If you can't win, cheat. Hell, cheat anyway. That's how the saying goes, right? Whether you choose to apply that saying to Pokémon Go is up to you. Some people prefer to earn their rewards honestly, through hard work and determination. If that's you, I commend your for that; stop here and go check out my Pokémon Go tips and tricks instead. But, if you'd rather get your rewards however possible, here's how people are hacking and cheating their way to the top!
Warning: Stuff that can and should get your account banned
There are some cheats and hacks that are expressly against the Pokémon Go terms of service (ToS). People do them, and they seem to work, which is frustrating, so more people start doing them, and it creates a vicious cycle. They can also get you banned. Bans sometimes come in waves every month or so, but now they've also been joined by "slashing," which puts a line across illegitimately gained Pokémon and makes them useless in Gym and Raid Battles.
Before investing any time in this kind of cheating, consider you might end up losing your account completely.
Spoofing: Some people fake their GPS location so that they can go to where a 100% Dragonite or Tyranitar is and scoop it up immediately, drop onto any Gym and take it down and build it back up at any time, and otherwise travel the world at a whim. Pokémon Go is cracking down on this by randomizing stats on the server-side for any player under level 25, so it's currently tough to detect the IV of a Pokémon. On the Android side, spoofing is also being detected and locked out of the game. It's obviously something Pokémon Go cares about deeply and wants to prevent.
Pokémon Go has begun locking out teleporting, soft-banning people who previously jumped to engage but returned to catch Pokémon, and slashing out illegitimately obtained Pokémon, so they're useless in battle anyway.
Botting: Botting is like spoofing but automated. With an army of fake characters and a bunch of scripts, botters travel the PokéScape, collecting as many high-level Pokémon as possible. It's financed by online maps with ads and donation buttons, and by people who buy accounts online. Again, recent changes might make this harder and less useful than it was in the past. That includes shadowbans, which are preventing bot accounts (including those used for maps) from seeing anything other than common Pokémon, and slashing out illegitimately obtained Pokémon, so they're useless in battle anyway.
Multi-accounting: Some people who don't bot or spoof still cheat by using multiple accounts. When they take down a Gym, they quickly fill it up with the accounts of their friends, families, and teammates — sometimes even if those people have long since stopped playing. Though "bubblestrat" — a way to quickly power a Gym up — is no longer useful since the big Gym update, filling up all the slots in a Gym still locks other legitimate players out.
Shaving/cycling: Those who can't or simply don't want to take over new Gyms will sometimes switch to a second account for another team, knock a teammate's Pokémon off a Gym owned by their own team, and then replace it with their own Pokémon from that team. It's cannibalistic and doesn't help grow their own team and creates significant resentment as well. Pokémon Go has implemented a cool down timer to help combat this problem by preventing players from taking back a cleared spot for several minutes after the attack has ceased.
Auto-IV checkers: Pokémon Go isn't just shadow-banning bots that abuse the API, they're banning accounts that have granted access to third-party apps like IV-checkers that abuse the API as well. Changing your Google password and revoking account access to these apps can help avoid and reverse the ban. Fortunately, Pokémon Go has simplified the appraisal system, so you no longer benefit from using an IV checker. Instead, just rely on the in-game appraisal!
Most online forums are filled up with people complaining about all of these practices and more. If you want to be a part of your local community, you can easily find yourself "blacklisted" among them for cheating. Even if co-op play isn't your goal, it's still best to avoid these cheats because the next time the banhammer comes, it could come down on anyone engaging in them.
Add Friends faaaaasssssst
Sometimes special research, like the current Jirachi-themed A Thousand-Year Slumber, or the previous A Troubling Situation, require you to add friends to proceed. If you don't have a lot of other players around, this can be a challenge. Luckily, there's a pretty easy workaround: Just delete and re-add an existing friend.
- Go to Profile.
- Swipe to your Friends list.
- Pick a friend.
- Scroll down and tap on Remove Friend.
Then, re-add the friend as normal.
You retain your friendship level and even any unopened gifts. It's such an easy workaround; you'd think Niantic would patch it. But, that could cause real stress for people who do accidentally remove friends. Better to err on the side of hack than backlash.
Either way, do it fast!
Skip the Raid start animation
Going from the lobby to the Boss battle in Pokémon Go Raids can take a few seconds, especially if there's any network slowdown, and that can cost you precious time for solo and specialty Raids.
Luckily, there's a way to skip right from the lobby to the raid, no GO between.
- Create an empty team.
- Join a Raid.
- Pick your empty team.
- Wait for Raid to start.
- Pick your real team.
What happens is that, with an empty team, you get kicked back immediately to the rejoin screen, and when you do, rebounded back into the Raid with no animation screen.
It only saves you a few seconds, but sometimes that's all you need.
Kick any Pokémon out of a Gym
If you have three players with you and you need to kick a Pokémon out of a Gym, even a fully powered Blissey, you can do it. And not even Golden Razz can stop you.
As detailed on The Silph Road:
- Start a Gym battle with three players.
