Are you stuck with a disabled iPhone and wondering how to unlock it? Before you start fretting about visiting an Apple Store or (if you are an over-thinker) stressing over how you won’t be able to use your iPhone again, there are quick fixes. You have landed in the right place!
But before I show you how to fix the disabled iPhone with or without iTunes (on Mac or PC), let us understand why this happened.
Why the iPhone gets disabled?
Your iPhone gets disabled when you enter the wrong passcode multiple times. Now, it may be you, your kid, or in rare cases by unwarranted touches.
If you enter the wrong passcode upto five times, nothing happens.
On the 6th incorrect attempt, your iPhone is disabled for 1 minute.
On the 7th, 8th, and 9th incorrect attempts, your iPhone is disabled for 5, 15, and 60 minutes respectively.
One solution to fix this issue is to wait for the shown time and then enter the correct password.
However, on the 10th incorrect attempt, the iPhone gets disabled. (Or, if you had earlier enabled ‘Erase data’ from the Settings app → Face ID & Passcode, then your iPhone is wiped out!)
Note: If you enter the same wrong passcode multiple times, it is counted only as one wrong attempt. For example, if you keep entering 9876 (which is the incorrect passcode) repeatedly, it won’t be counted as multiple wrong attempts.
Next, let us learn how to fix it successfully!
How to fix your disabled iPhone using iTunes or Finder
Before you begin: If you are on a Mac running macOS Catalina or macOS Big Sur, use Finder. If you are on a Mac running macOS Mojave or earlier or Windows PC, use iTunes.
1. Via iTunes sync
Use an appropriate cable to connect your disabled iPhone to Mac or PC via which you have earlier synced your device.
Open iTunes or Finder, as appropriate.
If you see your iPhone, click on it, and from the Summary tab, click on Sync.
Points to Consider:
This solution may not always work. But it is the easiest and without any data loss. So, it is worth taking a shot.
In case it did not work, get on with the subsequent solutions.
2. Restore your iPhone from backup
We will be using a previous computer backup and restore it on the disabled iPhone.
Connect the iPhone to your Mac or PC.
Launch Finder or iTunes.
From the Summary tab, choose Restore Backup (if you see it).
Choose a backup and click Restore.
Points to Consider:
This only works if Find My iPhone is off. (For the majority of users, this safety feature is ON😔)
The backup file will only have data from that day. All new iPhone data will be lost.
If you do not see this option, try the below ones.
3. Use the recovery mode to fix your disabled iPhone
Put your disabled iPhone in recovery mode.
iTunes or Finder will show a popup that says, ‘There is a problem with the iPhone that requires it to be updated or restored.‘
Click on Restore iPhone. Your computer will download the latest applicable iOS for the iPhone and install it.
Once your iPhone is fixed, go ahead with the setup process. You can choose to set it up as a new device or restore a computer or iCloud backup.
Note: If Find My iPhone was not disabled, you will have to enter the same Apple ID password of your iPhone when it got disabled during the setup process.
4. Use the DFU mode to fix your disabled iPhone
In the above steps, we used the recovery mode. That works! But in the rare case that it didn’t, put your iPhone in the DFU mode. After the device is in the DFU mode, follow the same steps mentioned above – that is, restore your iPhone and then set it up.
How to fix the disabled iPhone without iTunes
Before you begin:
Ensure you know your Apple ID password to bypass the activation lock during the setup process.
The methods below work only if your disabled iPhone is connected to the internet. If it isn’t, go to your office or home, where it can automatically connect to a known previously added Wi-Fi.
The following methods are relatively straightforward.
5. Use iCloud.com
Use a Mac or PC to visit iCloud.com and log in using your Apple ID (the same as your iPhone.)
At the top middle, click on All Devices and select the appropriate iPhone.
Click on Erase iPhone → Erase.
Enter your Apple ID password and continue.
Follow the on-screen instructions.
The iPhone will be erased.
Finish the setup process. During this, you can choose to set up the device as new or restore data from a prior computer or iCloud backup.
6. Use the Find My app on the other Apple device
Open the Find My app on your other Apple device. I am using another iPhone for the steps below.
Select the disabled iPhone from there.
Scroll down and tap Erase This Device → Continue.
Follow the simple on-screen instructions and tap Erase.
Once the iPhone is erased, follow the setup process.
Successfully unlocked a disabled iPhone!
I believe you could solve the issue and are now ready to use the iPhone like before.
If in the rarest care, this article brought little to no help, please contact Apple Support. But one thing to understand is they too (almost certainly) will put your device in the DFU mode and follow the steps mentioned above. They do not have any special tools to get inside your disabled iPhone and fix it with all its data intact.
So, make sure you follow the above guide carefully and visit an Apple service center only when you can’t figure out things independently.
I hope it helps. 😊
I have been an Apple user for over seven years now. At iGeeksBlog, I love creating how-tos and troubleshooting guides that help people do more with their iPhone, iPad, Mac, AirPods, and Apple Watch. In my free time, I like to watch stand up comedy videos, tech documentaries, news debates, and political speeches.