My iPod touch (2G 32GB iOS 4.1) is stuck on this screen

Update or restore

(image from the iPhone restore assistant page). I guess that means that I need to sync with iTunes, but unfortunately when I try I get

iTunes could not connect to the iPod because it is locked with a passcode. You must enter your passcode on the iPod before it can be used with iTunes.

There's no way I can enter the passcode, and (as far as I can see) there's no way I can reset the device without connecting it to iTunes somehow.

I have followed the troubleshooting steps on that page to no avail, and there's no mention of passcodes there. I've tried this on the usual sync PC and on my laptop. I'm hamstrung a little in that it's an old device and none of the side buttons work anymore so I can't try power off / reset but I've tried letting the battery run out and restarting it to no avail. I do still see pop-ups for my calendar appointments over the iTunes sync image. I've tried pretending the keypad is there and entering my passcode but no luck.

What does that screen mean? Is there any way to forcibly reset the software in iTunes even though it won't connect because of the passcode, or is there any way I can reset the software from outside iTunes? (I can't find anything on the Apple support website or in the manuals.)

I've seen this thread on MacRumours which has the same problem; it sounds like it was fixed by resetting the iPod. As above my top button is broken so I can't do that, but I did try letting it run flat which I assumed would do the same thing and that didn't help. There's also this thread in the Apple forums but there's no solution there: just that the restore worked the next day, whereas I can't even get that far.

1 Answer 1


It sounds like the home button still works, which is the only button you need to have iTunes recover the iPod for you. Note that recovering the iPod will wipe all of its data completely.

I tried this with an iPhone which I believe was in much worse shape than this and it worked. In my case my phone never got past the Apple logo and would shut down shortly after. Even a hard-drive restoration company wasn't able to access the data, yet the recovery through iTunes did work, so there is hope.

Apple calls this recovery mode.

All you need to do is press and hold the home button on the iPod while connecting it to the PC. iTunes should detect an iPod in recovery mode and allow you to recover the device (again, this wipes out all data completely).

  • Thanks - I didn't know about the hold-down-home recovery mode. However it sounds like that's a power-on action, and with a broken top button I can't turn it off. That means I'll need to run it flat and hope they're kidding about charge-for-ten-minutes-first bullet in the instructions :-/ I can't get recovery mode to work from the state it's currently in.
    – Rup
    Commented Nov 5, 2010 at 12:46
  • 1
    WOOHOO! I had to hold down the home button for four minutes whilst it charged up and iTunes got its act together, but it's now successfully restored and usable again. Thanks again, much appreciated.
    – Rup
    Commented Nov 8, 2010 at 0:00

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