iPhone DFU Mode: What It Is and How To Use It

Make small changes to iOS with this special mode

iPhone DFU Mode
image credit: Emilija Manevska/Moment/Getty Images

You can solve many problems with the iPhone with something relatively simple like a restart. More challenging issues may need a more comprehensive approach, called DFU Mode.

What Is DFU Mode?

The iPhone Device Firmware Update (DFU) Mode lets you make low-level changes to the software running the device. While it is related to ​Recovery Mode, it's more comprehensive, and you can use it to solve more difficult problems.​​​​

DFU Mode works on any iOS device, which includes the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

When an iOS device is in DFU mode, the device is powered on but hasn't booted up the operating system. As a result, you can make changes to the operating system itself because it's not running yet.

When to Use DFU Mode on iPhone

For almost all ordinary uses of the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, you won't need DFU Mode. Recovery Mode is usually the only thing you'll need. If your device is stuck in a loop after updating the operating system or has data so corrupted that it won't run properly, Recovery Mode is your first step. Under most circumstances, people use iPhone DFU Mode to:

Putting your device into DFU Mode may be necessary to fix some situations, but it's important to remember that it's potentially dangerous, too. Using DFU Mode to downgrade your OS or jailbreak your device can damage it and violate its warranty.

If you plan to use DFU Mode, you're doing so at your own risk -- you assume responsibility for any adverse results.

How to Enter DFU Mode on iPhone

Putting a device into DFU mode is similar to Recovery Mode. Here's what to do:

  1. Begin by connecting your iPhone or another iOS device to your computer and launch iTunes.

  2. Turn off the device by holding down the sleep/power button on top of the device. A slider will appear onscreen. Slide it to the right to turn off the device.

    If the device won't turn off, hold down both the power button and Home buttons even after the slider appears. Eventually, the device will turn off. Let go of the buttons when the device powers down.

  3. With the device off, hold down the sleep/power and Home button at the same time.

    If you have an iPhone 7 or newer, hold down sleep/power and the volume down button, not Home.

  4. Hold these buttons for 10 seconds. If you hold too long, you'll enter Recovery Mode instead of DFU mode. You'll know you made this mistake if you see the Apple logo.

  5. After 10 seconds have passed, let go of the sleep/power button, but keep holding the Home Button (or volume down button on an iPhone 7 or newer) for another 5 seconds.

    If the iTunes logo and message appear, you've held the button for too long and need to start again.

  6. If your device's screen is black, you're in DFU Mode. If iTunes recognizes that your iPhone is connected, you're ready to proceed.

  7. If you see any icons or text on your device's screen, you're not in DFU Mode and need to start again.

How to Exit DFU Mode on iPhone

To exit iPhone DFU Mode, turn off the device. Do this by holding down the sleep/power until the slider appears and moving the slider. Or, if you hold the sleep/power and Home (or volume down) buttons longer, the device turns off, and the screen goes dark.