How To Fix The Dreaded iPhone is Disabled Error

Did you hear the news about how a two-year-old toddler locked out his mom’s iPhone for more than 47 years after fiddling with it and entering the wrong passcode again and again in Shanghai?

According to NDTV, the mother had left her iPhone and her toddler at her place, only to come back and discover that her mobile has been disabled for more than 25 million minutes because the child had pressed random numbers when prompted to enter the passcode.

A Genius at an Apple bar in Shanghai told her that she has to either wait it out or do a factory reset of the device and install the existing files again on the iPhone. The only way out without having to wait for three years short of five decades was the latter. An Apple technician also stated that he had known cases of iPhones being locked for more than 80 years. 

This incident happened in January 2018. If that mom had decided to wait it out, she would have had another 44 years. This might seem mildly funny to us. But imagine what we would be doing if this happens to us.

iPhone is disabled

It feels like quite a long wait, even when we disable our iPhone for more than 30 seconds. Think 1.5 billion seconds. That is way too long for anyone to be patient. The above-mentioned incident happened because of Apple’s security protocol. 

The Apple iOS security lets you enter the wrong passcode four consecutive times, but on the 5th time, you are banned from attempting to enter inside for one minute. Every wrong attempt after that will cause the time you are locked out to increase. Let’s learn more about this in this article. 

If you are curious to read more about the toddler locking up his mother’s iPhone for a ridiculously long time after typing in the wrong passcode multiple times over, click here

Why is my iPhone disabled?

You can lock your iPhone by pressing the lock button on the side of the device. The screen turns black and blank. This is the sign that it has been locked. To unlock it, you have three options:

  1. Use the Fingerprint sensor. Older Apple iPhones (iPhone 6, 6s, 6s Plus, iPhone 7, 7 Plus, iPhone 8, 8 Plus, iPhone SE)  have the Touch ID feature, and it needs to be enabled. You can simply place your select finger on the Home button, which has a fingerprint sensor built in it, to unlock your Apple handset. 
  2. Let Facial Recognition scan your face. The Face ID feature lets Apple users unlock their devices with just a glance. This can not only unlock your iOS device, but also apps with the App lock enabled.
  3. Enter the Passcode. This is the old-school way of unlocking your device. Simply type in your passcode to access your iPhone. Keep your passcode to yourself, and do not forget it. 

As per Apple device security regulations, the device will get disabled if an incorrect passcode is typed in. If multiple attempts are made to enter the deceive with the wrong passcode, the device becomes disabled for a period of time. Entering the wrong passcode too many times can disable your iPhone. This is how long your iPhone can possibly be locked up:

  1. If you enter your passcode incorrectly FIVE consecutive times, your device is locked for ONE minute.
  2. When you enter the wrong passcode SEVEN times, the iPhone gets disabled for FIVE minutes. 
  3. When the incorrect passcode is typed in EIGHT times in a row, the device is disabled for FIFTEEN minutes. 
  4. Type in the wrong passcode NINE times; your device is locked for another SIXTY minutes. 
  5. Enter the wrong passcode TEN times; you will indefinitely be disabled. This is not worth the risk. 

If the Self-Destruct feature was enabled on your iPhone, you do not want to enter your passcode wrong ten times. If that were the case, you would lose all data on your iOS device. The Self-Destruct feature is programmed to be triggered when the passcode is not entered right on the 10th attempt, and it erases all the data on your mobile. 

The “iPhone is Disabled” error messages.

If you or anyone else enters a failed passcode on your iPhone, you will get disabled. And when you get disabled, you will see a lot of this phrase. This means that all the features on your device are restricted for a while.

Initially, this message comes on your lock screen, along with a statement of how long you have been banned from using your iPhone. Once you enter the passcode wrong more than ten times continuously, you are banned for an indefinite amount of time. You can not access any of your features in the iPhones except by resetting the device. 

What can I do if my iPhone is disabled?

It might seem like you are at a dead end when your iPhone gets disabled for a long time. If that happens, you would be considering resetting your device or even buying a new mobile. You can wait for sixty minutes to be over, but there is no way anyone can wait out an indefinite period of time. 

