iPOD Sad Face - Fixed

You've had your iPod for over a year now, it's worked day in and day out until it's become a part of your daily routine. That is, until the fatefull day when the dreaded sad-face icon appears. And now you're not hearing the familiar faint clicking of the iPod coming to life. You try rebooting, nothing. You try plugging it into the wall, nothing. You try plugging it into your computer, and again, nothing. And alas, your warranty is up, so there's no sending it back for a quick (and free fix) It appears as if your friend has crossed that bridge into iPod heaven and now you're out several hundred dollars, right?


There is hope. More often than not, when the sad-face icon appears on your iPod it means there is a problem with the harddrive itself. Many times the delicate mechanisms within may become stuck causing the dreaded sad-face or folder icon.

When you've got nothing left to lose (after all, what good is a $300 coaster), there may be a quick and simple fix. Just follow these simple steps, and you just may find yourself with a working iPod:

1 - Open the iPod case. Any number of things can be used, a small knife, a thin spatula, or anything else you can find to fit between the metal and acrylic halves. Be very careful not to open it too quickly, or you may unplug some of the ribbons which are difficult to get back into place.

2 - After you've got it open, gently free the harddrive from the interior so you've got some room to work.

3 - Simply tap the harddrive on a solid surface a couple of times. Be gentle, you're not trying to crack it open, you're just trying to get some of mechanical workings to un-stick themselves. Tap a couple of times on each side and replace the harddrive.

4 - Close up your iPod and reboot as normal. Enjoy your tunes !

Comments 84 comments

ipodme 8 years ago

There are no quick fixes for a sad face

dsletten profile image

dsletten 8 years ago from United States

Interesting hub. We tried to open ours when the sad face appeard and couldn't get it opened. Instead we sold it on eBay. People actually buy and sell broken iPods on eBay. I guess they fix them too! You can see my article at: http://hubpages.com/hub/Make-Money-Selling-Broken-...

Meganole25 8 years ago

This totally works. Thanks!

jyotix 8 years ago

yes! it's working again!!!!


Mina 8 years ago

I tried it couples times nothings working ... sadly ..

jj 8 years ago

hey guys try this:

reboot your ipod (menu and select buttons) then as soon as the apple logo appears hold select and right. hold these till you see a backwards apple logo, the ipod is now in diagnostic mode. from here the click wheel wont work so its the fwd and back buttons to go up and down, but you can try the 5in1 test or hdd scan or hdd r/w which tests you hdd. if these don't work try taking it apart and putting a folded business card between the hdd and the chips as sometimes the hdd's need more pressure over time.

tungsten 8 years ago

alternatively chuck your ipod around a few times, might shake the offending item loose within the case - worked for me

Nelson 8 years ago


tungsten says:5 days ago

alternatively chuck your ipod around a few times, might shake the offending item loose within the case - worked for me


Thanks bro! I tried resetting, and eveything it says on the apple support page, but nothing worked, so I was going to have it repaired, but then I read you comment, and I shaked my ipod a couple of times, and now it works! THANKS!!!!!!

Ying 8 years ago

This is GREAT!!! My son's 30 G old school ipod got the sad face. I failed to open it. Instead, I tap it hard on the floor and it came back. Thanks for the tip.

Paul 7 years ago

nothing i've ever read works for me. just that stupid sad face. this sucks.

is there nothing i can do? my warranty is up, and i am pretty much broke.

fsp8724 7 years ago

Unbelieveable, Thank you

J1MMY1791 7 years ago



bob 7 years ago

hit mine with a hammer i killed the evil beastie

JD 7 years ago

hey there

please help me and my ipod. its got the same sad face icon and i tried all the options to get it to work but it cant and i don't leave in a country with an apple outlet or retail and i aint got warranty.

please some help.

Anthony 7 years ago

I have a 5th gen 30GB ipod that has the sad face, i plug it in and it says low battery and shows the sad face again. I let it sit for an hour to charge up to do the force disk mode but it still keeps on repeating the same thing over and over, low battery and sad face. Is it the battery or the hard drive i need to replace? I am willing to fix it myself

Denise 7 years ago

Yay i read so much and nothing worked till now. I took it apart and tapped the hard drive and now my Ipod works. THANKS!!!!!

