Apple makes some of the longest-living mobile devices around: iPhones and iPads basically still work. However, nothing is perfect and sometimes things go wrong. This is how you can enter recovery mode to fix your device.
Reinstalling iOS on your iPhone or iPad always risks erasing your data, so it’s wise to make frequent backups to your computer via iTunes or iCloud. With that said, this is how you boot your iPhone, iPod, or iPad into recovery mode.
Make sure you have the latest version of iTunes
First, you’ll need to make sure you’re using the latest version of iTunes. It comes pre-installed on Mac and is available for Windows on Apple’s website and in the Microsoft Store.
After installing it, open iTunes, click the “Help” tab, then click “Check for Updates”.
If an update is available for iTunes, it should be downloaded and installed immediately. If it fails, or if you have reason to think it’s not updating properly, you can always re-download the installer from Apple’s website if you’re running Windows, or check the App Store for updates if you’re running macOS. This will ensure that you are using the latest version of iTunes.
With that out of the way, you’re ready to go. The rest of the procedure varies slightly depending on the device you’re using, so we’ll go through them one at a time.
Enter recovery mode on iPhone 8 or later
All iPhones made since 2017 have used the same method to access recovery mode. As of June 2022, the included models are:
- iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
- iPhone X, XR, XS and XS Max
- iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max
- iPhone SE (Second and Third Generation)
- iPhone 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max
- iPhone 13, 13 mini, 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max
Press and release the volume up button, then press and release the volume down button, and then press and hold the power button until the recovery mode screen appears. It won’t happen instantly, so wait at least 15 seconds before trying again.
Once the recovery mode screen appears, you can connect your phone to your computer using a Lightning cable.
Enter recovery mode on iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus
If you’re using an iPhone 7, 7 Plus, or the 7th generation iPod, start by turning off your phone. Then press and hold the Volume Down button and the Power button simultaneously until the recovery screen appears. You’ll see the Apple logo first, but don’t release the button when you do, it’s still too early.
It will look very similar to this:
Once that screen appears, go ahead and connect your device to your computer using a Lightning cable.
How to enter recovery mode on iPhone 6s or earlier
These instructions cover how to get into recovery mode on the iPhone 6s and earlier models, including:
- iPhone 3G and 3G
- iPhone 4 and 4S
- iPhone 5, 5C and 5S
- iPhone 6, 6S, 6 Plus and 6S Plus
- iPhone SE (first generation)
First, make sure your device is turned off. Then all you need to do is press and hold the power button and the Home button simultaneously. Keep holding the buttons until the Recovery Mode screen appears. It will take a few seconds: The recovery mode screen cannot be accessed instantly to prevent people from accidentally opening it.
Note: The power button is on the side for iPhone 6 or later users, and on the top right for iPhone 5s and earlier.
After the recovery mode screen appears, go ahead and connect the phone to your computer.
How to Enter Recovery Mode on iPads with Home Buttons
Some iPads in Apple’s current lineup, like the iPad 10.2, kept their home buttons, and most iPads made before 2018 had home buttons.
If your iPad has a home button, all you need to do to enter recovery mode is press and hold the home button and power button simultaneously for 10-15 seconds, just like older iPhones.
The recovery mode screen will appear and you’ll be prompted to connect your iPad to your Mac or Windows PC.
How to Enter Recovery Mode on iPads Without a Home Button
Most new iPads no longer have Home buttons – Most iPad models moved away between 2017 and 2018. If your iPad doesn’t have a Home button, the process to enter Recovery Mode is basically the same as all newer iPhones. .
Press and release the volume button closest to the power button, then press and release the button farthest away, and then press and hold the power button until the recovery screen appears.
However, there are a couple of different button configurations that you’ll find on iPads. If your iPad has the volume buttons at the top, it will look like this:
iPads with the volume buttons on the sides follow the same basic procedure: press and release the top volume button, then the bottom volume button, then press and hold the power button. Wait for the Recovery Mode screen to appear, and then release the button.
The recovery mode screen will show a cable connecting to the iPad; once it appears, connect your iPad to your computer.
What to do once you are in recovery mode
Now that your device is in recovery mode, you have about 15 minutes before it automatically exits. If it doesn’t move fast enough and your phone exits recovery mode, repeat the same button presses as explained above to enter it again.
A window like the following will appear on your computer once you have successfully entered recovery mode on your phone or tablet. You will be prompted to restore or upgrade.
You should try the “Update” option first. It is very possible that your problems can be solved by updating your iPhone or iPad without completely reinstalling your operating system. The “Update” option preserves all your files and settings, which, if nothing else, will save you time and effort setting everything up again. It will also prevent you from losing anything you forgot to back up.
If the “Update” option fails, you will need to go back to the Recovery Mode screen again, just like you did before. This time you will have to press “Restore”. It’s not ideal, but it may very well be the only way to fix your iPhone or iPad.
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