iPhone DFU Mode: What It Is and How To Use It

iPhone DFU Mode
image credit: Emilija Manevska/Moment/Getty Images

Putting your device into DFU Mode may be required to fix some situations, it's important to remember that it's potentially dangerous, too. Using DFU Mode to downgrade your OS or jailbreak your device can damage it and violate its warranty. If you plan to use DFU Mode, you're do so at your own risk—you're assuming responsibility for any negative results.

What Is iPhone DFU Mode?

The iPhone DFU Mode is a mode you can put your iPhone into that lets you make very low-level changes to the software running the device.

While it is related to Recovery Mode, it's more comprehensive and can be used to solve more difficult problems.

When an iOS device is in DFU mode, the device is powered on, but hasn't yet booted up the operating system. As a result, you can make changes to the operating system itself because it's not yet running. In other situations, you can't change the OS while it's running.

What Does It Stand For?

Device Firmware Update.

What Devices Does It Work On?

DFU Mode works on:

When to Use iPhone DFU Mode

For almost all normal uses of the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, you won't need DFU Mode. Recovery mode is usually the only thing you'll need. If your device is stuck in a loop after updating the operating system, or has data so corrupted that it won't run properly, recovery mode is your first step. Most people use iPhone DFU Mode to:

  • Downgrade the version of the iOS running on the device. You might want to do this if, for some reason, an upgrade to a newer version has damaged your device or caused your apps not to work properly. I generally recommend against trying this, but it may be necessary in some very rare cases.

How to Enter DFU Mode (Including iPhone 7)

Putting a device into DFU mode is similar to recovery mode, but not quite as easy. It took me at least half a dozen tries to get the hang of it, so don't be discouraged if you can't make it work right away.

Most likely your problem is coming during step 4. That was the source of my difficulty, but once I learned to be more patient, everything worked fine. Here's what to do:

  1. Begin by connecting your iPhone or other iOS device to your computer and launch iTunes.
  2. Turn off the device by holding down the sleep/power button in the top right corner of the device (on the iPhone 6 and newer, the button is on the right side). A slider will appear onscreen. Slide it to the right to turn off the device.

    If the device won't turn off, hold down both the power button and Home buttons even after the slider appears. Eventually the device will turn off. Let go of the buttons when the device powers down.
  3. With the device off, once again hold down the sleep/power and Home button at the same time. If you have an iPhone 7 or newer: Hold down sleep/power and the volume down button, not Home.
  4. Hold these buttons for 10 seconds. If you hold too long, you'll enter recovery mode instead of DFU mode. You'll know you made this mistake if you see the Apple logo.
  5. After 10 seconds have passed, let go of the sleep/power button, but keep holding the Home Button (on an iPhone 7 or newer, keep holding the volume down button) for another 5 seconds. If the iTunes logo and message appear, you've held the button for too long and need to start again.
  1. If your device's screen is black, you're in DFU Mode. It may appear that the device is turned off, but it's not. If iTunes recognizes that your iPhone is connected, you're ready to proceed.
  2. If you see any icons or text on your device's screen, you're not in DFU Mode and need to start again.

How to Exit It

To exit iPhone DFU Mode, you can just turn off the device. Do this by holding down the sleep/power until the slider appears and moving the slider. Or, if you hold the sleep/power and Home (or volume down) buttons longer, the device turns off and the screen goes dark.