How to force restart iPhone and enter recovery mode

Usually, a simple reboot can fix a weird problem on your iPhone. But rarely, you will run into serious issues that require you to force restart and enter iPhone recovery mode instead.

For example, you might have an iPhone that’s stuck at booting up, stuck in a constant boot loop, or unresponsive to touches. Forced restart helps you to restart your unresponsive device, but taking the extra step and entering recovery mode also helps you to fix the problem well.

iPhone recovery mode gives you two options. You can update your iPhone with the latest iOS version while keeping your data intact. Or, you can choose to reset it to factory settings. If you have a local or iCloud backup, you can also restore your data in case the device starts working properly again.

That said, force restarting an iPhone, let alone entering recovery mode, can be a bit confusing as the process varies between different iPhone models. Same goes for the iPad. You have to prepare some basic in advance.

How to Prepare for iPhone or iPad Recovery Mode

To force restart your iPhone or iPad and enter recovery mode, you must have a Mac or PC. It’s best to use a local backup of your iPhone or iPad as you may have to reset the device. Otherwise, any Mac or PC will do, because recovery mode doesn’t require you to “trust” the desktop.

In macOS Catalina and later, you must use the Finder app to interact with your iPhone or iPad while it’s in recovery mode. On macOS Mojave and earlier, as on Windows, you must use iTunes. If you use a PC and it doesn’t have iTunes, install it before you continue.

That said, start by connecting your iPhone or iPad to your Mac or PC via USB. You may have to use a USB-C to USB Adapter on a Mac that only has a USB-C port. Then, open Finder or iTunes. Now you are all set and ready to enter Recovery Mode.

How to force restart iPhone and enter recovery mode

Depending on your iPhone model, you must use one of three different methods to force restart and enter recovery mode.

iPhone 8 Series, iPhone X and later

On iPhone 8 series and later, including all iPhones with Face ID functionality (such as iPhone X) as well as iPhone SE based on Touch ID (2020), you must use a combination of three buttons to force restart and enter recovery mode. Press them in the following order:

1. Press and quickly release Volume up button.

2. Press and quickly release Turn down the volume button.

3. Press and hold Edge Button (Sleep/Wake).

After a few seconds, the screen will turn black and the Apple logo will appear. Keep holding until you see the recovery mode screen. Then you can issue Edge button.

Only iPhone 7 Series

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus require a combination of two buttons to force restart and enter recovery mode. Start by pressing and holding Turn down the volume button and Edge simultaneous.

Continue holding both buttons while the screen turns black and the Apple logo shows. When you see the recovery mode screen, release both buttons.

iPhone 6s series and above

On iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and earlier iPhone models, just press and hold both Home button and Edge/Top button.

The screen will turn black and the Apple logo will appear shortly after. Keep holding until you see the recovery mode screen. You can then release both buttons.

How to force restart iPad and enter recovery mode

If you want to force restart your iPad and enter recovery mode, you must follow one of two methods depending on whether your device has a Home button or not.

iPad does not have a Home button

On an iPad without a Home button, such as iPad Pro (2018) and newer, press the following buttons in the correct sequence to force restart and enter recovery mode:

1. Press and quickly release Volume up button.

2. Press and quickly release Turn down the volume button.

3. Press and hold Top button (sleep/wake).

Keep holding until the iPad force restarts and enters recovery mode. Then you can issue Top button.

iPad with Home button

On all iPads with a physical Home button, such as the iPad Air (2019), press and hold Home and Top simultaneous.

Continue holding both buttons until the recovery mode screen shows up on the screen. You can then release both buttons.

How to use recovery mode

After entering recovery mode on your iPhone or iPad, you’ll automatically see a pop-up in Finder or iTunes prompting you to update or restore the device.

We recommend updating your iPhone or iPad first. Option Updateand your Mac or PC will attempt to download and install the latest version of iOS or iPadOS without erasing your data.

If your device exits recovery mode and restarts automatically (happens after 15 minutes), wait for the download to complete, enter recovery mode again and select Update again.

If the update fails or does not fix your device, you must restore it to factory settings. That will also delete all documents, photos, and videos stored locally on the device.

However, you can choose to restore lost data with a local or iCloud backup later. You can also get back any data that has been synced to iCloud (such as your photos if you have iCloud Photos turned on) or third-party cloud storage services.

If you want to continue, select Restoreand then select Restore and Update.

If you change your mind and want to exit recovery mode, start by unplugging your device from your Mac or PC. Then hold down Edge/Top until the screen goes dark. Press and hold it again until you see the Apple logo on the screen.

Recovery mode didn’t fix everything

Updating or restoring your iPhone or iPad will likely get it back to life. However, recovery mode is not a silver bullet for all problems. If the cause is hardware related, it is likely that the device is still having problems, then your best option is to book an appointment at your local Genius Bar.

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