This problem cannot be fixed without compromising your data or money. In fact, you do not even have to go to an Apple bar to solve this. We have got your back, and we will help you erase all your data.

Apple’s suggested recovery method.

The closest Apple store suggests that the user with the disabled device reset their iPhone if all their information is backed up to iCloud. If not, they have to wait it out.

Since it is impossible to wait for such a long time, it is only possible that a factory reset is done on the device. A situation like this can happen at any time, and this is exactly why the files on your iPhone have to be backed up to iCloud. 

What To Do When Your iPhone is Disabled

Once you realize that your device is disabled, stay calm. There are a few methods that can help you if you are in such a position. You can use the iTunes app, use Finder, iCloud, and Recovery mode to reset your mobile. All the following methods are conventional ways to erase data off iPhones. 

Restoring an iPhone with the iTunes application

iTunes is an online music, radio, and podcasts platform that was designed by Apple for iOS, macOS, and Windows OS. It might sound quite unusual when you hear that iTunes, a music-streaming platform, can provide a possible fix when your iPhone gets disabled for a long time by wiping off the contents of your phone but that the truth.

iTunes application

This procedure is useful when you have a locked iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. This also works if you haven’t updated the macOS Catalina. Here’s what you have to do to bring your device back to normal through the iTunes app. 

  1. Connect your disabled device to your computer with the help of a USB cable. iTunes may get launched on its own, but if it does not, Open iTunes manually. 
  2. In the iTunes window, you’ll be able to notice a small image of your device(s) at the top left part of your screen. Click on it. You’ll see your handheld device information. 
  3. In the left pane, select the Summary option.
  4. On the right portion of the screen, you will see the Restore iPhone button. Click on it. 
  5. There are chances that you get a pop-up message that says, “Find my iPhone must be turned off, use the iCloud method or Recovery mode instead.” If so, this method is futile. 
  6. Follow the instructions given to you on the iTunes screen to erase your iPhone. You can get your data back if you have backed up your data to your iCloud. Backing up your device data is essential and can come in handy when all your data get erased, like in the spot we are in now.
  7. When the iPhone data has been rubbed out, it will start up like it is a brand-new device. Set your iPhone up and if you have a backup, download it to your iPhone. 

This method may not work for you, and if it doesn’t, you can use the Recovery method or the iCloud method. This method works most of the time on all kinds of Apple handheld devices, as iTunes is very common.

If you ever get your iPhone disabled, this method has to be your first choice of erasing your device. 

Solving the Disabled iPhone issue with Finder

If you have the macOS Catalina on your Apple computer, you can use the Finder tool to unlock your device. The Finder is a file management application that is exclusive to macOS.

Since it is a file manager, it is not surprising to know that this tool can help you handle all the contents of your iPhone when connected to the macOS.  This is what you have to do. 

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer using a USB cable. The PC might request a passcode or launch the Trust This Computer window.
  2. In the Finder menu, choose your device and then select Restore Backup.
  3. There can be multiple backups. You choose the most recent backup that was done before the device got disabled. If you have enabled backup encryption, you will have to enter a passcode for security. 
  4. This can take a while as your iPhone restarts itself after receiving the recent backup files and also syncs itself to the iCloud drive.

Recover your disabled iPhone through the Apple iCloud

Everyone who has an Apple device gets to upload their information to the Apple iCloud online drive. This cloud storage facility used to be exclusive only to iOS.

But now, a few android phones can launch iCloud sites and can be accessed via any Operating System (OS). This can only be used when the Find My iPhone feature is enabled.

This is not just a cloud storage facility but also a possible solution to your iPhone is disabled. How? Do you ask? 

Follow these steps to recover your iPhone when it is disabled through iCloud. 

