Troubleshoot your Apple iPad

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Every so often, for no particular reason, an iPad will lock up and stop responding to touch. Most of the time, that's caused by a software problem, and there are three things you can do to help fix it:

  • Close the active application by pressing the Home button so that the system returns to the Home page.
  • If that doesn't help, try a soft reset by pressing the Sleep/Wake button for about five seconds until the Power Off slider appears. Run your finger across it to shut the iPad down. When it's off, press the Sleep/Wake button to start it up again, without the offending app running.
  • Still having problems? It's time to restart the system and start fresh. This time, press the Sleep/Wake button along with the Home button. The screen will go dark, and then the Apple logo will appear. The iPad should start up and -- hopefully -- run fine.

No charge

The most common complaint that I've heard about the iPad is that, after plugging the USB connection cable into a computer, the battery doesn't charge.

The problem is that the ports on many USB hubs, smaller notebooks and even some desktops aren't powerful enough to charge the iPad while its screen is on. The battery icon in the upper right corner of the screen shows Not Charging rather than the "+" symbol inside the battery.

This is an easy problem to fix. If you don't want to use the AC power adapter that came with your iPad, you can plug it into a powered USB hub, which should work.

The heat is on

The iPad's lithium polymer battery is very sensitive to temperature swings -- it doesn't like environments colder than 32 degrees or hotter than 95 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, if you're out in the sun for too long, the system runs the risk of overheating and automatically shutting down.

About the only thing you can do in that case is let the device cool down and then restart the system. On warmer days, use your iPad in the shade and never put it in a hot place, like the back shelf of a car.

And if you've just come in from the cold, you may want to let your iPad warm up a bit.

Sync or swim

No iPad is an island. It needs to periodically connect to a computer to update its software, load new apps and get fresh data. But there are potholes on the road to synchronization.

To begin with, if the iPad has a nearly dead battery, it won't connect with a computer, so make sure it's charged.

If the host computer doesn't recognize the iPad, the result will be a major snag in the syncing process. The cause is often the AMDS (Apple Mobile Device Support) software that connects the two computers. Often all it needs is a restart.

If you're syncing your iPad with a Windows PC, go to your Control Panel and open Administrative Tools/Services/Apple Mobile Device. Click to stop and then to restart the service.

If that doesn't solve the problem, you may need to do something that's more involved: Uninstall and reinstall AMDS and iTunes from the host computer. Simply go into Control Panel and do a normal uninstall; when you download and install the current version of iTunes, a fresh version of AMDS will be included.

For Mac owners, Apple suggests skipping the restart and simply replacing AMDS. The process is a little more involved on a Mac, but it follows the same idea: Get rid of AMDS and iTunes and then reinstall.

Use the Mac's Finder to locate iTunes and put it in the trash to uninstall it. In the Extensions Library, find the AppleMobileDevice.kext file and trash that as well. In the Library Receipts section, find AppleMobileDeviceSupport.pkg and put it in the trash. Empty the trash and restart the system; then download and reinstall the latest version of iTunes. (If these directions don't work for you, then there are support documents on the Apple Web site that can help.)

Unresponsive screen

The iPad's touchscreen is its main interface, and it gets a lot of use. Chances are that sooner or later it'll get dirty enough to be nearly unusable. Time to clean.

Stay away from abrasive or ammonia-based window cleaners. Your best bet is to gently wipe the display with a damp paper towel. I also keep a soft microfiber cloth handy to clean the screen every few days.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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