iPad Recovery Mode: Fix a Locked or Stuck-at-Apple-Logo iPad

Fix your locked or frozen iPad

frustrated iPad user sitting on couch

Mauro Grigollo / Getty Images

For most issues, rebooting the iPad will fix the problem. When that fails, erasing all settings and data and starting from scratch becomes an option. But if your iPad is locked or continually gets stuck at the Apple logo during startup, you'll need to force it into Recovery Mode.

The iPad's Recovery Mode uses iTunes on your PC or Mac to bypass its normal operation. If the iPad freezes at the Apple logo, this process can force the iPad to reset to factory default settings.

You should only use this method when you can't get into the iPad to operate it. If your iPad boots up but freezes while you use it, you should use some basic troubleshooting steps to help fix the problem. 

Try a Forced Reboot First

The first thing you want to do before using recovery mode is to do a "forced reboot." This is a process of forcing your iPad to shut down even if the normal process isn't working. 

  1. Hold down the Sleep/Wake button at the top of the iPad for about 20 seconds.

    An illustration of how to Force Reboot an iPad.
    Lifewire 
  2. After the iPad powers down, wait a few seconds and press the Sleep/Wake button again to boot up again.

  3. If the iPad still freezes at the Apple Logo, you can proceed with the rest of the instructions to recover your iPad.

How to Enter Recovery Mode on the iPad

You'll need the latest version of iTunes on your computer to use Recovery Mode. If you don't have iTunes installed, download it from Apple's website. If you do have it installed, you should check to make sure you have the latest version before proceeding.

  • On a PC: Launch iTunes. It should notify you if there is a new version. If iTunes is already open, go to the Help menu and select Check for Updates.
  • On a Mac: Launch the App Store. In the App Store, choose the Updates tab. If iTunes is listed, tap the Update button.

This process will work from any computer, so if you don't own a PC, you can go through this process using a friend's computer. The only requirement is that they have the latest version of iTunes installed on it.

  1. Connect the iPad to the PC or Mac using the cable that came with the iPad.

  2. If iTunes doesn't open automatically when the iPad is connected, launch it.

  3. With iTunes open and the iPad connected to the PC, hold down both the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button at the same time, and keep holding them down. Keep holding the buttons down even when the Apple logo appears and wait until the "Connect to iTunes" screen appears.

    An iPad showing the
    Place.to / Mockup Photos
  4. After the Connect to iTunes screen appears on your iPad, you'll see a prompt on iTunes to Restore or Update the iPad. Choose Update.

    It may take a long time to download the needed files. If the iPad shuts down during this process, start over with step 4.

    Update option for an iPad in Recovery Mode
  5. Once the update finishes, you'll need to go through the iPad setup process again. This is a similar process to when you first set up the iPad.

If you have backed up your iPad using iTunes or iCloud, you should be able to recover everything up to the point of your backup. But even if you haven't backed up your iPad, you can still recover any apps that you have previously purchased by downloading them from the App Store.

How to Recover Your iPad Without a PC

If your iPad is locked and you don't have access to a computer, you can use Find My iPhone/iPad to wipe it remotely. You can use the Find My iPhone app on your iPhone, or you can go online. Here's how.

  1. Go to www.icloud.com from any device that can connect to the web, and then log on using your Apple ID.

    The iCloud login in a web browser
  2. Click Find iPhone.

    Find iPhone on iCloud online
  3. Re-enter your password if the site prompts you, and then select your iPad from the All Devices pull-down menu.

    The All Devices pulldown menu on iCloud in a web browser
  4. To wipe your iPad remotely, click Erase iPad.

    Erase iPad option on iCloud online
  5. Your iPad will clear, and you can set it up as usual.