Find that iPhone is stuck in headphones mode despite having unplugged your headphones?
Well, you’re not alone. I was at home, listening to my Spotify using my headphones and it came to a point when I wanted to place a call to my friend, so I had to unplug the headphones.
That’s when I heard no sounds were coming out of the iPhone’s speakers. Complete silence.
The first course of action I took as I tried to check my iPhone was whether it produced any sounds such as whilst typing on the keyboard or whether it played any of the ringtones.
Well, surprise! It didn’t work.
At this point, it was getting frustrating and I was checking to see what the heck is wrong with it. That’s when I found out that my iPhone got stuck on headphones mode when I saw this cowbell-like symbol saying “Headphones” underneath it.
So what did I do? I tried these seventeen ways that I’m about to show you right now. I’m sure, at least one of the ways will fix your iPhone stuck in headphones mode too as it did for me. 🙂
Let’s dive right in. Here are the top 17 tried-tested tips which we will be covering to get your iPhone unstuck from headphones mode:
- 1. Remove Your iPhone’s Protective Case
- 2. Turn Your iPhone Off And Back On Again
- 3. Plug Out The Headphones from Your iPhone
- 4. Try Another Pair of Headphones
- 5. Make Sure that Both Your Mute Switch and ‘Do Not Disturb’ Options Are Turned Off
- 6. Turn On Airplane Mode
- 7. Test Using a Bluetooth Speaker
- 8. Force Restart Your iPhone
- 9. Let Your iPhone Go Into Standby Mode
- 10. Test By Recording Something
- 11. Clean iPhone Headphone Port
- 12. It Helps to Suck
- 13. Look for The Water Damage Indicator on the iPhone
- 14. Update your iOS Version
- 15. Adjust your iPhone’s Settings For Audio Routing
- 16. Still, Find That Your iPhone Stuck in Headphones Mode? Factory Restore It
- 17. Check Out Our Reader Suggested Solutions (Tried & Tested)
- 18. Have iPhone Manually Checked by Apple
1. Remove Your iPhone’s Protective Case.
First and foremost you will want to make sure that you remove your iPhone’s protective case such as Otterbox covers, battery packs, transparent covers, just anything you have on your iPhone.
Once you remove the protective case, try plugging and unplugging your headphones to see if it fixes the issue.
This solution has helped a few of our readers (based on their comments below) as they found that their protective case was blocking the pathway to the audio jack which causes your iPhone to remain stuck in headphones mode.
Try and let us know down below on whether it works.
2. Turn Your iPhone Off and Back On Again.
If you have not tried to restart your iPhone, then you most definitely should.
Not only does it help remove your iPhone from headphones mode, but it also helps to remove any software issues that may have caused your iPhone’s system to get stuck.
Don’t know how to restart your iPhone, our steps below will show you how to do it:
Restarting Your iPhone SE (2nd generation), 8, 7, or 6
- Firstly, press and hold down on the Side button until you see the ‘Slide to Power Off’ screen appear.
- Next, drag the slider to power off before waiting around 30 seconds for your device to turn off.
- Finally, you can turn on your iPhone back by pressing and holding on the Side button (as shown below) until you see the Apple logo appear on your screen.
Restarting Your iPhone SE (1st generation), 5, or earlier.
- Go ahead, press and hold down on the Power button (top) until you see the ‘Slide to Power off’ screen appear.
- Next, drag the slider to power off the iPhone. You will need to wait around 30 seconds for your device to turn off.
- Finally, you can turn on your iPhone back by pressing and holding on the Power button located at the top (as shown below) until you see the Apple logo appear on your screen.
Once after you restart your iPhone, try testing by playing a song or a YouTube video to see if any audio is being output from the speakers.
3. Plug Out The Headphones from Your iPhone.
Yes, you may have already tried plugging and unplugging your headphones from your iPhones so many times but it is still worth a shot.
Here’s the breakdown on how you should go about it:
- Try plugging in your headphones and out a few more times, as sometimes your iOS can forget that your headphones were disconnected.
- When plugging in your headphones, you should make sure you are able to hear the audio clearly on your headphones. If no audio is heard, try another pair of headphones.
- Once you are confident the audio plays on your headphones, only then should you slowly stop the audio by pressing the Pause button on either the YouTube video or Spotify/Apple Music.
- Clear your background apps history by double-tapping your Home button and making sure no background apps are running. If you’re on an iPhone with Home button, you will have to swipe up to view all your background running apps. We have written a step-by-step guide on how to do that.