Myself 7 years ago

It works! I just had to open it, turned it on, and it showed me this text that said I had to connect it so that I could restore it, but I put it together again and it was like magic! It worked! no more sad face! thanks guys, it really worked for me.

David Doten 7 years ago

hi folks,

If you have tried to fix your ipod and it stilll is not working you can get my free pdf that gives you resources so you can save a lot of time and money doing it yourself rather than sending it out to apple. Just go to


and after signing up for your free pdf, confirm it in your inbox and grab it,check out the recources, and you can get your ipod up and running in no time at all.

Take it easy.


Pass this on to your friends

also you willl get a bonus 20 tips and tricks for your ipod touch wich should be useful also.

Have a great day...


Chizum 7 years ago

I cant believe this actually works after ive tried so much guess it goes for the old ways, if all elso fails use some force

Eric 7 years ago

Nelson's quote from 11 months ago was awesome. tried it and Voila!!

Jean 7 years ago

It works!!!!!!!!

Thank you very much

Noi 6 years ago

It really works. Thank you man, you saved my ipod :)

Jami 6 years ago

I am in the computer field so "tapping" the hard drive on the floor didn't sound like a fix to me...but it worked!

Corinne 6 years ago

IF you can't get the iPod into disk mode (as I couldn't), turn the iPod on and wait for the sad face to pop up. Once it does, press the middle button and the play/pause button at the same time. HOLD IT! It takes about a minute but the iPod will cycle off and back on and FINALLY you'll be in disk mode!

Katie 6 years ago

Wow! I had been able to bring my old ipod back to life a few times but had really given up this last time. I tried opening it up, just tapped each side of hard drive a few times, closed it up, and it worked! Thanks so much!

George 6 years ago

Hi, I had the same EXACT problem as the author, the sad face wouldn't go out no matter what and it worked. Just so you know theres no need to open up the ipod, I just found a padded hard surface and dropped it on it's back and on the front of the ipod about 5-6 inches from the surface and that did the job.

pota 6 years ago

this won't work

joe 6 years ago

worked for me ;-). didn't open it though just gave it a few thumps with my palm.

dave 6 years ago

I tried everything and it didn't even work.

1. My headphone jack is broken

2. No matter how much i charge it power wont go in.

3. my LCD is also broken

All my cable are connected ewcept the headphone jack.

Travel Diva 6 years ago

I tried tapping mine on a hard surface with the case on it worked. I tapped it on the sides. I also tried to the reset to get the sad face to disappear and it got me to the folder icon...I had to just tap fairly firm on the floor after i left it charged for about 10 minutes.

rando 6 years ago

lol fucked it. still doesn't work

sarah mcc 6 years ago

Thank you so much i couldn't get the hardboard out but rattled the knife in between the back and the board for a while and generally threw it around! All good do persist!

RetroFit 6 years ago

FANNNNNNNTASTIC!! Didn't open it or anything. Just plugged it in to the charger and when the apple logo was up I tapped it on each side politely rough then gently burped it like a new born tapping it on its back! I'm back baby!

AirDan 6 years ago

Tried tapping the hard drive and realized the problem was actually the ribbon that connects it to the logic board. A few minutes of trying to get it inserted back in place, taped it down, and it was good as new. Always check that ribbon connection if you open the ipod up!

Sam 6 years ago

relly didn't think it would work but i banged it on the arm of my couch when the apple logo was up in it worked! thanks

Duncan 6 years ago

LOL, couldn't believe it, but with nothing to loose gave it a try and now have a working iPod again!! Thanks

Tracey 6 years ago

This totally worked.

Matt 6 years ago

I have a 30GB iPod which has died a few times over the last year or so. Each time has required a hard reset (ie: reset to factory defaults). Now, there is a way to do this WITHOUT having to connect the iPod to the computer and iTunes, but I always forget what that way is. This time, I was unable to find it, but I found this little article instead. After trying many other things, I just gave my iPod a few bangs on each side - I didn't bother removing the hard drive or opening it up. And viola! The iPod has sprung back to life with all my music still on it! No factory reset!

