The Art of Lockpicking: How to Open a Garage Door Without a Key

Key Takeaway

  • To pick a garage door lock, you can use a bobby pin, paperclip, or a flathead screwdriver to push all the pins in the lock cylinder and slowly turn the barrel to unlock the lock.
  • You may also open the garage door emergency latch using a straightened coat hanger.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you can’t access your garage because you lost your key or the remote control? Recently, a friend of mine lost the key to his Bulldog garage door lock and reached out to me for help. As I tried to help him out, I realized that many people may be facing similar issues and may not know what to do in such situations. This led me to do some research and explore different methods to open a manual garage door without a key. 

After successfully helping my friend access his garage, I decided to write an article to help others facing similar problems. In this article, I will be sharing some of the effective methods that worked for me and my friend, so you can avoid the stress and hassle of being locked out of your garage.

Type Of Locks On Garage Door

Manual garage doors typically use either T-handle locks or side latch locks, or sometimes a combination of both.

T-handle locks are common on manual garage doors and are often located in the center of the door. They consist of a handle that is turned to engage or disengage the lock mechanism. The lock mechanism may be a simple latch that engages with a strike plate on the door frame or a more sophisticated mechanism that includes a deadbolt.

T-handle locks

Side latch locks are also common on manual garage doors and are usually located near the bottom of the door on one side. They consist of a latch that engages with a strike plate on the door frame when the door is closed. Side latch locks may be operated by a key or by turning a knob or lever.

Side latch

How To Open A Locked Garage Door Without A Key

You can pick your garage door lock using various techniques and tools, such as bobby pins or paper clips.

However, it’s important to note that attempting to pick the lock of somebody’s property without proper authorization is illegal and could result in criminal charges. The information given in the article is for educational purposes only.

Picking A Garage Door Lock Using Bobby Pins

Picking A Garage Door Lock Using Bobby Pins

If you have read my articles about picking a deadbolt or a camper van lock, you’d know that bobby pins are my first choice of the tool while picking a lock. 

Here are stepwise instructions for picking a garage door lock using bobby pins. 

  • Step 1: Straighten out one of the bobby pins and bend the tip to form a small hook. This will be your pick.
    add a loop
  • Step 2: Straighten out the second bobby pin, leaving a slight bend at one end. This will be your tension wrench.
    90 degree bobby pins
  • Step 3: Insert the tension wrench into the bottom of the keyhole and apply slight pressure in the direction that the lock would turn to unlock.
    bottom of the keyhole
  • Step 4: Insert the pick into the top of the keyhole and push up on each individual pin inside the lock. You should feel the pins click into place as you push them up.
  • Step 5: Keep pushing up on each individual pin until you hear a distinct clicking sound, which indicates that the lock is ready to be opened.
  • Step 6: While applying slight pressure with the tension wrench, turn the pick toward the lock to unlock it. If you have successfully picked the lock, the door should open.

Picking A Garage Door Lock Using A Paperclip

A paper clip is another very common tool that can be used to pick a lock. 

Follow the steps given below to open a garage door lock using a paperclip.

  • Step 1: Gather 2 paper clips. Straighten out the first paper clip and bend one end into a small hook shape to work as a pick, and twist the second paper clip and turn it into an L-shaped tension wrench.
    l shape
  • Step 2: Take the tension wrench and insert the short end of the wrench into the bottom of the keyhole.Then, apply slight pressure constantly in the direction you would turn the key to unlock the door. 
  • Step 3: Now, take the pick that you made out of the paperclip and insert its hook end into the top of the keyhole. Jiggle it around until you feel the pins inside the lock.
  • Step 4: Gently lift the pin while applying pressure with the pick. When the pin is successfully lifted, you will feel a slight click or movement.
  • Step 5: Repeat the previous step for each of the remaining pins in the lock until all of them have been successfully lifted.
  • Step 6: Once all the pins have been lifted, turn the tension wrench in the direction you would turn the key to unlock the door. If you have successfully lifted all the pins, the lock should turn, and the garage door should open.

Opening The Garage Door Emergency Latch Using A Coat Hanger (Manual Release)

These days most modern garage doors are equipped with an emergency latch or manual release mechanism, which allows the door to be opened manually in the event of a power outage or other emergency. This manual release is typically located on the inside of the garage door, about 6 inches above the ground,  and can be activated by pulling a cord or handle.

It’s important to note that not all garage doors have a manual release mechanism, particularly older models that were installed before this feature became a standard requirement for garage doors. If you are unsure whether your garage door has a manual release, check the manufacturer’s documentation or contact a professional garage door installer for assistance.

Opening The Garage Door Emergency Latch Using A Coat Hanger (Manual Release)

It may sound absurd, but yes, you can open the emergency latch of the garage door from the outside using a coat hanger. 

Here are the stepwise instructions to follow:

  • Step 1: Straighten out the hanger as much as possible. Use pliers if necessary to straighten out any kinks in the wire. Make sure that it is long enough to reach the emergency latch.
  • Step 2: Insert the straightened end of the coat hanger between the top of the door and the door frame, and try to reach the emergency latch. You should feel some resistance when you reach the latch; however, this might take a few hit and trial attempts.
    coat hanger
  • Step 3: Once you have located the emergency latch, use the hook end of the coat hanger to hook onto the latch and pull it towards you. You may need to maneuver the coat hanger around until you can catch the latch.
  • Step 4: Once you have successfully hooked the latch, pull it towards you to release the lock. The garage door should now be unlocked, and you can open it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How can I prevent getting locked out of my garage in the future?

Answer – One way to prevent getting locked out of your garage is to make sure you always have a spare key in a safe and accessible place. Also, consider installing a smart garage door opener that allows you to control your garage door remotely from your smartphone.

Q2. Can I open any type of garage door lock without a key?

Answer – Some locks may be more difficult to pick or manipulate than others, but most manual garage door locks can be picked using the techniques mentioned in the article unless they have anti-pick mechanisms. However, It is always best to consult a professional locksmith if you are unsure about your ability to open a lock.


In conclusion, getting locked out of your garage without a key can be a frustrating and inconvenient experience. However, with the techniques and methods discussed in this article, you can gain access to your garage in no time.  There are various ways to open a locked garage door without a key, from using household tools like bobby pins and paperclips to pick the lock or by manual release technique using a coat hanger. 

Additionally, you can prevent getting locked out of your garage in the future by keeping a spare key in a safe and accessible place or installing a smart garage door opener. I hope this guide has been helpful and informative for you.

Leave a Comment

Hey! I am Mark. Though I am not a locksmith by profession, but locks have always fascinated me since my teens. And it all started when I got locked out of my house and I had to pick the lock. Since then it has become my hobby to learn more about different kinds of locks, understand their working and methods to pick them up. In due course of time, I have also become better aware of how installing the right lock goes a long way in ensuring iron clad security. I aim to share my passion (about locks) through this blog. If you are also passionate about picking locks or are just looking to beef up the security, hop on the ride.