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The most common iPad problems, and how to fix them

Tyler Lacoma
·17 min read

Apple’s iPad range tops the tablet market. Apple has sold well over 350 million of them worldwide and there are currently five different models to choose from. These tablets may be as close to perfection as you can get, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t flaws and potential issues to overcome. We’ve been digging around to unearth some common iPad problems and try to find workable solutions for them. Sometimes you need to go beyond a simple reset to get your iPad back on track.

You may also want to take a look at our suggestions for the best iPad cases, the best iPad apps, and the best iPad games.

Problem: Frozen screen

You may find from time to time that your iPad screen freezes and remains unresponsive to your touch. It’s a common complaint at Apple’s support forum. The most likely culprit is a specific app, but it’s not always easy to identify which one. If it happens repeatedly, take note of what you have running and try uninstalling it to see if that solves the problem permanently. Whatever the cause, your immediate solutions to a frozen iPad screen are the same.

Possible solutions:

  1. Try restarting your device first by pressing and holding the Power button until you see “slide to power off” on screen, and then slide to power off. Press and hold the same button to turn it back on. You’ll know it worked when you see the Apple logo.

  2. If the screen isn’t responding, you might need to force restart the device in which case you should press and hold the Power button and the Home button at the same time for around 10 seconds. You’ll know it worked when the Apple logo appears. For newer iPads without the Home button, press and quickly release the Volume Up button, press and quickly release the Volume Down button, and then press and hold the Power button until the device restarts.

  3. If it stubbornly refuses to react to a restart or reset, then you’ll need to try a restore. Plug it into your computer using the cable provided. Load up iTunes on the computer, select your iPad, choose the Summary tab, and hit the Restore iPad button. This will erase your content, so you may prefer to choose Restore Backup on the Summary tab. Bear in mind that you’ll lose anything you haven’t backed up.

Issue: iPad won’t turn on

It’s a nightmare with any electronic device when it refuses to turn on at all. Don’t assume the worst, though, it may prove easy to revive. This is another common post in the Apple support forum.

Possible solutions:

  1. Try holding down the Power button and the Home button together until you see the Apple logo. For newer iPads without the Home button, press and quickly release the Volume Up button, press and quickly release the Volume Down button, and then press and hold the Power button until the device restarts.

  2. Maybe the battery is just empty. Plug the iPad into the wall charger using the original cable and charger that came in the box and wait an hour before trying the first step again.

  3. If your iPad turns on but gets stuck during startup, then plug it into your computer with iTunes running and repeat step one, except this time, don’t let go of the buttons when you see the Apple logo, keep holding them until you see the recovery mode screen. You should get the option to Restore or Update. Choose Update and it will try to reinstall iOS without wiping your data.

  4. If none of this works, then it’s time to contact Apple or drop into an Apple Store if you’re able to.

Glitch: iTunes doesn’t recognize iPad

Some people have reported issues with plugging the iPad into the computer and booting up iTunes only to find that the iPad isn’t there. If iTunes isn’t recognizing your iPad then you can try a few things to solve the problem.

Possible solutions:

  1. Check the battery icon on the iPad when you plug it into your computer. If it has a lightning bolt on it to denote charging or it says Not Charging next to it then you know the port and the cable are working and you can move to step 2. If it doesn’t then try another port. If that doesn’t work then try another cable.

  2. Make sure that you have the latest version of iTunes. If it’s on a PC then go to Help and then select Check for Updates. If it’s on a Mac then hit the iTunes tab and select Check for Updates. If you have the latest version or updating makes no difference, try step 3.

  3. Turn the iPad off. Turn the computer off. Turn them both back on again and plug the iPad in.

  4. If you see a Trust this Computer alert, unlock your device and tap Trust.

  5. Still no joy? Take a look at Apple’s support article for further suggestions on how to fix this glitch.

Problem: iPad won’t charge

If you find that your iPad won’t charge up when you plug it into the power adapter, there are a couple of possible reasons. If it doesn’t charge when you plug it into the computer, it may just be the port you are using, try the power adapter instead. You can see whether the USB port on your computer is charging it or not by looking at the battery icon on the iPad. If it is charging, you’ll see the lightning symbol; if not, it will say Not Charging next to it. Some computer ports can’t provide enough juice to charge the iPad, and it will always charge more slowly via the computer, even if it does work.

Possible solutions:

  1. You want to check if it’s the cable or power adapter itself so, if possible, try the cable and power adapter with another compatible device, or try a different power adapter and cable.

  2. It’s always worth rebooting your iPad to see if that helps.

  3. Some people report success after turning on Airplane mode, so it’s worth a try.

  4. If the cable or power adapter is not the problem and nothing else has worked, then there could be a fault with the iPad and you’ll need to contact Apple, contact the retailer where you bought it, or go into an Apple Store.

Issue: iPad won’t connect to Wi-Fi

A lot of people have trouble connecting to Wi-Fi networks with their iPads. Before you start serious troubleshooting, you should check Settings > Wi-Fi on the iPad and make sure that it is turned on. It’s also worth making sure that Wi-Fi is accessible on another device.

