What Causes the Slide Unlock Not to Work on an iPhone?

By Carol Finch

Find fixes for a Slide to Unlock slider that doesn't work. Learn how to bypass the Lock screen to get in to the iPhone.

If you can't swipe the Slide to Unlock slider on the Lock screen, your iPhone may have a problem with its touchscreen or may be hanging because of a bug. Try these troubleshooting fixe to re-enable the slider. One fix bypasses the lock screen, so you can at least use the iPhone while you try to solve the problem.

Problems With the Touchscreen

Sometimes, the iPhone's screen may not respond correctly if you have recently added a screen protector or have a touchscreen fault. Run some checks to see if you can pinpoint the problem.

Step 1

Screen protectors may affect the iPhone's touchscreen. If the problem started after you installed a protector, remove it, clean the screen and try the slider again.


  • If you aren't using a protector, wipe the screen with a soft, lint-freecloth. If the screen has oily fingerprints on it, you can use a damp,but not wet, cloth.
  • Iphones may not detect swipe gestures if your fingers are wet, if you've recently applied hand lotion or cream, or if you're wearing gloves.

Step 2

First, try to open the slider by swiping at the top or middle of the screen -- you don't have to swipe on the slider itself to unlock this screen. If this doesn't work, use the Calculator app to check if the touchscreen is working.

Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open the Control Center. Tap the Calculator button to open the app.

Tap the numbers and symbols to see if they register. If any don't work, you may have a touchscreen fault or an iPhone bug and should try other fixes.

IPhone Bugs and Glitches

Restart or Reset the iPhone

If a glitch is the cause of your slider problem, it may help to restart or reset the iPhone. Restarting gives the device a basic refresh; a reset reboots its system.

To restart, press down the Sleep/Wake button and swipe the slider when it appears on the screen. When the iPhone shuts down, press down Sleep/Wake to restart it.

If this doesn't fix the problem, or if you can't swipe this slider either, reset the iPhone. Press both the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons and hold them until you see the Apple logo. Release the buttons and wait for the iPhone to reboot.

Clear the iPhone by Calling it

You may be able to fix a stuck Lock screen by calling the iPhone. This switches the lock slider to a call slider, which may force the iPhone out of the Lock screen. Call the iPhone. Swipe the Slide to Answer button, if you can, and then hang up.

Bypass the Lock Screen and Shut Down Apps

If the slider still doesn't work, use one of these workarounds to bypass the Lock screen. Once you're in the Home screen, close down apps running in the background. If an app has a fault or glitch, this may clear the problem.

Step 1

Siri can open apps from the Lock screen for you, giving you backdoor access to your Home screen. Hold down the Home button until Siri asks how she can help. Say Open Email or Open Settings and enter your passcode, if prompted. Once you're in the app or settings menu, press Home to go to the main screen. If Siri is disabled, use the Camera app instead.

Step 2

Tap the Camera icon on the Lock screen and swipe up to open the Camera app.

Open the camera from the Lock screen by swiping it up.

Tap the Photo box.

Tap to open your photo albums.

Select All Photos and enter your passcode, if prompted. Press the Home button, and the iPhone should go directly to the Home screen.

Step 3

Close down all apps running in the background by double-tapping the Home button. In the list of apps, swipe each app up toward the top of the screen to force it to shut down completely.

Swipe up on apps to stop them running in the background.


If you still can't swipe the iPhone open from the Lock screen, contact Apple's iPhone Support.

IPhones may hang or become unresponsive on some screens, including the Lock screen, if the iPhone encounters a bug or glitch. Try a restart or reset to see if you can clear the problem. It may also help to call the iPhone or to bypass the Lock screen, so you can shut down background apps that might be buggy.