Sometimes, if you haven't used a website in a while and then come back to it one day, you might not be able to remember the password for your account. Don't panic; it happens to the best of us every once in a while. More importantly, the people who run most popular websites know that this happens, so they include tools that let you reset your password if you can't get into your account. These tools are also useful in the unfortunate (but thankfully rare) event that you think someone knows how to get into your account without your permission.
Here are some other general points about resetting a password:
The option for resetting your password will usually be right on the log-in screen for the website that you're on. However, some websites will let you reset your password (as opposed to changing it) from within your account if you are still logged in somehow.
The website will usually ask for some sort of other verifiable information about you in order to know that they're allowing you (and not a troublemaker) to reset your account password. This might be your email address, phone number, or some other detail about how you use the website.
The website will usually send you an email or text message with information on how to reset the password on your account. It may contain a hyperlink that you have to click, or a special code that you have to type into a certain page on the actual website.
Unlike when you change a password, you will never need to enter your old password in order to reset it and create a new one.
As we mentioned above, resetting a password is usually only used as an emergency last resort if you forget it, or think that someone has figured it out and hacked into your account. If you just want to update your password in order to make it more secure, you can simply change it instead (see our How to Change Your Password tutorial).
How do I reset my password? – Facebook example
Like when changing a password, each website has slightly different ways of going about resetting a password. However, their systems generally follow the formula laid out in the section above. Let's return to the popular social media website Facebook for an example of how to reset a password.
First, go to the log-in screen for the website. In Facebook's case, you can log in right from their home page, but on other websites, you may need to click Sign In, Log In, or something similar.
You should see a link that says something like Forgot Your Password?, Can't Access Your Account?, Need Help?, or something like that. Click it.
Next, you will be asked for some sort of personal information that can help it identify your account. In Facebook's case, you can input your real name, your user name (if you added one), your email address, or your phone number (if you added one). Then click Search (or Next, or Continue, or something of the like).
Facebook will find accounts that match your information. Click This is My Account beside the one that displays information that you recognize as yours.
The website will now send you a message with instructions on how to reset your account. Whether it's sent to you by email or phone text may depend on the information that you entered to identify your account, or you may be able to choose the method that you want.
In Facebook's case, you can choose the option that you want (assuming that you've entered a phone number; otherwise, you will only be able to choose email). Make your choice (if you are able to), and then click Continue.
The email or text message will contain a hyperlink and/or code that will let you reset your password. Click on the blue hyperlink (it might say something like Change Password or Click Here to Change Your Password, or have instructions like that beside it), or write down the code you receive and type it into the screen that you advanced to on the website.
Next, you should see a web page where you can enter a new password. Type in your "New Password" and then "Confirm [the new] Password" by typing it in again.
You will notice that, as an extra security feature, Facebook gives you the option to automatically log out of any other places where your account is logged in. This means that if someone else is using your account without your permission, you can kick them out, and they can't get back in because you've reset your password.
When you're all set, click Continue.
Great! Now that you know the general steps involved in resetting a password, you'll know what to look for when you go through the process on other websites. But just in case, here are some step-by-step tutorials for how to reset your password on some of the most popular websites that we offer courses for:
Okay! In our next lesson, we'll go over some general advice for using your passwords effectively.