Why can’t I turn PIN lock off on Android?

What to do if you are unable to turn off PIN, password or pattern unlock on Android

can't remove android pin

This is a post from our smartphone FAQ section. To see other questions please click here

In order to use certain features on your Android device, you will be required to set a PIN, pattern or password lock; these are the three most secure methods for locking the device. When one of these is required, the two other methods, slide or face unlock, will be greyed out and display the message ‘Disabled by administrator, encryption policy or credential storage’.

If you are unable to disable PIN, password or pattern unlock on your Android device, it is likely that you have the setting in place in order to use one of the following functions (see a more detailed description for each one after the list below):

  • Screen security. This is located under settings > security > screen security
  • Device Encryption. This is found under settings > security > encryption.
  • Setting a device administrator. This is found under settings > security > device administration
  • VPN. This is found under settings > more > VPN

The first three in the list above are fairly easy to spot as they are all located under the security section of the settings menu. However, it can be easy to forget that you have set a password in order to use a VPN, so if having checked it is not one of he first three requiring a PIN, be sure to check that you have removed any VPNs.

Changing Screen Security

Screen security is either set by you, or can be required by a device administrator (app). If it is the case that you have set a PIN, password or pattern, you can easily turn it off or choose another locking method by going to settings > security > screen security. If you are unable to remove the security setting and see the message ‘Disabled by administrator, encryption policy or credential storage’, it is likely because of one of the settings described below.

Device Encryption

Device encryption is activated or deactivated from settings > security > encryption. If you encrypt the device, a PIN/password/pattern is required each time you turn the device on. It makes your data more secure should you lose the device and takes around an hour to set up. If you are unable to remove the PIN code from your phone, check that you have not encrypted the handset. You can do this by looking under the encryption part of the settings menu.

Removing a device administrator

Some applications will require administrator access to your device in order to perform certain actions. When using an app that requires administrator access, it will usually prompt you from within the app to turn on administrator access. The majority of apps that do this will also show a message to inform you that you need to revoke administrator access before uninstalling the app, which is important.

Some apps only require administrator access to perform certain actions, so you do not necessarily need to grant administrator access to use the entire app, but only to use certain features. Sometimes the app will require that you set a secure lock method as part of its administrator access. One such example of this is adding an Exchange email account. You need to grant the app administrator access with certain permissions and set a secure lock method. This is usually so that the device can be accessed remotely if lost or stolen.

If you are unable to remove the PIN setting from your device, it may be because an administrator is requiring it. You can revoke administrator access by going to settings > security > device administration and then unticking the box next to the apps on the list. If it is an account, such as email, that is requiring the security setting, you will also need to remove this from your device in order to remove the PIN lock.

Adding or removing a VPN on Android

When setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on your device, Android now requires that you have a secure lock method in place. Seeing as this is the case, it would make sense to have the VPN menu under security settings, but it isn’t at the moment. This makes it easy to forget that you have set up PIN security for it. If you have tried changing the three settings described above but your handset still requires a PIN number, you may have a VPN that needs removing. To do this navigate to settings > more > VPN, long press on any networks that have been added and then select remove.

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About Chris Ward

Better known as 'Wardy', digital media is where his interest lies. Responsible for many elements of the Clove website and external advertising activities, Wardy is our interactive media graduate.

Always chilled out, there is never a time when you see 'Wardy' stressed. A keen music follower, he knows his DJ's and how to mix a few tracks together. Always eating, he remains stick thin and is the envy of the rest of us! A very deep character, there are some suprising twists to what Wardy knows and you'll never meet a nicer bloke if you tried!

Comments

  1. Sebastian P says:

    Hi, that was very informative. Thank you! – And it solved my problem ;)