- Players 1 and 2 drop out immediately while Player 3 keeps battling.
- Players 1 and 2 join a new battle.
- Player 1 drops out immediately while Player 2 keeps battling.
- Player 1 joins a new battle and keeps battling.
- Players 1, 2, and 3 all finish the battle at the same time.
Because Pokémon Go treats all the battles staged this way as separate encounters, it calculates all three sets of damage separately, knocking the Pokémon out immediately. No chance to Golden Razz.
Use this power responsibly.
Get tomorrow's free raid pass — today!
This works if you live far enough behind the International Date Line, including in North America and Europe, and you've already used your existing free Raid passes for the day — either just today's free Raid pass or today's and yesterday's if you'd stockpiled it — and want to squeeze in one more free Raid today knowing you won't be raiding tomorrow.
As detailed on The Silph Road, once you've used your existing free Raid passes, you simply switch your time zone to New Zealand or a similar location that's a day ahead. Then, spin a Gym, get tomorrow's free Raid pass, and use it today.
You can switch your time zone on iOS in Settings > General > Time & Date.
Just note that the location you choose has to already be a day ahead, and remember you won't get that same pass for free tomorrow. (You could theoretically keep setting your time zone ahead and keep getting the next day's free Raid pass today, but that becomes a good amount of overhead. Better to let time catch up with you as much and as often as possible.)
Happy future raiding.
Skip the catch animation
If you don't want to wait for the lengthy Pokémon Go catch animation to complete, you can try exploiting this bug:
- Tap on the Pokémon you want to catch.
- With your off-hand (right if you're a lefty, left if you're a righty), swipe from left to right and leave your finger down on the left side of the screen. (You should see the Poké Ball selector tug slightly as you swipe.)
- Throw the Poké Ball with your good hand, as usual.
- Lift your finger as soon as the Poké Ball has successfully hit the Pokémon you're trying to catch.
- Tap the screen to exit the Poké Ball selector.
- Tap the Run icon at the top left to leave the encounter.
You'll still see the Pokémon on the map. Check your Pokémon Storage to see if you successfully caught the Pokémon or, if it escaped, repeat the procedure to try again.
Find all the spawns and Raids on Maps
Update: Due to a Pokémon Go API (application programming interface) changes, most Maps and Trackers have all gone offline. For more details on the best options still available, check out our Maps and Trackers Guide.
The goal of Pokémon Go is serendipitous discovery. You're out and about, maybe shooting some video in the woods, and then you look up and BOOM — Snorlax! OMG!
But the odds of that happening are so rare some people have tried to game the system by having bots walk around for them, discover the rare spawns like Unown or 100% IV versions of the best attackers in the game, like Geodude, Machop, Dratini, and Larvitar. Or just to get the latest and greatest, like Slakoth, Beldum, Bagon, and Raltz.
I've tried a couple, and they're not my favorite. There's a rush to seeing a rare Pokémon and racing out to catch them. There's also a danger in overdoing it and a cost — you can't cross town in the 30-minute spawn window on foot, which means you end up driving, and that destroys the exercise benefit and a lot of the chill. Depending on traffic — or tickets — you can often miss the spawn anyway, which is a real waste of time.
A better use is for Raids. Pokémon Go doesn't provide anywhere near the range you really need to plan and get to Raids, especially outside urban areas. Maps, though, can show you all the Raid Eggs in your area, what their timers are, and what they are when they hatch. It makes it much easier to coordinate with others and get to the right Raid at the right time.
You can check your local Facebook group and see what trackers people in your area are using. Some are online maps, others are apps, and still, others are Twitter accounts or chat bots. Some just show you Pokémon, others want you to make multiple accounts and tap through multiple CAPTCHA.
You might end up loving or hating them — or simply wishing Pokémon Go would fix Sighting so you wouldn't need them. I mean, there's a Snorlax 50 m away, Pokémon Go should absolutely show that before the 6 Pidgey at the PokéStop cluster down the street...
Know exactly which Gyms belong to which team
Update: Like Raid and Spawn Maps, most Gym Maps went offline following the Pokémon Go API change. There are still a few that can be found in our Guide.
Similar to the Pokémon scanner sites, some sites use their bot armies to scan and update Gym information, including which team any given Gym belongs to at any given moment. Under the old system, they could even tell you what level a Gym was, which specific Pokémon were on it, what trainer they belonged to, and even a recent history for the Gym. Under the new system, they can only show team control, which is much better for privacy and community health reasons.
Still, if you're out and looking to take down Gyms, they can help you see which Gyms are owned by other teams and ready to be taken down. There's no information on the maps that you couldn't get from walking or otherwise moving around and looking, but some people prefer to look first before deciding which direction to head out.
Check IVs to find out exactly which Pokémon to evolve
You always want to evolve the best Pokémon possible. "Best" being defined as having the highest stats (IV). The better the Pokémon you evolve, the higher the CP (Combat Power) and HP (Hit Points) it'll have, and the better it'll do in Gym and Raid Battles.
