How to put your iPhone into recovery mode to repair it when it’s malfunctioning

iPhone X
Recovery mode can fix serious issues with your iPhone.

  • iPhone recovery mode is useful if your iPhone won’t turn on or there’s been a critical error.
  • Recovery mode lets your computer connect to the iPhone and try to fix the operating system.
  • If recovery mode doesn’t fix your iPhone’s bugs, you might need to contact Apple support.
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Like any high-tech device, the iPhone is designed to be as trouble-free as possible, and most people will own one for years without ever experiencing a serious issue.

But sometimes things can go wrong, and if your iPhone is unresponsive – and all other troubleshooting steps have failed – then you might need to enter recovery mode.

Here are some reasons why you might need recovery mode:

  • Your iPhone’s display shows nothing but the Apple logo for a long time and never fully turns on.
  • During an iOS update, the phone gets stuck in a loop of continuously restarting.
  • The phone won’t turn on, turn off, and is completely unresponsive.

Recovery mode is a troubleshooting tool that connects your iPhone to a computer and lets an app – either Finder or iTunes – diagnose and fix the problem.

How to put your iPhone into recovery mode

The method you use to activate recovery mode will differ depending on whether you’re using a newer version of macOS, an older version, or a PC with Windows.

1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac or PC with a USB charging cable.

2. If you’re running macOS Catalina or newer, open a Finder window. If you’re running macOS Mojave or older or Windows, open iTunes.

3. You’ll need to press and hold buttons on your iPhone to activate recovery mode.

  • On an iPhone 8 or newer, press and quickly release the Volume Up button, and then the Volume Down button. Then press and hold the Lock button until the recovery mode screen appears.
  • On an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, press and hold the Lock and Volume Down buttons until the recovery mode screen appears.
  • On an iPhone 6s or earlier, press and hold the Lock and Home buttons until the recovery mode screen appears.
iphone recovery mode screen
Don’t release the buttons until you see a screen that looks like this.

4. In Finder, click on your phone in the left sidebar; or in iTunes, click the iPhone icon near the top-left corner of the window.

iphone recovery mode with iphone selected in finder
If you’re using a version of macOS that doesn’t have iTunes, you’ll find your iPhone in the Finder’s sidebar.

5. You’ll be asked if you want to Update or Restore your iPhone. Click Update – this will try to fix your phone without erasing the data. If the recovery finishes and your phone still isn’t fixed, try it again but click Restore.

iphone mac recovery mode warning screen
You’ll be given a warning before you choose a recovery option.

Once you’ve gone through the recovery process, your phone should exit recovery mode on its own. Turn it back on and set it up.

If recovery mode didn’t work, and your iPhone is still malfunctioning, then you’re probably out of options you can perform at home. Try contacting Apple directly for more help.

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