  2. HI CHRIS!!! YYYOOUUUUU!!!!!! ARE THE BEST!!!!! I THOUGHT I WAS GONNA HAVE A MELTDOWN!!!!!! YOU!! TOTALLY!!!! ARE SO SMART!!!!! I LOCKED MY SCREEN THROUGH THE VPN MODE THINGY!!!! AND YOU!!! WERE SO! SO! RIGHT!!!! I COMPLETELY! TOTALLY!!! FORGOT ALL ABOUT THAT!!! CHRIS – I LOOKED! AND LOOKED!!! EVERYWHERE!!!! ONLINE FOR AN ACCURATE ANSWER WITH SOME REAL ACTUAL HELP WITH THIS AND NO ONE!!! ANYWHERE!!!! ONLINE!!! HAD ANY ANSWERS!!! FOR THIS!!!! IT WAS SO SCARY AND ALSO VERY FRUSTRATING TOO! THANK GOD!!! FOR YOU!!! NOW I CAN JUST HAVE IT BACK THE WAY I AM USED TO IT AND THAT I PREFER TOO!!! AS I DO NOT AT ALL CARE FOR ANY CODES TO GET INTO MY PHONE NOR NEED ONE ALSO EITHER SINCE I’M NEVER AROUND MANY PEOPLE AND I DON’T HAVE TO BE CONCERNED AT ALL ABOUT ANYONE TAMPERING WITH IT SO THAT I JUST LIKE IT TO BE EASY FOR ME TO GET INTO MY PHONE THAT’S ALL AND NOW THANKS TO YOU!!! I CAN!!!! YYYAAAAAYYYYY!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH – RACHEL P.S.- CAN YOU BELIEVE TOO??? THAT SOMEONE EVEN TRIED SAYING THAT I HAD TO PURCHASE AN APP TO DO IT TOO??? AND SPEND ACTUAL MONEY ON AS WELL ALSO FOR THAT APP!! WHEN THERE IS SIMPLY NO NEED FOR ME TO HAVE DONE SOMETHING FOOLISH LIKE THAT! WHEN ONCE I FOUND AND DISCOVERED YOUR HELP WITH THIS PROBLEM IT LITERALLY WAS ALL SET AND TOTALLY CORRECTED AND FIXED IN LIKE TWO SECONDS!!!!! AND FOR FREE! AND NO NEED FOR ANY APP! TOO EITHER!!! I WAS SO DEPRESSED FOR A MINUTE THERE AS I ACTUALLY STARTED THINKING THAT I BROKE MY PHONE OR SOMETHING I JUST DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!!!! YOU’RE A REAL LIFE SAVER!!!!

  3. This isn’t working for me. I set a pin trying to set up a vpn network. I didn’t set up a network, only the pin . Now my phone requires the pin when I want to use it . How do I disable the pin? There is no vpn network to deselect b/c it wasn’t created, so I don’t understand why I have this pin and why I can’t remove it. I have a galaxy note 3.

    • Chris Ward says:

      Hi Cathy, I’m not sure why it’s not letting you remove the PIN then. I would advise that you try adding a vpn and removing again, and then try removing the PIN through the normal means. You may also need to reboot the device.

  4. sanjaybk24 says:

    it not working to my samsung s6012 i have tried it 2-3 time even removing battery too before restart

  5. Chis cheap phone is locked is asking for the 4#pin and in the bottom is says emergency calls only could u just get me into my apps for now I’ll appreciate your help.thank you.

    • Chris Ward says:

      Hi Hector, you need to know the PIN to be able to sign in to the phone and turn PIN protection off.

  6. You can also “clear credentials” in the security settings if you previously had an administrative device that required a lock.

  7. clearing credentials worked for mine, thank you very very much. I was pissing me off

  8. Uh oh,

    I had a corporate (exchange) e-mail account at Philips, but now I don’t work there anymore so I removed it. But I did so without revoking administrator access before uninstalling the app; as you so clearly state I should do. An obvious possible fix would be to re-install the e-mail account and then revoke admin access, but this is impossible since my Philips credentials don’t work anymore.

    I already tried the other solutions provided here, to no avail: I have no VPN, cannot decrypt my storage, cannot clear credentials, and the only device administrator (Android Device Manager) is disabled.

    Am I screwed?

    • Chris Ward says:

      You could well be Herman. I’m not sure whether or not a factory reset will remove administrator access or screw the phone up even more though so worth checking into that before doing one.

  9. betty ward says:

    I have a vpn from downloading mc+ for a survey how do I delete it

    • Chris Ward says:

      Hi Betty,

      Go into settings > more > vpn, then select the vpn in question and delete it.

  10. Thanks, very helpful post, answered my questions immediately!

  11. timwiiSomeone says:

    That solved my problem exactly. Thanks, I would never have guessed that it was because I set my GMail account up on the email settings.

  12. xiaoli zeng says:

    It doesn’t work for me. The “clear credentials” under “security” is grayed out. I have only “pin” and “password” under “screen lock”. Do you have any idea what i can do to remove the pin?

    • Chris Ward says:

      Hi,

      Have you been through the instructions here to check the PIN is not in place for a vpn?

  13. Thanks a lot it’s worked

  14. Is there any risk of damage to the device should I delete the credentials?

    • Josh Bethell says:

      Hi Jesse, no this cannot cause any damage to the device.
      It is a way of removing stored settings for a device administrator

  15. Hi Guys I need help ,(playing up with my handset ) Not realising what is vpn is , My son set a vpn password on my handset and now cannot remember it . I need to know how I can by pass this if there is a way

    • Navin, Not sure there is a way around this. Normally to delete a VPN you need a password. A reset will likely be the only solution. You may want to speak to the phone manufacturer support team to see if they can advise a way around this.