Resetting your HomeKit-enabled home: A step-by-step guide

Cupertino, May 9, 2024

15 steps to take if your Apple smart home gets shaky

When our smart homes work, they're great, but when they break, things can get ugly pretty quickly. The Apple HomeKit platform is solid overall – especially since Apple's smart home system works locally on your various devices (iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, HomePod or HomePod mini) and doesn't rely on the cloud. However, that doesn't mean it won't crash. What ties all those devices we mentioned together is your iCloud account, which is where things can get a little shaky at times and when that happens, you'll no doubt want to know how to get your HomeKit devices working again as quickly as possible. Here we look at how to reset your HomeKit setup if something goes really wrong, or if you just want to start from scratch.

Read this: Everything you need to know about living in an Apple Home

When you change iPhones, set up a new HomeKit Hub, or perform a software update on an iOS device, things can get out of hand behind the scenes in iCloud, which happens in rare cases can lead to the whole setup being broken. We've tested some scenarios where this could happen and we have some suggestions to help you get back up and running if this happens to you.

The Home app freezes

If one day you open your Home app and see a spinning circle on a screen that says "Loading Accessories and Scenes," then you have a problem. There's no way out of this screen other than a very scary option at the very bottom that says Reset Home Configuration, and the screen stays like this for hours, days... no matter what you do. This happened to us right after an iPhone update and it didn't go away. We tried other iOS devices in the house and they all showed the same screen, Siri didn't respond to Home requests, and none of the HomeKit automations were active. Our HomeKit house was really broken. Exactly what causes this remains a mystery, but as we discovered, if this screen appears and doesn't go away, you'll have to reset your entire home from scratch.

  1. If the 'Load Accessories and Scenes' screen appears and doesn't go away, wait.
  2. Then wait a while. Apple tells us this means iCloud is updating in the background and will hopefully resolve itself so you can move on.
  3. While you wait, check all iOS devices linked to your HomeKit home and ensure that:
    • they are updated to the latest iOS.
    • two-factor authentication is set up on all iOS devices.
    • that your Home app uses iCloud (on your iPhone/iPad, check: Settings > Username > iCloud > Show All (under the Apps with iCloud section) > scroll down to Home > switch On).

Then restart your HomeKit hub (iPad, Apple TV and/or HomePod) – follow the instructions here. Finally, restart the Home app and cross your fingers that it works. If not, you'll need to go a few steps further:

  1. Sign out of iCloud (Settings > Username > scroll down to Sign Out).
  2. Press Delete to confirm that you don't want to keep a copy of data on the phone (make sure everything is backed up to iCloud).
  3. Tap Sign Out.
  4. Sign in again (Settings > Sign in).
  5. Make sure you have another iOS or Mac device signed into your iCloud account so you receive the verification code you need to sign back in.
  6. Open the house and cross a lot of fingers. If the problem is still not resolved, you should go ahead and destroy your HomeKit setup:
  1. Open the Home app.
  2. Wait for the Load Devices and Accessories screen to appear.
  3. Select Reset Home Configuration.
  4. Select it again when the warning window pops up and then wait... Once the reset process is complete, you will be presented with a new, blank Home app and you will need to add all your HomeKit devices again (let's hope you remove all HomeKit devices saved).
    those HomeKit codes somewhere safe), and set up your scenes and automations from scratch.

When you go to the Add Accessories screen, you'll notice that many of your devices appear there and just need to be paired using the HomeKit code. Other devices will need to be reset manually (by following the manufacturer's instructions) before you can pair them with HomeKit again.

How to Restore Your HomeKit Home

If your HomeKit Home stops working, why not just restore all your devices and settings from your iCloud backup? No. Apple has no way to simply restore your HomeKit data, because all that information is stuck in your securely encrypted iPhone backup. It is not possible to go in and retrieve specific data. However, if you want to try and get your old HomeKit Home back, you can try completely resetting and restoring your iPhone from a backup made before your HomeKit broke. However, this will also cause you to lose any other data (messages, pictures, etc.) that you may have added to your phone since the backup date. It's not ideal and it's not guaranteed to work.

How to Reset Your HomeKit Home

Suppose you are tired of Home setup and just want to start from scratch, you can do that too. It's actually very easy (some might say too easy!).

  1. Open the Home app.
  2. Tap the Home tab at the bottom left of the screen.
  3. Tap the top right circle with the three white dots in it.
  4. Select Home Settings.
  5. Scroll down and select Remove Home.
  6. Select Delete at the next prompt.
  7. When you reopen your Home app, you'll have a brand new HomeKit Home to fill in. To enjoy!

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