​3 Ways to Fix Error Message: iPhone Disabled; Connect to iTunes

If someone attempts to unlock an iPhone too many times unsuccessfully, an iPhone is Disabled, Connect to iTunes message will inevitably pop up. An iPhone will become disabled for security purposes—otherwise a hacker could sit there and try every possible combination until they got in. But just because your iPhone is disabled that doesn’t mean someone tried to unlock your device without permission. An iPhone or iPad may become disabled if a child plays around and gets locked out. It’s also perfectly possible to forget your own iPhone passcode, which may also cause you to enter too many digits and end up with a disabled iPhone asking to be connected to iTunes. Luckily, there are multiple solutions to this problem. Here’s how to fix a disabled iPhone by connect it to iTunes, iCloud, or using Recovery Mode.

Related: Top 10 New iOS 11 Features You'll Love

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Why Is My iPhone Disabled?

An iPhone will become disabled after six different 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 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; Connect to iTunes. Unless, of course, you have your iPhone set to erase after ten failed passcode attempts.

Which Method Should I Use to Fix My Disabled iPhone?

Unfortunately, there is no way to unlock a disabled iPhone or iPad, which means we’ll be using iTunes, iCloud, or Recovery Mode to erase your device. You'll then need to restore your device with an iTunes or iCloud backup. We’ll go over how you can fix a disabled iPhone by connecting to iTunes, using iCloud, or with Recovery Mode. Once we’ve erased your device and gotten it out of disabled mode, we can focus on restoring your device. Here are some guidelines on what method might work best for you:

  • If you’ve previously synced your iPhone using iTunes and often use iTunes to create backups for your iPhone, use this 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, Recovery Mode is for you.

3 Ways to Fix Error Message: iPhone Disabled; Connect to iTunes

Disabled iPhone? Connect to iTunes

  • Plug your iPhone into your computer using your USB cord. If it doesn’t automatically open, launch iTunes.
  • 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.

  • *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 any new iPhone would. Follow the set up 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 Disabled iPhone with iCloud

  • On your computer, open a browser and visit icloud.com/find.
  • Log in with your Apple ID and password.
  • Select All Devices at the top.
  • Click on the device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch) of yours that is currently disabled.
  • Click erase. Confirm erase.

  • Enter your Apple ID password to authenticate.
  • Once your device has been swiped, it will power up as any new iPhone would.

  • Go through the set up 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 Disabled iPhone

According to Apple’s website, “If you've never synced with iTunes or set up Find My iPhone in iCloud, you'll need to use recovery mode to restore your device. This will erase the device and its passcode.” If this is you, grab your computer and make sure iTunes is downloaded on it.

  • Plug your iPhone into your computer with your USB cable If it doesn't automatically, launch iTunes.
  • From here, you’ll need to force restart your iPhone:
  • For iPhone 6s or earlier, iPad, or iPod touch: Hold down the Sleep/Wake 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.
  • For iPhone 7 or 7 Plus: Hold down your Sleep/Wake 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.

  • Once your iPhone or iPad enters Recovery Mode, iTunes on your computer will present a box asking if you want to Restore or Update your device. Select Restore.
  • It may take some time for your iPhone to download its restored iOS software. Give it up to fifteen minutes before retrying the steps above.

  • Once your iPhone has been restored, it will start up like any new iPhone would. Follow the set up process. When it’s time to restore a backup, select the most recent backup you have, either from iTunes or via iCloud.
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Conner Carey holds a bachelor's in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing and resides in Fairfield, Iowa. When she's not writing, you can find her singing jazz or watching anime. Her personal blog can be found at connerleecarey.com; you can also follow her on twitter @connerleecarey.