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

May 22, 2013 - 115 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

115 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!!

    • Kathryn says:

      Thank you so much! The q-tip did the trick. I just had to pull off a bit of the cotton in order to fit it into the headphone jack. Great solution, 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

    • Chuck says:

      I had the same experience, Tommy! I was able to unlock the “Headphones Only” by sucking on the earphone jack (seriously, found that tip online in an Apple forum), but it would keep reverting to “Headphones.” We’ll see if the “cut Q-tip” technique works, can’t wait to upgrade & get rid of i-Phone 4!

  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!

  39. Dahej says:

    Lol air compresor work for me..thanks

  40. midhun says:

    NOTHING WORKED.

  41. rohan says:

    same problem with me….. i cleaned the jack port with nail polish remover and then blown it with hair dryer…… and wollaaah… it worked. !!!!
    no need to restore or switch it on n off!!!!

  42. kay says:

    whao ..this worked for me …thanks so much

  43. Iphone5 says:

    Didn’t work!

  44. Jay says:

    I tried plugging and unplugging my headphones multiple times and after 30-45 attempts it finally worked!!

  45. Leah says:

    Thank you! I was so worried I’d broken my phone forever, but your fix worked on the first try. Amazing!

  46. aditya says:

    thank you it worked for me.

  47. Felix says:

    It worked! Tks a lot.

  48. LB says:

    You’re seriously my favourite person right now. I got caught in a torrential rain storm with my iPhone and thought maybe it had killed the speakers for good. But the qtip worked!

  49. Sidni says:

    Omg Ur the best thanks so much

  50. Bucktard says:

    Worked on the first try! Thanks! Also, amazing how many people really seemed to take it personally that it didn’t work for them.

  51. Kevin says:

    Used the end of a Q-Tip just had to pull the cotton off to get it to fit in. Stuck it in the headphone jack and moving it around pressed the tiny button on the inside of the jack and that seemed to do something. The headphones now work magic.

  52. John says:

    Thanks!
    It worked fine for me.

  53. Deeo says:

    Thanks a lot.Worked for me:)

  54. Chan Donley says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH:)) IT TOOK A FEW TIMES BUT IT DEFINITELY WORKS:)))) ☺️☺️☺️☺️

  55. Vince says:

    Thank you all so much. It worked finally when I cut the end of the Q-tip off. It fell in the water whilst brushing my teeth. You all rock!

  56. Connie says:

    Working for me. Thank you!!!

  57. Stu says:

    Q tip worked brilliantly. Thanks

  58. Mac says:

    I work on a sweet potato farm and recently I was sitting in the office and I had my phone on the desk here it feel off. The bak of my phone has a few cracks but what has me worried is my sound is stuck in headphone mode. My text tone and music don’t play anymore and I have to talk to people in speaker phone. However I still get my phone call ringtone. I’ve tried everything I have seen to do online. Maybe I’m just not doing it right, I dunno. But does anyone have any suggestions??

  59. Abu says:

    Thankx aloft :D

  60. Sanjib says:

    I blew into headphone port and it Worked for me.
    Thank you so much

  61. Waleed says:

    If qtip doesn’t work take a piece of toilet paper and role it so it fits the jack about 1/2 inch to 3/4 then push it down and turn it. This will reach the bottom and with pushing it down it will also clean the sides. This definitely works if the there is dirt in the jack.

  62. Dolly says:

    Worked a treat!! Thank you!! One hard tug of the headphone jack post cotton bud cleansing at job done!!!

  63. Tabii says:

    I have tried every solution mentioned on internet, plugged in and out headphones for hundreds of time, q-tips, earbuds etc but what worked for me was dead simple and awkward, “pluging in the charging cable” helped me out 😀

  64. Danae says:

    Thank you so much! My IPhone was stuck in “headphones” mode, and I took off my phone case and it just worked! I don’t even know how a case could do that!

  65. Stuge says:

    What worked for me , was to go to reset, and reset just
    settings :)

  66. Roz says:

    It worked for me and all I did was put the q-tip thanks I was about to throw my iPhone across the room

  67. Dan says:

    Thanks for this. I looked at the apple support forums and nothing worked for me. This worked first time, was comprehensive and I appreciated the screenshots. Good work thank you

  68. Judy says:

    Thanks so much! Totally worked for
    Me!

  69. Renze says:

    Thanks a lot!! It worked!!

  70. SR says:

    THANK YOU! I was literally crying until I stuck a q-tip, a napkin, and my headphones in like 80 times in a row. This literally saved my life.

  71. Holly says:

    Worked on my daughter’s phone! Thanks a lot!

  72. Joshua says:

    It worke for me!!!!!!!!!! After one hour I turned on my iPhone and their was sound now xD

  73. Julia Waters says:

    Thank you! Thought my speaker was damaged from a little water that got on it when I dropped it brushing my teeth, but it was just stuck in headphone mode from the impact.

    I just pulled a bit of cotton off the Q-tip to make it fit and using this alone worked for me! :)

  74. BC says:

    None of the following (blowing, sucking, hairdryer, qtip) worked for me, but I was certain that it was a headphone jack hardware issue (I opened up phone and disconnected each connection one at a time–only when headphone jack was disconnected did sound/mode return to normal). Thereafter, I used a bike air pump with ball inflation needle, inserted the ball needle into headphone jack and pumped for 1 minute (making sure to move the needle around within the jack). Success, finally!!!