- Lastly, firmly plug out your headphones.
After you’ve plugged out, test again to see if this help.
4. Try Another Pair of Headphones.
Different headphones have different configurations.
So if you do have the original Apple’s EarPods (and we mean the originals, not the fakes) then go ahead and give that a go.
Whichever brand of headphones you were using before your iPhone got stuck, it could be possible it may not have been entirely compatible with your iPhone. This is because there are certain types and brands of headphones out there that may not sync perfectly with your iPhone because of its different setup.
We are not saying that you should break your bank and invest in a pair of high-end headphones. In fact, I still use my Apple EarPods that came in the box and what I did was I asked my friend for her pair of headphones.
You can try asking your friends or your siblings as long as it is not some knockoffs.
5. Make Sure That Both Your Mute Switch and ‘Do Not Disturb’ Options Are Turned Off.
It’s easy to forget whenever we have turned on the Mute switch or put our iPhone into ‘Silent Mode’ to actually turn it back off.
So it’s worth it before we go any further in this post to make sure that we have turned off these settings that control how our iPhone emits sounds. The following are the different options worth checking:
i) Your iPhone’s ‘Mute Switch’
Your iPhone’s ‘Mute switch’ can be located on the side of your iPhone (as shown in the image below). If it is indicated as orange then it means that your iPhone is mute and will not play any sounds or ring during incoming calls.
Simply flip the switch to have it go back into normal mode (where it doesn’t show as orange).
ii) ‘Do Not Disturb’ Setting
The second setting is your ‘Do Not Disturb’ option which can be located either from your Control Center or from inside your Settings app.
Here are the steps to turn off Do Not Disturb setting:
- Go onto your iPhone and then swipe up from the bottom of your Home screen to open your Control Center. For iPhones with a Home button, you will have to double press the Home button to bring up the Control Center.
- Then simply, tap on the moon crescent-shaped icon to turn it off. When turned off, it should be grey in colour (as shown below).
You can also do this by going into your Settings app > Do Not Disturb and simply toggle off the switch right next to Do Not Disturb.
AirPlay is a setting that is primarily designed to allow the iPhone to connect with Smart TV’s for mirroring and screencasting. When turned on, it will automatically connect to a device such as your TV or HomePod, etc.
Here’s how you turn it off:
- In your Settings app, tap on General.
- Next, tap on AirPlay & Handoff.
- Now there are three options here which we suggest temporarily disabling (you can always enable it back). Here are the options:
- Automatically AirPlay to TVs – Tap on this option and make sure that instead of being on Automatic, it is selected to be Never.
- Transfer to HomePod – simply toggle the switch right next to it to disable it.
- Handoff – simply toggle the switch right next to it to disable it.
6. Turn On Airplane Mode.
One of the most popular and effective ways to fix your iPhone being stuck in headphones mode is to simply enable and disable Airplane mode.
Now, what is Airplane Mode?
Airplane Mode was primarily added into the iPhone to allow quick disabling of services like your cellular data (3G/4G LTE/5G), Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth.
Since it temporarily turns off these services, It’s effective as it allows your iPhone to go offline free of any connection to anything without actually having to turn off the device.
I’ll show you how you can enable/disable Airplane mode on your iPhone if you’ve never done it before:
- Go onto your iPhone and then swipe up from the bottom of your Home screen to open your Control Center. Take note that for iPhones with a Home button, you will have to double press the Home button to bring up the Control Center.
- Then tap the orange Airplane icon to turn on Airplane Mode. Give it a good 30 seconds or so and then turn it back off to see if your iPhone’s speakers are working again.
Alternatively: Turn On Airplane Mode via Settings App
You can also go onto your Settings and then turn on your Airplane Mode by tapping the slider to turn it on. Again, give it a good 30 seconds or so in Airplane Mode and then turn it back off to see if your iPhone’s speakers are working again.
7. Test Using a Bluetooth Speaker.
You see, if the iPhone is stuck on headphones mode because you used your plug-in headphones or earphones then you can easily undo it by reconnecting the iPhone to a Bluetooth speaker or a pair of Bluetooth headphones.
In fact, this is the very method that managed to fix the issue personally for me. It also has proven to have worked for a lot of our readers, so it is certainly worth trying. 🙂
When you connect your iPhone to a Bluetooth speaker or a pair of Bluetooth headphones, your iPhone will recognize the Bluetooth device and will also know when you disconnect it; since you’re not unplugging it manually which can sometimes be confusing to your iPhone.
