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How to Unlock an iPod Touch That Will Not Unlock

written by: Rochelle Connery•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 7/15/2011

The Apple iPod touch is by far one of Apple’s most popular devices. This device features an on-screen unlocking feature that many find more convenient than a manual lock. However, this lock sometimes freezes up, preventing a user from using the device. Learn how you can work around this problem.

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    The Basics of the Unlock Feature

    iPod touch screen 

    When you click the power or home buttons to wake the iPod touch from sleep mode, you will see a gray arrow button at the bottom of the screen. The words, “slide to unlock" should appear in shimmery text to the right of the arrow. Ordinarily, when this function is working, the user can slide the arrow from left to right, launching the on-screen keypad where they can input their password and unlock the device.

    Sometimes the iPod touch won't unlock. This is quite frustrating because it means you cannot access the applications and entertainment files on the iPod touch. In the following sections, we will explore some of the causes of this issue and determine how you can fix the problem.

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    The Battery is Low

    Sometimes the iPod touch will lock up entirely when the battery is low. Wake up the iPod and check the battery indicator at the top right of the screen. Does it display a reading in the red? If it does, that means it has less than 20 percent charge, in which case many programs on the iPod touch will probably not be functioning at full capacity.

    The fix: Hook the iPod to its charger or connect it to a computer that is powered on. Wait until it reaches full charge before attempting to unlock it again.

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    Too Many Applications Running at Once

    Sometimes, when you have several applications running at the same time, your iPod touch won’t slide to unlock. It might slide and then bounce back immediately, or it might not slide at all.

    This is often due to an overload on the processor. For instance, if you are playing an Internet radio app while also looking at photos, checking your email and texting on your free text app, you can be assured that something is going to lock it up sooner or later.

    The fix: Power down the iPod touch. Press and hold the power button until you see the words, “Slide to power off." Boot the device back up, then log in and proceed as usual, just with less apps than you were using before.

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    Too Many Applications Running in the Background

    Most iPod touch devices now have the iOS4 software update. This means you can multitask, or run several apps at once. This often places an overload on the iPod and makes it sluggish. It might even hinder its unlocking ability.

    The fix: Power down the iPod touch, then log back in when it comes back up. This does not quit the applications, so you will have to quit those manually. To do this, double-click the home button, then look at all the apps that are running, which are displayed beneath the screen that slides up on the display.

    You can quit these apps by tapping and holding the app’s icon until a little red "-" sign appears. Tap the minus sign to quit the app. If you want to quit all of them and start over again, perform this task on all of the icons.

    This will not only help your iPod unlock the next time, it will free up the processor and allow the device to run faster.

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    Soft Reset

    If your iPod still doesn’t respond to these troubleshooting tips, you should try a soft reset. Press and hold both the power and home buttons until the screen goes black and the Apple icon appears. Let go of the buttons and wait for it to power back up. When the screen comes back up, you should be able to log back in.

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    Restore from Backup or to Factory Settings

    In some cases, the iPod touch won’t unlock due to bug in the software. In this case, you should try to restore the software. Plug it into iTunes, then from the “Summary" tab that appears in the window, select “Restore from Backup" or “Restore to Factory Settings."

    Always try to restore it from a backup first. This will prevent all (or most) of your applications from being wiped off the device. However, if the backup contains the same bug in the software, it won’t fix your problem.

    In this case, you will need to restore it to factory settings to download brand new software from Apple. Although you will have to re-sync your device with your library to put all of your content back on, it will be better than not being able to use the device at all due to the software glitch.

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    Always Start with the Least Damaging Tip

    These tips are listed in the order in which you should attempt the troubleshooting. Never use the “Restore" setting first. Always try a softer option, like quitting individual apps or performing a soft reset, before resorting to a total restoration.

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    Sources

    Writer's experience with unlocking the iPod touch from a frozen state

    Image Credit:

    Manufacturer product image