How to Open a Padlock?

by | Learn

Last Updated on June 29, 2021

Most of us have valuable items and belongings in our households that we want to keep in a secure place.  That secure place can be a locker, safe, storage unit, shed, or toolbox.  In order to keep that secure, we use a padlock to lock them in these storage locations.  Using a padlock allows you to quickly access your items at the same time keeping other people out.  

There are three popular variations of the padlock which include the single dial combination lock, the multi-dial lock, and the keylock.  Whichever type of padlock you have, just be sure to have the correct combination and use the right method to open the specific type of lock that you have.

Before you proceed, you may want to click here to read the best padlock this year!

Four Major Ways to Open a Padlock

Method #1: Opening a Combination Lock (In Six Steps)

combination lock
  1. Look on the back of the lock to find the combination: The combination is usually a three-digit code either listed on the back of the padlock or indicated somewhere within the package. (1)
  2. Turn the dial at least three times to the right: Turning the dial three full rotations clockwise resets the numbers allowing you to input the first number in your combination.  You have to do this resetting for most padlocks in order for the code to work.
  3. Turn the dial to the first number in the combination: Once you reach the third rotation, line up the indicator on top of the lock with the first number in your combination.  The indicator usually looks like an arrow or upside triangle.
  4. Turn the dial a complete 360 degrees then land on the second number: Turn the dial to the left, passing the first number in the combination.  Line the indicator up with the second digit after passing the first number then stop turning as you reach the second digit.
  5. Turn the dial to the right then land on the second number: Complete the opening process of the lock by turning the dial clockwise until the indicator lines up with the last digit of the combination only this time not to pass the third digit in the combination.
  6. Pull the lock to open it: Gently pull down the body of the lock to disengage it, then finally rotate the lock and remove it to open your storage.

Method #2: Opening a Key Lock (In Four Steps)

opening key lock
  1. Look under the padlock for the keyhole: Tilt the bottom of the padlock towards you so that you can see the keyhole. Use a flashlight or cellphone to light up around you if it’s dark. You may want to check here what is the tiny hole in a padlock for.
  2. Insert the key into the keyhole: With your index finger and thumb, grab the key and push it firmly into the keyhole.
    • If the key doesn’t fit the hole, keep turning the key over and try again and again until you succeed
    • Every key is different in design which will push pins inside of the lock and will disengage the shackle when you have the correct one
  3. Turn the key counterclockwise to free the shackle: Most key locks will open when you turn the key counterclockwise, however, it might not always be true.  If turning the key clockwise does not work, then you have to keep turning the key back and forth until it does open.  You can tell that you’ve successfully opened it once you feel the shackle disengage
  4. Pull the body of the lock to pull it free: Once the shackle has disengaged, pull the body of the padlock to free it.  Then you can rotate the lock to remove it from whatever you are trying to open.  When closing the padlock again, make sure you hear a clicking sound that indicates that the lock has locked again.
    • Some padlocks will require you to put the key in then turn it clockwise to open it
    • Every key has a different profile which will push pins up inside of the lock and disengage the shackle if you have the right key

Method #3: Opening the Padlock if you Lose the Key or Combination (In Four Steps)

opening padlock with lost key
  1. Contact the locksmith: If you lose your lock combination, the lock company can retrieve it for you provided there is a serial number.  This serial number can be found as an engraving on the back of the lock. (2)
  2. Hire a locksmith: At this point, if you are unable to obtain the combination for your padlock, simply hire a professional locksmith to pick the lock or cut the shackle.  But before doing so, always do some research on the locksmith then decide on a quote.  A typical locksmith visit would cost anywhere between $50 and $350.
  3. Hit the side of the padlock with a small hammer: Sometimes you can dislodge the shackle by tapping it on the side.  This maneuver would at least help you open something if it has a padlock and you’ve forgotten the combination.  

You may also check here how to drill out a padlock.


As you can see, there are numerous ways to open a padlock even if you have to do it the hard way.  Almost always a combination would be provided to open the padlock however, in cases where there isn’t one, usually, there is a way to get around opening it.


(1) code –
(2) locksmith –

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About Gadgets Spy

Hi, I’m Michael, a security and surveillance expert. I co-founded and write for GadetsSpy and help teach people about new tech and Gadgets.