Possible solutions:

  1. There’s a reason IT departments the world over tell everyone to turn it off and on again as a first troubleshooting step – because it often works. Try turning off your iPad and router and then turn them both on again and wait a few seconds before trying to reconnect.

  2. Try telling the iPad to forget the network in Settings by tapping the network name and selecting forget. Turn the iPad off and on again and then reconnect to the network and re-enter the details as necessary. You can also try Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings.

  3. Make sure you have the latest iOS software by going to Settings > General > Software Update. You should plug your iPad into the power adapter before updating. Older iPads can be updated via iTunes on the Summary tab via the Check for Update option.

  4. If your iPad still won’t connect then it’s worth checking with your ISP for help or advice. The problem could be related to your specific router. You might want to update the firmware or change the channel.

  5. If nothing so far has worked, then you may consider trying to connect to a different Wi-Fi network with your iPad just to test if it works. If not, then it’s time to contact Apple for further help.

Glitch: iPad is running slow

If you find that your iPad is not its usual zippy self and you are experiencing some lag when you navigate around then you can try a couple of fixes. You may just have too many things running.

Possible solutions:

  1. Double tap the Home button and swipe up on each open app or game to close it. If you have a newer iPad without the Home button, then swipe up from the bottom of the Home screen and pause slightly in the middle of the screen to open the recently used apps list.

  2. You could also just reset the iPad by holding down the Power button and the Home button simultaneously for 10 seconds. For newer iPads without the Home button, press and quickly release the Volume Up button, press and quickly release the Volume Down button, and then press and hold the Power button until the device restarts.

  3. You really need at least 2GB of free space for smooth operation, so take a look in Settings > General > iPad Storage and check. You may need to delete some files or uninstall some apps. Some apps take up more and more space over time, so it can even be worth uninstalling and then reinstalling an app to clear it. You may also consider going to Settings > Safari and tapping Clear History and Website Data, then Clear History and Data to clear out your cache, but this will also log you out of websites you’ve signed into.

  4. As a last resort, you might try a factory reset. This will wipe everything though, so make sure you back up first. If you do a factory reset, test the iPad without restoring a backup just to see if it runs any better. If you subsequently restore a backup and it slows down again, then you’ll know the issue is with something in the backup.

Problem: Cellular data connection dropping

Quite a few iPad owners have been complaining about cellular data connections dropping frequently. Obviously, this will be seriously influenced by how good the coverage is in your area. If you have good coverage on the same network with your phone, but the iPad is struggling, you could try a couple of things. First, check in Settings > General > Cellular and make sure it’s on. You could also try a restart. If it continues to be a problem, go through the steps below.

Possible solutions:

  1. Make sure you have up to date carrier settings in Settings > General > About.

  2. Check that you have the latest iOS software by going to Settings > General > Software Update.

  3. Remove the SIM card and then put it back in again.

  4. You can also try Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings.

  5. Some people have found success by disabling LTE in Settings > Cellular Data > Enable LTE.

  6. If none of that works, a factory reset might be worth trying, just make sure you back up first.

  7. If you’re still having problems, it’s time to contact your carrier’s support or visit an Apple Store for more help.

Issue: Random crashing

A lot of iPad owners suffer from problems with random crashing where an app spontaneously closes or the iPad suddenly restarts. You might find that this is a bigger issue on older iPads. You can try a few different things to alleviate the problem. It is quite likely to be related to specific apps, so take note of what you were doing when it crashes and see if a pattern emerges over time.

Possible solutions:

  1. Press and hold the Power button and then slide to power off. Press and hold the button to turn it on again. You could also reset by pressing and holding the Power button and the Home button at the same time for 10 seconds. For newer iPads without the Home button, press and quickly release the Volume Up button, press and quickly release the Volume Down button, and then press and hold the Power button until the device restarts. Neither of these solutions is liable to affect a permanent fix.

  2. Connect to Wi-Fi and go to Settings > General > Software Update to make sure that your iPad is has the latest software. If there’s an update available then download it and install it.

  3. Open the App Store and tap Updates and then update all of your apps.

  4. If your crashes are occurring in Safari specifically then maybe try going to Settings > Safari and tap Clear History and Website Data, then Clear History and Data. Note that this will log you out of websites that you’re logged into.

  5. If you’re still having problems then try wiping the iPad with a factory reset and restoring.

  6. If none of the above has worked for you then try contacting Apple. If you’re able to reproduce the crash and you can take it into an Apple Store to show them, then you will be able to get some help.

Problem: App won’t sync or download

Are you having trouble getting that new app you just purchased to sync to your iPad? Some people have found that apps will refuse to download. There are a few possible reasons.

Possible solutions:

  1. Make sure you have enough free space. Go to Settings > General > iPad Storage and take a look. If you’re running out of space then you may have to delete something before the new app can find a space.

