How to launch and use it

Regardless of how stable your iPad’s system software is, it’s not without its problems. If it ever gives you any serious problems, you must try using Recovery Mode. That could very well be the difference between getting your iPad back up and running quickly versus a day-long visit to the Genius Bar.

Below you’ll find everything you need to know about launching and using your iPad’s Recovery Mode.

What is iPad Recovery Mode?

Recovery mode is a unique recovery environment that allows you to update your iPad’s system software or restore it to factory settings. It’s a fallback mechanism for cases where you can’t use your iPad’s built-in reset options to restore the device. If you face any of the below, you must use Recovery Mode.

Stuck on Apple Logo

Is your iPad stuck with the Apple logo? That usually happens after a failed system software update or failed backup restore. Entering iPad Recovery Mode will allow you to reinstall the system software and (hopefully) get the device working again. It will also help if your iPad appears to be stuck in a constant boot loop.

Apple boot logo

The computer does not recognize the iPad

If you have persistent problems or crashes on your iPad, you can reset it through iTunes/Finder on your Mac or PC. However, if your computer has trouble detecting the device, Recovery Mode can force iTunes/Finder to recognize the device. You can then update or reinstall the system software without problems.

Downgrade iPadOS Beta

Have you installed the beta version of iPadOS on your iPad? If you continue to have problems, resetting the system software via iPad Recovery Mode will automatically downgrade the system software to the latest stable release.

Lightning cable being plugged into laptop

iPad is already in Recovery Mode

Rarely will your iPad be able to boot into Recovery Mode on its own. It already implies that your tablet has suffered a fatal error, so you must update or reset it. Go to the section that teaches you how to use Recovery Mode on iPad.

What you need to launch Recovery Mode on iPad

You must use iTunes/Finder on your Mac or iTunes on your PC to access and interact with Recovery Mode on your iPad. It’s best to run the latest versions of iTunes or Finder on your Mac/PC before proceeding.

You can get the latest iTunes updates through the Mac App Store or the Microsoft Store. If you use a Mac with macOS Catalina or later, you must update the operating system itself to use the most up-to-date version of Finder — go to System Preferences > Software updates to update your Mac.

Additionally, you must have the appropriate USB cable available (USB-A to Lightning, USB-C to Lightning, USB-C to USB-C, etc.) to connect your iPad to your Mac or PC.

Both ends of the USB to Lightning cable

Once you’re all set up, you can force restart your iPad and launch Recovery Mode. Or, you can go directly to it while your iPad is on.

How to force restart iPad and launch recovery mode

If you have your iPad turned on, you can launch Recovery Mode by force restarting the device.

iPad does not have a Home button

1. Open Seeker/iTunes on your Mac or PC.

2. Connect your iPad to your Mac or PC.

3. Press and quickly release Volume up button.

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

5. Press and hold Top button. Your iPad will restart and you should see the Apple logo shortly after. Keep holding it until you see the iPad Recovery Mode screen.

Designated Up, Down, and Top buttons on iPad

iPad with Home button

1. Open Seeker/iTunes on your Mac or PC.

2. Connect your iPad to your Mac or PC.

3. Press and hold both Home button and Top button. Your iPad will restart. Keep holding them until you see the Recovery Mode screen.

Designated Top Buttons and Home Buttons on iPhone

How to boot iPad directly into recovery mode

If you have turned off your iPad, you can directly enter Recovery Mode during startup backing it up.

iPad does not have a Home button

1. Open Seeker/iTunes on your Mac or PC.

2. Connect the USB cable to your computer.

3. Press and hold Top , then connect the cable to your iPad. Keep hold Top until you see the Recovery Mode screen.

Designated iPad top button

iPad with Home button

1. Open Seeker/iTunes on your Mac or PC.

2. Connect your computer with a Lightning to USB cable.

3. Press and hold Home , then connect the cable to your iPad. Keep hold Home until you see the Recovery Mode screen.

Home Button on iPad

How to Use Recovery Mode on iPad

When you enter Recovery Mode, iTunes or Finder will automatically prompt you with options to update or restore your iPad.

Update iPad in Recovery Mode

You can use Recovery Mode to update your iPad without wiping your data. That alone should help fix any serious problems with the system software most of the time. If that fails, you can re-trace by resetting the device.

1. Select Update on the Recovery Mode screen in iTunes/Finder.

Update button in Finder

2. Select Update again to confirm.

3. Wait for iTunes/Finder to download the iPadOS system software file to your Mac or PC.

Download status bar

Your iPad may automatically exit Recovery Mode if the download takes more than 15 minutes. Enter Recovery Mode again if that happens; the download will continue automatically.

4. iTunes/Finder will automatically extract the system software file and update your iPad. That will take a few minutes.

5. Select ALRIGHT and wait for your iPad to restart. Enter your device passcode and check if your iPad is working correctly.

OK button

Restore iPad in Recovery Mode

You can use Recovery Mode to reset your iPad to factory settings. It will end up deleting all locally stored data permanently. However, if you have an iCloud or iTunes/Finder backup, you can restore your data after the reset procedure.

1. Select Ipad Recovery on the Recovery Mode screen in iTunes/Finder.

Restore iPad button in Finder

2. Select Restore and Update confirm.

3. Wait for iTunes or Finder to download the iPadOS system software file to your Mac or PC. If you tried updating your iPad a while ago, you won’t have to download the file again.

4. iTunes or Finder will extract the contents of the file and reinstall the system software on your iPad.

5. Select ALRIGHT and wait for your iPad to restart. Then you can choose Restore from this backup option if you want to restore your data from iTunes/Finder backup.

Restore from this backup option

Also, choose Restore from iCloud Backup while setting up iPad to restore your data from an iCloud backup.

What if Recovery Mode fails?

If Recovery Mode doesn’t fix your iPad, you can go a step further and use DFU (Device Firmware Update) Mode to reset the device. If all else fails, your best bet is to make an appointment at the nearest Apple Store or Genius Bar.

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