How to Use iPad Recovery Mode

Use iPad recovery mode to fix an iPad that's locked or stuck at the Apple logo

What to Know

  • iPad recovery mode requires the use of iTunes.
  • iPad recovery mode will effectively erase all your data and reset your iPad to factory defaults.
  • You can recover some of your data after using iPad recovery mode, by installing a previously created backup.

If your iPad is locked or stuck at the Apple logo, you can force it to enter recovery mode, which resets the iPad to factory default settings. Here's how to use iPad recovery mode.

Instructions in this article apply to iPadOS 13 and iTunes 12.8 or later on macOS Catalina (10.15) or Windows 10.

Use recovery mode only when you can't get into the iPad to operate it. If your iPad starts but freezes while you're using it, try basic iPad troubleshooting steps to fix the problem first. If your iPad is frozen on an app or other screen, learn how to fix a frozen iPad.

Before Forcing Recovery Mode, Try Forcing a Restart

Illustration showing how to force reboot an iPad.

Before you force your iPad into recovery mode, try a forced restart, first. This process forces the iPad to shut down when the normal shutdown process doesn't work. How you force the iPad to restart depends on whether it has a Home button:

  • Home button: If the iPad has a Home button, press and hold the top button and the Home button at the same time. Release both buttons when the Apple logo appears.
  • No Home button: If the iPad has Face ID, press and quickly release the Volume Up button, press and quickly release the Volume Down button, then press and hold the top button. Release the top button when the Apple logo appears.

If the iPad freezes at the Apple logo, you'll need to force it into recovery mode.

How to Force iPad Into Recovery Mode

You need the latest version of iTunes on your computer to use Recovery Mode. To update iTunes to the latest version:

This process works from any computer. If you don't own a computer, use this process on a friend's Mac or PC.

To force the iPad into recovery mode, complete the following steps:

  1. Use the cable that came with the iPad to connect the iPad to the PC or Mac.

  2. On a Mac with macOS Catalina, open Finder. On a Mac with macOS Mojave (10.14) or earlier or on a PC, open iTunes.

    If iTunes was open or automatically opened when you connected the iPad to the computer, close iTunes, and then reopen it.

  3. With iTunes open and the iPad connected to the computer, perform one of the following tasks:

    • iPad with Face ID: Press and quickly release the Volume Up button, press and quickly release the Volume Down button, and then press and hold the top button until the iPad goes into recovery mode.
    • iPad with Home button: Press and hold the Home button and the top button at the same time until the recovery mode screen appears.
    An iPad showing the Connect to iTunes screen
  4. Locate your iPad on the computer, and then select Update.

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

    Update option for an iPad in Recovery Mode
  5. When the update is complete, go through the iPad setup process. This process is similar to when you first set up your iPad.

How to Recover Your iPad Without a Computer

If your iPad is locked and you don't have access to a computer, use the Find My app to wipe the iPad remotely. If the Find My app is enabled on your iPad, you can wipe your iPad remotely from iCloud or by using the Find My app on your iPhone.

If you backed up your iPad using iTunes or iCloud, you can recover everything up to the point of the backup. If you didn't back up your iPad, you can recover apps that you previously purchased by downloading those apps from the App Store.