About iOS Recovery Mode

Created: Modified: Knowledge Base

All iOS devices support a “recovery mode” that allows access to an otherwise inaccessible device. This is sometimes known as “DFU mode” (although technically DFU mode is slightly different).

There are two important trade-offs: The process will always erase all content, and will always upgrade to the latest version of iOS.*

Why use Recovery Mode?

There are several reasons when recovery mode is useful.

  • It is not convenient to erase the device by other means. For example, the device is in Single App Mode, and you can’t get to Settings.
  • The device is supervised by another Mac and is restricted from erasing all content and settings.
  • A failed iOS update corrupted the boot process.
  • You intend to erase and update all devices anyway, and recovery mode is the simplest available solution for bulk enrollments into GroundControl.

In general, recovery mode is useful only for devices that haven’t yet been supervised by GroundControl. Once GroundControl is managing the device, all the above operations can be performed without needing recovery mode.

Steps to enter Recovery Mode
  1. Make sure iTunes is not running
  2. Start GroundControl Launchpad on your Mac or Windows PC
  3. Unplug the device from any cables
  4. Force the device into Recovery Mode by performing the following steps:

 

  • iPad models with Face ID: Press and hold the Top button and either volume button until the power-off slider appears. Drag the slider to turn off your device. Connect your device to your computer while holding the Top button. Keep holding the Top button until you see the recovery-mode screen.
  • iPhone 8 or later: Press and hold the Side button and one of the volume buttons until the power-off slider appears. Drag the slider to turn off your device. Connect your device to your computer while holding the Side button. Keep holding the Side button until you see the recovery-mode screen.
  • iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and iPod touch (7th generation): Press and hold the Side (or Top) button until the power-off slider appears. Drag the slider to turn off your device. Connect your device to your computer while holding the Volume Down button. Keep holding the Volume Down button until you see the recovery-mode screen.
  • iPad with Home button, iPhone 6s or earlier, and iPod touch (6th generation) or earlier: Press and hold the Side (or Top) button until the power-off slider appears. Drag the slider to turn off your device. Connect your device to your computer while holding the Home button. Keep holding the Home button until you see the recovery-mode screen.

GroundControl will detect the recovery mode device, download the iOS update required (if not already cached) and begin the recovery process. The Launchpad will automatically execute any rules enabled that match the device state. This sequence can help you efficiently baseline all devices in your fleet.

*In GroundControl, you have the option to delay iOS versions still being signed by Apple. During this window, GroundControl will allow you to install an earlier iOS version on your recovery devices, even if a newer version of iOS is also available. For additional information, please see our iOS Update FAQ.