Revised January 31, 2024

How to Restart a "Bricked" Apple Device

The Apple Paperweight

Apple logo

Any Apple computing device can turn into a very pricey paperweight if something goes very wrong with its software. This is loosely referred to as "being bricked." Many things can cause it, including errors during updates and upgrades. Unfortunately, it's not always obvious how to fix it without handing it over to Apple for help.

This page is a guide to do-it-yourself fixes to try before Apple is called in to help.

The Causes

When something goes wrong with the software you are running, things quit working due to one or more of several reasons, including:

Software Corruption
The coded instructions of your Apps and Operating System (OS) become corrupt over time if they are not refreshed periodically. There are many causes — cosmic rays, software glitches, Wi-Fi failures, and power fluctuations — resulting in bit-flips where a 1 gets changed to a 0 or vise versa in the code that's running (remember, software is all just Ones and Zeros or plus-charges and minus-charges in the memory). When enough of software errors accumulate, stuff quits working. Apps quit or freeze, the OS becomes unresponsive to normal commands, or the keyboard or screen quits responding.

Interrupted Updates
Update/upgrade processes sometimes stall due to power glitches or poor network connections, leaving your update looking like its running, but nothing more happens without intervention. Any Update or Upgrade process which fails to complete as intended can leave your device with incomplete instructions as to how to reboot, or with a corrupted OS which cannot run.

Restarting, Forced Reboots, and Recovery Modes

Information on these restarts are itemized below for Apple's computing devices. In some cases, due to the many possible combinations of hardware and software, we provide links to Apple's support site for you to find the correct instructions for your model.


iPhones can be restarted in simple Restart mode, Forced Reboot, or Recovery by a series of button clicks, presses, and holds, which vary by model and software version. iPhones with or without homebuttons often require different button combinations.


There are so many varieties of iPad, that we advise you to consult Apple's Support pages for specifics of your device. The Up-Down-Power sequence for the iPhone works on most recent models, but check Apple webpage "If your iPad won't turn on or is frozen" for specific details. It also has links to instructions for if your iPad screen stays black, and if your iPad gets stuck on the Apple logo during startup.

Intel Macs

Intel Macs use different startup instructions than Apple Silicon Macs (see later section).

Silicon Macs

Apple Sillicon Macs have been available for several years, and all Macs currently being sold by Apple have some version of M1 to M3 System on a Chip (SoC) processor. Look in the -Menu for Shutdown and Restart options, but if those menu commands are not accessible or non-responsive, hold down the Power Key to power it Off. Wait for the screen to go black, not just to change to a login screen, if you want it to actually shut down. A full shutdown is necessary if you want to access the special startup options.


Apple Watches are normally paired with or setup with an iPhone. Restarting a watch is not a simple option in the iPhone's Watch App, and that App may quit working or responding if stuck in a failed watch update process.


Apple Support pages are a valuable guide to these topics, but they are subject to change without notice as Apple updates it's OS for the various devices. Both the content and the links could be changed by Apple at any time.

We have provided links at the top of the Class Notes page to Apple's Guides for each computing device, and Apple has kept those links consistently for some time, so tyr those if any link on this page goes out-of-date.

This page was prepared for dealing with stalled or failed system updates and upgrades. This underscores the importance of running backups before every update/upgrade installation. In a worse-case scenario where you have to completely reset your device, a recent backup may be your only hope of recovering your data and files.

Updated January 31, 2024