I used to work in computers and electronics and often joke about fixing things with a hammer, but for this situation it really seems to have worked. I don't know how long it will work for, but at least it's going for now :-)

Deano 6 years ago

tap it quite hard on a hard surface all over. Amazingly it works - who would have thought!

Chris 6 years ago

WOW. I almost chucked it...

Bob 6 years ago

Yep, just smacked it against my palm as the apple logo was coming on and Halleluyah, it came back to life. Thanks guys!

Tom Callaghan 6 years ago

This is crazy, cheers mate, I thought you were taking the mickey for a minute.

U R Awesome 6 years ago

Yes Mate, it works! It is quite simple to give Apple a flip, hit with palm .. and here you dance!

Cheers Mate... Many thanks!!!

Max Paine 6 years ago


shayla 6 years ago

it works thanks a lot!

will 6 years ago

This absolutely worked. I popped it open with a pocket knife and tapped the hard drive with the butt end of a screwdriver probably 10-12 times (not too hard, not too soft) and popped the case back together. Came back to life as soon as I plugged it into the USB. LOVE such a simple fix!

beckie 6 years ago

i stuck the knife through the screen. fail.

Nick B 6 years ago

What I find stupid is that the idiots at Apple haven't figured out that this fix works 99% of the time. Instead of paying them $200, I simply used this very fix and a $15 software program to wipe a corrupt file off, and am currently listening to it with no further problems.

CP 6 years ago

I had the bad smile and tried lots of things. I thought I had a problem like MBR corrupted or something like that. After reading few comments and before opening my iPod I hit it few times on the table (almost smash :-) and miracle... it work fine now!

so_happy 6 years ago

OH MY GOD!!!! I dropped my ipod mini on the floor and it completely screwed up. The SAD face over and over. Tried everything, resetting, forcing it into disc mode, nothing worked. So I banged it about on all sides on a hardback book, still nothing! Then I just started throwing it on our wooden floor a couple of times and it WORKS!!!! WOW!!!! Thank u so much. Off to listen to some music :)

Tom 6 years ago

Worked for me too! Few taps on the arm of the sofa. Connected it to computer,said it was corrupted, did a restore, put music back on, now working great

Jamie 6 years ago

had an original ipod work and not work for years just took it apart tapped the hardisk works like a charm thanks

Linda Brooks 6 years ago

jj and tap guy (mr. mitch)! THANK YOU!!!!!!! one tap (could not get it open) and the right hold thing worked ! I love Apple products. You can fix them and save a ton of $$!.

Annette 5 years ago

After 2yrs of holding onto this ipod, I decided I had nothing to loose. While trying to open the case I dropped it accidentally and IT WORKS! Thank you so much!!

Cristovao 5 years ago

I tried the business card tip and it worked!!

reesa 5 years ago

i tried everything after i dropped it on the carpet floor and it froze up then the sad face, took it to the apple store and they said its no good, after reading all the tricks on how to fix the ipod its still not working, i banged it, opened it up and tapped the hard drive and nothing, still a sad face, i can put into disk mode my itunes doesn't reconnize it. please help me someone

Pat 5 years ago

This worked like a charm! Sad face mysteriously showed up today for no reason that I can deduce. Resets didn't work. I didn't take it apart--after turning it on and when the apple logo was on the screen, I gave it a few firm thumps (not even very hard) with my palm on its side and back as recommended. Ipod came back to life right away! Thanks for the tip!

Desneige 5 years ago

Don't know how long this will work for, but it worked! Thanks guys! Great advice for the last ditch effort!!

Terri 5 years ago

I tried this on my first iPod and wound up breaking it... :P My dad referred me to this guide after my second one broke, and it helped me fix both of my iPods! For anyone having trouble with this method, try this guide: http://www.sadipoderror.com/?hop=n8n8n8

busy 5 years ago

wow, your sad face ipod repair really works, THANKS

beano 5 years ago

that's great it works just give it a bit of a strong tap and it works, come on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

nonreplica 5 years ago

wow. sad face came up out of nowhere on ipod classic 30gb. banged it on different surfaces, tossed it on the carpet, gave it some solid taps on back and sides. after half an hour of this, it booted up with the background lights. keep at it! don't beat it up but don't hesitate to knock it around. TRY THIS!!! thanks!

sandra 5 years ago

Thanks so much this worked for me!!! i had to disconnect the ribbons and then reconnect but it worked perfectly. BTW the only ribbons i disconnected were side ones and then when I touched the one connected to the screen (well the one located at the bottom of the white card board looking thing it just came on completely. Again THANKS!!!

