Fix “iPad is disabled. Connect to iTunes “Messages”

iPads are pretty reliable devices in general. There aren’t many possible problems with them, but often you can be blinded by a problem that seems to have no easy solution.

A well-known iPad pain is that “iPad is disabled. Connect to iTunes” error message. There’s no obvious way to fix this problem, especially since Apple sells the iPad as a standalone computer these days. This means that many users don’t even have another computer with iTunes.

Before we look at how you can fix it when your iPad won’t connect to iTunes, you should take a minute to discuss why this is happening in the first place.

What causes this error?

The most common reason why iPad is disabled is because of entering incorrect passcode multiple times. Usually, this simply results in a lockout over time, starting at 15 minutes. Let time pass and you can enter the correct passcode as usual. However, continue with the incorrect attempts and soon you will be faced with the dreaded message.

Magical multi-dial lock "Password"

In our case, it happened after forgetting to disconnect the Bluetooth keyboard and then putting it in a pocket, where the movement of the walk triggered incorrect repeat passcodes. You may also find that someone (probably a small child) tried to unlock your iPad, but simply put it back where they found it after it turned itself off.

Bad news

When your iPad is disabled like that, you have almost no way to save the information that is currently on it. The best you can do is erase the iPad and then restore some form of backup. Unfortunately, by the time this message appears on your iPad’s screen, it’s too late to create a backup unless you’ve synced your iPad with a trusted computer’s copy of iTunes in the past.

Man reading a burning newspaper

The good news is that you can have some form of automatic backup, even if you don’t explicitly set it up. If you signed in to iCloud services and left your iPad on charge and connected to WiFi recently, it most likely created a backup of your iPad content.

So, let’s take a look at how to get your iPad back to the way it was, starting by following the instructions that came with the error message.

Connect it to iTunes

The error may ask you to connect your iPad to iTunes to fix the problem, but this doesn’t tell you that this comes with some conditions.

iPad connected to iTunes

First of all, you need a computer with iTunes that you previously synced, which should have made a backup. Keep in mind that if you have iCloud backup enabled, this route is pointless. Better to just reset the iPad and restore the iCloud backup. That’s because iCloud backup and local iTunes backup are mutually exclusive.

If you synced with iTunes on the computer mentioned earlier, you can still create a backup from the locked tablet. Connect it to your computer via USB and then proceed with the backup process as usual in iTunes.

If successful, just follow this with the “Restore iPad” button.

Automatically back up to iCloud in the Backup window

That will restore and unlock the tablet.

DFU mode with iTunes

If you’ve never used iTunes with your iPad before, you can still use it to unlock and erase your iPad. So you can restore the iCloud backup afterwards.

This is called “DFU” or Update device firmware method. It’s the most reliable way to return your iPad to its original factory condition. Putting an iPad into DFU mode is quite complicated as it requires good timing and a precise set of buttons.

Life raft on boat

There are also two sets of steps, depending on whether your iPad model has a “Home” button. Newer iPad Pro models (2018 and later) are an example of iOS devices that don’t have a Home button and use Face ID to unlock.

Let’s start with the steps to get an iPad with a home button to enter DFU mode:

  1. Open iTunes if it’s not there yet
  2. Turn off your iPad
  3. Using an MFi-certified cable, connect your iPad to your Mac or Windows PC
  4. With iPad turned off, hold down the power button for about three seconds
  5. Without letting go of the power button, press and hold the Home button for another 10 seconds
  6. Release the power button but keep holding the Home button for another 5 seconds

If you did it right, the iPad screen will remain blank and iTunes itself will give you a message that it has detected the iPad in DFU mode, prompting you to initiate a restore.

Now let’s move on to iPad short Home button, such as the 2018 iPad Pro:

  1. Open iTunes if it’s not there yet
  2. Turn off your iPad
  3. Using an MFi-certified cable, connect your iPad to your Mac or Windows PC
  4. With iPad off, hold the top button down for three seconds
  5. Without letting go of the top button, press and hold the volume down button for about 10 seconds
  6. Let go of the top button but keep holding the volume down button for another 5 seconds.

The screen will remain blank and iTunes will prompt that it has detected the iPad in recovery mode, with the option to restore it.

Erase your iPad remotely

Various Apple devices connected via FindMy

If your iPad still has an Internet connection and you previously set up “Find My iPad,” you can initiate a remote wipe and reset your iPad. Just go to the Find My page and sign in with your Apple ID. Locate your iPad and then select the option to delete it.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to restore your iCloud backup once you’ve signed back into the device.

Is it possible to reset iPad without iTunes?

The answer, at the time of writing, is no. If you don’t own a computer other than an iPad then your only option is to use someone else’s machine to perform a DFU restore. We hope that Apple removes the need for tethered restore at some point in the future, but unless you can use cloud-based erasure, you’ll need to connect your tablet. myself with the computer.

If you don’t have anyone with a computer you can use, the next step is your best bet.

Go to an Apple Store

People standing outside the Apple Store with glasses

If all else fails, the best way to connect iPad to iTunes is to bring your disabled iPad to the Apple Store. You may need to provide proof that it really is your iPad, but if nothing else, the staff here should be able to help you reset your iPad.

Consider it a last resort, but it’s good to know that there are some requirements beyond what you can do yourself. After all, this message does not mean that the iPad is broken in any way.

Just a warning that the very people who work at Apple are powerless to save information on the iPad itself. The whole point of an encryption system is to keep your information from falling into the wrong hands. That includes Apple itself, otherwise we can’t trust their products!

It will be fine!

While it can be a pretty big inconvenience to lose all the information stored locally on your iPad, most people should be fine restoring a recent backup. Even if you don’t have a suitable backup or a backup that has all the information you need, you’re not entirely out of options.

If you use services like DropBox or Google Drive, you may find that your photos and other documents are backed up automatically outside of the original iCloud service. Many iOS apps also have their own standalone cloud-based backup system. So for individual applications there may be a way to get their specific data back.

Of course, prevention is better than cure. So make sure you regularly back up your iPad if it gets disabled again.

It’s also important to reiterate that, at the time of writing, there are indications that Apple will phase out iTunes. This means that this error message will probably also occur in the way of dodo in the future. Since Apple wants its iPad to be seen as a laptop replacement, the “Connect to iTunes” message is a backlash that will inevitably be dropped at some point.

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