A recent update to the built-in appraisal system for Pokémon Go makes it easier than ever to see what you're working with. Previously all you got was a phrase that would let you know where your Pokémon's stats were. However, now you get a graph and a star rating. It breaks down the attack, defense, and HP of the selected Pokémon, as well as giving you a one, two, or three-star rating. This makes it easier than ever to know which Pokémon is worth evolving, and which you want to transfer to snag more candy.
It's also easier to find your higher IV Pokémon using the search bar. By typing in
4*, you'll see all of your 100% IV. The search terms also work with
3* so that you always evolve the Pokémon that will be most worth it. There are also a variety of other terms you can search for to isolate specific Pokémon, and you can find them all here.
Now, not everyone is into stats, not in baseball and not in Pokémon, but if you are, there are still third-party IV apps available to you, and they'll make sure your every Pokémon you evolve is a monster. That way, you can evolve the 100% Bagon into Salamence and not the 82% one.
Note: Never use any app that asks for your Pokémon or Google login to work. You risk losing your credentials and potentially getting data stolen is never necessary. On top of that, you will likely be shadowbanned.
Bulk evolve faster with a flick
The basic formula for leveling up as fast as possible is well known by now: Catch a ton of Pidgey, Caterpie, and Weedle, drop a Lucky Egg, and evolve as many as you can before the Egg expires. That gives you 30 minutes to max out your XP. Given the evolution animation takes 20 seconds, assuming you're a precision tapping machine, you can hit up to 90 evolutions.
Some people believe, though, that if you force quit the Pokémon Go app and then relaunch it — which also finishes the evolution for you — you can squeeze in some extra evolutions.
I find it a lot more work for what is, in my ham-fingered case, little game. But if tap and swipe that a surgeon, you might just set yourself some new bulk evolution records.
Note: Some people try using multiple phones to make the bulk evolution process even faster. It's unclear if it works or still works if it once did, but it is clear it's a violation of the Terms of Service and could have consequences.
Dodge the driving lockouts
Pokémon Go does everything it can to prevent people from playing while driving, and that's a very good thing. Unfortunately, it also prevents people from playing while being passengers in cars, buses, trains, and other forms of transportation.
There are different levels of lockout. The first is the 10 KM/H limit for egg hatching and Buddy candy walking. Go over that limit, and Pokémon Go radically lowers the amount of distance it logs. The second is the 35 KM/H limit for spinning PokéStops, seeing Nearby and Sightings on your radar and triggering spawns in your vicinity. Go over that limit, and you log almost no distance, can't spin any stops, and can't see or spawn any Pokémon.
It's all absolutely for the best, but there are also a couple of ways around it. They don't always work, but when they do, you'll rack up mega mileage and sometimes still get in a few spins and spawns.
Go to the egg screen on Pokémon Go. Hit the Home button, so you return to the Home screen. Don't launch any other apps, but don't let the screen go off either. Drive a short distance, something under 10 minutes. Then open Pokémon Go again, and you might see some amazing distance gains. (I've had little to no luck with this, but numerous people have sworn it works.)
If you have an Apple Watch, start a Pokémon Go workout. Next, find some form of slow transportation. Whether that's an Uber/taxi or bus in traffic or a ferry, it doesn't matter. Slower the better, though. While the workout is running, pat your watch hand lightly up and down while you're moving. You should get decent results, depending on your speed.
Use Pokémon Go Plus. It's just a click, so it's easy to use, and it often catches things you wouldn't be able to use if you're being driven around in a car trying to do it directly in the app.
Drop an Incense. Currently, Incense seems immune to the speed lock that affects everything else in Pokémon Go. So, even if you're a passenger in a high-speed car, bus, or train on the highway, a Pokémon should still spawn for you every few minutes. Almost all of them will be common, but you may get a rare Pokémon once or twice.
While there are a couple of legitimate accessories for Pokémon Go, such as the Poké Ball Plus, the Pokémon Go Plus, or even the Go-Tcha that isn't made by Nintendo by doesn't seem to be discouraged either, there are other accessories that are more questionable.
Take for instance, Step Counters. In the early days of Pokémon Go, there were players who thought they could get distance fast by taping their phone to a ceiling fan. That definitely didn't work but now, with Adventure Sync allowing input of steps instead of strict distance, there are some companies attempting to capitalize on this. These products shake your phone for hours at a time, tricking it into thinking you're taking between 8,000 and 10,000 steps every hour! There are also countless knock offs of the Pokémon Go Plus that claim better battery life, better connectivity, and even managing multiple accounts at once. You should be careful with any of these devices, of course, but if the reviews are to be believed, many of them do work at least as well as the official ones.
Your most cherished cheats and hacks?
If you've tried out any of these Pokémon cheats and hacks, let me know how they worked for you. If you have other cheats, tell me all about them. If you have any other questions, drop them in the comments and be sure to check out our Complete Pokédex, as well as our other Pokémon Go Guides so you too can become a Pokémon Master!
Updated March 2020: These are the latest cheats and hacks for Pokémon Go.
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