Forgot Your Passcode? How to Restore a Disabled iPhone or iPad with iTunes, iCloud, or Recovery Mode

So you forgot your iPhone passcode; now what do you do? If you've entered the wrong password for your Lock Screen too many times, you already know your iPad or iPhone is disabled and are wondering how to restore your device. There are a few ways to reset the Apple password on your device and get into a locked iPhone or iPad, whether you have an older iPhone like an iPhone 6 or 7, all the way up to the newest iPhones. Let's get started learning how to reset a disabled iPhone or iPad with iTunes, iCloud or recovery mode.  

Related: Forgot Your Restrictions Passcode? How to Reset It without Restoring Your iPhone or iPad

Master your iPhone in one minute a day:

Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

iPhone Is Disabled, Connect to iTunes

iphone is disabled after wrong code entered six times

If six different, incorrect passcodes are entered into your device, you'll see the notice above. If another incorrect passcode is entered you'll be locked out for longer, and so on until the tenth attempt, when your iPhone or iPad will be disabled, and you'll see a message directing you to connect your device to iTunes. If you've set your device to erase on the tenth incorrect password, your iPhone or iPad will be wiped, and you'll need to restore from a backup to get it functioning again.

Does Your iPad or iPhone Have a Backup?

Hopefully, you've been regularly backing up your device with iTunes or iCloud, because if so, you should be able to recover your data. 

But How to Reset My iPhone or iPad?

Once your device is disabled, there's no way to unlock it other than using iTunes, iCloud, or recovery mode to restore it. Which method should you use for your iPad or iPhone? Here are some guidelines on which option will work best for your device:

  • If you’ve previously synced your iPhone using iTunes and often use iTunes to create backups for your iPhone, use the iTunes method.
  • If you’re signed into iCloud and have Find My iPhone enabled, use the iCloud method.
  • If you don’t use iCloud and can’t connect to iTunes, you'll need to use recovery mode.

Use iTunes to Erase & Restore Your iPhone or iPad

If you've previously synced your device with iTunes:

  • Connect your iPhone or iPad to the computer you previously synced it with using a USB cable. 
  • If you're asked for a passcode and can't remember it, use another computer you've synced your device with or skip to recovery mode.
  • iTunes will sync to your device; make a backup following this tip
  • In iTunes, click on the icon of your device, located near the top and toward the left side of the screen. This will open all the information about your device and what’s on it.
  • The first tab is Summary. There, you will see the option to Restore iPhone; click on that.

how to reset iphone and ipad with itunes

  • If you get an error message that Find My iPhone must be turned off, use the iCloud method (listed next) or recovery mode instead.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions. This will completely erase your iPhone, so it’s important you know you have a recent backup either in iTunes or iCloud.
  • Once your iPhone has been restored, it will start up like a new iPhone. Follow the setup process. When it’s time to restore your device, choose Restore from iTunes Backup and select the most recent backup available.

how to reset iphone with icloud backup

If this doesn't work for you (and you don’t meet the iCloud method requirements,) you'll need to use recovery mode.

Erase & Reset iPhone with iCloud

  • On your computer, open a browser and visit icloud.com/find.
  • Log in with your Apple ID and password.

factory reset iphone or ipad with icloud

  • Select All Devices at the top.
  • Click on the device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch) of yours that is currently disabled.

how to reset apple password with icloud

  • Your device needs to be connected to Wi-Fi and a power source for this process to work.
  • Click Erase iPhone (or whichever device is disabled) and confirm.

reset apple password with icloud

  • Enter your Apple ID password to restore all your apps and other purchases.
  • Once your device has been wiped, it will power up as any new iPhone would.
  • Go through the setup process as prompted. When it’s time to restore from a backup, choose Restore from iCloud Backup and select your most recent backup.

how to reset iphone with icloud backup

  • This may take up to an hour; leave your device charging and connected to Wi-Fi so the process can complete. Music, photos, and apps on your device may take even longer to restore. 

how to reset ipad with icloud backup

Use Recovery Mode to Reset Your Disabled iPhone or iPad  

There are a few different reasons why you may need to resort to recovery mode to restore your device: If you haven't synced your device to iTunes or backed up to iCloud, if iTunes doesn't recognize your device or says your iPhone or iPad is in recovery mode, or if your screen is frozen on the Apple logo with no progress bar. To use recovery mode, you'll need a computer with the latest version of iTunes downloaded on it, then:

  • Close iTunes on your computer, then connect your device to your computer with a USB cable.
  • If it doesn't automatically open, launch iTunes.
  • Now it's time to force restart your iPhone:
  • For iPhone 6s or earlier, iPad, or iPod touch: Hold down the Top (or Side) and Home buttons simultaneously. When you see the Apple logo on your screen, do not let go of the buttons. Keep holding both until your the Connect to iTunes screen appears.
  • For iPhone 7 or 7 Plus: Hold down the Side and Volume Down buttons at the same time. When you see the Apple logo on your screen, do not let go of the buttons. Keep holding both until the Connect to iTunes screen appears.
  • For iPhone 8, 8 Plus, or X: Quickly press and release the Volume Up button, followed by the Volume Down button. Next press and hold the Side Button until you see the Connect to iTunes screen.
  • Once your iPhone or iPad enters recovery mode, iTunes will ask if you want to Restore or Update your device. Select Update, and iTunes will attempt to restore your device without erasing your data.

how to reset ipad with recovery mode

  • Give this process time, but if after fifteen minutes your device isn't restored, retry the steps above but select Restore this time.
  • Once your iPhone has been restored, it will start up as any new iPhone would. Follow the setup process. When it’s time to restore a backup from iTunes or iCloud, select the most recent backup available.
Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.

Leanne Hays is a Feature Web Writer at iPhone Life.  She loves reading and blogging, and is never without a book in her backpack or an audiobook on her phone. Short-term goals include finishing painting her house and starting an aquaponics farm, long-term goals include a bike tour of Italy and writing a novel.