How to Get Into and Out of iPhone Recovery Mode

If a problem won't resolve with your iOS device, try these tips

iPhone recovery mode screen
iPhone photo: hocus-focus/iStock

Many problems with the iPhone can be resolved by restarting it, but some more complex problems require putting the iPhone into recovery mode. This shouldn't be your first troubleshooting step, but sometimes it's the only one that works.

NOTE: This article mostly refers to the iPhone but it applies to all iOS devices.

When to Use Recovery Mode

You should use iPhone recovery mode when you:

  • Install an iOS update and your device gets stuck in a continuous restart loop. This happens when something goes wrong with the update or when your battery is extremely low during that installation
  • Update the operating system or restore the device from backup but the process fails and iTunes no longer sees the device when you connect it
  • Upgrade from a beta version of the iOS and there's a bug 
  • See the Apple logo or Connect to iTunes icon onscreen for a few minutes with no change.

Restoring your iPhone using recovery mode deletes all data on the device. Ideally, you've got a recent backup of your data in iCloud or in iTunes. If not, you may end up losing the data between your last backup and now.

How to Put an iPhone In Recovery Mode

To put an iPhone into recovery mode: 

  1. Turn your iPhone off by holding down the sleep/wake button (on the right side on iPhone 6 and up, on the top corner on all other iPhones). Hold until the slider appears at the top and then swipe the slider. If your phone doesn't respond, hold the sleep/wake button and the Home button together until the screen goes dark (on an iPhone 7 series, hold volume down instead of Home)
  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer. If you don't have a computer, you'll need to go to the Apple Store or borrow one.
  2. Perform a hard reset on the phone. Do this by holding down the sleep/wake button and the Home button at the same time (again, on iPhone 7 use volume down). Continue holding for at least 10 seconds. If the Apple logo appears on the screen, keep holding.
  1. Let go of the buttons when the Connect to iTunes screen appears (it's the image of the cable and iTunes icon shown at the top of this article). The phone is now in recovery mode.
  2. A window pops up in iTunes offering to let you Update or Restore the phone. Click Update. This tries to resolve the problem without erasing your data.
  3. If Update fails, put your iPhone into recovery mode again and this time click Restore.

How to Restore iPhone

If you need to restore your iPhone, you can choose to restore it to its factory state or from a recent backup of your data. For instructions on how to do this on your iPod touch, check out this tutorial.

How to Get Out of iPhone Recovery Mode

If restoring the iPhone succeeds, your phone will exit recovery mode when it restarts.

You can also exit recovery mode before restoring your phone (if your device was working properly before. If not, recovery mode is still your best option). To do that:

  1. Unplug the device from the USB cable.
  2. Hold down the sleep/wake button until the iPhone turns off, then let it go.
  3. Hold it down again until the Apple logo reappears.
  4. Let go of the button and the device will start up.

If Recovery Mode Doesn't Work

If putting your iPhone into recovery mode doesn't solve your problem, the problem may be more serious than you can fix on your own.

In that case, you should make an appointment at the Genius Bar of your nearest Apple Store to get help.