We’ve all been there. Tapping, swiping or zoom-pinching, there’s often a moment when the touchscreen display on your tablet refuses to respond. How do you overcome this, and achieve tablet-tapping Zen?
Why Your Tablet Touchscreen Doesn’t Respond
As the primary mode of interaction between you and your apps, the tablet touchscreen is vitally important. Any damage inflicted – be it knocks to the device, scratches or worse – will degrade the reliability of the component, and short of paying for a replacement screen and digitiser, you will need to make sure the display is kept safe and intact at all times.
There are several things you can do to help with this, not least applying a screen protector, which is probably easier to do correctly than you think. Employing a case with a soft interior and keeping pens well away from the device is also a good idea, as is never, ever, placing the device face down on hard surfaces. The tiniest bit of dirt can cause all manner of scratches on your display, resulting in problems with the touchscreen’s responsiveness.
The following five tips – which might also help for issues with a touchscreen smartphone – will help you resolve your tablet’s touchscreen responsiveness issues. Note that this should be seen as a general guide for all touchscreen tablet computers, running iOS, Android and Windows 8.
1. Make More RAM Available
Perhaps the best place to start in troubleshooting any screen responsiveness issues is to make more system RAM available. This may take a moment (and in some cases require a restart, see below) but should give you an idea of how bad the problem is.
Android users have a wealth of options for freeing up space on tablets, such as clearing the app cache or using third party apps such as Memory Booster – RAM Optimizer. Chris Hoffman’s guide to spring cleaning your Android should come in handy here.
Memory issues on an iPad can lead to slow responses from your touchscreen. The best way to deal with this is (in iOS 6 and lower) to double-click the Home button to display the currently open apps, then tap and hold one to display the cross in the top right corner. For devices running iOS 7, the process is slightly different – read James’ What’s New in iOS 7 article or our iOS guide. After you’ve closed all the apps you no longer need, your tablet should be more responsive. Jailbroken iPads can run task management apps, meanwhile, which will help you to close any running processes you don’t need.
In Windows 8, close as many desktop apps as is practical can before switching to the Start screen. Display the Modern task switching view, dragging each app into the main screen before closing them (Modern apps are closed by dragging your finger down from the top of the screen to the bottom).
If freeing up some RAM helps with your touchscreen tablet’s responsiveness, then this should be all you need to do.
2. Restart Your Tablet
Further troubleshooting can be performed by restarting your tablet. When the device restarts, the majority of applications will be closed. You can then check the responsiveness of the touchscreen, either finding that all is well or by using the apps suggested below to find out more.
Restarting a tablet isn’t a case of just tapping the power button to turn the screen off. Instead, the whole device must be switched off and back on again.
For Android users, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem – all you will need to do is hold the power button down and select Restart.
Apple iPad owners, however, will need to close each open app before holding the Sleep/Wake button and dragging the slider. If app closing isn’t possible, hold Sleep/Wake together for a few seconds until the Apple logo is displayed.
Windows 8 tablet owners can restart their devices by opening the Charms menu, then tapping Settings > Power > Restart. If the device fails to respond, hold the Windows button and the power button together for a few seconds until it reboots.
3. Realign the Display
To be performed only if you have a device that is out of warranty and don’t have the money to pay for professional repairs!
This step really applies to some cheaper Android tablets rather than any high-end gear like the iPad, and basically involves you removing the screen and replacing it, with the desired outcome of a better response for your touchscreen gestures.
For instance, a knock might dislodge the digitizer; similar, dropping or jarring the tablet might cause a cable connecting the digitizer to the motherboard to come loose (this shouldn’t happen, but isn’t unheard of).
Before you grab your tablet, of course, you should check if you can find the tools and instructions for disassembling your device. The first place you should look is YouTube. We don’t advise taking this step lightly; similarly, perform as much research as possible before you begin to break your tablet open (like I did).
4. Use Native Apps to Troubleshoot
Often when a tablet touchscreen is being unresponsive, the problem can be localized to a particular portion of the display.
Knowing which area(s) of the touchscreen are failing to respond correctly can be useful in diagnosing what is wrong; the information would certainly prove useful to any engineer who ends up repairing the tablet.
A useful means of checking which areas of your display work and which don’t is to employ a couple of apps.
With a calculator app you can test simple taps across the display (screen rotate function will let you check the tablet in all orientations)
A maps app, meanwhile, can be used to determine problems with dragging and pinch-to-zoom.
5. Employ a Calibration Tool
Calibrating your tablet display can resolve many touchscreen detection issues.
For iPad users, there is no calibration tool available or required. However, if you are using a jailbroken device and have found that the display is registering your taps and swipes incorrectly, a hard reset to undo the jailbreak is recommended.
On Android, it depends on the version of the OS and the device. Typically, you would find a calibration option in Settings > Display but if none is apparent, there are several apps you might try, such as TouchScreen Tune (requires root) that can be used to resolve many touchscreen issues.
Windows 8 users can tap Start and type calibrate, tap Settings and select Calibrate the screen for pen and touch input, click Calibrate… and follow the instructions.
Help an Engineer – Use These Tips!
We’re covering all bases here, providing you with the five most effective ways to resolve problems with your tablet’s touchscreen while allowing you to keep hold of the device for as long as possible.
However, as you may already realise, there are problems that are so bad that you will need to employ the assistance of an engineer, one who works as an approved repair person for the tablet manufacturer or the store from which it was purchased.
We suggest you make it clear what steps you have attempted to resolve the touchscreen issues, perhaps making a note of which of the five steps above you attempted.
Meanwhile, if you have any suggestions of your own, please share them in the comments below.
Photo Credit: redaleka