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iPOD Sad Face - Fixed

Updated on January 16, 2008

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 !


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    • profile image

      rpm3072 3 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!

    • profile image

      gadgetfreak 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      nicole 4 years ago

      a couple taps on t

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

    • profile image

      Amy 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Lea 5 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!

    • profile image

      Ryan 5 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!

    • profile image

      Katie 5 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

    • profile image

      Vernon 5 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

    • profile image

      loren m 5 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!

    • profile image

      Colin Brady 6 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.

    • profile image

      arshaad 6 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

    • profile image

      og 6 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

    • profile image

      Rep 6 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

    • profile image

      sant 6 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 :(

    • profile image

      James 6 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 :)

    • profile image

      ROb 6 years ago

      worked like a charm!!

    • profile image

      Graham 6 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.

    • profile image

      Joe 6 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!

    • profile image

      Jeff 6 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.

    • profile image

      jake 6 years ago


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      Natalie 6 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!

    • profile image

      sandra 6 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!!!

    • profile image

      nonreplica 7 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!

    • profile image

      beano 7 years ago

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

    • profile image

      busy 7 years ago

      wow, your sad face ipod repair really works, THANKS

    • profile image

      Terri 7 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:

    • profile image

      Desneige 7 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Pat 7 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!

    • profile image

      reesa 7 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

    • profile image

      Cristovao 7 years ago

      I tried the business card tip and it worked!!

    • profile image

      Annette 7 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!!

    • profile image

      Linda Brooks 7 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 $$!.

    • profile image

      Jamie 7 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Tom 7 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

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      so_happy 7 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 :)

    • profile image

      CP 7 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!

    • profile image

      Nick B 7 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.

    • profile image

      beckie 7 years ago

      i stuck the knife through the screen. fail.

    • profile image

      will 7 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!

    • profile image

      shayla 7 years ago

      it works thanks a lot!

    • profile image

      Max Paine 7 years ago


    • profile image

      U R Awesome 7 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!!!

    • profile image

      Tom Callaghan 7 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Bob 7 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!

    • profile image

      Chris 7 years ago

      WOW. I almost chucked it...

    • profile image

      Deano 7 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Matt 7 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 :-)

    • profile image

      Tracey 7 years ago

      This totally worked.

    • profile image

      Duncan 7 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Sam 7 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

    • profile image

      AirDan 7 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!

    • profile image

      RetroFit 7 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!

    • profile image

      sarah mcc 7 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!

    • profile image

      rando 7 years ago

      lol fucked it. still doesn't work

    • profile image

      Travel Diva 7 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.

    • profile image

      dave 7 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.

    • profile image

      joe 8 years ago

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

    • profile image

      pota 8 years ago

      this won't work

    • profile image

      George 8 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.

    • profile image

      Katie 8 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!

    • profile image

      Corinne 8 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!

    • profile image

      Jami 8 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!

    • profile image

      Noi 8 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Jean 8 years ago

      It works!!!!!!!!

      Thank you very much

    • profile image

      Eric 8 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Chizum 8 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

    • profile image

      David Doten 8 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...


    • profile image

      Myself 8 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.

    • profile image

      Denise 8 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!!!!!

    • profile image

      Anthony 9 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

    • profile image

      JD 9 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.

    • profile image

      bob 9 years ago

      hit mine with a hammer i killed the evil beastie

    • profile image

      J1MMY1791 9 years ago



    • profile image

      fsp8724 9 years ago

      Unbelieveable, Thank you

    • profile image

      Paul 9 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.

    • profile image

      Ying 9 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.

    • profile image

      Nelson 9 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!!!!!!

    • profile image

      tungsten 9 years ago

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

    • profile image

      jj 9 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.

    • profile image

      Mina 9 years ago

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

    • profile image

      jyotix 9 years ago

      yes! it's working again!!!!


    • profile image

      Meganole25 9 years ago

      This totally works. Thanks!

    • dsletten profile image

      dsletten 9 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:

    • profile image

      ipodme 10 years ago

      There are no quick fixes for a sad face


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