Sometimes, an iPad Pro must be placed into DFU mode as a troubleshooting step before being able to restore the iPad Pro. DFU stands for Device Firmware Update and DFU mode is basically a lower-level device restore state than regular Recovery Mode for iPad Pro.
Placing an iPad Pro into DFU mode is for advanced users and for specific troubleshooting scenarios where an iPad Pro is unable to recover or restore through regular methods.
This approach for entering into DFU mode covered here applies only to newer iPad Pro devices of the 2018 model year and later, meaning those without a Home button and with Face ID as the primary unlock mechanism, including the iPad Pro with 11″ screen and iPad Pro with 12.9″ screen. Other iPad models with Home button can enter DFU mode with these instructions instead, which uses a different method.
To use DFU mode properly, you’ll need the iPad Pro a USB cable, and a Mac or Windows PC with iTunes, or macOS Catalina.
How to Enter DFU Mode on iPad Pro
Warning: Restoring a device with DFU mode will erase the iPad Pro and may cause permanent data loss. If you do not have a backup of the iPad Pro available you will have no data to restore to the device.
- Connect the iPad Pro to the computer by using a USB cable
- Open iTunes on the Mac or Windows PC (this is not in MacOS Catalina)
- Press the Volume Up button and release it on the iPad Pro
- Press the Volume Down button and release it on the iPad Pro
- Now press and hold the Power button until the iPad Pro screen turns black, this can take 10-15 seconds or so
- While still holding the Power button, now press and hold both the Power and the Volume Down button for another 5 seconds
- Release the Power button, but continue to hold the Volume Down button for another 10 seconds
- At this point iTunes should pop-up an alert message stating that “iTunes has detected an iPad in recovery mode. You must restore this iPad before it can be used with iTunes”, this indicates the iPad Pro is successfully in DFU mode
After the iPad Pro is in DFU mode it can be restored or updated as necessary.
If on the computer you do not see an “iTunes has detected an iPad in recovery mode. You must restore this iPad Pro before it can be used with iTunes” message, then start the process of entering DFU mode over again. Following the steps exactly is necessary to properly enter DFU mode.
If the iPad Pro screen turns on, or if you see an Apple logo on the iPad Pro, or if you see an iTunes logo on the display of iPad Pro, then the iPad Pro is not properly in DFU mode. If you see the iTunes logo on the screen it likely means the iPad Pro is in Recovery Mode instead, which sometimes is sufficient to restoring a problematic device, but generally people aim to enter DFU mode because Recovery Mode fails.
Usually you can simply restore the device from iTunes or MacOS to whatever the latest available version is, but you can also use firmware to restore from if desired. You can get iOS IPSW firmware files here if needed. To use an IPSW file you must be sure you are using the proper version for the particular device, and it must be actively signed by Apple. You must use an iOS firmware file that is compatible with the iPad Pro model, and the iOS IPSW file must be signed by Apple in order to use and restore from.
How to Exit DFU Mode on iPad Pro
Exiting DFU mode can be achieved by successfully restoring the device, or by rebooting the iPad Pro with the following steps:
- Press and release Volume Up button
- Press and release Volume Down button
- Press and hold the Power button until the Apple logo appears on screen
This effectively force restarts the iPad Pro, causing it to leave DFU mode. Of course if an iPad Pro is ‘bricked’ and must be restored through DFU mode, then exiting DFU mode this way is not going to solve anything because the device must be restored through iTunes or macOS.
Every iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Apple Watch, and Apple TV can enter into DFU mode (as well as recovery mode), though how to do so depends on the particular device and model. Other DFU mode instructions are as follows:
- Entering DFU mode on iPad with Home buttons, including iPad, iPad mini, iPad Air, and older iPad Pro
- entering DFU mode on iPhone XS, iPhone XR, XS Max
- Entering DFU mode on iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus
- Entering DFU mode on iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus
- Entering DFU mode on older iPhone models
- Entering DFU mode on Apple TV
Ultimately using DFU mode with iPad Pro (or any other device) is rarely needed, because with almost all regular troubleshooting scenarios you can restore an iPad Pro either directly through iTunes, macOS, or by using Recovery Mode.