Tips and Tricks: Crashes, Freezes, and General Belligerence

30 Jun

From time to time, you might encounter a few problems while using your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Apps may quit unexpectedly, freeze, or the device may crash. This post has some tips for recovering from those little episodes and what to do to avoid them.


There are a couple of things you can do to reduce the chance of problems occurring.

  1. Regularly use the App Store App to check for App updates. The App Store will note that you have updates available when it displays a red circle with a number in the top left of its App icon. You can choose to Update All or just update one at a time. Most of us don’t keep all our Apps on our devices, so also check iTunes on your computer. Go to iTunes>;;Apps and then tap Check for Updates. Just as with the App, you can download each update separately, or you can download all of them at once.
  2. Turn off Apps running in the background if you have finished using them. I tend to have A couple of Apps running that I flip between, but I turn off any others as they tend to chew up both the battery life and CPU memory. Tap the home button twice to bring up the task bar. Hold your finger down until the Apps wobble, and then turn off Apps by tapping the red minus sign that appears in the corner of the App icons.
  3. Make sure your device is charged. I know this sounds basic, but you’d be surprised how many people found that their unresponsive iPad was simply in need of a charge and actually in good working order.


The following is a list of things that you can do if your device seems to be playing up.

When Apps Freeze or Quit Unexpectedly

A freeze is where an App stops running and does not respond to taps or gestures. Quitting is when the App closes suddenly. Essentially, you treat them the same way, apart from the first two steps that you will need to do first if an App freezes.

  1. In the case of a freeze, wait a moment to see if the App un-freezes. If the App is using WiFi or 3G and the signal becomes weak for a moment, it might pause for a moment, appearing to freeze, but actually still working.
  2. If it doesn’t start running again, tap the home button once to go back to the main screen.
  3. After a freeze or an unexpected quit,turn off the App, along with any others that are running.
    1. double-tap quickly on the home button to bring up the activity bar.
    2. Tap and hold the app until it wobbles, then tap the minus sign to turn it off. Turn off other open Apps.
  4. Restart the App. (If you can’t return to the main screen this way, you are experiencing a crash, so read further below.)
  5. If the App keeps freezing, repeat step 3 and then do a full shutdown of your device
    1. Hold the Sleep/Wake button for a few seconds.
    2. You should be prompted to swipe to shut down.
    3. Restart the device and try again.

I know some of my friends have been under the impression that a quick tap of the Sleep/Wake button will turn it off, but, as the official name suggests, this only puts the device to sleep. This is a common mistake for anyone new to iPads and similar devices. Any open apps will still be running and you will also be able to receive push notifications. (If you are concerned about battery life, do a full shutdown, as power is still being used in sleep mode.)


Crashes look like a freeze, but you’ll find that the device is completely unresponsive to taps on the screen, or presses on the home or power buttons. In this case,
  • Hold the Sleep/Wake and home buttons together for about 10 seconds until the Apple Logo appears.
  • Restart the your device.
  • Turn off any Apps that are running.
  • Check for updates to the App and install them.
  • Try the App again. If the freeze recurs then repeat the steps above and then
  • Delete the App
  • Reinstall the App
  • Try the App again. If it still doesn’t work, then;
  • Delete any Apps that continually cause problems.

Restoring your device

If none of the above works, or if your device is frequently freezing or crashing and you can’t pinpoint specific Apps that might be causing the problem, you might need to restore your device.

Before you Restore: Try to transfer any purchases and documents to your hard drive to back up. Any documents stored on iCloud or DropBox should be safe. Some data, such as scores on games, will most likely be lost.

To Restore:

  1. Connect the device to your computer with the proper cable.
  2. Open iTunes and select your device from the side menu.
  3. Click on the Summary Tab (it will probably open to this by default) and
  4. Click Restore then follow the prompts.

The restoration process might take some time.

When all else fails

Off to your nearest Apple Store (or other authorised repairer) for you. When you go, make sure you have a list of:

  • What the problem is.
  • If you have identified any triggers (e.g. does it happen more often when you are using video/3G/downloading/saving documents?),
  • The steps you have taken to resolve the problem.
  • Any other information that you think might be relevant.

This will help the technicians to find the problem and may save time. (It also earns you some credibility points, particularly if you are a frumpy-looking 40 y.o. and the technician is young and hip! Trust me on this one.)

A few things to note

After iOS upgrades, some Apps might not be completely compatible and so may quit, freeze or crash unexpectedly. When you update your iOS, make sure you check for updates. Some might take a little while to appear in the App Store as their developers play catch-up, but keep checking.

Sometimes Apps just don’t work. Sometimes bugs have been overlooked, or the developers are just not all that skilled.

If an App is particularly troublesome and you can’t resolve the issue, here are a few things you should always do:

  1. Contact the developer. If you can find a link within the App (before it crashes or quits), then try there, otherwise go to the App Store, search for your App and click the App Support page. When contacting the App support team, mention the following things:
    • Which device you are using.
    • Which iOS version you are using.
    • Steps you have taken to resolve the problem (as mentioned above.)
  2. Check FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) and Forums – Most developers have a page for FAQs, and some also have forums that you can browse or search to see if anyone else is having the same problem. Search engines may send you to independent forums also discussing the same issues you are having.
  3. Leave a review and a rating in the iTunes store. Be objective; tell of the problems you are having, and any response (or lack of it) you have had. Reviews and ratings will help others and hopefully put pressure on the developers to improve their Apps. You can always go back and edit past reviews. Always read the user reviews for current and older versions of Apps before you buy them. (And be wary of those that have a couple of fantastic 5 star reviews and then lots of bad reviews. Chances are the reviews were written by the publisher’s Mum, Dad, sister, brother, cousin, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend etc or even by the publisher using a fake iTunes account. It happens.)
  4. Contact Apple for a refund – if an app does not work and continually fails, you should contact Apple for a refund. Again, list what has happened, and include any emails you have sent and received from the publisher, and most importantly, a copy of your receipt for the original purchase. At this point, it is probably worth mentioning that it helps if you keep your iTunes receipts in a handy spot because you need to be able to quote the transaction number and date.


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