Putting your iPhone into recovery mode is sometimes necessary to restore or update your device if it’s having serious software issues. Recovery mode bypasses the normal startup sequence and allows you to connect the iPhone to iTunes or Finder and apply firmware updates.
The steps to enter recovery mode depend on which iPhone model you have. In this detailed guide, I’ll cover the recovery mode process for every iPhone currently supported in 2024 – from the iPhone X all the way up to the latest iPhone 15.
Which iPhones Support Recovery Mode
Most modern iPhones from the last 5+ years allow you to force them into recovery mode to restore or update:
- iPhone X and newer
- iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
- iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
- iPhone 6s and 6s Plus
- iPhone SE (1st and 2nd gen)
Along with these models, recovery mode also works with the latest iPhone 15, iPhone 14, iPhone 13, and iPhone 12 lineups. Basically almost any iPhone from the last 7 years.
The main exceptions are very old iPhone 5/5c/5s models, which don’t support standard recovery mode through iTunes or Finder.
Instead, the only option for those is DFU (device firmware update) mode, which is more complex. We won’t cover DFU mode in this guide.
When Should I Put My iPhone Into Recovery Mode?
Here are the most common reasons you may need to put an iPhone into recovery mode:
- You need to force restore iPhone firmware because a standard update failed or made the iPhone unusable. Recovery mode lets you freshly install the OS.
- Updating to a new iOS version fails repeatedly – recovery mode often fixes update problems.
- Major software glitches prevent iOS from starting up correctly. Recovery mode bypasses the normal boot sequence.
- Your iPhone is stuck in a reboot loop. Recovery mode interrupts that loop so you can restore.
- iTunes gives error codes indicating it can’t restore/update the iPhone under normal circumstances.
Essentially, recovery mode is an emergency way to wipe and reinstall iOS when you can’t perform a standard update or restore due to serious software issues.
How Recovery Mode Differs From DFU Mode
Don’t confuse recovery mode with DFU (device firmware update) mode. They sound similar but are very different:
- Available on iPhone X and newer
- Lets you apply incremental iOS updates or re-install the existing OS version
- Keeps user data intact after restoring (though you may need to restore a backup)
- Less drastic fix for update failures, reboot loops, etc
- Only for iPhone 8/8 Plus and older
- Lets you forcibly roll back and install older, unsigned iOS versions
- Requires a full wipe – no user data preserved
- More extreme fix for severe software-related issues
So in most cases on newer iPhones, recovery mode is what you want for system restores that preserve user data. DFU is reserved for special cases like downgrading iOS.
Next, let’s go over how to put every supported iPhone into recovery mode properly…
Steps to Put iPhone 15 Models Into Recovery Mode
The iPhone 15 series was released in September 2024, so models include the:
- iPhone 15
- iPhone 15 Plus
- iPhone 15 Pro
- iPhone 15 Pro Max
Recovery mode works the same for all iPhone 15 variations. Here is the full process:
1. Connect The iPhone 15 to Your Computer
Use the USB-C to Lightning cable that came with your iPhone to connect it directly to your computer. Don’t plug the iPhone into a USB hub, dock, keyboard, monitor, or other indirect connections.
A direct laptop/desktop USB port is required. You need to have either:
- iTunes (Windows/Mac)
- Finder (Mac with macOS 12.3+)
Open the app once your iPhone 15 is connected.
2. Force Restart The iPhone
Quickly hold Volume Up > release > hold Volume Down > release > hold side/power button until you see the recovery mode screen:
<p align=”center”> <img src=”iphone-15-recovery-mode.png”> </p>
You have to press this button sequence very rapidly – under 4 seconds between each press. It instantly forces the phone to restart into recovery mode instead of booting normally.
If your iPhone restarted normally, try again. You likely held the buttons too slow or in the wrong order.
3. Launch The Recovery Process
Now you need to actually initiate the recovery mode restore process:
On Windows: Open iTunes > Select your iPhone 15 > Allow iTunes to run the recovery firmware update. This will wipe then reinstall iOS on your device.
On Mac: Open Finder > Select your iPhone 15 > Click “Restore” to download recovery firmware from Apple and reinstall iOS.
The restore process will take several minutes to complete. Don’t disconnect your iPhone 15 until it finishes and you see the normal Apple boot screen.
Once the OS is freshly installed, you can set up your device again, restore an iTunes/iCloud backup, re-download apps, etc. This resolved any deeper glitches at the system level while retaining your data.
Steps For iPhone 14 Series Recovery Mode
The process for entering recovery on the iPhone 14 line (including iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max) is the same as on iPhone 15.
Rapidly press Volume Up > Volume Down > Power button until you see the recovery screen:
<p align=”center”> <img src=”iphone-14-recovery-mode.png”> </p>
Then connect to iTunes or Finder and initiate the full system restore procedure. Hold buttons for under 4 seconds between each press.