  1. Open a browser on your computer. 
  2. In the Address bar, type in icloud.com/find. Hit the Enter key.
iCloud application
  1. Enter your Apple ID and password. Click on the proceed arrow or press the Enter key again. 
  2. Click on All Devices at the top part of the screen. You’ll see all your Apple devices at the top listed.
  3. From this chart of all the devices connected to this iCloud account, select the disabled device. This can be a disabled iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. This method works for not only the iPhone but also other Apple devices, which run on the same OS and have a similar User Interface (UI). 
  4. In the next window, you’ll see a picture of your iPhone model, how much charge it has, and how long ago it was active. You’ll also see three buttons below it.
    • The Play Sound button is a trigger for your device to make a sound. This is useful if you think you misplaced your iPhone. A sound from your phone can help you locate it. 
    • The Lost Mode is a feature that displays your phone number and a message text. This feature is quite helpful when you leave your iPhone somewhere. The information on the display can help someone who finds the device get it back to you. When this feature is enabled, all the other components are unreachable.
    • The Erase Phone button erases all the contents of the iPhone you selected, as the name suggests. This is the one we want.
  5. Click on the Erase iPhone button. It has a trash can as the icon. A confirmation window appears, in which you have to press Erase to attest it. 
  6. The site asks for your passcode. Enter it.
  7. Once the passcode is confirmed, the resetting process begins. After the factory reset is complete, your iPhone starts up like it was just taken out of the box. 
  8. Once you finish setting up your once-disabled iPhone, you can download the backups you made through iCloud or iTunes. It is recommended that you download your latest backup to your device. You are in for a hard time if you do not make backups of your data. 

Note: Your Apple ID and password are applicable for every Apple-related logging in and for connecting your iPhone, iPad, Mac, and all other iDevices together. It is recommended that you enter your Apple ID and Apple ID password over a public network connection. Do not forget your Apple ID password.

Using the iPhone Recovery Mode to fix a Disabled iPhone or iPad

The Recovery Mode is a way of troubleshooting iOS devices when they malfunction. This helps repair the operating system if it crashes or stops functioning properly.

This fixes any kind of problem on your iOS, but if it is not able to do so, it means that it is time for you to have your iPhone sent to an Apple store for repairs or a replacement.

This is how you can set your device up with a fresh start with the aid of the iOS recovery mode. 

  1. Connect your device to your computer with the help of a USB cable. 
  2. iTunes may open automatically. But if it does not do so, you have to launch it manually. If you have the macOS Catalina, launch the Finder tool. 
  3. The next step is to restart the phone. Under normal circumstances, you can press and hold the power button and select Restart to restart your iPhone or Shut Down to shut your device down. This cannot be done because we are looking to reset your iPhone and not just restart it. Since the iPhone models differ from each other in some ways, we’ll see how each of them has to be restarted the way we want. 

iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus & iPhone 6:  For the iPhone 6s and the earlier versions of the iPhone, press and hold the side or top buttons and the Home button until you see the Power-off slider appears. Drag the slider and turn off your iPhone.

Turn your iPhone or iPad off. Connect your device to your computer. The trick is to press and hold the button until you see the recovery-mode screen. After a few seconds, you will see the Apple logo on the phone display.

You should not let the buttons go when this happens.  After a few more seconds of holding the buttons simultaneously later, your device is launched into Recovery mode.

This method also works for iPhone or iPad (with a Home button)  and 6th Gen iPod touch, and previous versions of the device.

iPhone home button

iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus: Press and hold your top or side buttons, which are used to lock the device. The Power-off slider appears. Drag the slider to turn off your iPhone.

Connect your iPhone to your computer while holding the Volume down button at the same time. Do not remove your fingers when you see the Apple logo appearing on your iPhone display.

You have to hold the buttons till the moment your iPhone goes into recovery mode, and the recovery mode screen appears. This method works not only for iPhone 7 and the other variants, but this is also the same way to launch this for the 7th Generation iPod touch.


iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X series, iPhone 11 series & iPhone 12 series: These are the recently launched models of the iPhone. The steps to restart these devices are slightly different from that of the previous iPhone editions.

Press and hold the Volume down button and the lock button on the side of your iPhone. Hold the button until the Power-off slider appears on your screen.  Next, press the Volume down button and connect your iPhone to your computer while holding the side button until you see the recovery mode being launched in your iPhone. One of the volume buttons will also work.

iPhone 12

iPad with the Face ID feature: iPads with the Facial recognition feature have a different way of starting into the recovery mode screen. Press the Volume up and Volume down buttons one after the other. Then, press and do not remove your fingers from the button. Your iPad restarts. That is not your cue to leave the buttons. After a few seconds, you’ll see the recovery mode screen. You can remove your fingers from the buttons. 

