Why Is My Touch Screen Not Working?

What to do when an iPhone or Android screen stops responding to your touch

Touch screens are great when they work, but when a touch screen stops working, all that ease of use goes out the window and frustration sets in very quickly. The biggest problem is that with some devices, the touch screen is the only way you have of interacting with your phone or tablet. When that suddenly goes away, it can feel like you’re totally locked out of your device altogether.

While there are cases where an unresponsive touch screen calls for professional repairs, there are a number of steps, from easy to advanced, that you can take to get things working again.

These troubleshooting steps apply to any touch screen device running Windows, iOS, or Android.

Basic Fixes for a Touch Screen That Doesn't Work

  • Clean the screen with a lint-free cloth.
  • Restart your device.
  • Remove your case or screen protector.
  • Make sure your hands are clean and dry and that you aren't wearing gloves.

Regardless of your experience level, there are some basic, easy fixes that you can try when your touchscreen stops working.

An illustration of someone cleaning an iPhone screen with the basic touchscreen fixes listed.
Maddy Price ©Lifewire
  1. Restart the device. It may sound pretty basic, but when your touch screen stops working, simply restarting your touch screen device is usually all it takes to fix the problem.

  2. Clean the touch screen and screen protector. In some cases, a touch screen will stop responding properly due to built up dirt and grime or problems with the case or screen protector. Since this is pretty easy to either deal with or rule out, it’s a good idea to give your device a thorough cleaning if a reboot didn’t do the trick.

  • Clean your hands to avoid passing dirt onto the screen. Wipe the touch screen with a lint-free cloth. The cloth may be dry or wet, but never use a sopping wet one.
  • Remove the screen protector. If a screen protector gets dirty underneath it, is slightly wet, or gets too warm, it will stop registering your touch.
  • You may need to clean the screen after removing the screen protector if it had a tear in it or hadn't been removed for years.

Intermediate Fixes for an Unresponsive Touch Screen

  • Dry the device out if it got wet.
  • Tap the edges if the device was dropped.
  • Remove memory and sim cards.
  • Disconnect peripherals like USB devices.

If your device has suffered some damage, like if it was dropped or got wet, then fixing it is a little more complicated. The steps are still pretty easy to follow, but if you aren't comfortable trying to dry out your iPhone, then it's best left to the professionals.

Another slightly more complicated fix for a touch screen is to simply turn the device off and remove all of the sim cards, memory cards and peripherals. The reason this can be complex is that these cards are sometimes difficult to remove, and you have to put them back in one at a time to figure out which one was the problem.

  1. Dry off your smartphone. Touch screens can also stop working, become unresponsive, or work erratically if a phone gets wet. In that case, drying the phone out thoroughly sometimes fixes the problem. There are several steps to drying out an Android and drying out an iOS device.

  2. Gently tap on each corner of the phone. When a touch screen stops working after a phone is dropped it’s sometimes due to the digitizer connection coming loose internally. In that case, gently tapping on each corner of the phone may cause it to reconnect.

    If that doesn’t work, fixing the digitizer requires taking the phone apart.

  3. Remove the SIM card, memory cards, and peripherals. While it is less common, problems with SIM cards, memory cards, and peripherals (such as USB devices) can sometimes cause touch screen problems in mobile and Windows devices. Be sure to fully power down and unplug your device first.

  4. If the touch screen still doesn’t work, then move on to the Advanced Fixes.

Advanced Fixes for an Unresponsive Touch Screen

  • Put the device in safe mode.
  • Use the device’s calibration tool or sensitivity setting.
  • Update or reinstall your drivers.

There are a lot of other reasons for a touch screen to stop working, and most of them can be pretty tough to figure out.

Since touch screen problems can also be caused by files or programs that you download, the next step is to start up your phone, tablet or laptop in safe mode. This is basically just a bare bones mode that doesn't load extra programs, but it can be pretty complicated to get it going.

Another potential fix is to reconfigure the touch screen and reinstall drivers. This is even more advanced, but it does sometimes do the trick.

  1. Turn on Safe Mode for Android or Windows safe mode. In some cases, a problem with an app or program that you have downloaded can cause the touch screen to become unresponsive. The key to figuring this out is to restart in safe mode, since these apps and programs don’t load in safe mode.

    If you find that the touch screen starts working when you enter safe mode, then there is a problem with some app or program that you downloaded. Start with recently downloaded apps and go from there.

  2. Adjust iPhone 3D Touch sensitivity. If you’re experiencing an unresponsive or inaccurate touch screen on your iPhone 6s or later, it may be a 3D Touch sensitivity issue. In that case, assuming the touch screen works at all, you’ll need to adjust that setting.

    Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > 3D Touch. Adjust the slider between light and firm. Try turning off 3D Touch if the screen is still inaccurate or unresponsive.

    General, Accessibility, 3D Touch, and 3D Touch slider in iOS settings
  3. Calibrate your Windows touch screen.The Windows Touch Screen Calibration Tool helps to reset the center of each touch you make on your device. If you find that your touches seem to be a little off, this might help put everything right again.

  4. If the touch screen still doesn’t work after trying these Advanced Fixes, then move on to updating drivers and reinstalling the touch screen.

Updating and Reinstalling Touch Screen Drivers

If you have a Windows device with a malfunctioning touch screen, then updating the driver might fix the problem. Disabling and re-enabling the driver or reinstalling it might also do the trick.

In all cases, you’ll need to connect a keyboard and mouse or touchpad to your device first.

  1. Update touch screen drivers. Often updating drivers fixes any issues you're having.

  2. Disable and re-enable the Windows touch screen driver. This process also frequently solves an issues you're having with Windows.

  3. Uninstall and reinstall the touch screen driver. If updating and/or disabling and re-enabling doesn't work, then an reinstall might be the answer.

  4. If your touch screen still doesn’t work after following all of these steps, then it will probably require professional repairs.