If your iDevice starts acting strangely and you’ve run through the gamut of normal troubleshooting fixes, Recovery Mode may be your answer. This lets you easily reset the device and re-install iOS using iTunes.
When you reinstall iOS, there’s a chance that you may lose all the data on your phone, so it’s good to stay in the habit of making regular backups on your computer via iTunes or iCloud. With that said, here’s how you can boot your iOS device into Recovery Mode.
First, Make Sure You Have the Latest iTunes Version
First, you’ll need to make sure you’re using the latest version of iTunes. With the program open, head to iTunes > About iTunes.
Make a note of the version you’re using, and check it against this official Apple Support page to see if you’re on the newest release.
With that out of the way, you’re ready to get started. The rest of the procedure varies slightly depending on what device you’re using, so we’ll go over them one at a time.
For iPhone 7/iPhone 7 Plus or Later
If you’re using an iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, X, XS, XS Max, or XR, here’s what to do.
First, make sure your phone is off. Then, press and release the volume up button.
Next, immediately press and release the volume down button.
Now, hold the side button, the only one on the side opposite the volume buttons. Don’t let go of the button even when the Apple logo flashes onscreen. Continue to hold until the Recovery Mode screen appears.
Once that screen appears, go ahead and connect your device to your computer via Lightning Cable.
For the iPhone 6s or Earlier and Most iPads
These instructions cover the iPhone 6s and earlier models, as well as most iPad models other than the iPad Pro 11- and 12.9-inch. For those two, check out the next section.
First, make sure your device is powered off. Then, press and release the volume up button.
Next, press and hold the Home and the Sleep/Wake buttons. The Sleep/Wake button is on the side for iPhone 6 or later users, and on the top right for iPhone 5s and earlier. Don’t let go of the buttons, even when the Apple logo flashes onscreen. Continue to hold until the Recovery Mode screen appears.
Once that appears, go ahead and connect the device to your computer.
For iPad Pro 11-inch or iPad Pro 12.9-inch
Press and quickly release the Volume Up button, then press and quickly release the Volume Down button. Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button at the top of the device until it restarts. Keep holding the Sleep/Wake button until the iPad goes into Recovery mode.
When Recovery Mode launches, connect the device to your computer.
What to Do Once You’re in Recovery Mode
Now that your device is in Recovery Mode, you have about 15 minutes before it automatically exits. If you don’t move quickly enough and your phone exits Recovery Mode, repeat the same button presses as explained above to enter it again.
A window like the one below will pop up on your computer once you’ve successfully entered Recovery Mode on your phone or tablet. When you see the options “Restore or Update,” choose Update.
You will want to try “Update” instead of “Restore” because your issues may very well be fixed through a simple update to your iPhone, which will keep all of your content and personal settings. If this does not work, however, you might have to choose the “Restore” option, which will erase all of your content and personal data on your device. Don’t accidentally click “Restore” if you don’t have a viable backup of your data or want to go through with that process and make sure you try “Update” first to save yourself some potential heartache.
Choose “Update,” then, and iTunes will work to reinstall iOS on your phone while leaving your data intact. When the Update or Restore process has been completed, you’ll be prompted to set up your device.