It’s easy to forget or enter the wrong passcode for your iPad…even a few times. And when that happens enough, you get a screen saying your iPad is disabled. Now what?
Your iPad or iPod becomes disabled after you (or someone else with access to your device) enter the wrong password six times in a row. You can’t unlock or use a disabled device in any way.
Apple added this disabling feature to increase security and protect the data on your device. But it’s hard to see the benefits when you can’t remember the password on your iPad or iPod and are stuck at the lock screen!
That’s why we’re here to help. Although I’ll tell you now: if you don’t have a backup it might be bad news.
- 1 Why is my iPad or iPod disabled?
- 2 How do I fix my disabled iPad or iPod?
- 3 How do I backup my disabled iPad or iPod?
- 4 How do I erase my disabled iPad or iPod?
- 5 What do I do if my disabled device says connect to iTunes?
- Forgot iPhone/iPad passcode? How to reset your passcode
- iPhone Passcode Required After iOS Update, Fix
- Entered the wrong passcode and now iPhone is disabled? How to fix
- How to fix your disabled Apple ID today
Why is my iPad or iPod disabled?
If you, or a family member, enter your wrong password on your iPad or iPod more than six times in a row, it temporarily becomes disabled. You’ll see the following message:
iPad is disabled, try again in [X] minutes.
Usually, you can wait out the timer and try your code again. But that timer gets longer every time you enter the wrong password on your iPad or iPod. And after enough failed attempts, you get a new message:
iPad is disabled, connect to iTunes.
Now you can’t even wait out the timer for a new attempt!
Why can’t I use Face ID or Touch ID to unlock my iPad?
Anytime your iPad restarts, you need to unlock it again for the first time using your passcode. This action happens after software updates or dead batteries. And it also happens when your iPad is disabled.
Your iPad probably wouldn’t be disabled if you could simply unlock it with Touch ID or Face ID like you normally do. But these services, while incredibly hard to crack on their own, are more secure when paired with a passcode.
So your iPad needs that passcode to increase the security of your device. But when it’s often been weeks or even months since you last had to remember it, it’s no wonder people forget their iPad or iPod password so often!
How do I fix my disabled iPad or iPod?
When your iPad or iPod is disabled, you’ve got two options. Either wait for the timer to run out and enter your passcode correctly. Or erase the device entirely and restore from a backup.
When you erase the device, it deletes all your content and data with the passcode. If you don’t have a backup, that means you lose your photos, videos, messages, notes, and everything else on your device.
To recover the use of your device, remove your passcode by performing a restore with iTunes
Visit this article for a step-by-step guide
How do I backup my disabled iPad or iPod?
You can’t create a new backup when your iPad or iPod is disabled. That means anything not already backed up gets lost when you erase your device.
Other posts claim you can still back up to iTunes if you use a computer your device has synced with before. But I couldn’t replicate this. I still needed to unlock my iPad to make a new backup, and in this scenario, I couldn’t remember the passcode.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you definitely lose everything.
What if I don’t have a backup of my disabled iPad or iPod?
Go to iCloud.com and sign in to your Apple ID account. Any data on there — like photos, videos, notes, etc. — is safe when you erase your device. It comes back on your iPad or iPod the next time you log on to iCloud.
This feature is the same for third-party cloud services as well, like Dropbox or Google Drive. You can also retrieve paid apps and media next time you sign into iTunes or the App Store.
And finally, if you really can’t risk losing precious data on your device, consider a third-party data recovery service. There are plenty of these available if you search online. But we haven’t tested any ourselves so make sure you do your own research!
How do I erase my disabled iPad or iPod?
You need a computer running the latest version of iTunes to erase your disabled iPad or iPod. If you don’t have a computer, ask to borrow one from a friend, family member, or coworker. And failing that, you can always visit your nearest Apple Store.
- Disconnect your iPad from any computers or charging cables.
- Hold the Sleep/Wake button and either volume button.
- When prompted, slide to power off your iPad.
- For iPads with Face ID: Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button while you connect the iPad to your computer.
- For iPads with a Home button: Press and hold the Home button while you connect the iPad to your computer.
- Keep holding the button until a recovery-mode screen appears on your iPad.
- iTunes should open on your computer, choose to Restore your iPad.
iTunes downloads the latest version of iOS to install on your device first. If this download takes longer than 15 minutes, you need to follow the steps above to enter recovery mode again.
After you restore your iPad, follow the on-screen prompts to recover a backup or set it up as a new device.
What do I do if my disabled device says connect to iTunes?
It doesn’t matter if your disabled iPad or iPod says “Connect to iTunes” or “Try again in 15 minutes”. The solution is the same. Connect that device to a computer running iTunes and restore the device — using the instructions we gave above.
Of course, if you don’t have a backup when you erase your device, you lose any photos, videos, notes, and other content you had on there.
What if my disabled iPad or iPod won’t connect to iTunes?
If your iPad or iPod is disabled but won’t connect to iTunes, inspect the following pieces of hardware for signs of wear or damage:
- Your Lightning-to-USB cable.
- The USB port on your computer.
- The Lightning port on your device.
If you can, try using a different cable and a different USB port. If that fails, follow our instructions to put your iPad into DFU mode.
Finally, contact Apple for more assistance. You might have a damaged lightning port in your iPad or iPod that needs repairing.
How do I restore my disabled iPad or iPod without using iTunes?
It’s not possible to restore your device without using iTunes. But the good news is iTunes is free and works on Mac and Windows computers. Go to Apple’s website to download the latest version.
Let us know in the comments if you found this post helpful! Make sure to set a password for your iPad or iPod you can remember in the future. And keep those pesky children from disabling your device if you can!
Dan is a freelance writer based in South West England.
He spent two years supervising repairs as a Genius Admin for Apple Retail and uses that knowledge to keep our troubleshooting guides up-to-date.
Long before that, Dan turned to Apple products from a musical background. Having owned iPods for years, he bought a MacBook to learn sound recording and production. It was using those skills that he gained a first-class Bachelor of Science in Sound Technology.