How to Reset Your iPhone

We’ve spent years with the iPhone and have discovered countless tips and tricks to get the most out of it, but it’s always good to get a reminder of the basics. Something everyone needs to know is how to reset an iPhone. The steps used to be exactly the same on every device, but things have changed a little with the release of newer models in recent years.

If you upgraded from an older iPhone model to the latest iPhone 12 Pro Max but have never needed to reset it, you may be at a loss as to how to begin the process. Don’t worry — we’re here to explain how to reset your iPhone, when you should restart it, and how to force a restart when your phone is not responding. We also lay out the differences between a restart, a soft reset, and a factory reset.

What is the difference between a soft reset, a force restart, and a factory reset?

how to reset your iPhone

Restarting your iPhone using the software option — a soft reset — will not result in the loss of any data. The same is true of a force restart, which allows you to use the hardware keys to restart your iPhone when the touchscreen isn’t responsive. A factory reset is a completely different beast, however. It essentially reverts your iPhone to the way it was when it first came out of the box: It wipes all content, settings, and personal information from the device.

We often recommend factory resetting your iPhone as a last resort if you’re having issues that you can’t solve, but it should also be used when you’re selling or trading in your iPhone, giving it to a friend, or if the phone has been lost or stolen. It’s not necessarily a permanent process, however, since a previous backup can be used to restore everything that was once on your phone. If you need to perform a factory reset, read our guide on how to factory reset an iPhone, which also includes a breakdown of the reset options found in Settings > General > Reset.

How to soft reset your iPhone

The easiest way to soft reset your iPhone is by turning it off. This method is often called a “soft reset,” because unlike a factory reset, you will not lose any data and it will not cause anything to get deleted from your phone. You will want to consider doing a soft reset when your phone is running a little slower than it normally does, if an app is refusing to open or work right, or you are experiencing another minor problem, but your iPhone is still responsive.

Apple has changed how you perform a soft reset on the X, 11, and 12 series iPhones, and a soft reset requires you to hold down two buttons. All you’re doing here is turning your phone off.

how to reset your iPhone

Step 1: Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and the Lower Volume button. On the iPhone X and later models, you’ll find the Sleep/Wake button on the right side of the phone.

Step 2: Rest your finger on the Slide to Power Off slider that appears, then swipe to the right.

Step 3: Once there is nothing on the screen and it goes black, press and hold the Sleep/Wake button again until the Apple logo appears.

If you’re using a new iPhone SE or an iPhone 8 or earlier, you can instead shut off your iPhone simply by holding down the Sleep/Wake button until the slider appears.

how to reset your iPhone

Alternatively, provided you have iOS 11 or later installed, you can go to Settings > General and scroll to the bottom where you’ll find Shut Down. When you tap Shut Down, you will see the Slide to Power Off slider. You can then proceed to step 2 above.

How to force restart your iPhone

Another way to reset your iPhone is to do what Apple officially calls a “force restart.” Once again, no important data will be lost. A force restart is recommended when your iPhone is completely unresponsive. For example, your iPhone screen turns black (despite it being powered on), the screen freezes, or your iPhone encounters an issue during startup. The exact way to perform a force restart depends on which iPhone model you own.

On the iPhone 8,  iPhone X, iPhone 11, iPhone SE (2020), and iPhone 12

how to reset your iPhone

Step 1: Press and quickly release the Volume Up button.

Step 2: Press and quickly release the Volume Down button.

Step 3: Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button until you see the Apple logo.

On the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

Step 1: Press and hold the Sleep/Wake and Volume Down buttons until the Apple logo appears.

On the iPhone 6S or earlier, and iPhone SE (2016)

how to reset your iPhone

Step 1: Press and hold the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons together until the Apple logo appears.

What do you do if a restart doesn’t work? Use force restart to enter recovery mode

Recovery mode screen for updating or restoring an iPhone.
Apple

If your OS is unresponsive or failing, you can try entering recovery mode, which should let you update or restore your phone. However, if you can’t get past the Apple logo or if your phone just won’t respond, this is another option.

Attention: While this may be your only option to save your phone, following this procedure will delete everything you previously had on your phone. Hopefully, you followed our guide on how to backup your iPhone, so you can recover your data after you erase your iPhone. Here’s how to enter recovery mode.

For iPhone 8, iPhone X, iPhone 11, iPhone SE (2020), and iPhone 12

how to reset your iPhone

Step 1: Connect your iPhone to your computer and open iTunes. If you’re on a Mac with MacOS Catalina or later, open a Finder window.

Step 2: Press and quickly release the Volume Up button.

Step 3: Press and quickly release the Volume Down button.

Step 4: Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button until you see the recovery mode screen appear.

Step 5: In iTunes or Finder on your computer, choose to update or restore your device to begin resetting your iPhone.

For iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Step 1: Connect your iPhone to your computer and open iTunes. If you’re on a Mac with MacOS Catalina or later, open a Finder window.

Step 2: Press and hold down the Sleep/Wake button and the Volume Down button at the same time until you see the recovery mode screen appear.

Step 3: In iTunes or Finder on your computer, choose to update or restore your device to begin resetting your iPhone.

For iPhone 6S or earlier, and iPhone SE (2016)

how to reset your iPhone

Step 1: Connect your iPhone to your computer and open iTunes. If you’re on a Mac with MacOS Catalina or later, open a Finder window.

Step 2: Press the Sleep/Wake button and Home button simultaneously until you see the recovery mode screen appear.

Step 3: In iTunes or Finder on your computer, choose to update or restore your device to begin resetting your iPhone.

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