How to Get an iPad or iPhone out of Recovery Mode

Melanie Gross
Nov 21, 2011
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Apple, Companies

iOS devices are a wonder. This article is being typed on one right now. Sometimes, however, these robust and snappy little things go “boink.” One of the more common issues a user will perhaps encounter is when the iOS device (iPad, iTouch, iPhone) gets stuck in recovery mode. If you are reading this article, you may be experiencing an iOS recovery mode lockout or you may be in a recovery mode loop. This is the perfect opportunity for you to check out these pointers on how to return to normal functioning from recovery mode. Here’s the fix:

Recovery mode is indicated by appearance of iTunes and USB icons on the screen of the iOS device. By whatever cause, and there can be a few, the device is unable to access its operating system. So, it displays these icons to prompt the user to recover the operating system. Usually this is no big deal.

ios recovery mode indicator

Whichever machine you use for syncing the device to iTunes, make sure its version of iTunes is the most current. Ensure that all iTunes updates are installed. If you are in doubt, launch the Apple Software Update manager. Once it checks with Apple's servers and is certain that iTunes does not need an update, you should be ready to get started.

itunes update
This image indicates the user has an update pending and it should be installed before restoring the iOS device.)

Completely power-down the iOS device. This is done by holding the home button (front, center-bottom, in default portrait mode) AND the sleep button (corner, top edge opposite the home button) at the same time until the power-off slider appears. Use the slider to completely shutdown the device.

power down ipad iphone

Before connecting the iOS device to the computer, hold the home button in place. This lets the firmware know you are about to do more than the usual sync. Once iTunes recognizes the device, which can take one-to-several seconds, depending on the speed of your computer, it will prompt you to restore the device. If you have a backup from your last sync of the device, you will be given an option to use this during the syncing process. This is most likely the option you will want. iTunes should prompt you to select which backup you want to use as your source. Make your choice and the restore may take between five and ten minutes to complete from that point.

ipod iphone recovery mode fix

If you happen to have the sudden urge for a clean configuration, set up as a new iOS device. iTunes will return your device to factory-default setup. Even iOS can get relatively cluttered – apps, notes, photos, music, etc. While generally organized very well according to the native management scheme of the system itself, sometimes a device can seem less pleasant to operate after heavy use. Starting fresh from factory defaults not only allows you to clear up some of the unnecessary stuff your system accumulates, but lets you to start out with the level of understanding you now possess, with your current usage patterns, and to re-encounter the system with a different set of eyes than you had when you first started using it. Experience is a great thing. Experience combined with a lean setup is even better than that.

Note: In iOS 5 or later, restoring the device wirelessly is an option with or without a cable connection to a computer, provided the device is functioning properly prior to starting the restore process. There are a lot of improvements in iOS 5 that allow for updates, restores and other functions to be managed without requiring use of another computer with iTunes. This guide is intended for circumstances when the iOS device has locked into recovery mode and cannot access a wireless connection or the device itself is running an earlier version of iOS.

iOS was designed to be one of the least fussy, most responsive operating systems around. It was also designed to be stable and secure. A lot of people dislike the absence of a visible file system on the largest of that family of devices, the iPad. This is a simplification over other navigation models and it is beneficial in that it prevents the user from accidentally doing something to the file system which might result in device instability. While it shouldn't be necessary to be an expert to use most devices, it is a good idea to learn some of the little tricks available to you. Although many people still find technology to be intimidating, the more you learn, the more fun tech can be for you.


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  1. The Dark Lady said on July 9, 2023 at 11:19 am

    Martin, I would appreciate that you do not censor this post, as it’s informative writing.

    Onur, there is a misleading statement “[…] GIFs are animated images …”. No, obviously you don’t seem to have take much notice of what you were told back in March regarding; Graphics Interchange Format (GIF).

    For example, (if you had read my replies within that thread, you might have learnt something useful). I even mentioned, “GIF intrinsically supports animated images (GIF89a)”.

    You linked to said article, [Related: …] within this article, but have somehow failed to take onboard what support you were given by several more knowledgeable people.

    If you used AI to help write this article, it has failed miserably.

  2. KeZa said on August 17, 2023 at 5:58 pm

    AI is stupid, and it will not get any better if we really know how this all works. Prove me wrong..

  3. Database failure said on August 18, 2023 at 5:21 pm

    Martin, [#comment-4569908] is only meant to be in: []. Whereas it appears duplicated in several recent random low-quality non relevant articles.

    Obviously it [#comment-4569908] was posted: 9 July 2023. Long before this thread even existed… your database is falling over. Those comments are supposed to have unique ID values. It shouldn’t be possible to duplicate the post ID, if the database had referential integrity.

  4. Howard Pearce said on August 25, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    Don’t tell me!

    Ghacks wants the state to step in for STATE-MANDATED associations to save jobs!!!

    Bring in the dictatorship!!!

    And screw Rreedom of Association – too radical for Ghacks maybe

  5. Howard Allan Pearce said on September 7, 2023 at 9:13 am

    GateKeeper ?

    That’s called “appointing” businesses to do the state’s dirty work!!!!!

    But the article says itself that those appointed were not happy – implying they had not choice!!!!!!

  6. owl said on September 7, 2023 at 9:50 am

    @The Dark Lady,
    @Database failure,
    @Howard Pearce,
    @Howard Allan Pearce,

    Note: I replaced the quoted URI scheme: https:// with “>>” and posted.

    The current is owned by “Softonic International S.A.” (sold by Martin in October 2019), and due to the fate of M&A, has changed in quality.
    Many Authors of bloggers and advertisers certified by Softonic have joined the site, and the site is full of articles aimed at advertising and clickbait.
    As it stands, except for articles by Martin Brinkmann, Mike Turcotte, and Ashwin, they are low quality, unhelpful, and even vicious. It is better not to read those articles.
    How to display only articles by a specific author:
    Added line to My filters in uBlock Origin:,.home-posts,.home-category-post:not(:has-text(/Martin Brinkmann|Mike Turcotte|Ashwin/))

    By the way, if you use an RSS reader, you can track exactly where your comments are (I’m an iPad user, so I use “Feedly Classic”, but for Windows I prefer the desktop app “RSS Guard”).
    RSS Guard: Feed reader which supports RSS/ATOM/JSON and many web-based feed services.

  7. Anonymous said on September 14, 2023 at 6:41 pm

    We all live in digital surveillance glass houses under scrutiny of evil people because of people like Musk. It’s only fair that he takes his turn.

  8. Anonymous said on September 18, 2023 at 1:31 pm

    “Operating systems will be required to let the user choose the browser, virtual assistant and search engine of their choice. Microsoft cannot force users to use Bing or Edge. Apple will have to open up its iOS operating system to allow third-party app stores, aka allow sideloading of apps. Google, on the other hand, will need to provide users with the ability to uninstall preloaded apps (bloatware) from Android devices. Online services will need to allow users to unsubscribe from their platform easily. Gatekeepers need to provide interoperability with third-parties that offer similar services.”

    Wonderful ! Let’s hope they’ll comply with that law more than they are doing with the GDPR.

  9. sean conner said on September 27, 2023 at 6:21 am

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