Quick Fix iPhone Stuck in “Headphones” Mode & Speakers Not Working

May 22, 2013 - 40 Comments

Ever had your iPhone get stuck in Headphone mode? The symptoms are fairly obvious; you go to change the volume level and the little volume indicator says “ringer (headphones)” like shown below, and no audio our sound works through the normal speaker output.

iPhone speaker stuck on Headphones mode

Some people interpret this as their iPhone speakers suddenly not working or that something is broken, but that is actually pretty rare, and you can usually fix the issue really quickly with nothing but a q-tip and a set of headphones or earbuds (yes, you read that right, you will use a pair of headphones to get the iPhone out of Headphone mode). I ran into this today and here’s how I fixed it in about a minute:

  • Remove any case or enclosure the iPhone may be in
  • Use compressed air (or your mouth) to blow directly into the headphone jack, this may help to dislodge dust or pocket lint stuck in the port
  • Get a Q-Tip or toothpick and swab around inside the port to dislodge any remaining particles
  • The iPhone headphone jack as highlighted

  • Connect the set of headphones, make sure there is a complete connection and be sure that audio transmits through them, then firmly pull out the headphones – audio should work as usual
  • Connect & disconnect the headphones a few more times if nothing happens the first time

The iPhone should be good to go now. Toggling the volume up/down buttons should just show “Ringer” as it’s supposed to like the screenshot shows below, and audio will play out of the iPhone speakers as usual.

iPhone speaker working again, out of headphone mode

Why does this happen? It could be a number of things, perhaps it’s just a weird software quirk where the iPhone doesn’t recognize that headphones have been disconnected from the jack – that seems to be exacerbated by some protective cases that cause obstruction to the audio jack, thus why you should remove the case before trying any of this. It could even be something physical stuck in there like a piece of lint, thus the usage of blowing air in there and swabbing around with the q-tip. Thankfully, it’s easy to fix in the vast majority of encounters, though there are some cases where Headphone mode gets stuck on after an iPhone has had water contact (which is probably why earlier iPhone models has water sensors in the headphone jack) but if an iPhone is properly handled after water contact you can usually save it from damage or any quirks like that.

Having helped a reader resolve this problem a few weeks back, and then running into it myself, I figured it was worth a write up. So if you find your iPhone speakers suddenly aren’t working and the “(headphones)” message is stuck on despite nothing attached to the phone, try the steps outlined above before calling Apple Support, it will probably work for you too.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Troubleshooting

40 Comments

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  1. Aditi says:

    thanks a LOT :)

  2. Shane says:

    Didn’t work for me at all. Thanks for nothing

  3. Anahera says:

    Kia Ora, I tried this and it worked! Thank you. I did use a 3 band plug so not sure if this was a factor too. Saved me a trip out to the hardware shop to buy compressed air….

  4. Sayed momi says:

    Wonderful n thank u very very much….
    Your tip works..
    Thanks

  5. Dan says:

    When nothing else I found on the internet, this did!

    Thanks!!

  6. Rosemarie hunt says:

    I tried both of the options and still hasn’t worked. The volume control on the side of the phone only says headphones it does not show ringer. I just got this phone 3 days ago.

  7. Kirsty says:

    Iv tried the plenty of times plus iv tried other things but nothing… It would work but as soon as I put my charger in it starts acting up, iv cleaned the phone top to bottom and it’s all fully updated… Hmmm need help! It’s driving my mad!!

  8. Myrna says:

    It has happened to me twice and this quick fix has worked wonderfully !!
    Thanks!!!!

  9. Carlos says:

    Thanks you saved me from getting in trouble.

  10. Michael says:

    Worked for me! I tried plenty of tricks online and this worked fine. I had to be rougher than I thought and had to unplug the headphones about a dozen times before it worked itself out.

    Thanks for posting

  11. Lynda says:

    Thanks for the great tip!
    It fixed my iPhone.

  12. Saysha says:

    OMG !!! i loveee you sooo much !!! i dropped my phone in water and it kept saying it was in headphone mode ! i did what you suggested and it worked !!!! thank you soooooo much !!!

  13. Andrew Green says:

    Wow it worked!
    what a miracle!
    I love the easy ones

    Thank you

  14. Kobon R says:

    Thank you!

  15. Erin says:

    Just tried it on a 2yr old Iphone and it worked! Thanks so much!!

  16. Tommy says:

    I found that if you cut the a tip and use the stick part it work better to clean it out. Just stick it in the jack and wiggle tadaa

  17. L says:

    Didn’t work >..<

  18. L says:

    Dropped hot water on my phone and now it’s stuck on earphones mode. But I can hear the phone calls!

  19. Mugilan says:

    Wow! Great it works….. thanx a lot

  20. mcf says:

    Cutting off the end of a Q-Tip and sticking it in the headphone jack and moving it around got some gunk out and I pressed the tiny button on the inside of the jack and that seemed to do something. FIXED!

  21. Nicki says:

    Thanks so much! Tried everything for my 5s, but the Q-tip stick worked like a charm. Saved me a trip to the Apple store :)

  22. Eric Cornejo says:

    Yes thank you so Much!!!

  23. Sam says:

    Thank You

    My phone was stuck on headphones after getting an Amber Alert while talking on phone. I have never used headphone jack,nor was was there dirt in it,so I think it was a software glitch. I tried plugging headphones in with case on and it didn’t solve the problem, but did with case off!!!

  24. hauntedoath says:

    thankyou so much
    it works like a charm!

  25. Happy person says:

    THANK YOU!!!

  26. Kari says:

    It worked! I was about to lose hope, but it worked! Just got to so it a few times and it works! Thank you!

  27. Rob says:

    I had to use the toothpick and then it finally worked. Pulled quite a bit of lint out of the headphone jack. Thanks for the tip!

  28. Jpops says:

    I had someone call me and that seemed to reset the ringer. Tried the other tricks to no avail.

  29. Cpetmon says:

    Thank you. Tried the pulling the headphone in and out several times and nothing. Finally tried a Q-tip and pulled it in and out a few times and it worked.

  30. Ellen says:

    Totally worked with the q-tip! Just had to pull most of the cotton off to get it to fit in! Thanks!

  31. AL says:

    I wet my iphone today playing “holi” with friends. It was in my front pocket and my friends dumped a couple of buckets of water on my head. There was also some food grade color that got on my phone and I left it in my damp pocket for over two hours.
    I come home after that and voila realize that the phone was stuck in headphone mode. Plugging/unplugging headphone 10 times didnt work. Finally used the toothpick method to take food color out of the headphone jack (not sure if there was any) and blow dryer on high setting to dry the phone. This finally did the trick!
    Now I have put it in a rice bag to suck more moisture out. Hopefully, the phone will continue to work well going forward
    Thanks for this thread and all the comments

  32. Kevin says:

    I used a rizla riled up n it worked 1st tym I tried everything n it didn’t work 20p pack of rizla the tool for job

  33. Jose says:

    I was listening music in the showe when my iphone fell and get a little bi wet and get stuck on headphone mode, still reset and try airplane mode trick without fix it until i try this trick with the q-tip … Thanks a lot

  34. P says:

    Spilled wine previous night. Stuck in headphone mode. Used blow dryer and fixed. Thanks!

  35. Cassidy says:

    Got juice in my headphone jack, this worked, thanks so much !

  36. Derp says:

    Thanks so much I got scared because i didn’t wanna have go update my ipad thank you!

  37. Gozie says:

    Thank you so much! At first nothing happened but I did it once more and wala! Thanks you!

  38. Luis says:

    compressed air!!!!! Got it working in less than 30sec. Thanks!

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