If you can’t get your iPhone or iPad to work try recovery mode — here’s how

If you can’t get your iPhone or iPad to work try recovery mode — here’s how

When all else fails, recovery mode lets you restore your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad in iTunes.

It doesn’t matter if your iPhone is several years out of date or the newest iPhone that money can buy; problems, both software and hardware, can happen to anyone. If your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch has frozen up, become unresponsive, or worst of all, stopped working during a software update, recovery mode might just be what you need to get things going again.

Recovery mode, using your Mac or PC, is more of a last resort than a first step, but it’s not complicated and is worth knowing about in case you ever need it. The process for putting your iPhone or iPad into recovery mode differs between models, so find the right guidance for your exact device below.

iPhone and iPad recovery mode:

iPhone 8 or newer
iPad without Home button
iPhone 7
iPhone 6s or earlier and iPad with Home button

How to put your iPhone 8 or newer into recovery mode

Because iPhone 8 doesn’t have a mechanical Home button and iPhone X through iPhone 13 Pro don’t have a Home button at all, recovery mode is accessed via a series of button presses on the sides.

Open Finder on your Mac.

This applies to a Mac running macOS Catalina or later. On a Mac running macOS Mojave or earlier, open iTunes. On a PC, open iTunes.

Plug your iPhone in to your computer using your USB to Lightning cable.
With your phone connected to your computer, press and release the Volume Up button, press and release the Volume Down button, and then press and hold the Side button until you see the recovery mode screen.

If for some reason, Recovery Mode doesn’t work, you can also try putting your iPhone or iPad into DFU mode. Device Firmware Update mode is a little trickier to get into, but will often force a restore even when nothing else works.

How to put your iPad without a Home button into recovery mode

It’s a similar method for putting a modern iPad into recovery mode since many of the newer models don’t have a Home button. The below steps apply to the iPad Pro (2018 or later), iPad Air (4th generation or later), and the iPad mini 6.

Open Finder on your Mac.

This applies to a Mac running macOS Catalina or later. On a Mac running macOS Mojave or earlier, open iTunes. On a PC, open iTunes.

Plug your iPad into your computer using your USB-C cable.
With your iPad connected to your computer, press and release the Volume Up button (nearest to the Top button), press and release the Volume Down button (furthest from the Top button), and then press and hold the Top button until you see the recovery mode screen.

How to put your iPhone 7 into recovery mode

Though it does have a Home button, the iPhone 7’s recovery mode process differs from older models due to its capacitive, rather than mechanical, Home button design. That means you’ll need to use the buttons on the sides as described below.

Open Finder on your Mac.

This applies to a Mac running macOS Catalina or later. On a Mac running macOS Mojave or earlier, open iTunes. On a PC, open iTunes.

Plug your iPhone in to your computer using your USB to Lightning cable.
With your phone connected to your computer, press and hold the Side button and the Volume Down button at the same time until you see the recovery mode screen.

This method also works for the iPod touch (7th generation), though you’ll utilize the Top button rather than the Side button.

How to put your iPhone 6s or earlier or iPad with a Home button into recovery mode

For iPhone 6s or earlier, iPod touch (6th generation or earlier), or iPad models with a Home button, the instructions differ yet again. Here’s how to initiate recovery mode on those devices.

Open Finder on your Mac.

This applies to a Mac running macOS Catalina or later. On a Mac running macOS Mojave or earlier, open iTunes. On a PC, open iTunes.

Plug your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad into your computer using your USB to Lightning cable.
With your device connected to your computer, press and hold the Side (or Top) button and the Home button at the same time until you see the recovery mode screen.

Back up and running

Having your device become unresponsive is hardly the best iPhone or iPad experience so hopefully, the above steps have helped you fix whatever problem you were facing via recovery mode. Once in recovery mode, you can use your computer to update your iPhone or iPad or erase your iPhone or iPad which can cure all manner of ills.

If you’re still struggling, your next step would be to contact Apple support to see what other troubleshooting options you have at your disposal.

Updated May 2022: Updated for Apple’s latest devices.

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