How to fix “iPad Unavailable” message on any iPad

Forgotten your password? Can't unlock your iPad? This guide will teach you how to remove iPad Unavailable message

By Dave Johnson - Senior Staff Writer
5 Min Read
  • If your iPad says iPad unavailable, there are things you can do to fix the issue.
  • If your iPad displays an “iPad Unavailable” error with a timer, wait for the timer to expire and enter your passcode correctly to unlock it.
  • If you don’t see a timer, you need to erase your device and restore it from your most recent backup.
  • To avoid triggering the “iPad Unavailable” screen in the future, be careful when entering your passcode and ensure Face ID or Touch ID is working properly.

You’ve pulled your iPad out of your bag only to be greeted with an error that says “iPad unavailable” with seemingly no solution. So why does this “unavailable” lock screen appear, how do you fix it, and how can you avoid it in the future?

What does “iPad unavailable” mean?

In short, it means you incorrectly entered a passcode multiple times. This is a security measure, meant to deter thieves and hackers from brute-forcing their way into your iPad.

Typically the message is accompanied by a timer informing you of how long you need to wait before your iPad becomes available again.

How long does iPad unavailable last?

Usually for 5 wrong passcodes, you will see iPad Unavailable try again in 1 minute. More times you try wrong passcodes, the longer you will need to wait before iPad Unavailable screen disappears. It will last for 5 minutes, 15 minutes and even 8 hours longer.

After 10 incorrect passcode attempts your iPad will be permanently locked, with no timer displayed. If Erase Data is toggled under Settings > Face ID and Passcode, an iPad will automatically wipe itself after 10 failed passcode attempts.

How to fix iPad Unavailable screen

Fix “iPad Unavailable” by Waiting It Out

Assuming your iPad is displaying a countdown timer on the “iPad Unavailable” lock screen, the simplest solution is to wait it out. After the time is up you’ll be able to unlock your iPad with the correct passcode. Be very careful when doing this, since entering the wrong passcode will increase the timer again (for example, from one minute to five on the second attempt).

A screenshot of an iPad showing iPad unavailable, try again in 5 minutes message

Remove iPad Unavailable via Erase iPad

If you don’t see a timer and instead your iPad simply displays an “iPad Unavailable” message then this means that no amount of waiting will fix the issue. Your iPad is permanently locked and will need to be erased and restored from scratch again. This is the best method to fix iPad unavailable without computer.

Before you begin, make sure you have your Apple ID login handy, and that your iPad is connected to Wi-Fi or cellular network. If you are ready, follow the steps below to unlock iPad unavailable:

Step 1: On the iPad Unavailable screen, tap Erase iPad in the lower-right corner.

Step 2: Tap Erase iPad again to confirm.

Step 3: Enter your Apple ID credentials. This will sign you out of the device.

Step 4: Tap Erase iPad once more to begin the wipe.
Once the process is complete, you’ll be prompted to configure your iPad as new, or restore data from a backup.

Fix “iPad Unavailable” using iTunes or Finder

If the iPad says iPad Unavailable and there’s no Erase iPad option, you can always connect an iPad to a computer and put your iPad in recovery mode. You’ll still have to wipe and restore your iPad..

For this method, you will need the following:

  • The built-in Finder app on Mac or iTunes on a PC running Windows 10 or later
  • The computer needs internet access to download software.
  • The iPad itself
  • A compatible USB cable to connect your iPad to the computer

To fix iPad Unavailable via iTunes or Finder:

Step 1: Turn off the iPad

It sounds simple, but different iPads have different ways to power down.

  1. If your iPad doesn’t have a Home button, hold both the Top and Volume Down buttons. If your iPad has a Home button, just hold the Top button.
  2. When the Power Off slider appears, release the button(s) you’re holding.
  3. Slide to power the iPad off. Wait a minute before continuing.

Step 2: Put it in Recovery mode

After your iPad shuts down, you have to put it in Recovery mode.

Here’s how to put your iPad into recovery mode when unavailable:

  1. Launch Finder or iTunes on your computer.

  2. Connect your iPad to the computer using the USB cable.

  3. For iPad models without a Home button: Press and quickly release the volume button closest to the top button. Press and quickly release the volume button farthest from the top button. Press and hold the top button. For iPad models with Home button: Press and hold both the Home and the top (or side) buttons at the same time.

  4. Keep holding on to the respective button until you see the recovery screen on your iPad, which shows a laptop and a cable on a black background, then let go.

  5. If the passcode screen appears, then you’ve turned on your device. In this case, you’ll have to shut it down again and repeat all the aforementioned steps to get to the recovery screen.

Step 3: Restore the iPad

Now we’ve gotten to actually resetting your iPad. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Click on your iPad’s name in Finder or iTunes.
  2. Tap the Restore iPad button. This will erase your device and re-install the operating system.
  3. Once the process concludes, your iPad will light up and show the setup screen. Now you can safely disconnect it from your computer.
  4. If you had a previous backup, you will be able to restore it. Otherwise, you can set it up from scratch.

How to fix iPad Unavailable via iCloud

Maybe you don’t have a computer, or don’t want to use a computer to unlock the iPad Unavailable screen, then use iCloud in a web browser.

To fix iPad Unavailable via iCloud:

Step 1: Log into using your Apple ID and password.

Step 2: Click on the Find My option in the menu of apps.

Step 3: You may need to reconfirm your sign-in. Otherwise, you’ll see a map with all of your current Apple products.

Step 4: From here, select the iPad you need to unlock. You’ll see three options: Play Sound, Lost Mode, and Erase iPad. You want to click on the last one.

Step 5: Once you enter the Apple ID password, the iPad will be erased, you’ll be able to set it up as a new device or restore it from backup.

Fix iPad Unavailable via Find My App

Want to know another method to fix iPad Unavailable without a computer? You can use the Find My app on another iPhone or iPad that you own to remotely erase your iPad and bypass its Lock Screen.

Here are the steps to fix iPad Unavailable via Find My app:

Step 1: Open the Find My app on your iPhone or iPad. You may need to log in. Otherwise, you’ll be brought to the main menu.

Step 2: Find and tap on your iPad in the list of devices.

Step 3: Tap on Erase iPad.

Step 4: Once the iPad is erased, you’ll be able to set it up as a new device or restore it from backup.

Think very carefully before paying for third-party apps

Many third-party apps, which are easily found with a Google search, claim to be able to disable the “iPad Unavailable” screen for a fairly hefty fee. These methods can’t be verified or endorsed by GeeksChalk. They may potentially invalidate your iPad’s warranty, and success is never guaranteed, since you’re inherently working around Apple’s latest security updates. The safest option is to erase your device and restore it from a backup.

Avoid Triggering “iPad Unavailable” in the Future

The only way to avoid the iPad Unavailable problem in the future is to make sure you don’t enter the incorrect passcode too many times. Sometimes, this happens by mistake in your bag or while holding your iPad in your hand. It’s also possible for young children to unknowingly trigger the “iPad Unavailable" screen.

Be careful when typing your passcode, make sure Face ID is working (or re-scan your fingerprints if you use Touch ID) so that you don’t need to enter your passcode most of the time.

iPad is Available!

Your iPad is up and running and you’ve learned the common reasons why iPads says iPad is Unavailable in the first place. If your iPad say iPad Unavailable again, you know exactly how to fix it. If you’d like to leave a comment, I’m interested to know how your iPad Unavailable error occurred in the comments section below.

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By Dave Johnson Senior Staff Writer
Dave Johnson is a staff writer for GeeksChalk based in New Jersey. He covers news, how-tos, and user guides for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch.
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