How to Enable a Disabled iPhone

This post will walk you through unlocking an iPhone that has been locked or disabled due to successive incorrect password entries. Read on to learn how to enable a disabled iPhone.

iPhone disabled/locked iPhone

Setting up a passcode is highly recommended to secure your iPhone as it blocks any unauthorized access to your device. As part of Apple’s security protocol, you will be locked out of your iPhone following a number of incorrect passcode entries in a row. This usually happens among iPhone users who allow others like their children to use their device. In cases like this, there’s a good chance that a child would input an incorrect passcode without knowing that the device will be disabled in the end.

An indication that your iPhone is locked or disabled is a message prompt on the iPhone screen saying, “iPhone is disabled. Connect to iTunes.” In order to use your iPhone again, you will need to restore it.

A locked out message will show every time you input an incorrect passcode, depending on the number of attempts you’ve made. 

For example, if you entered five incorrect passcodes in a row, it prompts a message saying that your iPhone is disabled and that you can try again in 1 minute. For seven (7) incorrect passcode entries in a row, the waiting time is increased to 5 minutes. For eight (8) successive incorrect passcode entries, you’ll need to wait for 15 minutes. For nine (9) successive incorrect passcode entries, the waiting time is augmented to 60 minutes or 1 hour.

And if you’ve made ten successive incorrect passcode entries, your iPhone will be totally disabled. The only way to unlock or re-enable the device is to restore iOS in iTunes.

Restoring an iPhone also denotes wiping the entire system. This also means deleting all your downloaded apps and files. Unless you’ve synced and backed up your iPhone data to your iCloud account, retrieving files will not be possible.

Different Ways to enable a disabled iPhone

Unlocking a disabled iPhone typically requires the use of iTunes on a Windows computer or Finder on a Mac.

If you’re using a Windows computer, it has to be running on Windows 10 or later and must have the latest version of iTunes app installed.

If you’re using a Mac computer, it must be running on macOS Catalina or a later version in order to use the Finder feature to connect and sync content between your Mac and your iOS device.

A. Unlocking Disabled iPhone with iTunes on Windows

Apple also has its very own system management tool called iTunes. With iTunes, you can add, organize, transfer, download and play digital media contents on your computer and sync it to your iOS device or other compatible portable devices. This tool can be downloaded onto your Windows laptop or desktop computer.

iTunes also plays a crucial role in fixing complex iOS errors inflicted by update bugs and malware that eventually result in iPhone malfunctions. 

Unlocking a disabled iPhone is also carried out using iTunes, unless you’re using a Mac computer.

To begin, connect your iPhone to your computer using the Apple-supplied USB to lightning cable. Make sure that your iPhone is turned off completely beforehand.

While  your iPhone is connected, launch iTunes on the computer then proceed with these subsequent steps.

1. With your iPhone turned off, enter recovery mode using the applicable method as follows:

  • For iPhone 8 and later devices including iPhone SE 2 and 3, press and quickly release the Volume Up button. Press and quickly release the Volume Down button then press and hold the Side button. When you see the Recovery mode screen (Connect to iTunes), let go of the Side button.
  • For iPhone 7 series, press and hold the Power and Volume Down button simultaneously and then release both buttons when the Recovery mode screen shows up.
  • For iPhone 6s and earlier models including iPhone SE 1st generation, press and hold both the Home and Top(Power) buttons and then release both buttons when the Recovery mode screen appears.

2. Go to iTunes and then find your iPhone on your computer. If prompted with the option to Restore or Update, select Restore. iTunes will then start to wipe your iPhone data including the existing unlock passcode and then reinstall the software. Wait for the entire process to finish.


If you’ve managed to secure an iTunes backup of your iPhone, you can try restoring your iPhone to your previous backup instead.

3. When the Restore process completes, you can proceed with the initial setup to configure and set up everything on your iPhone as new. 

B. Unlocking Disabled iPhone with Finder on Mac

For starters, Finder is a macOS feature that allows you to interact with the file system on your Mac computer. With Finder, you can transfer, copy and delete files.

Launching of applications and connecting to network resources in later Mac computers are also carried out using Finder. It works similar to that of a File Explorer in Windows computers.

To use Finder, simply launch the Finder app icon on your Mac. This app is typically lined up among other main apps on your Dock. Just look for the smiling blue face and then click on it to launch the app.

Now that you’ve already learned how Finder works and how it looks, you may go ahead and start restoring your disabled iPhone on your Mac computer.

1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac computer to begin. Use the Apple-supplied USB/Lightning cable or via active Wi-Fi connection.

2. On  your Mac computer, launch the Finder app then select your iPhone in the Finder sidebar.

3. Click on the General tab located on the button bar to continue.

4. If possible, back up your iPhone using any of the available iCloud backup options in Finder.

5. Click the Restore iPhone button and follow the rest of the onscreen instructions.

If you’ve managed to backup your iPhone data beforehand, you can restore it from a backup instead. Otherwise, you will need to restore the device to its factory settings to get rid of the disabled screen.

Now that you’ve already unlocked your phone, be sure to enter the correct passcode the next time you use it.

C. Unlocking Disabled iPhone using a third-party app

Aside from iTunes and Finder, you can also use any third-party software that’s programmed to unlock a disabled iPhone from incorrect iPhone passcode entries. A number of these apps are now made available for download online. 

Most of the third-party iOS unlocking tools have the capacity to unlock disabled iPhone without deleting any saved information from the iOS storage. This is therefore deemed a better option for those who do not want to lose files while unlocking their disabled iOS device.

Among the latest and widely used iOS restore and recovery software available for your iPhone are PhoneRescue for iOS – Data Recovery Solutions, iMobie PhoneRescue, Enigma Recovery, ApowerRescue, EaseUS MobiSaver, Disk Drill 4, Primo iPhone Data Recovery, Fonelab and Fonepaw, to name some.

Just download and install your preferred software on your Windows computer. Some of these tools are available for free downloads while others are offered via one-time purchase.

After you’ve got the software setup and ready, you can go ahead and use it to restore your disabled iPhone using its built-in commands.

Some of these tools have the ability to restore your iPhone without deleting any saved data from the iOS storage. That said, you will be able to re-enable your disable iPhone without losing any important personal information.

To gauge the efficacy of every software, reading previous reviews and user ratings can help. 

Generally, these tools are programmed to be as user-friendly as possible so expect a simple and easy to use controls and system interface.

And that’s all about re-enabling a disabled iPhone on a Windows or Mac computer.

Please keep posted for more comprehensive iOS tutorials and troubleshooting guides on this site. Or you can check out this YouTube channel to view more comprehensive tutorial and troubleshooting videos including recent iOS devices.

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