Natalie 5 years ago

Tried this just now without taking back off and dropping it on all 4 sides onto carpet. Plugged it in and battery whirred up again straight away and this time no sad face! The battery did stop again for a moment but I persevered and when I turned it back on again, the background lit up. Perfect! Thank you so much!

jake 5 years ago


Jeff 5 years ago

yes, this worked great!!! also found some dirt and sand under the cover near the hard drive, cleaned it out and it started working right away. thanks for the advice.

Joe 5 years ago

Didn't bother to take my iPod apart as it is so old. I just smacked it on a wooden desk a few times and it now works perfectly again. Fantastic - thanks!

Graham 5 years ago

Couldn't get my 60GB Photo IPod up after the sad face icon. Tried resetting, etc. but couldn't get it to work. Didn't open mine up, but what I did was tap it on the ground while the Apple Logo was coming up. I tapped it on all sides a few times firmly, but not too hard. The light came on and the Ipod loaded and came on. Seemed to work for me. Plugged it into my computer and Im doing a firmware update now. Hopefully this is a permanent fix.

ROb 5 years ago

worked like a charm!!

James 5 years ago

Hey. It can actually be traced back to to the connector not being fitted properly. Unusual for Apple, they actually used a really silly way to connect it. There is a big piece of tape holding the cable in place... Crack the baby open and just push the tape down again. Sometimes the bashing just gets the ribbon in place, so hopefully this will actually fix it. If it happens to me again, I'll get some new tape to put it in place. See my pics of my exercise below :)


sant 4 years ago

can anyone tell me what todo after u put it in disc mode ? i started itunes (latest version) but it doesn't identify my ipdo :(

Rep 4 years ago

If it's showing a sad face:

make sure it's decently charged then just chuck it at your couch or sofa (I used a leather couch) I just check throwing it against it then BOOM the menu screen appeared. Awesome! :D

og 4 years ago

This is so retarded how good this tip works. My ipod has been.broke for a year. Threw it at a wall n now it will finally let me restore it. WINNING

arshaad 4 years ago

its worked!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! lol at first it didn't but then i trhew it a little harder on both sides and it worked!!! thank u

Colin Brady 4 years ago

This worked for me. If you can get your hands on a very small screw driver and a fine pair of tweezers this job is not very hard.

loren m 4 years ago

it worked for me. Didn't have to open the ipod after reading the comments. I just hit it hard and even accidentally dropped it on the floor then a few seconds later it went back to normal.

Thank you!

Vernon 4 years ago

IT WORKS! A bit skeptical cause it was my first DIY iPod fix and I totally dig it! Will definitely help others with the sad face dilemma and point them here.


- Vernon

Katie 4 years ago

Oh my god, thank you sooooo much, from someone who knows nothing about fixing things, I thought it was a wind up, opening it up and tapping it, but it totally worked - thank you

Ryan 4 years ago

I wasn't very into the idea of opening my ipod, after i read a comment of just giving it a little bump i tried that, i bumped it against my palms a coulpe of times and it worked. Great!

Lea 4 years ago

I've been giving the old iPod classic a thump to the top for a couple of years now, but this time the sad face wasn't going away... Then I read the comments here and tapped it firmly on the work top on all sides. Bingo! Thank you!

Amy 3 years ago

I got the sad face, plugged it into my computer to fully charge the battery and then gently tapped it on my table...it came back to life!!!! I am currently listening to it!

nicole 3 years ago

a couple taps on t

he palm of my hand word perfect!!!!!

gadgetfreak 2 years ago

it worked!!!!!!!thanks...

rpm3072 2 years ago


Not a tech guy so I was afraid to open my 60 GB ipod photo but after reading I did tap the case and walla! thank you!

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