  2. Tap on the app icon and make sure that the download isn’t paused. If you see the option to Resume Download then tap it. You may also try pausing it and then resuming to see if that gets it going.

  3. Make sure that restrictions aren’t on. Go to Settings > General > Restrictions and make sure that you are allowed to download apps.

  4. Make sure that you have the latest update by going to Settings > General > Software Update and download and install anything that’s available.

  5. Press and hold the Power button and then slide to power off. Press and hold the button to turn it on again. You could also reset by pressing and holding the Power button and the Home button at the same time for 10 seconds. For newer iPads without the Home button, press and quickly release the Volume Up button, press and quickly release the Volume Down button, and then press and hold the Power button until the device restarts.

  6. Go to Settings > iTunes & App Store and tap your Apple ID then sign out. Repeat step four. When your iPad restarts go into Settings > iTunes & App Store > Sign In.

Problem: Your iPad battery is charging very slowly

When working properly, a normal iPad should recharge the battery in about three hours, maybe four hours for older models. If your iPad is taking a lot longer than that to charge, you aren’t alone. There are a few things you can try to improve the situation.

Possible solutions:

  1. Make sure your iPad is updated. Infamously, iPadOS 13 caused these types of battery charging issues for many users. If it’s an issue with iPadOS, you can’t do much except live with it until Apple improves the software and releases a new version.

  2. Check your ports and connectors. Look for any signs of damage, grime that’s blocking ports, or anything else that may be interrupting the connection. If you aren’t sure, try to find another compatible charging cable and switch it out to see if this makes a difference. Do not use an off-brand cable or charger to charge your iPad! If you are using one, stop right away and switch to a version straight from Apple.

  3. Make sure your iPad isn’t trying to do a lot when you are charging it. Disconnect from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth or put it into Airplane mode first. Don’t use your iPad when it’s charging, and see how much this helps.

  4. Always remember to make sure that your iPad isn’t put in a particularly hot or cold place. This can damage the battery and cause long-term problems that can’t really be fixed without a full replacement.

Problem: The Apple Pencil isn’t working with my iPad

This can be very frustrating — you probably got the Pencil specifically for your iPad, so it’s important that they work together. Our solutions will go through what you need to know and what you should try.

Possible solutions:

  1. Make sure you have the right Apple Pencil and iPad. Compatibility issues do exist. The 1st generation iPad Pencil (aka the one with the silver band that you plug in) is designed to work with earlier iPad Pros, iPad Air 3rd gen, and iPad 6th and 7th gen — see the full list here. The 2nd generation Pencil is made to work with the newest iPad Pro 12.9-inch and 11-inch models, which the 1st generation Pencil won’t work with. And if you have an iPad Air 2 or earlier model, the Pencil won’t be able to work with your screen at all, although some third-party stylus models could work for you. We know, it’s confusing. But it’s important to find out what Pencil and iPad model you have to see if they can work together.

  2. Restart your iPad and try again. When you restart, take a look at Settings and Bluetooth to make sure your Bluetooth is turned on. If you already see the Pencil as a recognized device in the Bluetooth settings, then select the information icon, and choose to Forget this Device. Then try reconnecting.

  3. Make sure the Pencil is charged. It’s obvious, but this problem really does happen a lot.

Problem: Your iPad is stuck in bootloops

This happens when your iPad suddenly shuts off and restarts … and then does it again, and again, and again. It’s usually caused by a bug in the last app you tried to use, but there can be other causes as well. It’s a serious issue, but there are a few things you can try to fix it before bringing your iPad to an Apple Store for a professional look.

Possible solutions:

  1. Wait for an update. A lot of times, bootloops are caused by bugs in apps or iPadOS that you can’t really do anything about except wait for a patch. This most recently happened in June 2020 when a version of iPadOS caused iPads to bootloop unexpectedly while working, usually around a minute or so after starting up. When the problem is a serious bug like this, Apple is usually hasty to release a patch to fix it. So make sure all your apps and your iPad are fully updated and wait for action from Apple.

  2. Force a manual restart, or “soft reset,” and see if it doesn’t solve the problem. Manual restarts are easy to trigger: all you need to do is hold the Power and Home buttons down for roughly 10 seconds. Once you see that familiar Apple logo appear, you’ll know that it’s worked, and you can release the buttons. For newer iPads without the Home button, press and quickly release the Volume Up button, press and quickly release the Volume Down button, and then press and hold the Power button until the device restarts. If the soft reset doesn’t do the trick, you may need to consider a full factory reset—which can also lead to a loss of data.

  3. Go into recovery mode. This can help prevent bootloops and allows you to make sure your iPad can update properly without crashing again. Apple has a full guide, but in brief, you’ll want to connect your iPad to a computer and then press and release the Volume Up button, then the Volume Down button, then the Top button, then hold the Top button as your iPad restarts until it goes into recovery mode. If your iPad has a Home button, you will need to hold the Home and Top buttons at the same time, all the way through to the recovery mode screen.