iPhone and iPad

Breathe New Life Into Your Old iPad With These Tips

Yaara Lancet 01-10-2013

Own an iPad 2? Or maybe even a first generation iPad? Your device is barely 3-4 years old, and yet at times it feels like complete junk. I know all about it, I own one too.


This is not an accident. The companies who make these devices want them to be short lived Thou Shalt Consume: The Story of Consumer Electronics [Feature] Every year, exhibitions around the world present new high tech devices; expensive toys that come with many promises. They aim to make our lives easier, more fun, super connected, and of course they are status... Read More . What better way to make money than have us buy a new iPad even year or two? But unless your iPad is really broken or totally shot, you don’t have to get a new one. If you feel that your iPad is not what it used to be, a few simple actions may restore some of its original zest.

The tips below are not a guarantee. They will not turn your old iPad into a new device. For some iPads, they may not have any effect at all. But if you manage to breathe some life into your trusty old iPad and carry on for a while longer, you’ve not only saved some money, you’ve kept yourself out of the endless consumer loop for just a bit longer.

Upgrading (Or Not Upgrading) iOS


There are many opinions on this matter. Some say you should keep to the latest version of iOS at all times, others say you should not upgrade old devices. No answer is right all of the time — there are too many variables to take into account, and each iPad is different. There’s one thing I know for sure, though: my first generation iPad has never been the same since upgrading to iOS 5. I wish I had never upgraded.

While new versions of iOS add polish and useful features, they’re not really meant for old devices. The first iPad can’t go beyond iOS 5, and was better off with iOS 4. The iPad 2 just might be better off with iOS 5, or if you’ve already upgraded, with iOS 6. If you own an older iPad, upgrading to iOS 7 might not be the best thing for your device. Yes, you’ll have to give up some nice new features, but it’s worth it to keep your iPad in a better working condition.


Apple’s official line is that you should always update, and this is much of the time down to software. Developers will always write with the latest version of iOS in mind, and while many retain backwards compatibility with iOS 5 and 6, priority is given to newer revisions.

This goes for iPhones as well, by the way. Own an iPhone 4? iOS 7 may not be the best choice for you.

Freeing Up Room: Delete Unused Apps & Photos

If your iPad is full to the brim with apps and photos, or even if you just have a bunch of apps you never use, it may be time for some spring cleaning. While an extra app or two is not going to make much of a difference, many of us have loads of apps lying around which we just never use.

A good way to start is by going to Settings > General > Usage, and checking how much free space you have on your iPad. Here you can also see which apps take up the most amount of space on your iPad — these may be ones you don’t actually use. You can delete large apps from this screen by tapping the app, or if you want to delete other apps, just uninstall them the good old way by tapp.



If your device is really full, getting rid of a boatload of photos may help too. If you keep those on your device, you should have them backed up elsewhere anyway. If you don’t, transfer your photos to your PC or Mac via iCloud or using the Dropbox app, and delete them from your device.

If you get rid of many apps this way, there should be a noticeable difference in your iPad’s performance.

Give PhoneClean A Try

There are things on your iPad you can’t delete manually. Others, such as you browser’s cache, are just a hassle to get to all the time. PhoneClean is one of those apps that promises to clean up your iDevice, and surprisingly enough, it actually works!


I’ve given PhoneClean 2 a thorough testing PhoneClean 2 Promises To Free Up Space on Your iOS Device, But Does It Work? I have been looking for something that could clean up my iPad for me and, according to iMobie, PhoneClean is the program to do that. The free program that claims to free space on your... Read More on my old iPad, and managed to free up more than 1GB without deleting a single app. This is a great way to ensure your iPad is not getting slowed down by unnecessary junk, and is also a good way to free up some space without having to give up any of your precious apps.


The amount of space you can free with PhoneClean will vary from device to device, naturally, but getting rid of junk is always useful. This trick will work on old iPhones too, and can even benefit your newer iDevices.

Disable Spotlight Search

How many times a day do you use Spotlight Search? How many times have you used Spotlight Search since you’ve owned your iPad? If you’re anything like me, you can count the number on two hands or less. Spotlight Search is a great feature, but most of the time, it just isn’t necessary. If you keep your apps in relatively good order, and don’t have hundreds of them, there’s a good chance you rarely use Spotlight Search. So now what?