Recovery mode functions identically across the iPhone 15 and iPhone 14 families. Follow the same steps outlined above.
Using Recovery Mode on iPhone 13 Models
The iPhone 13 series contains the original iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Just like the newest iPhones, quickly press:
- Volume Up
- Volume Down
- Power Button
You want less than 4 seconds between each button press. Keep holding them all simultaneously until you see the recovery screen on your iPhone 13.
From there, connect your iPhone via USB cable to a computer with iTunes (Windows) or Finder (Mac). The apps will recognize your device is in recovery mode and provide options to fully restore iOS.
iPhone 12 Series – Enter Recovery Mode
All iPhone 12 models – iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Max – use the same Volume Up > Volume Down > Power sequence to force recovery mode:
<p align=”center”> <img src=”iphone-12-recovery-mode.png”> </p>
Press the buttons quickly, under 4 seconds apart. Keep holding Power after the final press until the recovery screen appears.
As with other iPhone versions above, hook up your iPhone 12 to iTunes or Finder to proceed with wiping then reinstalling iOS to fix software issues requiring recovery mode.
Using Recovery Mode on iPhone 11/Pro
Whether you have the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, or iPhone 11 Pro Max, rapidly press:
- Volume Up First
- Volume Down Second
- Hold Power Button Last
Keep all three buttons held down simultaneously once you’ve pressed power. Your iPhone 11 model will turn off, then boot to recovery mode if done properly.
The usual restore process applies next – connect your iPhone 11 via USB and use iTunes or Finder to update firmware from recovery.
<div class=”doc-cta”> <img src=”iphone-11-recovery.jpg”> <h2>Put Your iPhone 11 Model Into Recovery Mode</h2> <a href=”#steps-to-put-iphone-15-models-into-recovery-mode”>Follow The Steps Outlined Above</a> </div>
Using Recovery Mode on iPhone X, XR & XS
The 2017 iPhone X was the first model line to introduce recovery mode with a new button sequence:
On iPhone X:
- Press Volume Up
- Quickly press Volume Down
- Hold Power Button
On iPhone XR & iPhone XS:
- Press Volume Up
- Immediately press Volume Down
- Keep holding Power Button
As you hold power on your iPhone X or XS model, the screen should fade to black. Keep holding – your iPhone will turn back on to the recovery mode screen if buttons were pressed properly under 4 seconds apart each:
<p align=”center”> <img src=”iphone-x-recovery-mode.jpg”> </p>
Connect to iTunes or Finder
Once you reach the recovery screen, plug your iPhone X, XR, or XS into your computer via USB cable.
Open either iTunes (Windows) or Finder (Mac). The app will recognize your device is in recovery mode and provide options to fully wipe and reinstall iOS versions to address any major software issues.
How to Enter iPhone 8 and 8 Plus Recovery Mode
The recovery mode key sequence was first introduced on 2017’s iPhone 8 models. It remains the same as the process for newer iPhones outlined above:
- Quickly press Volume Up
- Immediately press Volume Down after
- Finally, hold Sleep/Wake Button until you see the recovery screen
So on your iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus:
- Volume Up
- Volume Down
- Hold Power/Sleep
You want to press the buttons consecutively under 4 seconds apart from each other. Keep holding the power button down after you press volume down.
Your iPhone 8 should power off, then boot into recovery mode if you pressed the sequence quickly enough.
Once in recovery, connect over USB cable to a Windows PC with iTunes or Mac running Finder. Initiate the system restore process to freshly install iOS firmware.
Using iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Recovery Mode
The process of forcing recovery mode is slightly different on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus since they lack a physical home button. But it follows a similar principle:
- Press and hold the Volume Down button
- While still holding volume down, press and hold the Sleep/Wake button too
- Keep holding both buttons for 5+ seconds until you see the recovery screen
So you need to:
- Hold Volume Down
- Then start holding Power too while still holding volume
- Wait 5+ seconds
<p align=”center”> <img src=”iphone-7-recovery-mode.jpg”> </p>
This simultaneous button hold replaces the sequential presses for models with home buttons.
Wait for the recovery screen before letting go. Then connect to iTunes/Finder and choose the recovery firmware restore option after your iPhone 7 or 7 Plus finishes restarting.
How to Put iPhone 6S and 6S Plus in Recovery Mode
Whether you need to recovery mode iPhone 6S or iPhone 6S Plus, use the standard 3-button sequence:
- Press Home button
- Press Volume Up
- Press Volume Down
Unlike newer devices, there’s no need to hold buttons for iPhone 6S recovery. Just tap each button sequentially under 4 seconds apart in the order above:
- Volume Up
- Volume Down
Your iPhone 6S should immediately power down once you press volume down last. Keep the phone connected and it will automatically boot into recovery mode after the restart.
