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iPhone stuck in Recovery mode? Here are 4 steps to fix it

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Your iPhone is stuck in Recovery mode. Depending on your version of iOS, you might see a black screen with an iTunes symbol or a computer icon. You might even see an Apple logo. Either way, you can’t use your iPhone again until you fix it.

In this article, we’ve detailed the four steps you can take to fix your iPhone when it gets stuck in Recovery mode. These steps are exactly the same for iPad and iPod touch devices as well.

Related:

What is Recovery mode?

Recovery mode is a special state that your iPhone goes into whenever there’s a problem with the operating system. You can’t use your iPhone at all while it’s in Recovery mode. Typically, the only way to fix it is to reinstall iOS.

The most common reason an iPhone gets stuck in Recovery mode is that a problem occurred during a software update. These problems range from a loss of power to corrupt update files.

Whatever the cause, the result is the same. Your iPhone shows a black screen with an icon or logo on it that prompts you to connect to a computer.

Computer and iTunes icons on iPhone recovery mode
You might need to use a computer with macOS Catalina or iTunes to exit Recovery mode.

Does Recovery mode erase my data?

Recovery mode doesn’t erase the data on your iPhone, but you usually need to erase your iPhone to fix it. This means you’ll lose any content and data on your iPhone that you haven’t backed up.

If you can’t risk this data loss, take your iPhone to a data recovery specialist to see if they can retrieve anything without wiping the device.

Alternatively, try the first step below, which shouldn’t risk any data loss; if someone intentionally put your iPhone into Recovery mode, it should return to normal after your restart it. That means you won’t lose any data.

Make sure to regularly back up your iPhone in the future, so you don’t need to worry about data loss if it gets stuck in Recovery mode again.

iPhone XS iCloud Backup settings showing Back Up Now button
You can back up your iPhone from the Settings.

Step 1. Force restart to get out of Recovery mode

You might be able to exit Recovery mode by restarting your iPhone. Of course, you can’t restart your iPhone in the usual way, because nothing shows up on the screen. However, you can force it to restart instead.

Disconnect any cables from your iPhone first, otherwise you’ll put it back in Recovery mode. Then follow the steps below to force restart your iPhone.

How to force restart an iPhone 8, iPhone X, iPhone 11, or later:

  1. Press and release the Volume Up, followed by the Volume Down button.
  2. Then press and hold the Power button until your iPhone restarts.

How to force restart an iPhone 7:

  1. Press and hold the Power button with the Volume Down button.
  2. Keep holding both buttons until your iPhone restarts.

How to force restart an iPhone 6S or earlier:

  1. Press and hold the Power button with the Home button.
  2. Keep holding both buttons until your iPhone restarts.
iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone 6S power buttons.
The Power button is in a different place on different iPhones.

Step 2. Restore your iPhone using a computer

When your iPhone is stuck in Recovery mode, the iTunes or computer symbol on the screen prompts you to restore it with a computer. This involves connecting it to iTunes or Finder and downloading the latest version of iOS.

Restoring your iPhone is likely to fix software problems. But it also erases all the content and data from your device. If you have a backup, you can restore it afterward.

How to restore your iPhone using a computer:

  1. Connect your iPhone to a computer using the cable it came with.
  2. On macOS Catalina or later: Open Finder and select your iPhone from the sidebar.
  3. On Windows or earlier versions of macOS: Open iTunes and select the iPhone icon from the top-left corner.
  4. Click the option to Restore iPhone, then confirm you want to Restore and Update your iPhone.
  5. This erases all the content and data from your device.
  6. Keep your iPhone connected while your computer downloads and installs the latest version of iOS. This usually takes at least 30 minutes, but it depends on your Internet speed.
  7. When it’s complete, your iPhone should restart on the Hello screen. Follow the setup prompts to recover your backup.
restore and update confirmation for iPhone, iPad, or iPod restore in Finder or iTunes
Your computer warns about data loss before restoring your iPhone.

How to fix corrupt iOS downloads

It’s possible your iPhone got stuck in Recovery mode because the iOS update files on your computer are corrupt. If this is the case, using the same computer to restore your iPhone won’t fix the problem.