In order for Spotlight Search to work, it has to keep indexing all the content on your device. This includes your apps, emails, notes, music, messages, reminders, and pretty much everything else. If you rarely use the feature anyway, why not save some resources and stop this indexing?


To do this, go to Settings > General > Spotlight Search, and uncheck all the items on the list. If you actually use Spotlight Search for certain things, such as finding buried apps, you can leave the indexing on just for those items, and uncheck all the rest. This will still save some resources, and could benefit your iPad.

Give Your Home Button Another Chance

We now come to one of the most controversial tips in iOS history: the old Home button fix. Many old iPads (and iPhones) suffer from a shady Home button. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and your entire iPad experience is just not the same. Is there a fix?


There might be. While many call this trick “recalibrating the Home button”, that’s not what this is about. I’ve never found a definite answer as to why this trick works, but the bottom line is that it does manage to fix many problematic Home buttons.

In a nutshell, you need to launch a pre-installed iOS app, press and hold the power button until the shut down prompt appears, and then press and hold your Home button until the app force closes. It sometimes takes several cycles of this to get results, but it does get results for many. Is it the pressing and holding of the Home button the does the trick? Is it something else? I don’t really know. All I know is that it’s harmless and worth a try.

Get detailed instructions and more info about this method in the full Home button fix post Is Your iPhone Home Button Not Working? 5 Quick Fixes to Try Your iPhone Home button isn't working? Here's how to repair or work around a broken Home button to make your device usable again. Read More , along with another trick you can try if this doesn’t work. The comments to this post are also filled with useful tips, such as cleaning out the Home button with alcohol and a Q-tip.

Repurpose It


If nothing works, and you can’t get your iPad to behave well enough for your regular needs, don’t throw it away. Aside from giving it away to a child or a friend, there are many things you can do with it.

If you have lots of photos, you can turn your iPad into a dedicated media album Turn Your Old iPad Into A Dedicated Family Media Album Or Business Portfolio Ever since I upgraded to the iPad Mini, I quickly realized I will never use my original 16GB iPad 1 in the same way I've used it for the last two years. But instead of... Read More , or even a business portfolio. You can mount it in your car, use it as a recipe book, or even as a remote control Turn Your Old iPad Into A Dedicated Family Media Album Or Business Portfolio Ever since I upgraded to the iPad Mini, I quickly realized I will never use my original 16GB iPad 1 in the same way I've used it for the last two years. But instead of... Read More .

Another way to go is to trade your old iPad for money Trade Your Old iPad For Money On These 5 Websites Every iPad enthusiast (and everyone in general) has heard of Apple’s new iPad. While some people feel the update is not significant enough, many are still planning to buy it. With its retina display and... Read More , or simply sell it on Craiglist, and use that to buy a new iPad. If you own a really old iPad, you may not get a lot of money for it, though, but you can make sure you sell it to someone who will use it or its parts, and not just throw it away.

What Works For You?

Do you own an old iPad or iPhone? What have you managed to do to keep it in good working order? Is it worth the effort, or do you just go for a newer model when the older one starts to go off? Share your experiences in the comments.

Image credit: yum9me, Johan Larsson

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  1. Marc Stone
    November 21, 2018 at 1:22 am

    I have a iPad 1st Generation and for me, it's still useful.. I use it for the following:
    1. Kindle
    2. Itunes/Spotify
    3. Internet- I downloaded Chrome- crashes far less than Safari
    4. I installed Kayak- so now I can buy airline tickets
    5. Netflix/ Amazon Prime/ Hulu Plus all work fine
    6. Bluetooth works without fail
    7. I use the notepad to take notes, writing out new story ideas in which i can save on the iCloud .
    8. I use it often as an Alarm Clock
    9. I have a couple of games - I don't play many games, but the ones I have work flawlessly.
    10. Makes for a great digital photo album in which I can set up as a screensaver.

    All in all, by today's standard it is obsolete, but my use for it is pretty basic but functional for me. I found a place that can change out the battery so I can use it on the go. The number use I get out of it is the kindle app- I love reading and it makes for great traveling and saves space without having a ton of books lying around.

    So all you iPad 1 owners hang on to it. Pretty soon it'll be a collectors item.. :)

    I love my iPad 1..