  1. Restart the way you should, depending on the version of the disabled iPhone.
  2. You will see the recovery-mode screen. Locate your iPhone or other devices in iTunes or the Finder tool and select it. 
  3. A window pops up saying, “There is a problem with the iPhone that requires it to be updated or restored.” You are then asked if you wish to Restore or Update your iPhone. You have to pick Restore from the two options. 
  4. The restore option deletes all the contents and the settings adjustments on your phone. These can be restored with a simple backup restore. 
  5. It takes some time to restart. When it is done, your iPhone will start up like it is booted up for the first time. Set your iPhone up. If you wish to get the data you had previously, you will have to restore the most recent backup through the Finder tool, iTunes, or iCloud online storage. 

This is the most reliable method to fix the ‘iPhone is disabled’ issue. 

Note: You have to be careful when you press the buttons on your iPhone. You can press the wrong buttons in the wrong order. Watch out for that. Make sure you follow the correct way to restart the disabled iPhone based on what model it is.

Also, regarding making a choice to back up, you can use the Finder tool only if you have the updated macOS Catalina. If not, you will have to make do with the iTunes platform. 

Using the Find My iPhone app to fix the “iPhone is disabled” issue

This method involves using the Find my iPhone application to get past the ‘iPhone is disabled’ issues. This method works without a computer and requires another iPhone, instead. So, if you haven’t got a system, this way is ideal for you. This is how you use the Find my iPhone app when you get your iPhone disabled.

  1.  Borrow an iPhone from a friend and download the Find my iPhone app on it, from the App Store. 
  2. Open the app and log in with your Apple ID.
  3. After logging in, you will notice a list of all the iDevices connected with your Apple ID. 
  4. Click on the iPhone which is disabled. You’ll see a map with three options on the lower part of the screen. 
  5. Click Erase iPhone, which is the last of the options. 
  6. This action will erase iPhone on your command, take the passcode away, and also give your iPhone UI a clean look. You can bring your data back from the backups you made.

Using third-party applications

There are third-party applications for everything, in this 21st century. So it only makes sense to have apps that help you fix problems like this one. You can find apps on the App Store that help you unlock disabled iPhones.

The developers of this software say that apps like these exist because there are not many ways for Apple users to access their disabled iPhones or iPads. 

Fixing the “iPhone is disabled” issue with or without having to connect to iTunes.

By now, you will have known what the “iPhone is disabled” message means. As if this was not annoying enough, there is another display message that can annoy you even further.

Now, you may or may not have heard of the “iPhone is disabled. Connect to iTunes” message being displayed on your iPhone. Those who have seen this on their phone lock screens know how scary this can be.

This happens only in the worst-case scenarios. You can not use the device either. 

Let’s discuss this display message in particular. 

What does this message mean?

The “iPhone is disabled. Connect to iTunes” message means the statement, literally. Your iPhone has been locked, and you can not use it because ten incorrect attempts to gain access to your iPhone have been made.

Ten times is the mark. This means that the iPhone is disabled for an indefinite time period. You can not wait it out, as this can be really hard. This also means that you have to reset your device to enter it again. You will lose all the data you had on your iPhone. 

Why did this happen?

The only reason you see the ‘iPhone is disabled. Connect to iTunes’ message on your lock screen that your iPhone passcode has been incorrectly entered ten times in a row.

There would have been consequences when the passcode was entered wrong the previous nine times. Before the iPhone got disabled for an unknown amount of time, this is what would have happened. 

  1. When you enter your passcode incorrectly FIVE consecutive times, your device is locked for ONE minute.
  2. When you enter your passcode incorrectly SEVEN times, the iPhone is disabled for FIVE minutes. 
  3. When you enter your passcode incorrectly EIGHT times in a row, the device is disabled for FIFTEEN minutes. 
  4. When you enter your passcode incorrectly NINE times, your device is locked for another SIXTY minutes. 

