How to Get Into and Out of iPhone Recovery Mode

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

What to Know

  • Connect to Mac or PC with cable. Open Finder or iTunes. Press and release Volume Up, then Volume Down. Hold Side button.
  • iPhone 7: Connect to Mac or PC with cable. Open Finder or iTunes. Press and hold the Top or Side button and Volume Down.
  • Exit Recovery Mode: Lets your iPhone restart and then unplug the iPhone from the cable.

This article explains how to get into and out of iPhone Recovery Mode for all iPhone models, including iPhone 8 and up, iPhone 7 series, and earlier. It includes information on when to use Recovery Mode.

How to Put an iPhone Into Recovery Mode

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.

Before trying Recovery Mode, try other tips if your iPhone won't turn on, or learn how to fix an iPhone stuck on the Apple logo.

Recovery Mode is a last-resort troubleshooting step you can take with an iPhone having problems with its operating system. Putting a device into Recovery Mode allows the iPhone to run and connect to iTunes or a computer while not booting up the iOS. Doing 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 it's something you only use when other things don't work.

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

  1. What you do as your first step depends on what iPhone model you have.

    • If you have an iPhone 8 or newer, you can skip this step.
    • On an iPhone 7 or earlier, begin by turning off your iPhone by holding down the Side button and the Volume Down button. Hold until the slider appears at the top, and then swipe the slider. If your phone doesn't respond, hold the Side button and the iPhone Home button together until the screen goes dark (on the iPhone 7 series, hold Volume Down instead of the Home button).
  2. The second step depends on what operating system your computer is running.

    • If you have a Mac running macOS Catalina (10.15) or higher, open the Finder.
    • If you have a Mac running an earlier version of the OS, or a PC running Windows, update iTunes to the latest version and open iTunes.
  3. Plug the syncing cable into your iPhone and then connect it to your computer.

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

    • iPhone 8 and newer: Press and release the Volume Up button, and then do the same to the Volume Down button. Then press and hold the Side button until the Recovery Mode screen appears.
    • iPhone 7 series: Press and hold the Side and Volume Down buttons until the Recovery Mode screen appears.
    • iPhone 6S series and earlier: Press and hold the Side and Home buttons until the Recovery Mode screen appears.

    You'll know your phone is in Recovery Mode when the recovery screen appears.

    iPhone Recovery Mode icon

    Apple Inc.

  5. A window pops up in the Finder or iTunes (depending on which you used in step 2) offering to let you Update or Restore the phone. Click Update. This action tries to fix the problem by updating the operating system without erasing your data.

  6. If Update fails, put your iPhone into recovery mode again and this time click Restore. This option will replace the data on your phone with an older backup or a fresh installation of the iOS. That's not ideal, but it may be your only option at this point.

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

How to Restore iPhone

You can choose to reset your iPhone to its factory state or restore your iPhone from a recent backup of your data.

It's not common, but an error can sometimes stop you from restoring your iPhone or another iOS device. If you encounter this problem, learn how to fix iPhone error 4013. You can also encounter error 3194.

How to Get Out of iPhone Recovery Mode

If restoring the iPhone succeeds, your phone will automatically 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) until the iPhone turns off, and then let it go. Depending on your model, you may also need to hold the Volume Down button.

  3. Keep holding 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 severe 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.

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. It happens if something goes wrong with the update or your battery is extremely low during the installation.
  • Update the operating system or restore the device from a backup, but the process fails, and iTunes no longer sees the device when you connect it.
  • Upgrade from a beta version of 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 iTunes. If not, you may end up losing any data added between your last backup and now.

  • What happens to my texts when my iPhone is in Recovery Mode?

    Texts sent to you while your phone is in Recovery Mode will not be received. Any text messages you haven't backed up will be lost.

  • How do I recover deleted messages on my iPhone?

    To recover deleted iPhone messages using iCloud, go to Settings, select your name, and choose iCloud. Using iTunes backup, open iTunes on a computer, then go to Preferences > General Preferences > Devices and choose a backup.

  • How do I recover deleted photos on my iPhone?

    To recover deleted iPhone photos, open the Photos app and go to Albums > Recently Deleted. Select the images you want to save and choose Recover. Photos stay in the Recently Deleted album for 30 days before they're deleted permanently.

  • How do I restore my iPhone without iTunes?

    To restore an iPhone without iTunes, use iCloud. Go to Settings, tap your name, and choose iCloud > iCloud Backup > Back Up Now. Then, go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Content and Settings > Erase Now. When your phone restarts, choose Restore from iCloud Backup.

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