This is a pretty neat trick that you can do and all you’ll need is either a Bluetooth speaker or a pair of Bluetooth headphones that you have lying around.
Once you have that, all you have to do is connect your iPhone to your Bluetooth speaker or the Bluetooth headphones, give it a good 5 minutes or so and then disconnect it back to see it has fixed your iPhone.
8. Force Restart Your iPhone.
In most of our posts related to the iPhone, we often suggest to force restart your iPhone to fix any issue you might encounter. This is especially useful when your iPhone is completely stuck or if you find that you’re unable to turn off your iPhone.
Just about any situation, you find yourself stuck in, this can be a handy escape rope. Take note that force restarting and the way you normally restart your iPhone is completely different.
Here’s how you force restart your iPhone:
Force restart an iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, or iPhone SE (1st generation).
- Go ahead and press and hold your Power button together with your Home button at the same time.
- Hold it for at least 20 seconds until the Apple logo appears on the screen.
Force restart an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus.
- Go ahead and press the Power button and your Volume Down button at the same time.
- Hold it for at least 20 seconds until the Apple logo appears on the screen.
Force restart an iPhone with Face ID, iPhone SE (2nd generation), iPhone 8, or iPhone 8 Plus.
- Quickly press and release your Volume Up button.
- Then, quickly press and release your Volume Down button.
- Then, press and hold your Side button until the Apple logo appears on the screen.
Now try and see if your iPhone’s speakers are working and that it has fixed it from being stuck on headphones mode.
9. Let It Go Into Standby Mode. It Works.
We recently received tons of feedback and comments on this method via email from readers.
One of the recurring solutions that were suggested was allowing the iPhone to go into ‘Standby’ mode by itself and before stopping any audio and unplugging the headphones.
Here’s a clearer step-by-step breakdown on how to do it:
- Firstly, you will need to make sure that your iPhone automatically auto-locks the screen after a few minutes. If you’re on iOS 13, you can do this by going into your Settings app > Display & Brightness > Auto-Lock > select the 30 Seconds option for the current testing purpose.
- Next, plug in your headphones and open up an app like Spotify or Apple Music to play any song.
- Allow your iPhone to automatically lock itself and go into what we call ‘Standby Mode’. You will have to make sure to not touch your iPhone based on the amount of time you’ve set for Auto-Lock based on Step 1.
- Now, after your iPhone auto locks, touch it to wake it up.
- Then go back into the song and stop the song.
- Close down the Spotify/Apple Music app from running in the background.
- On your iPhone’s Home screen, you can now unplug your headphones.
- After that, press on the Sleep/Wake button to lock the iPhone and press on the button again to wake it up.
- Drag the slider to unlock the iPhone and then simply test again to see if the sounds begin to play from your speakers.
The steps above should allow the iPhone to no longer be in headphones mode.
Alternatively: Plug in Headphone whilst iPhone is Locked (Steps)
You can also try plugging in your headphones when the iPhone is locked. Here’s what you do:
- Firstly, you will need to make sure that your iPhone automatically auto-locks the screen after a few minutes. Refer to Step 1 (above)
- Next, let the iPhone auto-lock itself.
- Then try to plug in your headset when the iPhone is locked.
- Now once you’ve plugged in, hold down on your Power button and wait until the ‘Slide to power off’ screen appears.
- Drag the slider to turn your iPhone off.
- Unplug the headphones.
- Restart your iPhone, and try to see if it starts to play any sounds such as keyboard clicks.
10. Test By Recording Something.
Another user, Mark, who had a similar situation where he had his iPhone 6S stuck on headphones mode, suggested that after making an audio recording using the Voice Memos app it had fixed the issue.
It’s a great tip, and in fact, you can try this too using the Voice Memos app on your iPhone.
Simply open the app and try to record with the headphones plugged in first before removing them and recording another session again.
11. Clean iPhone Headphone Port.
It’s also possible that your iPhone is stuck in headphones mode because there may be debris or dirt stuck in the headphone jack or lightning port (iPhone 7 and newer).
When cleaning the headphone jack or lightning port, it’s crucial that you be gentle. It’s very easy to mess this up all by just poking it a little too hard or if you hit one of the very fragile components. We suggest that you also grab a flashlight when using the strategies below so that you can always look if you’re making any progress.
