nearly impossible to remember, have a unique password for every internet service we use, and never write any of them down where someone could access them. How is this possible? It’s actually easier than you might think with a robust password manager.
Secrets is a perfectly secure digital password manager that anyone can start using in seconds. It helps you come up with passwords of any complexity and then stores them in its secure vault, guarded by the only password you actually do need to remember. In addition, Secrets can save other private information, such as credit cards or secret notes. And with plugins for Chrome and Safari, you don’t need to manually copy-paste anything out of Secrets directly — the app magically and securely autofills your credentials on every website.
How to be more secure using 2FA
If you’re using a password manager and all your passwords across all internet services are strong and unique — you’re already in a good place. However, there’s always a tiny possibility that somehow one of your passwords could get compromised. To make sure that this doesn’t compromise your overall security, you need to enable two-factor authentication, which sends a temporary one-time code to your trusted device every time you try to log in. While the code could be sent via SMS, the generally accepted best practice is to use an authenticator app to generate such codes.
Step Two is a minimalistic authenticator app for your Mac. It lets you set up 2FA processes with any service that supports it, either by scanning a QR code provided or by entering a secret key manually. After that, just click on the service in Step Two and the code will be automatically copied to your clipboard to be copy-pasted into any login form.
In the end, the best way to get around Apple ID locked email is to have strong and unique passwords with Secrets as well as 2FA set up with Step Two, besides never clicking on links from suspicious emails, of course.
Best of all, Secrets and Step Two are available to you absolutely free for seven days through a trial of Setapp, a platform of more than 170 world-class Mac apps to elevate your everyday life. Try them all today at no cost, why not?