How to Get Into and Out of iPhone Recovery Mode

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

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.

This article mostly refers to the iPhone, but you can use Recovery Mode on all iOS devices.

What is iPhone Recovery Mode?

Person looking at an iPhone in Recovery Mode
Emilie Dunphy / Lifewire

Recovery Mode is a sort of last-resort troubleshooting step you can take with an iPhone that's having problems with its operating system. Putting a device into Recovery Mode allows the iPhone to run and connect to iTunes, while not totally booting up the iOS. This lets you update the OS to a new, working version or restore a working backup onto the device. It's not hard to use, but as you might imagine, it's something you only use when other things won't work.

If you're having problems with your iPhone, before trying Recovery Mode, try the tips listed in What To Do When Your iPhone Won't Turn On or How to Fix an iPhone Stuck on the Apple Logo.


Getting In and Out of iPhone Recovery Mode

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 the 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 lets you either update the OS or delete 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 any data added between your last backup and now.

How to Put an iPhone In Recovery Mode

iPhone in Restore mode

To put an iPhone into recovery mode, follow these steps: 

  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 the iPhone 7 series, hold Volume Down instead of the Home button).

  2. Get a computer with iTunes installed on it. Ideally, this is the computer you sync with, but any computer with iTunes on it can work. Make sure the iTunes program is not running.

  3. What steps you follow next depend on what model iPhone you have:

    • iPhone 8 and up: Plug the syncing cable into your iPhone. Hold down the Side button while you plug the other end of the cable into your computer.
    • iPhone 7 series: Plug the syncing cable into your iPhone. Hold down the Volume Down button while you plug the other end of the cable into your computer.
    • iPhone 6S series and earlier: Plug the syncing cable into your iPhone. Hold down the Home button while you plug the other end of the cable into your computer.
  4. Keep holding down the Side, Volume Down, or Home button (depending on your model) until the Connect to iTunes screen appears (it's the image of the cable and iTunes icon shown at the top of this article). Your phone is now in Recovery Mode.

  5. A window pops up in iTunes offering to let you Update or Restore the phone. Click Update. This tries to resolve the problem by updating the operating system and without erasing your data.

  6. 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.

It's not common, but an error can sometimes stop you from restoring your iPhone or other iOS device. If you encounter this problem, learn how to solve it in How to Fix iPhone Error 4013.

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 without 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 (or Side, depending on your model) 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.