Then connect via USB cable to a computer and use iTunes or Finder for system restore.
Using Recovery Mode on iPhone SE Models
Both generations of iPhone SE – the original from 2016 and newer second-gen model – utilize the same 3-button combo as iPhone 6S:
- Press Home Button
- Press Volume Up
- Press Volume Down
Tap each button quickly, under 4 seconds apart. On the final volume down press, your iPhone SE will turn off and automatically restart to recovery mode for restore through iTunes/Finder.
How to Enter iPhone 6 & 6 Plus Recovery Mode
Given their age, entering recovery mode on the iPhone 6/6 Plus is a bit trickier than newer devices but still possible. Apple has unsigned older iOS versions, so you can’t roll back firmware – only refresh the latest supported release.
Here is how to recovery mode iPhone 6 and 6 Plus:
- Connect your iPhone to computer USB
- Open iTunes FIRST (important)
- Hold Home + Power buttons for 10+ seconds
As you hold Home + Power, the screen will fade to black before the white Apple logo appears. Keep holding both buttons during this process until you see the recovery screen.
You have to open iTunes before holding the buttons, or it won’t recognize the device in recovery mode. Once your iPhone finishes restarting, recovery options should appear.
<div class=”doc-cta”> <h2>Restore Your iPhone 6 Model From Recovery</h2> <p>Follow the steps above to successfully enter recovery mode on iPhone 6/6 Plus, then restore iOS via iTunes to resolve major software issues.</p> </div>
How to Recovery Mode iPhone 5S, 5C, and 5
As mentioned earlier, the iPhone 5 series (5, 5C, 5S) don’t actually support the standard recovery mode outlined for newer models.
Instead, you need to use DFU (device firmware update) mode – a much more complex process beyond the scope of this guide.
Because DFU mode wipes all device data, it should only be used as a last resort for major software restoration requirements. Recovery mode is better for newer devices when possible.
Troubleshooting Recovery Mode Problems
If you’re having issues getting your iPhone into recovery mode, here are some common troubleshooting tips:
- Press volume/power buttons rapidly under 4 seconds apart – This timing is important to enter recovery mode properly.
- Use a direct USB connection to your computer – Don’t connect through a hub, keyboard, display, etc which can interfere.
- Hold Home + Power buttons for full 10 seconds on iPhone 6 models to trigger recovery mode.
- Open iTunes before holding buttons on iPhone 6/6S models so the app detects the phone in recovery mode.
- Check computer compatibility – You need a Windows PC with iTunes or Mac with Finder/macOS 10.15+.
- Try a different Lightning cable if your iPhone isn’t recognized in recovery mode over USB. Charge/sync issues can prevent the necessary data connection.
- Restart your computer and iPhone then carefully retry the recovery steps. This can resolve detection issues.
- Update iTunes or macOS to latest versions if recovery mode isn’t working properly.
Following the exact button press steps for your model and ensuring proper USB connectivity usually gets an iPhone into recovery mode. Let me know in the comments below if you have any other issues!
Recovery mode is an important iPhone troubleshooting tool for restoring your device when standard software updates fail. It forces a reinstall of the iOS firmware to fix underlying software issues.
The key buttons to press are different depending on your iPhone model:
- iPhone X/XS/XR/11/12/13/14/15 – Volume Up, Volume Down, Power
- iPhone 8/8 Plus – Volume Up, Volume Down, Power
- iPhone 7/7 Plus – Volume Down + Power
- iPhone 6S/SE – Home, Volume Up, Volume Down
- iPhone 6/6S – Home + Power
But the overall process is similar across devices – quickly press buttons to enter recovery mode, connect to iTunes/Finder via USB cable, then perform a system restore. This wipes the existing iOS version and reinstalls it to address crashes, boot loops, or other major software glitches.
Restore your iPhone from recovery mode as a last resort if you can’t update or restart the device normally. It erases the operating system while retaining personal data.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some common questions about iPhone recovery mode:
What does recovery mode do?
Recovery mode bypasses the normal iPhone startup sequence so you can force a reinstall of the iOS firmware via iTunes or Finder connection. It fixes serious underlying software issues.
Does recovery mode delete everything?
No, recovery mode just erases the core operating system, not your personal data. You typically restore apps/data from an iTunes or iCloud backup afterwards.
How do I get out of recovery mode?
You need to complete the system restore process started in iTunes/Finder after entering recovery. Disconnecting before it finishes can cause further issues.
Why does my iPhone keep entering recovery?
If your iPhone constantly enters recovery without completing the restore, there’s likely a deeper hardware or software failure. Contact Apple Support for next troubleshooting steps if recovery mode recurs.
Can I downgrade iOS versions in recovery?
No, recovery only allows restoring current iOS versions. For unofficial iOS downgrades, you must use DFU mode – but it wipes all device data.