A friend recently dropped his phone and ended up with a cracked display. That isn’t always a death knell for a smartphone, but in this case it meant that he couldn’t unlock the phone because the in-display fingerprint sensor stopped working and the phone wouldn’t recognize his PIN number when he tried typing it.

That makes it tough to backup files, photos or other important data… but there’s a fairly easy workaround for unlocking most modern Android phones without touching the screen.

Just plug in a USB mouse or keyboard.

You’ll probably need a USB adapter, but you can pick one up from Amazon (or other sellers) for less than $10:

Adapter in hand, the next step is to use it to plug a mouse or keyboard into your phone.

The screen on my smartphone is not cracked, but in the video below I show I was able to unlock my phone without touching the screen by using a Logitech K400r keyboard. The nice thing about this keyboard is that it has a touchpad on the side, so it sort of works like a mouse and keyboard.

That comes in handy if your touchscreen isn’t working at all, since you can use the touchpad to swipe up on the lock screen to reveal the number pad and then use the number keys to enter your PIN and hit enter.

Alternately, you could connect a USB mouse and just move the cursor to swipe up and then click on the numbers — assuming you can actually see what’s happening on your screen.

If your display has stopped working altogether, you may be able to connect a mouse and/or keyboard and an external display by plugging a dongle with at least one USB port and an HDMI port. But it’s worth noting that while most recent Android phones support USB OTG accessories (like mice, keyboards, and flash drives), not all phones support video output.

Once your phone is unlocked, you can also install remote desktop software such as TeamViewer if it’s not already on your phone. This will let you remote control your device from a computer and/or copy files to a PC for safekeeping before repairing or replacing your phone.

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  1. This happened to sister in law a few years ago back in 2014, I think. She had shattered her Samsung S4 screen completely and We were lucky that she was using a password, not a pattern, to unlock.

      1. If you can see the screen. I once needed to unlock a Samsung with just a tiny part of screen working properly, so I had to use “dead reckoning” on the mouse cursor. Fun times.

    1. That’s a great app, I love it! When I’ve rooted and debloated my Kospet Prime watch, it was great to do everything on my 28” monitor instead of the watch’s 1.6” display. :))

  2. Cool hack.
    Though, I might point out that only certain Android devices support fully functional remote control via TeamViewer. Others may allow you to view the screen and/or move a functionless blue pointer around on the screen to assist someone, but they do not allow you to take full control of the device. I’ve tried this on many devices. Neither my (unrooted) Amazon Fire HD 10, nor my Google Pixel 3 allow remote control via TeamViewer, although they do both allow screen sharing/viewing and moving around a functionless pointer. Pretty much all other Android phones I’ve had do support full remote control via Team Viewer.