The “Your iPhone is disabled” message when attempting to unlock your device can be quite a shock to see at first. You can’t access your apps, photos, and anything else on your phone until the warning disappears. In some cases, you may only need to wait from anywhere between 5 to 60 minutes, but not everyone is that lucky.
If you pick your phone up and see “iPhone is disabled. Connect to iTunes” you won’t be able to unlock the device until specific steps are taken. This guide focuses on what you need to do to get back into your beloved iPhone, with or without iTunes.
Why is my iPhone disabled?
When you lock your iPhone with the lock button on the side, the screen goes black and you’re stopped by the lock screen when you try to access the device. To unlock it, you usually need to enter the right passcode, use either Touch ID, or use facial recognition on newer devices.
If there have been too many failed attempts at unlocking your phone, it automatically disables itself for a certain amount of time. Obviously, if the phone is only disabled temporarily, the message will show how long you must wait before you can try to unlock the phone again:
- 5 incorrect entries in a row: iPhone is disabled for 1 minute.
- 7 incorrect entries in a row: iPhone is disabled for 5 minutes.
- 8 incorrect entries in a row: iPhone is disabled for 15 minutes.
- 9 incorrect entries in a row: iPhone is disabled for 60 minutes.
- 10 incorrect entries in a row: iPhone is indefinitely disabled, or the iPhone wipes all data if self-destruct mode is on.
As you can see, after too many attempts, your iPhone will be disabled without a time limit. This is a security measure to prevent unauthorized access to your personal data stored on your device. In this case, you need to follow specific instructions to unlock it. Below are all the things you can do to successfully start using your iPhone again even after it’s been disabled.
How to fix “iPhone is disabled. Try again in X minutes”
The better case scenario of a disabled iPhone allows you to simply just wait and unlock your device later.
Depending on the number of failed passcode entries, you’ll have to wait increasingly longer until you enter the passcode wrong 10 times in a row, at which point the timer disappears and your phone stays disabled.
You can’t do anything else but wait. You’ll see how long you have to wait until you can try again displayed on the lock screen. At the time of writing, there are no ways to speed up this counter or bypass it by any means on a legitimate iPhone. However, you can still make emergency calls if needed.
Once the specified amount of time has passed, the iPhone lock screen will revert to its normal state and you may try to enter the passcode again. Be very careful — especially if you’ve tried multiple times before, — to enter your passcode correctly. If you can’t remember it, make sure to look for any reminders or notes that may have your passcode. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
If you’re guessing the passcode in the case that you forgot it, make sure not to enter the same guess twice. You only get 10 chances to get the code right, so there’s no room for wasting your guesses.
The countdown will only go up to 60 minutes. After the one hour passes, you only have one more chance to input your passcode before your iPhone enters an indefinitely disabled state. At this point, you must move on to the next part of this article and try to recover your iPhone a different way.
How to fix “iPhone is disabled. Connect to iTunes/A Mac or PC”
So, your iPhone is disabled. This means that the passcode was entered wrong 10 times in a row, resulting in your phone displaying that you must connect it to iTunes — or, in the new iOS 14, to a Mac or PC. This sadly means heavy consequences most of the time. Majority of users are not able to recover all data on their phones after reaching this point.
The recovery process will wipe your phone clean and remove the passcode, allowing you to start over and set a new one. However, this means that everything you stored on the device, including your apps, contacts, and personal data, will be removed. You may restore a backup of your iPhone if you previously made one.
Here’s what you’ll need to do to get past the “iPhone is disabled” screen.
Step 1. Enter recovery mode
iPhone 8 and later
- Press and hold the Side button, and one of the Volume buttons. Wait for the power off slider to appear on the screen.
- Drag the slider all the way to the right to turn off your iPhone.
- Plug your iPhone into a Mac or PC while holding the Side button as you insert your cable. Continue holding the button until the recovery screen appears.
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
- Press and hold the Side button and wait for the power off slider to appear. Turn off your iPhone.
- Connect your iPhone to a Mac or PC with your cable while holding the Volume down button. Keep pressing the button until you see the recovery screen.
iPhone 6s or older
- Press and hold the Side or Top button and wait for the power off slider to appear. Turn off your iPhone.
- Connect your iPhone to a Mac or PC with your cable while holding the Home button. Keep the Home button held until you see the recovery screen.
Step 2. Locate your iPhone on your Mac or PC
- Open a Finder window.
- Your iPhone will show up on the left side of the Finder window under Locations. You can click on it to select it.
macOS Mojave or older, or a PC running iTunes for Windows
If your device isn’t running macOS Catalina, you’ll have to use iTunes in order to connect your iPhone. You can download iTunes from the official website. Here are the appropriate steps depending on which version of iTunes your device is running:
- On iTunes 12, click on the iPhone icon in the upper-left corner of the iTunes window.
- On iTunes 11, click on the iPhone tab displayed on the right side of the iTunes window.
- On iTunes 10, the iPhone will be in the sidebar on the left.
Step 3. Choose the option to Restore
Once you’ve successfully connected and selected your iPhone on a Mac or a PC, you need to click on the Restore option.
When you do this, all of the data on your phone will be wiped including your passcode. The necessary software will download and install, and you can start setting up your iPhone again.
After the process is finished, follow the prompts to set up your iPhone again. If you have a backup of your data, you can restore it now.
What to do if your iPhone won’t connect to iTunes
There’s a possibility that your disabled iPhone won’t connect to iTunes, making it impossible to restore it through the steps above. In this case, you need to restore your iPhone with iCloud.
Please note that this method will only work if you previously set up Find My iPhone, and the disabled iPhone has a connection to the internet.
- Go to icloud.com on a different device, and sign in to your iCloud account.
- Click on Find iPhone.
- A map should appear on your screen showing the current location of your iPhone, so long as you have previously set up Find my iPhone. Click All Devices then select the iPhone you want to restore.
- Click Erase iPhone.
We hope that this article was able to help you unlock a disabled iPhone. In the future, make sure to note down your passcode to ensure your phone won’t become disabled again. To do so, we highly recommend using a password manager software, but the simple pen and paper method works just as fine.
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