Below we share some of the safest ways to clean your headphone jack.
One of the safest ways to clean your headphones jack is to use a Q-tip. Simply grab one and use it to clean inside your headphone jack gently.
Since they’re soft you don’t have to worry about it being harmful. This isn’t the case if you’re thinking of using a toothpick or a brush because the sharp edges can cause damage.
Also when you use your q-tip, do not push it in but rather swipe the debris outwards.
ii) Interdental Brushes
You can also use interdental brushes that are commonly used to clean braces. They are pretty effective as well because of their small size which can be inserted into the headphone jack.
Again, it’s important to not push it too in but rather swipe the debris outwards.
iii) Compressed Air Can
We recommend that if you’re able to get your hands on a compressed air can, then it can do wonders to remove any lint, debris and gunk stuck between the headphone jack. You can obtain a can from online or from most office supply/computer shops.
It’s important to take note that when using a compressed air can, that you use the nozzle (the long straw-like thing). When using the compressed air can, press on it gently so that only a few bursts of air is blown. You can take the flashlight and actually look into the headphone jack everytime you press the can to see if it makes any difference.
We advise against using a paperclip (folded/unfolded) or the plastic ink tube in a ballpoint pen when using to clean the headphone jack because it is both risky and the sharp edges can damage the headphone jack over time. The above ways are safer and more effective.
12. It Helps to Suck.
Another solution that was shared by users was to suck on the headphone port.
Sucking the headphone port allows any debris that is stuck in the port to be loosened up and be removed.
A cleaner option, one we recommend, would be to use a small vacuum cleaner to do it for you. They’re cheap and are much more effective than sucking it by yourself.
Just make sure that you keep a microfiber cloth next to you every time you suck so that you can clear the debris away.
13. Look for The Water Damage Indicator on the iPhone.
If you’ve dropped your iPhone into the water and subsequently found out that your iPhone is stuck in headphones mode, then it’s most likely that your iPhone’s headphone port has suffered water damage.
This is especially the case if you’re using an iPhone 6S, iPhone SE (1st Generation) or earlier models. Since these models are not water-resistant, they’re prone to water damage.
Now if you did drop into the water, how do you exactly know if your iPhone is water damaged?
Well, your iPhone has a secret water damage indicator! Simply open up your SIM card slot (on the side of your iPhone) using the SIM card tray opener or a paperclip.
Then inspect the liquid contact indicator (LCI). If it is indicated as a red circle or red line then that means your iPhone has been in contact with water and may even possibly be damaged as a result. If this is the case, we advise you to quickly grab a hairdryer or anything that can dry the iPhone. You can also try to leave it in a bowl of rice.
If that doesn’t work, then you should go straight to the Apple Store and have it checked (Method 17). It’s unlikely that Apple will replace the iPhone for you if it is water damaged, however, if you’re under AppleCare then you still have a chance.
However, if you find that the indicator to be white/silver, then understand that your iPhone has not been damaged by water.
14. Update your iOS Version.
By making sure to keep your iOS updated, you’ll not only manage to fix your iPhone stuck in headphones mode but also you’ll prevent a lot of software-related bugs and problems from ever coming up in the future.
All you have to do is just follow these simple steps to get your iPhone updated and then you’re good to go.
- On your iPhone’s home screen, click on your Settings app and then tap on General.
- Next, click on Software Update.
- Give your iPhone a few seconds or so for it to check for any new updates.
If there are updates, follow through with the update. Once you’re done it should fix your iPhone from being stuck in headphones mode.
15. Adjust your iPhone’s Settings For Audio Routing.
There’s a setting that deals with where audio is heard during phone calls and FaceTime audio calls. It’s possible that this setting was misconfigured and may have caused any audio that is routed during calls to be not heard.
The below steps will show you how to locate the setting and make the necessary changes that’ll fix your iPhone:
- Head over to your Settings, and then General.
- Next select Accessibility.
- Scroll down until you see Touch.
- Keep scrolling, until you see Call Audio Routing.
- Sweet! Now all you have to do is just make sure it is set to Automatic if yours is not then choose Automatic from the list.
Now if you already find that it is already set to Automatic and it is still not working, then try and test by setting it to Speaker.
To check if this did the trick, all you have to do is just place a call or a Facetime audio call and then see for yourself if your speaker works.
If it does, then just go back to this same setting and change it back to Automatic.
