If you’ve ever plugged an iPad into a PC or Mac, it’s possible you’ve seen a “Not Charging” message on your iPad’s screen. We’ll explain why the message appears—and what you can potentially do about it.

Not Enough Current

Many computer USB ports don’t supply enough current to charge an iPad while the iPad’s screen is turned on. If that’s the case, you’ll see a “Not Charging” message on your iPad’s screen beside the battery icon.

The "Not Charging" message on an iPad.

Depending on the model, iPads need anywhere from 10 watts to 20 watts of power to charge at a reasonable speed, especially if you are using the iPad at the same time.

Typically, many computer USB ports (especially in older devices) often only output 0.5 amps of current, which isn’t enough to charge your iPad at a reasonable rate—and not enough to power it while in use. But some newer Macs and PCs do have some high-power charging ports that can charge an iPad. Unless you know the complete technical specs on every USB port in your machine, finding out which port can charge an iPad is largely a matter of trial and error.

Still, it could be a hardware issue, and there are some strategies that can help.

What You Can Do About It

If you plug an iPad into a USB port on a computer and see the “Not Charging” message, there are a handful of things you could try. Here’s a rundown of the most promising options:

  • Try a Different USB Port: It’s common that different USB ports on a PC or Mac will output different amounts of power. Try plugging the iPad charging cable into a different port and see if that works. Also, the USB ports built into keyboards are almost always not powerful enough.
  • Try USB Ports on a Different Computer: Some newer Macs and PCs might have high-power USB ports that can charge an iPad at a reasonable rate. It won’t be as fast as an iPad wall charger, but it might work in a pinch.
  • Try a Different Charging Cable: Sometimes the Lightning cable you use to charge an iPad can become damaged or frayed in a way that can prevent it from charging properly. Buy a new Lightning or USB-C charging cable (whichever your model of iPad needs) or try another one you have on hand.
  • Clean Your iPad’s Charging Port: Sometimes lint or dust can get trapped in your iPad’s Lightning port, creating resistance that might interfere with charging. To fix this problem, completely power off the iPad and gently insert a wooden toothpick into the Lightning port to pull out lint. Don’t do this too aggressively because you could damage the pins inside the connector.
  • Turn Off the Screen and Trickle Charge: Depending on the iPad model, you might be able to put your iPad in sleep mode (push the power button once) and slowly trickle-charge the iPad over a long period of time. Newer iPads need more power than older models to charge properly, so this might only work for older iPads.

Ultimately, the best option is to charge your iPad using a USB adapter that plugs into an AC wall outlet. Look for one that outputs at least 2 amps (2000 mA). For newer iPads, a 3 amp charger is ideal. For example, our favorite iPhone charger is a 3.0A charger that works well with iPads, too.

A Great Charger

Spigen 30W USB-C Power Adapter

Our favorite charger for iPhones works well with iPads and anything else that charges via USB-C, too.

You can usually read an adapter’s power output in fine print somewhere on the body of the charger. Look for the word “Output,” then read the numbers printed after that, such as “2.1A” for “2.1 amps.”

Apple's 10 watt USB iPad charger brick.

If you can’t find the proper charger, some iPads can charge with 1 amp (1000 mA) chargers (like those for older iPhones), but it will be a slow process. Good luck!

RELATED: How to Check iPad Battery Health

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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