I have a 4th gen iPad that I haven't used for so long that I forgot the PIN. I want to restore it to factory defaults as I plan to use it again. Everything I'm finding on this topic suggests that I need to use iTunes on a computer to accomplish this. Is this actually the case? Can't I use some combination of powering off/powering on and physical buttons to accomplish the same thing?

  • There would be little point in having security if there was a simple back-door ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 6 '15 at 18:35
  • I disagree. It's quite simple to re-install an OS on a computer if you have physical access to it. I don't see why mobile devices should be any different.
    – AJ.
    Aug 6 '15 at 18:37
  • ...because mobile devices have better security than machines with removable hard drives.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 6 '15 at 18:38
  • This isn't a question about "what type of security is better". While I respect your opinion, I'm looking for objective data on the original question.
    – AJ.
    Aug 6 '15 at 18:38
  • 1
    possible duplicate of How can I bypass Activation Lock?
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 6 '15 at 19:02

No amount of button pushing reloads the OS.

You can try to brute force the pin, you can try to log in if you already have jail broken the device, the only option to bypass the pin is to connect to USB and have iTunes or a similar sophisticated program speak with the firmware.

Once you've loaded things with iTunes (or substitute) then you have to deal with activation lock if you have that enabled.


Try to put the device in DFU mode and then you will be able to restore it.

Note: If the device is locked via iCloud account, you may be receiving errors while restoring and/or you may need to unlock the device first.

How to put the device into DFU mode:

  1. While the device is powered ON, hold down the POWER+HOME BUTTONS until the device shuts down, keep holding down the HOME button and plug the USB cable into the device.
  2. Open iTunes and it should find a device in Recovery mode.
  • This, unfortunately, requires iTunes. I did update the question to reflect "without iTunes" vs. the original "without Computer".
    – AJ.
    Aug 6 '15 at 18:40
  • 1
    well then, unfortunately you will be unable to accomplish the needed results. Aug 6 '15 at 18:42
  • DFU trick doesn't work since a long time ago, unfortunately.
    – Farside
    Feb 6 '19 at 14:33
  • Very useful for old iPads Mar 3 '19 at 5:00

There is only one way to force your iPad to reset if you do not know the passcode and do not have access to a computer. If you put in the wrong passcode 10 consecutive times, the iPad will automatically erase all data and then reset itself. This is only if this feature has already been set up in your general settings. It will take some time, because the more times you put in the wrong passcode, the longer the ipad will lock until you can try it again (1 minute, then 5, then 30, then an hour, then 24 hours for the tenth and final time). then, you do not need a computer or iTunes to set up you iPad...it will be like it is brand new.


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