The most common iPad problems, and how to fix them

Apple’s iPad remains the best tablet on the market. Apple has sold well over 350 million worldwide, and there are currently five different models to choose from. While these tablets are certainly well-engineered pieces of digital machinery, they are not immune to a few snags and glitches. We’ve taken a look at some of the most prevalent iPad problems in an attempt to find workable solutions for them. Sometimes it will take more than a simple reset to get your iPad back in working order.

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.

iPad air sitting on table.
Jeremy Bezanger/Unsplash

Problem: Universal Control isn’t working with my iPad

You certainly aren’t alone. As we noted, the interesting Universal Control option was to be added with MacOS Monterey, but it hasn’t been added yet. Originally, the feature was intended to allow you to use an iPad or Mac as a second screen and move seamlessly between them with both content and keyboard/mouse controls. If you can’t get it to work, that’s because it’s not here yet, despite it being advertised as a native feature for MacOS Monterey.

Possible solutions:

  1. This feature has not yet been implemented, and Apple appears to be missing its promised deadline for adding Universal Control. There’s nothing to do but wait for the next update.

Problem: There are dead or stuck pixels on the iPad

It can be frustrating if a pixel isn’t working on your iPad. You’ll first notice this as an unresponsive dot on the display that doesn’t change, or stays black no matter what happens. Sometimes there may be more than one pixel like this.

Possible solutions:

  1. If the pixel still lights up but is simply stuck or never goes to the right color, you can try manually fixing it yourself. Wrap your thumb in a clean cloth and apply gentle, firm pressure to the area of the display with the pixel, slowly moving your thumb as you do so. Sometimes this can help fix any issues the panel is experiencing.
  2. Flashing bright, changing colors can also help reset a pixel. You can plenty of Pixel Fix videos on YouTube to run at full screen to help with this, or even find an app that does the same thing.
  3. If the pixel is permanently dark no matter what you do, it’s dead. You cannot fix a dead pixel. If it’s a minor issue and not distracting, you can leave it. But it’s a good idea to take your iPad into an Apple Store and ask about a display replacement.

Problem: The latest iPadOS isn’t installing on my iPad

Eager to get the latest iOS/iPadOS updates and all the new features offered? You may discover that your iPad is obstinately refusing to download the update, even if it says it will or if it was scheduled to update at a specific time. Fortunately, this is usually due to not meeting specific requirements needed to update, not a permanent flaw on your iPad.

Possible solutions:

  1. Make sure your iPad battery has at least a 50% charge. To be safe, it’s a good idea to just plug your iPad in before you start a big update.
  2. Make sure you are not using a cellular data connection for your internet. The iPad will not start such a big download when on a data connection to avoid using up cell data.
  3. Check that Low Power Mode is turned off. If it’s accidentally enabled, the update probably won’t work.
  4. Disable your VPN if you are using one. While you can whitelist sites on many VPNs, that doesn’t really work for downloading a software update straight from Apple, so disable it for this change, and turn it back on afterward.

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 the 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.
iPad Pro 12-9 inch feat image.

Glitch: iTunes or Finder 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 or Finder 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. (If you are running MacOS Catalina you can skip this step as you’ll be using Finder to interface with your iPad.) 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, go into an Apple Store, or take it to a 3rd party repair shop as the culprit could be a damaged battery, or a damaged charge port, both of which are repairable.

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 so 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, 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.
Lifestyle image of someone using the iPad Mini.
iPad Mini 6 (2021)

Issue: iPad is randomly 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 ensure that your iPad 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 it.
  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.

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. Ensure that you have the latest update by going to Settings > General > Software Update and download and install anything 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 everything is running as it usually should, your iPad should take about three hours to recharge. If you own an older model, it still would only take about four hours, at a maximum. That said, many users report that it takes much longer for their iPad to recharge fully. We have a couple of tips to try and speed up the charging process.

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

We completely understand how frustrating this issue can be, mainly because you likely bought the Pencil to pair specifically with your iPad. We have several solutions to try out to get the two working together again.

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

A bootloop is when your device gets stuck in a cycle of turning off and turning back on; The iPad continues repeating that over and over again on a seemingly endless loop. We’ve found that these frustrating cycles tend to result from a bug in whatever app you were last trying to use. That said, there could also be a couple of other factors causing the bootloop. We have several recommendations to try out to stop the looping before you take your iPad to the Apple Store for help.

Possible solutions:

  1. Wait for an update. Unfortunately, bootloops are often caused by bugs in specific apps or the iPad’s current operating system. In that situation, you just need to wait for an app or OS update to be released. A recent example of this happened in June 2020, when a version of iPad iOS caused iPads to bootloop unexpectedly while working, usually around a minute or so after starting up. Apple doesn’t waste a second when it comes to releasing patches for these problems. Just keep an eye out for new updates.
  2. Force a manual restart, or “soft reset,” and see if it doesn’t solve the problem. A manual reset is a powerful troubleshooting tool to have. To start the reboot, hold the Power and Home buttons down for about 10 seconds simultaneously. You don’t have to count it down; you’ll see when the reboot has started because the Apple logo will appear on the screen. Some newer iPads don’t have a Home button. For those devices, 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 this doesn’t work, you may need to force a factory reset, unfortunately. Before resetting anything, though, may sure you back up all of your important data.
  3. Go into recovery mode. This feature prevents bootloops and opens the door for your iPad to fully update if your device is stuck in an infinite bootloop. Apple has a full guide, but to explain it briefly— connect your iPad to a computer; then press and release the Volume Up button, the Volume Down button, the Top button, and then hold the Top button as your iPad restarts. If this was completed correctly, your iPad would revert to recovery mode. If your device has a Home button, hold the Home and Top buttons simultaneously. Continue holding them down until you see that recovery screen.

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