16. Still, Find That Your iPhone Stuck in Headphones Mode? Factory Restore It.
If you find that none of the above methods works to fix your iPhone stuck in headphones mode then it’s pretty likely you might have a corruption in your iPhone’s iOS itself.
This is especially the case if you’ve ever jailbroken your iPhone. Since you made some tweaks here and there from Cydia, which directly modifies how the system functions making it prone to more bugs and issues.
So what’s the solution?
You should go for a full factory restore for your iPhone. This should patch up all the corrupted iOS files and the files will be replaced with new ones that should get your iPhone running as good as new.
Make sure that you have backed up your iPhone using your iTunes. Do that before moving on with the steps below. Also, make sure that you’re using the latest version of iTunes.
Here’s how you can put your iPhone into DFU mode:
- Go ahead and hold the Power button on your iPhone for 3 seconds.
- Keep holding the Power button but now you have to also hold down on your Home button for 15 seconds.
- Release the Power button while continuing to hold the Home button for another 10 seconds.
- Alright! Now your device should prompt with the Connect to iTunes Screen.
- Now plug in your iPhone into your computer and open your iTunes. It will either prompt to restore and update or you can manually restore using the following steps.
- To begin restoring your iPhone, go ahead and connect your iPhone to your computer.
- Now select your iPhone when it appears in your iTunes. Select the Summary tab, and then click the Restore button.
- Click Restore iPhone.
- After you have finished with your restore, your iPhone will restart. Then, you should see the Slide to set up. From here on, follow the steps in the iOS Setup Assistant.
- You can always restore your device from a previous backup if you need it or you can also choose to set it up as new.
After doing the factory restore, you should be able to use your iPhone just like how you first got it without it being stuck in headphones mode.
17. Check Out Our Reader Suggested Solutions (Tried & Tested)
Since this post was published back in 2017, we’ve received tons of helpful suggestions from readers on some creative and effective ways to fix the ‘iPhone stuck on headphones mode’ issue. Our thanks go to all of you. 🙂
Below are a few of the many tips we’ve received and we hope if you’re encountering such an issue right now, that it helps your situation.
- By doing a backup via iTunes on Mac or Windows PC — A few users have found that by connecting their iPhone to their PC or Mac and trying to do an iTunes backup that it managed to get the iPhone unstuck from headphones mode.
- Test using a FaceTime call — instead of trying to phone call someone, try to test by using a FaceTime call. Allow for 10-20 seconds for the speaker to work and leave headphones mode.
- Accept a call with headphones plugged in — a few users have also found that by accepting a call with the headphones plugged in and then plugging it out during the call helps to get the iPhone unstuck.
- Press the ‘Speaker’ button during a call — by selecting to use the Speaker instead of your headphones, you’re effectively forcing the iPhone to come to the senses and use the speaker to output any audio. If the ‘Speaker’ button is greyed out, you can check out our guide here on how to fix it.
- Try setting the Alarm Clock and Ring Tone (Settings app > Sounds & Haptics > play any ringtone) to play — you can also try to set your alarm clock or ring tone to go off on your iPhone to see if it forces the iPhone to play the sound out of the speakers.
- Accessibility > VoiceOver > enable VoiceOver — by trying this it will ask you to press your Home button. Press the Home button and you should be brought back to speaker mode (removing you out of headphones mode)
- Use Q-tips, hairdryer and sucking in combination — most of the readers have said that using the combination of the Q-tips, hairdryer, and sucking repeatedly helped get the iPhone unstuck.
- Backup using iCloud — a few have also tried to backup using their iCloud which also allowed the iPhone to be unstuck from headphones mode.
- How to Fix iPad Stuck in Headphones Mode – Saint
- How to Fix iPhone 6S Stuck in Headphones Mode – Saint
18. Have the iPhone Manually Checked by Apple.
So what do you do if none of the above ways has managed to fix the issue?
We recommend that you first backup all your data using either iTunes, Finder or iCloud and then checking the Apple warranty options that are available to you. If you’re under AppleCare then you can go ahead and proceed to your nearest Apple Support or an Apple Authorized Service Provider to have the iPhone inspected.
Chances are they most likely will tell you that your iPhone is not replaceable. If you’re on AppleCare you should be able to get it fixed but don’t expect it to be free as Apple may still charge you a fee.
Feel free to also go through the many tips and advice from the many helpful comments posted by others who had the same issue below as well before making your trip. Let us know down below if you found a better option and we will update the article with your credit.
If this guide was helpful, please share it. 🙂