This is because your computer uses the same corrupt software files to reinstall iOS. To fix it, you need to delete the downloaded iOS software from your computer, forcing it to download a new copy from Apple.

On a Mac: Open Finder, then hold the Option key and select Go > Library from the menu bar. Navigate to iTunes > iPhone Software Updates and delete the update files.

Library folder in Finder
Hold the Option button to reveal the Library in the Go menu.

On a PC: Open File Explorer and enable Hidden Files. Then navigate to Users > [Your Name] > AppData > Roaming > Apple Computer > iTunes and delete the update files.

After deleting the corrupt files, repeat the instructions above to restore your iPhone. This should prompt your computer to download new iOS files from Apple, which shouldn’t be corrupt.

Step 3. Put your iPhone in DFU mode to restore it

If restoring the operating system on your iPhone didn’t work, there might be a problem with the firmware. You can reinstall the firmware on your iPhone by putting it in DFU mode and restoring it with a computer.

DFU mode behaves like Recovery mode—making your iPhone unresponsive—except it doesn’t show anything on the screen at all. Follow the steps below to put your iPhone in DFU mode.

You know your iPhone is in DFU mode when the screen is completely blank, but your computer recognizes it as a device in Recovery mode. Don’t worry if you need to repeat the steps a few times before you get it right.

Photo of an iPhone with a cable connecting it to a computer
Your iPhone shouldn’t display anything on the screen in DFU mode.

How to put an iPhone 8, iPhone X, iPhone 11, or later in DFU mode:

  1. Connect your iPhone to a computer using the cable it came with and open iTunes or Finder.
  2. Press and release the Volume Up, followed by the Volume Down button.
  3. Then press and hold the Power button.
  4. As soon as the screen goes black, press and hold the Volume Down button while keeping the Power button held down.
  5. Keep holding both buttons for 5 seconds, then release the Power button and keep holding the Volume Down button.
  6. Your iPhone is in DFU mode if it appears on your computer but the iPhone screen remains blank. If anything is on the screen, return to step one.
  7. Wait for your computer to download the relevant software, then follow the prompts to restore your iPhone.

How to force restart an iPhone 7:

  1. Connect your iPhone to a computer using the cable it came with and open iTunes or Finder.
  2. Press and hold the Power button with the Volume Down button.
  3. Keep holding both buttons for 8 seconds, then release the Power button but keep holding the Volume Down button.
  4. Your iPhone is in DFU mode if it appears on your computer but the iPhone screen remains blank. If anything is on the screen, return to step one.
  5. Wait for your computer to download the relevant software, then follow the prompts to restore your iPhone.

How to force restart an iPhone 6S or earlier:

  1. Connect your iPhone to a computer using the cable it came with and open iTunes or Finder.
  2. Press and hold the Power button with the Home button.
  3. Keep holding both buttons for 8 seconds, then release the Power button but keep holding the Home button.
  4. Your iPhone is in DFU mode if it appears on your computer but the iPhone screen remains blank. If anything is on the screen, return to step one.
  5. Wait for your computer to download the relevant software, then follow the prompts to restore your iPhone.

Step 4. Schedule a physical repair for your iPhone

iPhone XS Teardown
It’s possible an internal component is damaged in your iPhone.

If your iPhone is still stuck in Recovery mode after restoring the firmware and the software, there must be a hardware problem with the device. That means you need to speak to Apple support about a physical repair.

Even if your iPhone worked before attempting a software update, the process of updating iOS might have alerted the iPhone to damaged hardware, which is why it got stuck in Recovery mode.

Speak to Apple Support directly to schedule a support chat or a Genius Bar appointment. Feel free to point them to this article to show the solutions you’ve already attempted.

An Apple logo means your iPhone is stuck in a boot loop

If you can’t get past the Apple logo on your iPhone screen, it means your device is probably stuck in a boot loop, rather than Recovery mode.

Most of the troubleshooting steps for these problems are the same. But you should take a look at our dedicated boot loop troubleshooting guide to check there aren’t other solutions you can try.

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