These are some of the scariest words you'll ever see on your iPhone lock screen: iPhone is disabled. Don't panic. It's a problem you can easily solve.
The "iPhone is disabled" error message is one that pops up after you have repeatedly entered the wrong passcode for your device. As a security precaution, the operating system for your iPhone or iPad disables your device so no one can access your private information.
Incorrect passcodes are not the only cause of this shutdown. Temporary lockdowns can also occur if the phone does not recognize your fingerprint through Touch ID. After five unsuccessful attempts, the phone will be disabled, but you can still open it with the correct passcode. The error message can also occur after not using your Apple ID for a long time or if you have not updated your Apple ID settings.
Incorrect passcodes can also emerge in a number of involuntary ways, including accidentally trying to open your device in a pocket, friends or family members trying and failing to correctly remember your passcode, or even thieves who have stolen your phone.
Disabled alerts read like this:
- After six wrong passcode attempts: iPhone is disabled. Try again in 1 minute.
- After seven wrong passcode attempts: iPhone is disabled. Try again in 5 minutes.
- After eight wrong passcode attempts: iPhone is disabled. Try again in 15 minutes.
- After 10 wrong passcode attempts: iPhone is disabled. Try again in 60 minutes.
After an hour and 10 wrong passcode tries, your iPhone locks completely, and the "Connect to iTunes" alert appears on the screen. If you have already enabled the Erase data feature via Settings > Face ID & passcode, your device will automatically erase all content and settings stored on your device.
If you habitually back up your data to iCloud or iTunes, you can restore your phone to the most recent backup, salvaging all or part of its contents. That sounds drastic, but even if you must revert to factory settings, you can rest assured that your iPhone is in proper working order and your privacy is protected.
There are several options for unlocking a disabled iPhone or iPad with the help of your computer or iCloud. Popular options include restoring your device from a backup using iTunes or the macOS Finder. On a Mac running macOS Catalina or later, you will use the Finder app. On a Mac running macOS Mojave or earlier, or on a PC, you will use iTunes.
Restore your device from a backup using iTunes or the Finder. This may result in some data loss depending on when you last backed up your device.
Step 1: Launch iTunes (Mac/PC) or open the Finder (Mac), but don’t connect your device just yet. Depending on your iPhone model, you'll need to either press and hold the Side button or the Side button and either Volume button until you see the Power off slider. Then relaunch your iPhone in Recovery Mode.
Step 2: For the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, SE (2020), iPhone X, or later: Press and hold the Side button and one of the Volume buttons until you see the Power off slider, then turn off your device. Connect your device to your computer while holding the Side button, and keep holding until you see your phone's Recovery Mode screen.
Step 3: For the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus: Press and hold the Side button or Top button until you see the Power off slider, then turn off your device. Connect the phone to your computer while holding the Volume down button, and keep holding until you see the phone's Recovery Mode screen.
Step 4: For the iPhone 6S or earlier: Press and hold the Side button or Top button until you see the Power off slider, then turn off your device. Connect your device to the computer while holding down the Home button and keep holding until you see the phone's Recovery Screen mode.
Step 5: Launch the latest version of Finder or iTunes, depending on your iPhone model and OS. It will automatically detect your iPhone, allowing you to select your iPhone name from the side menu.
Step 6: When the option to Restore or Update appears, choose Restore.
Step 7: Proceed with a new setup, enter a new passcode, and you’re good to go. This will erase all data on your iPhone.
If you have an iCloud backup, you should be able to restore from that backup during setup. This only works if iCloud has a copy of your iPhone data, which is why it's handy to have a recent backup of your iPhone.
Step 1: To find your iPhone via iCloud, go to your iCloud web page, sign in with your Apple ID, and your Apple devices will automatically load in a list. Select All devices at the top of the screen, and select your iPhone or iPad from the list.
Step 2: To remotely lock the device screen and set a new passcode, select Lost mode/mark as lost. This prevents others from using the phone and accessing your personal data. This is most easily set up in the Find My app on your Mac.
Step 3: If you need to erase your iPhone entirely, say if it was lost or stolen, select Erase iPhone and confirm.
Find My is a function of iCloud and uses the phone's GPS and internet connection to locate it on a map so you can control some features remotely. Find My works with iOS 5 and higher on the iPhone 3GS and newer iPhones and will only work if it is enabled before the iPhone is lost.
You can use Find My to both find and/or remotely wipe your device. This eliminates all data from your phone and resets it to factory settings so it is safe to use.
Step 1: Log in with iCloud or Find My with your username and password.
Step 2: Use Find my iPhone to locate your device, then wipe it remotely. This deletes the data on your device and resets it so that you can access the phone again. Do this only if all your data is backed up.
The best way to get rid of a disabled iPhone error alert is to avoid getting one in the first place. There are a number of strategies you can use to prevent accidental lockouts.
Step 1: Set a numeric passcode that is easy to remember and that no one else knows or is likely to guess. No mistakes mean no error messages.
With these unlock options, there's no passcode. Just look at your phone screen or tap and hold your finger, and your device unlocks.
Step 3: Turn off the Tap to wake setting.
Go to Settings > Accessibility > Touch and switch off Tap to wake.
Step 4: Turn off the Raise to wake setting. Go to Settings > Display & brightness and switch off Raise to wake.
Step 5: Reduce Auto Lock time. Go to Settings > Display & brightness > Auto lock. Tap on the desired timing: 30 Seconds, 1 Minute, 2 Minutes, 3 Minutes, 4 Minutes, 5 Minutes, or Never .
Whichever passcode-free device-locking method is available to you, use it, and you won’t need to enter an alphanumeric passcode so often. Just show your face or scan your finger, and your device will recognize you and open sesame.
Be aware that your iPhone will take the extra precaution of requiring a passcode when you reboot it or adjust specific settings, so you still should have your new passcode memorized or stored in an accessible place for those occasions.
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