  75. Pradipta says:

    This solution worked for me. Thank u….

  76. babak says:

    very usefull
    Thank you.

  77. Zie Yoora says:

    Sounds silly but still it didn’t work! I tried like a dozen times but ended up in the same situation~ i cant use the speaker mode when I’m playing a song from apps but the ringtone works fine~ Help please… :'(

  78. shan says:

    Omggg thanks I had to take off the Qtip part and use the stick and it worked my phone was stuck in headset mode for 3 days

  79. Shariq says:

    Thanks it really works i was worried to have reseted my fn but got this tip and it worked thnks

  80. Terry says:

    Cotton bud done the trick
    Great tip

  81. Amber says:

    Thank you so much this is amazing dropped the very top of my iPhone on water couldn’t hear anything but now I can ☺️

  82. Kyle hackett says:

    Thanks a lot removed some cotton from the q-tip cleaned the jack out then blew into it plugged the headphones in then firmly removed them worked straight away thanks again

  83. Barry says:

    I tried everything on every site I could find to no avail. Finally trimmed a cotton swap down to fit the hole, sprayed contact cleaner into the hole, stuck the cotton swap in and twirled it around a little, pulled it out, and “success”!

  84. Deanna says:

    It worked. Its magical. Thank god. And you too, i’m really scared if my father know this thing and have to take my phone to apple centre. Thank you so much!!!!

  85. Spirited says:

    Used shop vacuum on head phone jack for 10 seconds, then pushed the volume button. Worked great.

  86. Afr0den says:

    Qtip trick works. Gotta pull off a little of the cotton to make it fit. Thank you.

  87. Fiona says:

    I just tried this n didn’t work

  88. Fionat says:

    Just did again n worked thank u so much I thought my phone was cactus. Will have to remember this for future. Thanks again mate

  89. laura says:

    thank you so much!! it worked like a charm, all the other tutorials said to plug and unplug the earphones several times which didnt work AT ALL, i did that almost 30 times before finding yours. it worked instantly!! thanks a lot!! :))))

  90. Bec says:

    Thank you so much. I was flipping out!!! This worked like a charm

  91. keeley says:

    It didn’t work at first and got really fustrating but I finally did it! cut the q-tip it definitely works!

  92. Dani says:

    Thanks!!!!! It worked for me as well

  93. Callum says:

    This has been the third technique I’ve used to try to solve this problem but it is still not changing anything, thanks anyway.

  94. John Rissler says:

    As expected, it didn’t work for me.

    My iPod Touch headphone jack started giving me trouble soon after I purchased it with weird behaviour. Now it seems to be permanently stuck in some partial headphone mode. The volume adjustment shows headphones (with no headphones attached), but there is no sound out of either the speakers or out of the headphones either when they are attached.

    Also, the inline EarPod controls stopped working soon after purchase. I think my Touch should have been painted yellow!

  95. John Rissler says:

    As expected, it didn’t work for me.

    My iPod Touch headphone jack started giving me trouble soon after I purchased it with weird behaviour. Now it seems to be permanently stuck in some partial headphone mode. The volume adjustment shows headphones (with no headphones attached), but there is no sound out of either the speakers or the headphones when they are attached.

    Also, the inline EarPod controls stopped working soon after purchase. I think my Touch should have been painted yellow!

  96. John Rissler says:

    Clarification: It was on the iPod Touch device itself that the in line controls quit working – not the EarPods.

  97. Jenni says:

    Holy cow. The qtip and sucking on the port for 30 min WORKED. Thank you so much!!!!!

  98. Db1129 says:

    Also turning your phone off and then back on works, it just worked for me

  99. Felicia says:

    Thanks so much. This worked for me…………

  100. Andy says:

    Caught in a downpour yesterday, tornado actually, yes in blighty. Phone went into headphone only mode. Wrapped it in a babies nappy overnight which has done the trick

  101. Chris says:

    Brilliant tip saved a trip to Apple store did not work at first but repeated it as instructed spot on now Thanks :-)

  102. Kory says:

    Thanks a lot thought I broke something there for a minute.

  103. peeder says:

    I had something different, where the ear speaker (for normal phone use) just got “stuck” off in iOS 8.0.2 software, even though the software didn’t think the headphones were in the jack. Speakerphone worked fine. Powercycling didn’t help, but oddly, using Voice memo did solve the problem. It’s as if the audio driver got corrupted and the Phone app couldn’t fix it.

  104. Liz says:

    It worked for me too! Took a few tries, but great solution. Thank you so much for the clear instructions and visuals. :)

  105. Annie says:

    It worked!!!! Im so happy! thank you!!!

  106. Domi says:

    Used canned air to blow out headphone port & it works perfectly again. So thankful! So easy & no trip to Verizon/Apple store! 😃

  107. Suzster says:

    Didn’t work till I used the qtip. Took me a few tries but I got it :)

  108. Ricardo says:

    Cut both sides of a qtip and insert it in the ear phone jack and blow air

  109. bharat godhwani says:

    iT WORKED !!! thanks a lot 😊

  110. Hayden says:

    Thx helped me a lot✌️

  111. Wong says:

    Amazing! Stuck on headphone mode after dropping it into the wc (lucky oredi flushed!). Local dealer (PJ, Malaysia) unable to help. Wanted to buy a new phone, but luckily they were out of stock. Went home, checked your site, voila it works!!!

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