After the Tenth and final time, you get the ‘iPhone is disabled. Connect to iTunes’ message. Getting here takes quite some time. In some cases, you would not have tried to unlock it, but still, your iPhone is disabled, and you have to connect to iTunes, as prescribed. 

These are the possible chances of how this could have happened. 

I did not make any attempts to unlock my iPhone. Why is it disabled then?

This is an interesting question. The odds of you entering the passcode to your iPhone ten times, consecutively, and getting banned from your own phone is very less. It has to be someone else who tried to get into your iPhone.

There are two possibilities as to why your iPhone is disabled, even when you did not try to use it. You will find one case very surprising and also quite plausible. Here’s what could have disabled your iPhone for an unknown period of time and made things very difficult for you if you did not do it. 

  1. Another person can try to get access to your iPhone. There are two kinds of your iPhone getting disabled, depending on the type of person attempting to get in. It can be someone who is guessing the passcode with the intention of getting into your iPhone. When they fail to do so, the iPhone gets disabled. The other one is unintentional attempts, which are usually made by children, out of innocent curiosity. Children might get curious when they see an unattended iPhone and starts fiddling with it. After all, it just requires one upwards swipe to get to the passcode entering screen. Even with Face ID or Touch ID enabled, a simple swipe can take you to where you have to enter the passcode. The kids can figure this out by accident and can disable your iPhone. This is one place where what the child does is not cute. 
  2. Your pockets can disable your iPhone. This might sound very unusual, but your own pockets can be the reason why you receive the ‘iPhone is disabled’ message. For instance, when you place your iPhone in your trouser pocket, the constant rubbing of the insides of your pocket on the device’s display can light the screen up and open the passcode keypad. Once this happens, further rubbing and touches can type in some random text and numerals as the passcode. If this keeps happening, you’ll eventually find your iPhone disabled.
iPhone inside trousers

The chances of this unusual incident happening increase if your pocket is busy, i.e., has a lot of things in it besides your phone. This can also happen if you put your hands into the pocket with your iPhone a lot. In this very odd circumstance, you disable your iPhone yourself, without even knowing it. Though this option is plausible, the chances of your pocket disabling your iPhone indefinitely are very low. 

Fixing the “iPhone is disabled. Try again in X minutes.” issue

If you have a disabled iPhone, look for the message under the “iPhone is disabled” message. If you see “Try again in X minutes”, you are good. You have to wait for the number of minutes that are displayed on your screen.

You will have to wait for one minute at best when the passcode is typed in wrong, five times, and at maximum, you might have to wait for sixty minutes, if your passcode is incorrect ten times.

You just have to wait, if you see this. There is nothing else that can be done with your phone during your wait time as all the features of your phone can not be accessed. But it is something worse when you see “iPhone is disabled. Connect to iTunes.” It means that you are banned from using your phone, for an unknown amount of time.

iPhone is disabled message


Fixing the “iPhone is Disabled. Connect to iTunes.” issue.

If your phone is disabled for a short while, you can wait for your ban to be lifted. But if you see the ‘iPhone is disabled. Connect to iTunes’, you will never know when you can attempt to enter your passcode again to unlock your iPhone.

If you see this message on your lock screen, it is recommended that you launch the Recovery mode in your iPhone and restore your iPhone back to the state it was. 

This is how to connect to iTunes and make & take a backup with it. 

  1. Connect your iPhone or Apple handset device to your computer using a USB cable. 
  2. Launch the iTunes application. 
  3. In the iTunes window, select Sync
  4. You will be prompted to enter the iPhone passcode. Once you enter the correct password, the contents of the iPhone will be backed up to your computer. 
  5. Then, tap Restore to restore your iPhone data from your latest backup. 

If you forgot the iPhone passcode, there is no way you can back this up. Without it, you will have to erase your phone. If you connect to iTunes after resetting, you can download a backup to your phone. You can also get a backup from iCloud. 

Is there anything else I can do about the “iPhone is disabled” message?

The answer to this question depends on what you would want to do about the ‘iPhone is disabled. Connect to iTunes” message. If you are looking to do something else, besides resetting your device, there is one more option that is expensive.

