How to Fix iPad Ghost Typing and Erratic Activity

Is your iPad hacked or possessed by a poltergeist?

iPad ghost
Getty Images / Ivcandy

If your iPad is typing on its own or randomly launching apps, it is probably not a poltergeist. And usually, the problem is easily exorcised with a few quick troubleshooting steps. Unfortunately, this can also be an indicator of a hardware issue, but before getting Apple involved, you can try a few fixes.

Is Your iPad Hacked?

The first thing many people think when something like this happens it that a malevolent third party has somehow taken control of the device. Don't worry: it is very rare for something like that to happen. Because Apple checks all of the apps submitted to the App Store, malware has difficulty making its way onto the device.

Step One: Power Down the iPad

Illustration of power button and slide to power off screen on iPad

The first step in any troubleshooting is to reboot the device. This works with anything from a DVD player to a PC to a tablet or smartphone. The problem with electronics is that they are still designed by humans, so they are prone to occasionally freak out.

However, in this case, insert a step between powering the device down and turning it back on. First, shut down the iPad by holding down the Sleep/Wake button until your iPad prompts you to slide a button to power it down. The Sleep/Wake button is the button at the top of the iPad. When prompted, slide the button and wait until the iPad's screen goes completely dark before proceeding to the next step.

Step Two: Clean the Screen

It's possible that the screen has something on it that is causing the iPad's touch sensors to trigger. It's best to use the same type of microfiber cloth that you would use to clean glasses, but any lint-free cloth will do just fine. You should dampen the cloth but it shouldn't be "wet," and you shouldn't spray anything on the iPad's screen. A slightly damp, nonabrasive cloth is all you need. Rub the cloth gently over the entire display.

Step Three: Power On the iPad

Power the iPad back on by holding down the Sleep/Wake button until you see the Apple logo appear on the screen. This signifies the iPad is booting back up and should be ready in a few seconds.

Step Four: Only If the Problem Persists...

For most people, simply rebooting the iPad and cleaning the screen will do the trick. But if you are one of the unlucky few still experiencing this erratic behavior even after a reboot, you can try restoring the iPad to factory default settings.

This isn't quite as scary as it sounds, but it does mean you will need to wipe all of the data and apps from the iPad. Thus, your next move is to back up your iPad to ensure that you will be able to restore all of your data.

Screenshot of Back Up Now screen in iOS iPad settings

You can back up the iPad by going into the iPad's settings, navigating the left-side menu to the iCloud settings, tap Backup to get the Backup settings, and tap the Back Up Now button.

Screenshot of Reset page in iOS Settings app on iPad

Next, you need to reset the iPad to its factory default status. Go into the iPad's settings, tap General, tap Reset at the bottom of the General settings, and choose Erase All Content and Settings. You'll be asked to verify this choice..

When the iPad is done with the reset, it will be in a "like new" state. You can walk through the steps for setting it up, which should be the same as when you first opened the iPad. One of these steps allows you to restore the iPad from the backup you created.

Still Having Problems?

Resetting the iPad to factory default will solve the vast majority of software issues, which means you may have a faulty touch display or sensors on the iPad. Only Apple can help you here. You can contact Apple Support or take the iPad to the nearest Apple Store for further assistance.