  2. vicky
    May 18, 2018 at 1:43 am

    you could try an app called dr.cleaner. it could help you maximize the disk storage and clean the junk files, so that your ipad could be faster

  3. shanos
    October 31, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    The problem as I see it is apples insistence that everyone be on the latest version of Ios, even if by running it there devices will become slow and barely usable (e.g ipad 1 with ios=fail).
    My ipad 1 64gb runs slow as a pig with no legs and whilst I have tried to roll back the firmware it always fails, my wife has an ipad4 I am not letting her update to ios7 as I don't want all the issues that her mum is having (even with latest update still can't send an email)
    So whilst there is fragmentation on android I see that as a benefit not a problem, if a phone does not have the hardware to upgrade the os users stick with the one that works (or they head over to xda and find a version of the os that has been made as good as it can be by people dedicated to breathing life in to older handsets).
    I have been a long time mac user (started with 8500av an 5300ce), but find myself using Android as it works and if it doesn't work people like those on xda make it work, this coupled with lower monthly line rental and no upfront handset costs, makes it a no brained for me.

  4. William Kinnaird
    October 30, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    BTW, I stumbled on your web page when I was trying to find out if it would be possible to use my iPad as a second display (for video editing or teaching). My heart started racing when I heard of Air Display, and that it can support up to four iPads. I was excitedly envisaging computer workshops in the village with my Mac screen mirrored on our three iPads. Then I was brought crashing down to earth when I saw that Air Display requires iOS 6 :(

  5. William Kinnaird
    October 30, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    Hey, I work in Africa, in a remote village with a very poor people, trying to help them with their language and education. I was given three iPad 1s a few months ago, and these have been the greatest things I've every had. One of them, my wife and I use ourselves most of the time. The other two we give out to our African co-workers overnight to show people the pictures and video we've taken in their community over the past 20 years, for example, and for them to watch all kinds of videos we've downloaded from YouTube etc, just to let people see what the rest of the world is like (no TV or internet available in the village - I'm in town at the moment). We intend to use them in the local schools as well, but we only have at most three available - for almost three thousand kids! SOOOOO, if any of you are thinking of upgrading, don't chuck your old iPad in the trash. Throw it our way - even if it's a first generation model. Wouldn't mind having an iPad 2 myself, as I'd like to use AirDisplay and Microsoft Photosynth etc, without getting the "this app cannot be run on your iPad" message. Just thought I'd drop a hint...... Willie Kinnaird

  6. Roger
    October 27, 2013 at 3:11 am

    My son uses iOS7 on his iPad 3. He says it works fine. I've watched him, and it looks O.K. to me.

    I have seen some comments that a few users find it lags a bit. Who know how full their iPads are or what they have running on them.

  7. Kathleen D.
    October 21, 2013 at 5:14 am

    What about the iPad 3? Do you think that is updatable to iOS7? I know technically it is but I wonder if anyone has and how they feel it works on it.

    I too appreciate the the Spotlight Search info. My iPhone 4 doesn't have enough room for me to upgrade the iOS to 7. I'm due for an phone upgrade anyway but I'm still disappointed I'm not able to upgrade the iOS.

    • Yaara L
      October 22, 2013 at 6:14 am

      I think the iPad 3 should be OK, it's still pretty new. I don't own one myself, though, so it's only a matter of opinion.

  8. Thiri PoSaw
    October 5, 2013 at 8:31 am

    I have an iPad 2, and I have upgraded to iOS 7.2 with no adverse problems.
    of course there is the usual problem: the iPad falls on my nose if I recline and relax, but that's not the fault of the OS.

    • Yaara L
      October 5, 2013 at 9:55 am

      LOL, that happens to me too sometimes!

      Glad iOS 7 works well with your iPad 2. :)

  9. Stephanie S
    October 5, 2013 at 4:01 am

    This article gave me some things to think about and generated questions for me. First, I have an iPhone 4 and it works just fine with iOS7. I am curious why you felt I shouldn't have upgraded. Second, what the heck does Spotlight Search do? Is it indexing my usage to find apps I might like? Is it indexing so I can find things on my phone and iPad? I guess since I asked this question, I haven't used it? Thank you for the info and would appreciate if someone could answer my questions. :)

    • Yaara L
      October 5, 2013 at 9:54 am

      Hi Stephanie,

      I'm glad your iPhone 4 works well with iOS 7. Like I said, no upgrading is not always the best thing to do, and Apple does recommend that you keep iOS updated. Sometimes, if your phone is already struggling, putting a new version of iOS on it can do more harm than good.

