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iPad Troubleshooting Tips: Fix Problems Fast

Jonathan is a certified teacher who has taught in the UK and in the US. He now works as a digital learning consultant.

Apple's iPad is a popular tablet, but it's not immune to problems

Apple's iPad is a popular tablet, but it's not immune to problems

iPad Problems? No Problemo!

One of the reasons why the iPad is such a popular device is because it is so reliable. The fact that there are so many 1st generation iPads still in use is testament to this fact. iOS, the software the the iPad runs on, is incredible robust, and it has been updated time and time again to improve its efficiency and eliminate bugs. However, no device is perfect. Here's what you need to know the next time you need to troubleshoot or fix Pad problems.

Close the App

If you find an app is freezing on you, or generally not performing the way it should be, then a good first step is to close the app and relaunch it to try to clear the problem. However, to shut down an iPad app you need to do more than just press the home button.

To close an app, you need to first open the iPad's multitasking screen. So, double-click your home button, or put four fingers on the screen and push up. You should see a row of app icons along the bottom and some larger thumbnails above them, (see picture below).

Scroll left or right until you find the app that was giving you problems. Then, put a finger on the large thumbnail and swipe it upwards to close the app. Then press the home button to return to your home screen. Now find the app you just closed. When you open it again, it will start up from fresh and will hopefully have fixed the issues you were having.

Close apps from the multitasking menu: Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

Close apps from the multitasking menu: Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

Video: How to Access the Multitasking Menu in iOS 7/8

Update Your Apps

If your apps shut down unexpectedly, or you experience random iPad restarts, it is a good idea to check to see if your apps are all up to date. iPad apps often get updated with bug fixes that are specifically designed to help prevent this kind of behavior.

Apps are updated in the App Store. You can check for updates by opening the App Store and selecting the Updates tab from the menu along the bottom of the screen. Click Update next to the app that needs updating or click Update All in the top left-hand corner of the screen to update all your apps at once.

Alternatively, if your iPad runs iOS 7 or later, you can set your iPad to automatically update your apps in the background. Simply navigate to Settings > iTunes and App Store, and flip the switch next to Update Apps.

Turn on Automatic Updates: Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

Turn on Automatic Updates: Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

Reinstall the App

If closing or updating the app does not fix your iPad problems, you can always delete the app and re-install it to see if the app had somehow become corrupt and in need of a fresh install to clear the problems you are having.

You can delete apps by pressing and holding on any app until they all start to shake. Tap the x in the top left-hand corner of the app you want to delete. However, be warned that deleting an app, may delete any content that you created or stored inside the app.

To re-install the app, simply open the App Store and search for the name of the app, or tap Purchased from the menu at the bottom of the screen and locate the app in your purchase history. You should see a cloud next to the app. This is an indication that you have previously bought or installed this app. Tap the cloud to download the app to your device again, and open it to see if you have fixed your iPad with these steps.

Restart the iPad

The favorite method of most tech support call centers is to restart your device. Often, this is the only thing you will need to do to fix random iPad issues, and seeing as you probably don't do it very often, it is a good thing to do every once in a while.

To restart your iPad, press and hold the power button until you see the Slide to Power Off bar appear at the top of the screen. Slide the bar to the right to power off. Then press and hold the power button to restart your iPad and see if it is performing more like it should be.

Slide to Power off: Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

Slide to Power off: Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

Perform a Hard Reset

Restarts fix a lot of things, but not everything. So, if you need the next step up, try a hard reset. A hard reset can often solve 90% of iPad problems, and although it might sound invasive, it is actually a very safe thing to do. You will not lose any data during this process.

You perform a hard reset by pressing and holding both the power and the home buttons at the same time. You keep them held down until the iPad turns off and restarts by itself. When you do a hard reset, ignore the slide to power off prompt and instead keep the buttons held down until you see the Apple logo appear against a black screen. When the iPad restarts, see if you can replicate the problem that you were having before the hard reset. There chances are high that it is now solved.

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Perform a hard reset: Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

Perform a hard reset: Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

Fix iPad Airplay Problems

If you are having problems mirroring your iPad to a Mac or PC, or you can't get it to show on a screen via an Apple TV, then the problems you are having are related to AirPlay. It's great when it works, but frustrating when it doesn't. So, if you are unsuccessful at connecting your iPad wirelessly to another device, you need to check the following:

1. Is your iPad and the AirPlay device on the same Wi-Fi network? If not, they need to be, in order to "see" each other.

2. Is the network down or cutting in and out? If so, you won't be able to connect. AirPlay needs a strong Wi-Fi connection in order to connect your devices properly.

3. If you are connecting to a Mac or a PC, is the AirPlay software open and running on your computer? It needs to be so that the iPad can detect your Mac or PC.

4. Did you password protect your AirPlay connection? If so, are you using the right password?

5. Are you connecting to the right device? In schools, or places of business, there is often more than one AirPlay device to connect to. If you are not seeing your iPad on the screen, it may be on another screen instead, so be sure you selected the right device to connect to.

6. Are you on an unfamiliar network? If you have never used AirPlay on this particular Wi-Fi network before, then you may not be able to. Certain networks block the outgoing ports required to AirPlay successfully. If in doubt, check with the network administrator.

If none of the above work, restart your iPad, and the AIrPlay device, and try again.

AirServer in the Classroom

AirServer in the Classroom

Fix iPad Email & Calendar Problems

There are few things more frustrating that when your email or calendar is not syncing the way it should be. We depend on it, and it should just work, right? Indeed it should, but every so often, things go awry.

