How to Unlock a Disabled iPhone or iPad: 4 Best Ways

What to Know

  • If you repeatedly enter the incorrect passcode on your iPhone, you will be locked out for increasingly longer lengths of time.
  • Eventually, your device will be disabled and need to be restored.
  • When restoring a disabled iPhone, you will still need your Apple ID password to unlock it.

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.

Jump To:

How to Unlock iPhone When You Forgot Password

Because data on your iPhone is encrypted, there is no other way to unlock the device without the passcode. If you forgot your iPhone password, you only have a few options for getting back into your phone. If you recently changed the passcode, the old passcode will still work for the next 72 hours, so you can use that to unlock the device. If you have not changed the passcode, and you simply cannot recall the passcode, you will need to erase and restore your iPhone using recovery mode. Keep in mind that even after you erase your iPhone, you will still need your Apple ID password to restore the backup.

How to Unlock Disabled iPhone or iPad

So you got the dreaded, "iPhone is Disabled, Connect to iTunes" error message. But why? An iPhone or iPad will become disabled after a certain number of failed passcode attempts. If you have your iPhone set up to erase all content after ten failed passcode attempts, you will have five attempts before your iPhone is disabled for one minute. If you do not have that feature enabled, you have ten attempts before the device is disabled. For more iPhone or iPad troubleshooting advice, check out our free Tip of the Day newsletter.

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If you continue trying and failing to unlock your iPhone, you will be locked out for increasingly longer amounts of time. First, it will be disabled for one minute. Then, it will be five minutes. After that, fifteen, and then sixty minutes. Finally, the lockout time can continue to increase until you find yourself locked out for years, in which case, you will need to reset your device if you ever want to get back in.

iphone lock screen displaying an iphone is disabled connect to itunes error message

iPhone Disabled? How to Unlock iPhone without Passcode 

What should you do when you're locked out of your iPhone? Unfortunately, once your iPad or iPhone is disabled, you’ll need to wait to try and unlock the device 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 one of the below methods to erase and restore the 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:

1. Restore Your iPhone from the Lock Screen

By far the easiest way to fix it when you're locked out of your iPhone is to simply erase and reset the device from your Lock Screen. Apple has made this process very quick and relatively painless if you're getting the "iPhone Unavailable" screen:

  1. Tap the Forgot Passcode? button in the lower right of your screen.

    iphone unavailable screen with a red circle around the forgot passcode button
  2. Tap Start iPhone Reset.

    iphone unavailable reset screen with red circle around the start iphone reset button
  3. You will need to enter your Apple ID password to sign out of your Apple ID before the device is erased.

    iphone unavailable reset screen with a red box around text entry prompt to enter apple id password
  4. If you have an eSIM, you will be asked if you want to keep the eSIM and only erase the iPhone or erase both the eSIM and iPhone. If you do not have an eSIM, simply tap Erase iPhone.

    iphone unavailable reset screen displaying a pop up confirming you want to erase your iphone with a red box around "reset iphone"

Your iPhone will then be erased and restart. Once it restarts, simply follow the on-screen prompts to restore a backup.

2. Fix Your Disabled iPhone or iPad 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 iPhone might prompt you to Trust This Computer or even ask for a passcode.

    iphone home screen with a pop up asking if you want to trust or don't trust the computer it has been connected to
  2. Click Finder.

    macos screenshot with finder circled in red
  3. From the sidebar menu, find your device under Locations, and click it.

    macos finder with "amy's iphone" circled in red
  4. If you are asked to Trust this computer again, click Trust.

    macos finder device information screen asking the user to trust this computer. the trust button is circled in red
  5. Under the General tab, click Restore Backup.

    macos finder device information screen with restore backup button circled in red
  6. Choose your backup (the most recent before your device locked). If your backups are encrypted, you'll need to enter a password.
  7. Click Restore.

    macos finder iphone information screen, displaying a window for restoring backups with a red circle around the restore button
  8. Keep your device connected to your computer until it restarts and syncs.

3. iPad or iPhone Disabled? Connect to iTunes 

How do you unlock an iPhone that is disabled and says connect to iTunes? If you have a locked or disabled iPhone or iPad and have a PC, 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. You will likely get a pop up asking to trust this computer. Tap Trust, and enter your passcode.

    iphone home screen with a pop up asking if you want to trust or don't trust the computer it has been connected to
  2. iTunes should automatically open. If not, then manually launch iTunes.

    windows search results with itunes app circled in red
  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.

    itunes pc app with a red arrow pointing at the device button
  4. Click 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 fix your disabled iPhone (and you don’t meet the iCloud method requirements), try using recovery mode

4. Fix Your Disabled iPhone or iPad with iCloud 

You can use iCloud to erase your iPhone when it is disabled. Once it's been erased, you can restore it from a backup. Here's how to use iCloud when you're locked out of your iPhone:

  1. On your computer, open a browser and visit Click the Sign in button. sign in page with a red circle around the sign in button
  2. Log in with your Apple ID and password. sign in page with email address and password fields circled in red
  3. If the All Devices list is not already open, click the expand button (it looks like a small rectangle with two arrows pointing up and down).

    icloud find my page with all devices circled in red
  4. Click on the device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch) of yours that is currently disabled.

    icloud find my page displaying a list of devices with the iphone 15 circled in red
  5. Click Erase This Device.

    icloud find my page displaying details for an iphone 15, with a red circle around the erase this device button
  6. Click Next.

    icloud find my page with erase iphone window open and a red circle around the "Next' prompt
  7. Enter your Apple ID password to authenticate.

    icloud find my page with login screen with email and password fields circled in red
  8. Once your device has been wiped, it will power up as any new iPhone would.
  9. Go through the setup process. When it’s time to restore from a backup, use your most recent backup via either iTunes or iCloud. 

If you found this troubleshooting guide helpful, you may also enjoy Fixed: iPhone Notes Disappeared and AirPlay Not Working? How to Get Screen Mirroring Working.


  • How to unlock iPhone when you forgot password? The only way to unlock your iPhone is if you have the passcode. You'll either need to try to remember the passcode or restore the device using one of the above methods. Check out our article for tips on what to do if you forget your iPhone passcode for more information.
  • Can you unlock a permanently disabled iPhone? While you cannot unlock a disabled iPhone, you can use one of the above methods to get back into it. More than likely, you'll need to restore the device if it has been permanently disabled.
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Author Details

Conner Carey's picture

Author Details

Conner Carey

Conner Carey's writing can be found at 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.