Every time something goes wrong with your iPhone, or every time you want to downgrade from the iOS beta back to the regular iOS release, you can restore your iPhone to your last saved state. Restoring to an iCloud backup is good but won’t work in all situations. Plus, if you keep a backup on your computer, that’s probably the best route to retrieve all your data.
If you have a Mac running MacOS Catalina 10.15 or newer, everything happens in the Finder. See our guide on restoring your iPhone using Finder for help there. But when you use macOS Mojave 10.14 or lower, or if you use a Windows PC, you want to recover using iTunes.
You should back up using our guide to back up your iPhone using iTunes. But if you want to save the current state of your iPhone, like if you downgraded from the iOS beta to a stable release, but if you want to jump back to the beta, you can save another backup. Be sure to archive your last backup first, so what you make now won’t overwrite it.
Step 1 : Disable Find My iPhone on Your iPhone
To restore to a factory backup or reset your device, you must deactivate Find My iPhone at some point. This will require you to do it during the recovery process, but it is far better to remove it first so that nothing hinders recovery.
Assuming you are running iOS 13 or newer, on your iPhone, open Settings, tap your name at the top, select “Find Me,” then press “Find My iPhone.” Next, turn off the “Find My iPhone” switch, enter your Apple ID password, and select “Turn off” to deactivate the service.
If your iPhone is in bootloop, it won’t turn on, or there is no other way to deactivate Find My iPhone, skip to Step 2. If not, skip to Step 3 to continue.
Step 2 : If Your iPhone Doesn’t Work
When the iPhone gets stuck in bootloop, doesn’t want to be turned on, has a frozen display, or a number of other problems, you can still restore your iPhone with iTunes using Recovery mode or DFU mode. Recovery communicates with your iPhone bootloader, while DFU mode goes directly to bootrom.
To use Recovery mode, which will try to keep your data intact, connect your iPhone to iTunes (restart iTunes if it’s already opened), then use one of the following key combinations to enter Recovery. After that, the “Restore” or “Update” button in iTunes will appear automatically. Select “Update” to save your data or “Restore” to start a new one. You must enter your iCloud password if Find My iPhone is turned on.
- iPhone 8 or newer: Press and release the Volume Up button quickly, then the Volume Down button. Next, press and hold the Side key for about 10 seconds (your display will turn black). Don’t release the button when you see the Apple logo; release when you see the recovery mode screen on the iPhone, which looks like a Lightning cable that leads to the MacBook.
- iPhone 7 or 7 Plus: Press and hold the Up button (or Side button if there is no Top) and the Volume Down button at the same time. Don’t release the button when you see the Apple logo; release when you see the recovery mode screen on the iPhone, which looks like a Lightning cable that leads to the MacBook.
- iPhone 6s or earlier: Press and hold the Up button (or the Side button if there is no Top) and the Home button at the same time. Don’t release the button when you see the Apple logo; release when you see the recovery mode screen on the iPhone, which looks like a Lightning cable that leads to the MacBook.
Step 3 : Find your iPhone on your Mac or Windows PC
Using a good Lightning to USB or Lightning to USB-C cable, connect your iPhone to MacBook, iMac, Mac Pro, another Mac computer, or Windows PC. If the connection is good, iTunes can open automatically, but not always. So if not, open iTunes.
If you see the “Unlock iPhone to Use Accessory” notification appearing on your iPhone, unlock your iPhone using your Face ID, Touch ID, or passcode to continue. Then, if prompted, tap “Trust This Computer” on your iPhone, and follow the steps on the screen to trust it. You can always not trust the computer later.
Next, click on the iPhone button in the top left of iTunes, under the playback controls. If you don’t see it, make sure your cable is properly connected and not damaged.
After clicking the button, select “Summary” from the left column if it’s not already selected.
Step 4 : Restore your iPhone
Now Find My iPhone is disabled and you have found your device in iTunes, you can restore iPhone from a previous backup or to factory default settings. You can even restore it using recovery images in the IPSW file format.
Method 1 : Restore from a Backup
On the Summary screen of your iPhone, click “Restore Backup” under the Backup and Restore Manually section.
Next, iTunes will show you a window for selecting backup. This will select the last backup that was created automatically, but if you need a different one, expand the drop-down and select the right backup file. Look at the time and date of each backup to make sure it’s what you want.
You can see three types of backup in your options, including:
- iCloud: Your most recent backup is saved to your iCloud.
- Local: Your most recent backup is saved to your computer.
- Archived: An old backup that can’t be overwritten.
If this is an iCloud, local or archive backup, just click “Restore” to start the process. However, if it is a local encrypted backup – archived or not – you must enter the encryption password first before pressing “Restore.”
Your iPhone will restart and it will take a few minutes to restore. Don’t disconnect your iPhone during the process. Wait until everything is complete and in sync with your computer. Then, you can disconnect from iTunes.
Method 2 : Revert to Default Configuration
If you don’t want to use backup to restore your iPhone, you can return to factory settings. In iTunes, select “Restore iPhone” next to the “Check for Updates” button near the top.
Then, click “Restore” again when prompted, and your iPhone will return to the latest stable iOS software version. If you are running a public or beta software developer, your iPhone will return to the latest version of public software.
After your iPhone is restored to factory settings, the iPhone will restart. You can now set your iPhone as a new one or restore from backup, though, you can just use Method 1 for that.
Method 3 : Restore with Restore Images
In many cases, recovering by recovering image files is when you want to install a new beta on your iPhone, but you can also find restoring images for your iPhone as another way to restore default settings or choose a backup file.
First, hold the Option key on your keyboard, then click “Check for Updates” in iTunes to start the process. From the selection window in iTunes, select the IPSW restore image that you downloaded to your computer, then click “Open.” Click “Update” when prompted. Your computer will contact Apple to verify and install iOS. During installation, you must enter a passcode on your iPhone. After iTunes has finished installing the image, your iPhone will restart.
Now, all that’s left to do is follow the instructions on your iPhone to activate and set up iOS. Maybe it’s ready to go, so no additional settings are needed.