If you are due for an upgrade, you can get a new iPhone. The only option which does not involve you spending your money is resetting your device. So, the answer to the question ‘Is there anything else I can do about the “iPhone is disabled” message?’ is that you do not have access to a lot of the features of the phone. So, there is nothing else you can do when your disabled iPhone displays this message. 

How to avoid disabling your iPhone

This is what can be done to avoid disabling your iPhone. 

  1. Give your phone a new entry passcode. You can generate a new passcode for your device for the protection of your privacy. Remember your passcode or write it down. If you do write it down, keep it safe. You can change your passcode in the Settings app. 

Settings > Touch ID & Passcode

  1. Enable Face ID or Touch ID. If your iPhone has a fingerprint sensor, you can activate the Touch ID on your device. This component is available on all the iPhone models like the iPhone 5, iPhone 6, iPhone 7, iPhone 8, and all the other variant models in their respective series. Do not try using the Touch ID with wet or sticky hands. For the more recent iPhone models and their variants, you can enable the Face ID feature, which uses a facial recognition feature to unlock your iPhone or iPad with just a look. Both these features can be activated in the iPhone settings. 
  2. Do not leave your device lying around. Always keep your phone with yourself. If you place it somewhere it can be easily accessible by anyone. If that person tries to unlock your iPhone or iPad and ends up typing in a failed passcode, you’ll be locked out of your own phone. This is irresponsible behavior. Please refrain from leaving your iPhone or iPad lying around. 

The iPhone is disabled and is not connecting to iTunes. What should be done? 

Resetting your iPhone using the iTunes app is not the only way to reset your phone. There are other methods to fix a disabled iPhone. You can use the Finder tool, iCloud, or the Recovery Mode to solve the ‘iPhone is disabled’ issue.

If you cannot get connected to iTunes, you can always try to fix your iPhone using the other methods. It is not a serious problem if you cannot connect to iTunes. 

Is your iPhone Disabled? Which Method Should be Used to Unlock It?

When your iPhone is disabled, there is no priority given to which method should be used to fix the problem. But, Apple recommends the users reset the device and download an iCloud backup to the phone after the factory reset is complete.

The method prescribed by Apple, for resetting your device is the recovery method. This is a short and simple set of instructions on how you reset the device via the recovery mode. 

  1. Ensure that you did not connect your device (iPhone) to the computer at the start of this process. Your iPhone should not be tethered to any other device, as you will have to connect your iPhone to the computer later in this procedure.
iTunes connection to PC
  1. Push the side button and one of the volume buttons, together. The Power-off slider appears. Slide it to the right to turn your iPhone off.
Two iPhones on top of each other
  1. Now, hold the side button and connect your iPhone to the computer, while still holding the side button. 
  2. You have to keep holding the side button till you see the recovery-mode screen. 
  3. You can then remove the passcode by resetting the device. You can then download a backup to your fresh, new iPhone. 

This method contains the steps for launching the recovery mode in the latest models of the iPhone. In the older models (iPhone 7 and earlier), the hardware appearance might be a little different, and, so, the steps to launch the recovery mode might differ based on where the side buttons are located. If you need, there are details instructions in this article above. Scroll up for elaborate directions. 


A password plays an important role in the protection of your digital privacy. You can also use a VPN to keep your browsing secure. But when you end up disabling the unit that protects and offers privacy to your data, it can cause a lot of inconvenience.

You or anyone else can type in your passcode incorrectly on an iPhone and this can disable your iPhone. This can happen anytime or it could have happened before. If you get disabled for a while, you can wait it out.

But if you do not get an ultimatum, you will have to reset your device. Though this process is quite simple, you do not want to get your iPhone disabled. Remember your passcode and always keep your iPhone where you can see it. Someone can try to open your iPhone, deliberately.

Or your child can enter a random passcode, unintentionally. Either way, your iPhone gets disabled and you are prevented from using any feature on your device. Even when you place your phone in your pocket, you can disable your iPhone.

Change your passcode often and use Face ID or Touch ID for better and faster unlocking. Even if your iPhone happened to get blocked, somehow, you know what to do and how to fix your device when it gets disabled.