How to restore your iPhone or iPad with iTunes

How to restore your iPhone or iPad with iTunes

If you're having software issues with your iPhone or iPad and you've exhausted all your basic troubleshooting options, restoring it brand new is a good idea. You'd also want to restore your device new if you plan on selling it or passing it down to someone else. Normally you can wipe an iPhone or iPad without a Mac or PC but if you're iPhone isn't responding or your stuck at the Connect to iTunes screen, here's how to use iTunes to restore it!

If you're simply trying to erase all the data on your iPhone or iPad and it's in perfect working order, it's easier to just erase all the content and settings right on the device. So if that's what you're trying to do, follow this guide instead:

Before continuing on, disable Find My iPhone first

How to restore your iPhone or iPad with iTunes

In order to restore an iPhone or iPad, you have to disable Find My iPhone first. If you aren't sure how to do that you can follow our guide.

How to restore your iPhone or iPad to new with iTunes

  1. Plug in your iPhone or iPad and launch iTunes.
  2. Click on the iPhone or iPad icon if you aren't there already.
  3. Click on Restore iPhone... or Restore iPad... in the Summary section.
  4. Choose whether or not you'd like to back up settings before restoring. If you're backing up to iCloud already, you can choose note to. If you're syncing to iTunes, absolutely choose to back up your settings.
  5. Click on Restore on the next popup.
  6. You may see a popup asking to transfer purchases. If everything is backed up to iCloud, you don't have to if you don't want to.
  7. Wait for iTunes to do its thing. Once it's done, your iPhone or iPad should now be back stock settings.

How to restore your iPhone or iPad with iTunes How to restore your iPhone or iPad with iTunes How to restore your iPhone or iPad with iTunes

That's all there is to it. If your iPhone or iPad won't turn on, try holding down the Home button while plugging it into your computer. This should force it into recovery mode which makes iTunes instantly recognize a device that needs to be restored.

Note: Originally published, November 2010. Updated, December 2014.

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Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

How to restore your iPhone or iPad with iTunes


Quick question, since I am new to iPhone: After your phone is wiped out in the restore process, does iTunes essentially re-install each application clean, or does it sorta write over your fresh, factory-state image with a copy of a backed-up image (applications, settings, etc)?
I've had problems in the past with Windows Mobile phones where a restore just wasn't worth the trouble, and starting out clean and manually installing applications was the best approach.

Believe it or not...I delete my last download..A Twilight book. After that everything worked like normal. Must've been a Vampire virus..

You guys should really explain how to get into DFU mode for those who plug into their computer and can't get iTunes communication. I've seen so many people on the forums with posts like "Help, my iPhone is bricked" etc...

DFU mode seems kind of whacked now. I'm not sure what has changed. The DFU mode screen was always idle on my 3G. But on my 4 it appears for a split second and then disappears, giving the appearance that the phone is bricked when it really isn't.
Although I personally have no problem getting my phone in DFU mode, it's more difficult than it used to be.

@JoeMcG - this is more of a beginners guide, not advanced. I'm sure I will do stuff on DFU mode soon....
I actually have a jailbreak guide i'm working on that explains differences between DFU and recovery and how to get into both, etc... so that should help as well. Do you think we should have a DFU mode tutorial outside of jailbreak? Seems to me the only time you really "need" to access DFU mode is for jailbreak reasons but if you guys want it outside of that, I'll be happy to work something up!

I still wish they would include text messages as something we could sync. That's the main reason I don't do 'setup as new phone' is because I'll lose all those messages.

I have an issue where I have contacts and calendar set to sync w/google but it ALWAYS says that there are 9 contacts in outlook and asksif I want to override (or something to that effect). It scares me a little!

For some reason I cannot sync my iPhone to iTunes. When I connect it starts off trying to "verify my iPhone" but then fails and I cannot sync or restore it from a previous backup. Right-click on the sidebar gives me only 1 option "eject". It seems the only option is to do a new setup for my iphone which will wipe everything off of it. Any idea why this happens and suggestions how I could backup my apps and not go through the pain of losing everything?

You have to disconnect your iPhone and connect again after a while and the sync goes normal. Thats my experience too because the itunes was looking for the server.

Sent from the iMore App

I think a lot of people are confused about all the jailbreaking methods, such as limera1n, redsn0w, Pwnage Tool, ultrasn0w, etc... and also the difference between unlocking and jailbreaking, and that one is required for the other, etc., etc.
Someone should write an idiot-proof description (with links) on how to get started jailbreaking and/or unlocking so users can become familiar before taking it on.
When I first jailbroke a couple of years ago, I spent a LOT of unnecessary time figuring it all out because there was no "simple" explanations anywhere — not even in the forums. Everything on the subject seemed to be written for advanced people only. I don't know if that's changed.

Can you explain the below a bit more. Eg after I restore to new phone state how do I then re-sync? Thanks!!
"I’d recommend doing the restore again and this time setting up as a new device. Then re-sync your content."

@SM, wait fir other opinions, but I think reinstalling iTunes will cause a pop up. If you get the pop up, check repair, and let it download. You may have a corrupted file(s) causing the problem. I had something similar upgrading to 4.0, no idea what happened to iTunes. I had the latest version, but files were messed up, and a repair did the trick for me.

I tried to restore yesterday and it wouldn't work because I had no internet connection at home. Any way to circumvent that?

@fastlane working in that as we speak!! It's a massive guide so its taking me a bit to finish. Videos images wakkthroughs, u name it!!
@Frazam after u restore itunes will ask u if u want to restore from backup or set up as a new phone. It will walk you through it.

Hi, i restored my iphone in dfu mode. But the thing is, after clicking on the Restore button, when it was done, i get nothing from itunes asking me if i want to set it up as a new phone. I just see that the restore download bar is "done".

HI i have a iphone 3 and i tryed to reset settings so i went into settings and clicked reset all and it said it would take upto 2 hours to do.. and now it will not turn on i press power button and it comes up with the apple logo but just stays like that for hours, i have plugged into computer to see if that works but it doesnt even recognise nowe that the iphone is connected. have tryed pressing power button and home button for 10 secs still nothing just apple logo comes up and stays like that. PLEASE HELP!!

This seems to have helped a lot :) That was getting really old, I've been dealing with a jank home button for like... weeks. Thank you so much :D

I'm reading these comments because my q and p keys do not work on my iphone 3gs. After reading this thread and many othe forum comments, it strikes me that the iphone is nothing more than a massive global beta test with thousands of people left hanging out to dry with software ahd hardware problems. Many of the official responses are nothing more than innuendos or further questions. It's pretty dire and I've never seen anything like it with any other phone. Apple might be amazed to find out that the average phone user is NOT a programmer.

Allyson even tho this forum took place back in 2010 I just found it today in let me tell you as a new iPhone user it help me a lot I want to congratulate you for this work and I hope all of the new iphone users can inspire you to continue this great work because not all of us are iPhone savvy keep up the excellent work from now on I will continue reading your page simple because you are the best. "THANK YOU"

Restore your iPhone or iPad with iTunes - aka Apple's cop-out method because they still can't get OTA updates and iCloud backups right.

It also needs to be noted that every time you restore you iPhone you have to add credit cards back to Apple Pay and depending on the company, you have to call them to activate the feature.