How to Unlock Disabled iPhone or iPad: 4 Best Ways (iOS 16)

If your iPhone is disabled, here's how to unlock a disabled iPhone without the passcode four ways!

If you unsuccessfully try to unlock an iPhone or iPad too many times, an "iPhone is Disabled: message will pop up, and you'll be locked out. Here's how to fix a disabled iPhone or iPad without your password by using Finder, connecting to iTunes or iCloud, or using Recovery Mode.

Related: iPhone Virus Warnings: How to Get Rid of Fake Security Alerts on Your iPhone

How to Unlock Disabled iPhone or iPad

Oh no... the dreaded "iPhone is disabled" has popped up on your iPhone screen; now what? Learn how to fix a disabled iPhone, four ways! Check out our free Tip of the Day for more great iPhone troubleshooting tutorials. 

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Why Is My iPhone Disabled?

An iPhone or iPad will become disabled after six consecutive failed passcode attempts. That means you can try to unlock your device five times before it will lock you out. On the sixth attempt, your iPhone will be disabled for one minute. The seventh attempt will lock you out of your disabled iPhone for five minutes, the eighth attempt for fifteen, and the tenth for sixty minutes. But if you reach attempt number ten and have still not successfully entered the correct passcode, you’ll receive the message that your iPhone is disabled. Unless, of course, you have your iPhone or iPad set to erase after ten failed passcode attempts.

iPhone Disabled? How to Unlock iPhone without Passcode 

How do I get your iPhone out of disabled mode? Unfortunately, there is no way to unlock a disabled iPhone or iPad, which means you’ll need to wait to try and unlock your iPhone in however many minutes are indicated on the screen. There are several methods that may help you remember your iPhone passcode. If you can't remember your passcode, you'll need to use Finder, iTunes, iCloud, or recovery mode to erase your device. You'll then need to restore your iPhone with an iTunes or iCloud backup. Here are some guidelines on what method might work best for you:

  • If your Mac isn't updated to macOS Catalina or later, or you have a PC, you'll connect to iTunes
  • If you're using a Mac updated to macOS Catalina or later, you'll use the Finder 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 use the Finder or iTunes, the recovery mode method is for you. 

iPad or iPhone Disabled? Connect to iTunes 

How do you unlock an iPhone that is disabled and says connect to iTunes? Prior to macOS Catalina, an "iPhone is Disabled, Connect to iTunes" message would appear when you were locked out of your phone. If you have a locked or disabled iPhone or iPad and have a PC, or haven't updated your Mac to Catalina or a later version of macOS, this is the first solution you should try. Some of the screenshots have been adjusted for easy viewing. 

  1. Plug your iPhone into your computer using your USB or USB-C cord or through Wi-Fi.
  2. iTunes should automatically open. If not, then manually launch iTunes.
  3. 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.

  4. Tap Summary.
  5. Click Restore iPhone/iPad.

  6. If you get an error message that Find My iPhone must be turned off, use the iCloud method or recovery mode instead.
  7. Follow the on-screen instructions. But but be aware: this will completely erase your iPhone, so it’s important you know you have a recent backup either in iTunes or iCloud.
  8. Once your iPhone has been restored, it will start up like any new iPhone would. Follow the setup process. When it’s time to restore from a backup, use either the most recent iTunes or iCloud backup available.

If, for whatever reason, this doesn’t work for you (and you don’t meet the iCloud method requirements), skip to using recovery mode. 

Fix Your Disabled iPad or iPhone Using Finder 

If you have a Mac that's been updated to Catalina or later, use the Finder to unlock your device.

  1. Connect your device to your computer with a USB or USB-C cable or through Wi-Fi. Your computer may initiate Trust This Computer or ask for a passcode.
  2. Click Finder.
  3. Choose your device from the menu.
  4. Click Restore Backup.

    choose restore backup to restore disabled iphone
  5. Choose your backup (the most recent before your device locked). If your backups are encrypted, you'll need to enter a password.
  6. Click Restore.

    click restore backup to restore iphone
  7. Keep your device connected to your computer until it restarts and syncs. 

Fix Your Disabled iPhone or iPad with iCloud 

  1. On your computer, open a browser and visit icloud.com/find.
  2. Log in with your Apple ID and password.
  3. Select All Devices at the top.

    select all devices at the top of the screen
  4. Click on the device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch) of yours that is currently disabled.

    click disabled device to unlock disabled iphone
  5. Click Erase iPhone/iPad, then confirm.

    tap erase iphone to factore reset iphone without password
  6. Enter your Apple ID password to authenticate.
  7. Once your device has been wiped, it will power up as any new iPhone would.
  8. Go through the setup process. When it’s time to restore from a backup, use your most recent backup via either iTunes or iCloud. 

Use Recovery Mode to Fix Your Disabled iPhone or iPad 

How do you fix a disabled iPhone without connecting to iTunes or iCloud? If your computer doesn't recognize your iPhone or iPad, or says it's in recovery mode, you can use recovery mode to set up your device from scratch.

  1. Plug your iPhone into your computer with your USB cable. If it doesn't launch automatically, open iTunes. If you've updated your Mac to Catalina or later, open the Finder
  2. From here, you’ll need to force restart your iPhone.
  3. For iPhone 6s or earlier, iPad with a Home button, or iPod Touch 6th Generation and earlier: 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 device enters recovery mode.

    forgot iphone passcode, enter recovery mode iPhone 6s and earlier
  4. For iPhone 7 or 7 Plus and iPod Touch 7th Generation: Hold down your Top (or 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 your device enters recovery mode.

    forgot iphone passcode, enter recovery mode iphone 7, 7 Plus, iPhod touch (7th generation)
  5. For iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X,11,12, or 13 models: Quickly press and release the Volume Up button, followed by the Volume Down button. Next, press and hold the Side button until your device enters recovery mode.

    forgot iphone passcode, enter recovery mode iphone 8 and later
  6. For iPads with Face ID: Quickly press and release the Volume Up button, then the Volume Down button. Now, press and hold the Top button until your device begins to restart; keep holding until your iPad goes into recovery mode. 
  7. Once your iPhone or iPad enters recovery mode, find your device in iTunes or the Finder and click on it.
  8. A box will appear asking if you want to Restore or Update your device. Select Restore.
  9. It may take some time for your iPhone to download its restored iOS or iPadOS software. If your download takes more than fifteen minutes and exits the Recovery mode screen, let the download complete, then try over with the Force Restart and enter recovery mode again.


     
  10. Once your device has been restored, it will start up like any new iPhone or iPad would. Follow the setup process. When it’s time to restore a backup, select the most recent backup you have, either from the Finder, iTunes, or via iCloud.
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Author Details

Conner Carey's picture

Author Details

Conner Carey

Conner Carey's writing can be found at conpoet.com. She is currently writing a book, creating lots of content, and writing poetry via @conpoet on Instagram. She lives in an RV full-time with her mom, Jan and dog, Jodi as they slow-travel around the country.