If you are being prompted for a password by your mail or calendar app, then the iPad is having trouble authenticating your account. Did you change your password recently? If so, you will need to update it on the iPad too. If not, make sure that the password you are entering is indeed the correct password. You can do this by going to Safari, or another device, and trying to log in to your email service (Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook etc) in a browser. Check to make sure the password you think you have for your mail actually lets you log in to the website.

If all else fails, you can remove the email or calendar account, and add it back to the iPad. To do that, navigate to Settings > Mail, Contacts and Calendars. Next tap on the Mail or Calendar account that you want to remove and select Delete Account. You will doubtless get some scary message about deleting data from your device, but that is all it is. If you use Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook or one of the other big email providers, you are removing email or events from the device, not from your account.

To bring your email or calendar back, tap Add Account, and follow the prompts for the type of account you have. As soon as you add it back, the email and calendar events will return and will hopefully be working better than ever.

iPad Mail and Calendar Accounts: Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

iPad Mail and Calendar Accounts: Screenshot by Jonathan Wylie

Fix Wi-Fi Connectivity Issues

Wi-Fi issues are often fixed with a restart or a hard reset, but sometimes you need to investigate a bit further. For instance, do you see an airplane in the status bar in the top left hand corner of your screen? If so, you are in Airplane Mode and won't be able to connect to Wi-Fi. You can turn it off by going to Settings and sliding the switch next to Airplane Mode to the off position.

If you are having trouble connecting to a network you have connected to before, go to Settings > Wi-Fi to check your connection. Then tap the 'i' next to the troublesome network and choose Forget this Network. This will clear any existing connections and let you connect again as if for the first time. If it is password protected, you will be required to re-enter the password.

If you are trying to connect to a free Wi-Fi connection in a coffee shop or restaurant, be sure to open a browser to make sure that you do not need to accept any terms and conditions before your connection is established. These should appear automatically in Safari. If not, refresh the page or try a quick search to see if you can persuade them to return.

If you are at home, see if you can connect to the Wi-Fi on another device, e.g. a smartphone or laptop. If you are having trouble with these devices too, the problem lies with your network and not the iPad.

Still Got Wi-Fi Issues? Consider a New Router

Update iOS to the Latest Version

The operating system on an iPad is called iOS. Apple provides major updates for this software once a year some time around September or October. However, in between the major updates are a number of smaller updates that are often just as important. These updates are primarily designed to fix bugs and and other problems that arise after the major updates. Therefore, keeping your iPad updated to the latest version of iOS is generally a good idea because it can help solve a lot of issues before they even arise. Here's how to check for updates to iOS.

  1. Open your Settings app, and make sure that you have General highlighted on the left-hand side of the screen
  2. Tap Software Update
  3. Your iPad will then check for any updates to the software it is currently running. If it finds any, you will be prompted to Download and Install the latest version.

As well as fixing bugs in the software, updates to iOS may include performance tweaks that improve battery life or the speed of your device, so they are well worth checking for on a regular basis.

Why iCloud Matters

If none of this helps, you are definitely looking at something more serious. It will likely be a hardware issue where a component within the iPad itself has failed, or has been damaged by a drop or a liquid that was spilled on the device. In cases like this, it is crucial that you have a backup of everything on your device. Apple, or your local repair shop, may be able to repair the iPad, but it may be at the expense of the data you already have because they often have to wipe it back to factory settings.

So, make sure that you have iCloud backup turned on. When your device is backed up, you can restore that backup on a replacement, or repaired device, quickly and easily. All your data will be intact. Your email, pictures, music, wallpaper, and even the folders you set up for your apps, are all able to be restored from iCloud.

To set up iCloud, go to Settings > iCloud and sign in with an Apple ID. Then tap Storage and Backup, and make sure iCloud backup is turned on. Once activated, your iPad will backup everything on your iPad automatically when it is charging and not in use. You can also backup manually at any time by tapping Backup now.

All's Well That Ends Well

Overall, the iPad is not a hard device to maintain or fix when things go wrong. Most problems can be solved quickly and easily with minimal effort and next to no technical expertise. The tips above are tried and tested methods that are designed to help fix the majority of issues, but feel free to leave your own iPad troubleshooting tips in the comments below.


Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on March 27, 2014:

Thanks sparkleyfinger! Sometimes it is the simplest things that can make our lives easier so I am glad you found this useful.

Lynsey Hart from Lanarkshire on March 27, 2014:

Great hub! I have been an iPad user for a few years and only recently learned how to close the apps! Lol! Great hub with some great advice on how to solve most glitches!

Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on March 27, 2014:

Thanks Rosie. Teacher librarians are great sources for technology advice these days, so I am glad you think this is worthy of their attention! :)

Audrey Surma from Virginia on March 27, 2014:

This is a very informative hub. I am going to pin it to my library resource board on Pinterest for librarians to refer to. Many school librarians now have several ipads in their care, so this hub may be helpful.

Tim Anthony on March 26, 2014:

I use WP. ;)

Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on March 25, 2014:

WestelCS, many of these tricks will also work on an iPhone, so I hope your phone gets fixed soon! :)

Tim Anthony on March 25, 2014:

Recently I come across many issue that concern iPhone. More than 40. I was dumbstruck while reading that. The iPhone does have issue. But, having so much is unimaginable. Thank you for sharing this knowledge base for iPads.

Jonathan Wylie (author) from Iowa, USA on March 24, 2014:

Glad to hear it. Mirroring is great when it works, but like everything else, a pain when it doesn't! ;)

Raymond Philippe from The Netherlands on March 24, 2014:

Thanks for sharing. I enjoy working with my ipad. But i once had problems mirroring your iPad too. All resolved now.

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