      Spotlight search is the feature that lets you quickly search through your apps, messages, emails, notes, reminders etc. In older versions of iOS, you would scroll right on the home page to access it. In newer ones you swipe down, I think. Most people don't really use it, which is why disabling it is a good idea.

    • Stephanie S
      October 6, 2013 at 11:53 pm

      Thank you for your answers! :)

  10. russ roach
    October 3, 2013 at 10:59 am

    "Give Phoneclean a try" please don't... do it yourself manually it takes time but the " free version" of phoneclean doesn't do much, except take you to a site and ask for "Pro upgrade" get your money out again, cheap advertising ..........Boring!!

    • Yaara L
      October 3, 2013 at 11:31 am

      I had a good experience with it on my iPad. It cleaned 1 GB of stuff I didn't need, and I didn't pay for it. It may have changed since then, but it wasn't that long ago.

    • Charity
      October 8, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      I can't even find PhoneClean. Maybe they've already deep-sixed it.

    • Yaara L
      October 9, 2013 at 11:00 am


      Here is where you can download PhoneClean: http://www.imobie.com/phoneclean/

      Russ, is this the one you tried?

  11. Mindy J
    October 3, 2013 at 2:31 am

    Thanks, I didn't know you could disable spotlight search!

    I have a 14 GB iPad 2 that's kind of struggling. I never use spotlight search, so might as well turn it off and see if it helps.

    I'm going to try PhoneClean, as well. Thank you!

    • Yaara L
      October 3, 2013 at 6:21 am

      Great! Let us know if it helped!

  12. Teresa
    October 3, 2013 at 1:11 am

    I still love my first generation iPad. Sadly, the battery is dying leaving me with the dilemma of getting a new battery for it A$200 (everything is dearer in Australia) or replacing it. I still use iOS5 on it but have been teaching iPad to new users and seniors on work iPads: iPad 2 and currently an iPad4 which has been upgraded to iOS7. I use iOS7 on my iPhone 4. I have had no problems with any of the operating systems. I can still do everything I want on my original iPad but recognise it won't last forever.

  13. Brian
    October 2, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    I have an iPad2 which I managed to install iOS7 to. I also use my ipad as a Satnav with Navmii. Wonderful so far, as I drive a Citroen Relay van and it fits to my dashboard by using my leather type cover as a bracket on the paperwork clip.

    • Yaara L
      October 3, 2013 at 6:21 am


  14. jelabarre
    October 2, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    My thought would be to find a build of Android you could install on it, and use a *REAL* mobile OS....

    • Yaara L
      October 3, 2013 at 6:20 am

      It's funny you should say that... I have nothing against iOS, but I've been using my old iPad for too long, and only recently realized how shitty iOS 5 is compared to iOS 7 or even iOS 6.

      I can't update my iPad because if doesn't support the new iOS versions, and even if I could, there's no guarantee it could handle it. A good OS to put on it would have been great. :)

  15. alan
    October 2, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    That's quite sad. There shouldn't be any such thing as an "old" iPad yet. Good old fashioned planned obsolesence hard at work.

  16. Tom McIn
    October 2, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    The comment that manufacturers design their iPads to be short lived is a "dork" comment. When they were produced, they used the best possible components. If they used second rate components others would drive them from the market. The fact that components got faster, bigger, cheaper in subsequent years is just a fact of life. Yes, users can pile things in and make them slower than they should be but that is not the fault of the technology available at the time.
    The article had good ideas, it just did not need a "click-bait" head line grabber.

    • John
      October 2, 2013 at 6:16 pm

      Sadly not - if the widget that Jony Ive created with the "very best possible components" were sold it would cost a hundred thousand dollars apiece and NASA could fly it to Mars for twenty years.
      Once Production Engineering Dept get hold of Mr Ives latest every single cost centre is driven down to the absolute minimum which includes how hot you can run a component for and how long, thus saving the cost of a heatsink foe example. Apple, along with all other premium marques, has no interest whatsoever in the 2nd user market. Their sole raison d'etre is to sell you new stuff every year.

    • Yaara L
      October 3, 2013 at 6:19 am

      I didn't direct this comment at Apple specifically, but at most companies that make these devices. Like John said, the components used may be good, but they're definitely not the best, and not the most expensive.

      In fact, an iPhone 5s costs around $200 to make. It would cost more than 10 times that if they actually used the best possible components. But why should they? It's not a problem for them if these things don't last.

      And the headline's completely descriptive of the article. :)