About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

August 20, 2013

Android Factory Reset

Last time we talked about what to do if you could not remember your Android phone’s passcode or pattern.  An email this week stated, "OK, I don’t really use Gmail for much and never log into it."  They then went on to explain that they could not provide adequate information to Google to get their password for a Gmail reset. 

Keep in mind that if you cannot get into email it affects all of your Google account information, from your phone, contacts, Google blogs, etc.  So this is the ultimate "fix" in several ways.

Here are the desperation moves when you cannot in any way gain access to your Android phone.  Hold tight!

First you need to set up a new Google account on your computer.  You can also do this as one of the last steps in resetting your phone but it is easier to complete first online.  Go to and click the upper right link that says, "Create a new account."  Finish it all up and move on to your phone; however, do not forget to add your cell phone number in the security section, see last week for more detail.

Turn off your Android phone (it does not matter that it is still locked).  Do not just put it to sleep but cut it off by holding the power button down for 30 seconds or so.  Depending on the age, version of the OS, and manufacturer it will either ask if you want to turn the power off or it may just shutdown.

Next, and PLEASE listen to this part!  The following steps will wipe out your phone, i.e., all of your email, your apps, your high scores on games, your vacation pictures, etc.  So this is a desperation move ONLY.  You could also use it if you are going to give your phone to someone else and want to get all of your info off of it.  This will not reset the SD Card in the phone.  I would recommend you remove that and reformat it too; however, you may have pictures on it that you can get later.  This depends on your phone and how it was set up.

These following steps will vary by manufacturer so I suggest you contact your phone provider, tell them what has happened and ask how to perform a "Hard Factory Reset" via your phone’s buttons. 

Here is the standard way to "boot" your phone this way.  Hold down the Volume Up and Power buttons simultaneously.  After a few minutes or so your phone’s logo screen will display. (Again your manufacturer will have details for your phone so this is generic).  When it does, release the power button but continue holding the Volume button until the Android System Recovery menu appears.

Android System Recovery Menu (yours may vary)Once at the Android System Recovery menu, select the “wipe data/factory reset” option using the volume keys to move up and down them.  Once it is selected press the power button to start the "wipe."  You will get a confirmation screen.  Choose "Yes" and proceed to strip your phone of all but the essentials which allow it to work.

Reboot System Now screenAfter a few seconds it will finish and you will be presented with the Android System Recovery menu. Again this time choose, "Reboot System Now."

You phone will now reboot back into normal mode and be set up the same way it was when you purchased it and took it out of the box.  Set it up with your new Gmail account which was created earlier and you are on your way again. 

August 13, 2013

Passcode, What Passcode?

Robert wrote me recently with a question I had never received before.  It was an excellent question. I am sure some of you have bumped up against before, too. 

He wrote saying that he had just gotten back from a vacation out of the country and had not wanted to be bothered by work.  To help facilitate that last part he left his Android phone at home and had a great time.  The problem started when he realized he had changed his passcode right before leaving and could not remember his new code when he got back home. 

Here is what happens when you forget either your passcode or pattern on an Android phone.  (iPhones also have a recovery but I will let you iPhone users talk about that on

Notification ScreenFirst, you get five tries to log in with the proper code (this is the same for codes and patterns).  If you fail the fifth time you will get a message saying something like, "You have tried to log into your phone 5 times incorrectly, try again in 30 seconds."  The tagline varies between phone manufacturers and Android versions.

You have to wait the full 30 seconds which (other than making you nuts) is used to discourage a thief that may have your phone.  If you try unsuccessfully again, five times, you get the same thing over and over.

Forgot Password?However, the first time you miss the five tries a link will also appear at the top of the screen indicating that you can click it if you have forgotten your code.  If you choose that option you will be asked to enter your Google/Gmail account’s username and password.  As we all know you must have a Gmail account to fully use an Android device.  If you enter this info successfully you will be asked to create a new code.  This was the point at which Robert was successful and began to have a nice day. 

If you cannot remember your Gmail login info you are going to a bad place but hopefully it is recoverable.  All that is left for you is to get to a computer and go to ""  They will guide you through many questions and try to get your info for you. 

One additional suggestion here:  Go to Google and search for "Google recovery phone number," to find the Google page where it is explained.  Set up your phone number it that area.  It is used to send your login information to your phone in the event of this situation.  It is much more convenient than having to go to the site for help.

This is totally another topic, but have any of you gone "offline" for an extended length of time?  I have not but would just like to know if you have tried it.  Not if you are "unaddicted to technology" but are a hardcore tech-lover.

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