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How to fix the iPhone is disabled error

Having a passcode on your iPhone is the best move for both your security and privacy. While this can rarely go wrong, the occasional ghost touch in your pocket, a would-be thief, or a nosy friend can lock your iPhone before you know it. If you’re staring down the barrel of the dreaded iPhone disabled screen, here are the steps you can take to regain access.

Restore from Mac or iTunes in Recovery Mode

iPhone is disabled

With your iPhone in hand, you can use your last backup to restore the data on your phone, and that is probably the easiest way to go. Most PC users with iPhones have iTunes installed, even if they never use it as a backup. Mac users will be able to use their Finder in the same way they used to use iTunes. These days, Apple prefers that you use iCloud to back up your iPhone data, but many people still back up their iPhone playlists, movies, TV shows, books, and podcasts between their desktop computer and iPhone with iTunes or Finder.

Step 1: Power down your iPhone. Depending on your iPhone, you’ll need to either press and hold the Side Button or the Side Button + either Volume Button until you see the power-off slider appear.

Step 2: Power up your iPhone in Recovery Mode:

  • Now, to connect with an iPhone 8 and later, press and quickly release the Volume Up button. Press and quickly release the Volume Down button. Then, press and hold the Side Button until you see the recovery mode screen.
  • To connect with an iPhone 7, press and hold the Top (or Side) + Volume Down buttons at the same time. Keep holding them until you see the recovery mode screen.
  • For an iPhone 6S or earlier, press and hold both the Home + the Top (or Side) buttons at the same time. Keep holding them until you see the recovery mode screen.

Step 3: Open Finder or iTunes if you are on a PC. iTunes should be previously updated and closed before you connect your iPhone to prevent any confusing issues. Allow iTunes to detect your iPhone, and select your iPhone Name from the Side Menu.

Step 4: When the option to Restore or Update appears, choose Restore, and iTunes or Finder will download software for your device. Then proceed with a new setup and enter a new passcode, and you’re back in business. This will erase all data on your iPhone, so be prepared.

Step 5: If you have an iCloud backup, you should be able to restore from an iCloud backup during the setup process by selecting Restore from iCloud Backup (if you didn’t get a chance, go back into Settings > General, and choose Erase All Content and Settings to start over). This only works if iCloud has a copy of your iPhone data to use. That’s is why it’s so handy to have a recent backup of your iPhone, although this can take up a lot of iCloud space.

Wipe remotely

You should always have the Find My app enabled on your device so that you can wipe it clean if it gets lost or stolen.  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 certain 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, so enable it now.

You can use Find My to both find and/or remotely wipe your device. You will effectively eliminate all information from your phone and reset it, rendering it safe to use. If you made a habit of backing up your data to iCloud or iTunes, you can restore your phone to the most recent backup and salvage all or part of its contents. But even if you have to go back to factory settings, at least you will be able to protect your phone.


Step 1: To find your iPhone via iCloud, go to the iCloud webpage for finding devices, sign in with your Apple ID, and your Apple devices should automatically load in. Select All Devices at the top of the screen, and select your iPhone from the list.

Step 2: To remotely lock the device screen and set a new passcode, select Lost Mode/Mark as Lost. This prevents someone else from using the phone and accessing your personal data.

Step 3: If you need to erase your iPhone entirely (if you are pretty sure it was stolen, this may be a good idea), select Erase iPhone instead, and confirm.


Enable Touch ID or Face ID

Perhaps you’ve experienced the frustration of not remembering your passcode one too many times. There is an easier way to secure your phone: You can always employ Touch ID or Face ID instead of having to punch in a passcode. Use Touch ID or Face ID, depending on which iPhone model you own. The iPhone 5S up to the iPhone 8 have the Touch ID option. If you have an iPhone X or newer there’s no Touch ID option, you must use Face ID instead.

Whichever updated method is available to you, use it and you won’t need to enter an alphanumeric passcode quite so often. Just show your face or scan your finger and your device will recognize that it’s you and open sesame. We want to remind you, though, that your iPhone will take the extra precautionary measure of requiring passcode entry when you reboot it or adjust specific settings, so you should have your new passcode memorized or stored in an accessible place for such occasions.

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