How to Fix a Disabled iPad by Connecting to iTunes

Get back into your iPad using iTunes or Finder

This article will explain what to do when your iPad tells you to connect it to a computer. It will explain why it's happening and how to get it working again.

iPad Passcode Woes

An iPad can become disabled from entering in the wrong passcode too many times (Passcode disabling happens to iPhone, too). When that happens, you'll see a message saying your iPad is disabled and to try again later—sometimes it says in a few seconds, sometimes in hours or days. No matter what the screen says, it really means wait a few minutes and try again.

What Causes a Disabled iPad That Needs to be Connected to iTunes or Finder?

When you see the message on an iPad's screen saying "iPad is Disabled Connect to iTunes" it's most likely caused by an operating system update that failed or other serious software problem. When that happens the iPad stops responding to anything you do and needs to be put into Recovery Mode to get it working again.

How to Fix an iPad That Is Disabled and Says 'Connect to iTunes or Finder'

When you see the connect-to-computer icons on your disabled iPad, follow these steps to unlock it and return it to working order:

There are different steps depending on what computer you are using. We'll point out the differences so no matter what you have, you can still get your iPad working again.

  1. You'll need a Mac or PC in order to continue. Make sure the computer you are using is up to date and running the latest version of its operating system.

    If you are using a Window-based PC or a Mac running macOS Mojave (10.14) or earlier, make sure to have the latest version of iTunes.

  2. With your software up to date:

    • On a Mac running macOS Catalina (10.15) and higher, open a Finder window.
    • On a PC or Mac running macOS Mojave or earlier, open iTunes.
  3. If you can, turn off your iPad. How you do this depends on which model of iPad you have:

    • For iPads without a Home button, press and hold Volume Down and the top button.
    • For iPads with a Home button, press and hold the Home and top buttons.

    When the power-off slider appears, slide it from left to right.

    illustrations of the button to press to turn off an iPad

    Apple Inc.

    If you can't turn off your iPad, it's fine to skip this step.

  4. Using the cable that came with your iPad, connect the iPad to your computer.

  5. Put the iPad into Recovery Mode. Again, how you do this depends on your iPad model:

    • For iPads with a Home button, press and hold the Home and top (or side) buttons at the same time.
    • For iPads without a Home button, press and release Volume Up, press and release Volume Down, and press and hold the top button.
  6. Keep holding until the Recovery Mode screen appears on the iPad.

  7. Again, the steps differ based on your computer:

    • On a Mac running macOS Catalina and higher, click your iPad in the Finder sidebar (if you don't see it, expand Locations).
    The iPad device in a Finder window under the Location section of the Sidebar.
    • On a PC or Mac running macOS Mojave, click the iPad icon in the top left corner in iTunes under the playback controls.
  8. Click Update and follow the onscreen prompts to update your iPad's software. Always try this first, since you don't have to delete any data from your iPad if this works.

    Screenshot of restoring an iPad on the Mac
  9. If updating the iPad didn't work, you'll have to restore it.

    The Restore process will delete all of the data on your iPad and there is no undo, so hopefully you have a recent iPad back up. If you do, you'll be able to recover that data in the next step. Click Restore and follow the onscreen instructions.

  10. Once the Restore process is complete, your iPad will be back to its factory-new state.

    You'll now need to set up the iPad as if it were brand new. When you get the step with a choice, you can choose to restore the iPad from back up.

Don't have a computer? You can also erase and restore your iPad using iCloud.

  • How do I fix a disabled iPad?

    If your iPad is disabled because you've made too many incorrect attempts to enter the passcode, you don't have many options. More than likely, the easiest fix is to return it to factory settings by going to > Find iPhone > choose your iPad > Erase iPad.

  • How do I fix a frozen iPad?

    A frozen iPad may have several fixes. First, try holding the Home and Power buttons to force a restart. If your iPad doesn't have a Home button, hold Volume Down and Power. You can also try freeing up storage, charging the battery, or, if nothing else works, a factory reset.

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