How to catch Unown in Pokémon Go

Pokemon Go Unown Hero
Pokemon Go Unown Hero (Image credit: iMore/Rene Ritchie)

Unown is one of the rarest and hardest to find Pokémon in Pokémon Go — period. That's because it doesn't spawn very often in most areas and, when it does, it can manifest as any one of the 28 forms, stylized after the letters of the alphabet, from A to Z, as well as the punctuation ? and !. So, how do you catch 'em all?

Update: Unown S will be spawning for the Pokémon GO Safari Zone St. Louis from March 27, 2020 to March 29, 2020

For the Pokémon GO Safari Zone St. Louis, Unown S will be spawning in Tower Grove Park. You must purchase tickets through the app in order to attend the event, which will run for three days with multiple time slots per day, from March 27 to the 29. More details can be found at Pokémon Go Live Events.

What's 'Unown' and how many forms does it really have?

Pokemon Go Unown i j and k

Pokemon Go Unown i j and k (Image credit: iMore/Rene Ritchie)

Unown is one of the Pokémon introduced into Pokémom Go as part of the Gen 2 update. Gen 2 had 26 distinct forms, one shaped after each letter of the alphabet, from A to Z. Gen 3 adds ? and ! for a total of 28.

Is Unown one Pokémon with 28 different shapes or 28 different Pokémon?

Pokemon Go Unown m n and o

Pokemon Go Unown m n and o (Image credit: iMore/Rene Ritchie)

Unown only has one Pokédex entry in Pokémon Go, so it's best to treat it as one Pokémon that has 28 different shapes. So, less like Vaporeon, Flareon, Jolteon, and the rest of the Eevee-lutions and more like Pikachu, Santa Hat Pikachu, and Party Hat Pikachu — just all available at the same time.

Pokémon Go will show you all the versions you've caught in the Pokedex as tabs.

But, are there Unown spawns, or separate Unown A and Unown B spawns?

Pokemon Go Unown u v and w

Pokemon Go Unown u v and w (Image credit: iMore/Rene Ritchie)

Only Pokémon Go knows for sure. Based on how people are catching them, though, it seems less likely that each specific Unown spawns on its own and more likely Unown spawns in general and then its specific form is determined at random.

That said, specific Unown have spawned at events with letters corresponding to the theme of the event (more on that in a moment), so it could be determined more specifically. Or it could be both!

Are there nests where you can go to catch Unown?

Pokemon Go Unown r s and t

Pokemon Go Unown r s and t (Image credit: iMore/Rene Ritchie)

Sadly, no. Unown, like Snorlax and Lapras, doesn't seem to nest. There have been reports of consistent, if infrequent spawn points but they're thus far very few and incredibly far between.

In my area, they spawn only a few times a week, and randomly throughout the city and suburbs. Never the same place, never the same time, never at any discernable pattern.

Is Unown restricted to events?

Not restricted, no, but Pokémon Go does make it spawn in numbers at events, with letters typically tied to the event. So, if you really want Unown, going to an event where Unown is boosted is the only sure way to get one or several.

At many major Pokemon-related and also gaming events (such as E3, PAX, GDC, and Pokemon GO events), Unown with letters corresponding to the event will appear. So at PAX events, Unown letters P, A, and X will spawn very frequently for the duration of the event in the area near the event's location. If you happen to be attending such an event, look out for Unown, or if you're lucky enough to live near one, consider walking by the venue to see if there are Unown in the area while the event is going on.

Can you track Unown in Pokémon Go?

If you can find a spawn near a PokéStop, you can absolutely track Unown using Nearby.

  1. Tap the Nearby Tab at the bottom right of the screen.
  2. Tap the holiday Pokémon you want to track.
  3. Tap the Footprints button to start tracking.

Once you get to the PokéStop, Unown will spawn and you can catch away!

If Unown isn't at a PokéStop, it might show up on Sightings depending on whether or not you get within 40 meters and there aren't so many PokéStops nearby that Nearby overwhelms Sightings. (Niantic really needs to better balance that, especially for rare Pokémon like Unown...)

How to track Pokémon with Nearby and Sightings in Pokémon Go

Can you get Unown from Incense or Lures?

Pokemon Go Catch Unown day

Pokemon Go Catch Unown day (Image credit: iMore/Rene Ritchie)

Unknown! (Sorry, had to!). There's been a report of Unown spawning from Incense but there'll need to be many such reports before it's accepted as fact.

Same for Lures. There have been reports, but until there's more volume it's impossible to say definitively one way or another.

I've seen Snorlax spawn from Incense, though. And while not as rare as Unown, it does show Incense and Lures can pull from a wide range of Pokémon in the system.

So, while you shouldn't waste your money on high volume Lures or Incense just to get Unowns, if you're already using a Lure or Incense, keep your eyes open and fingers ready!

Can you hatch Unown from a Pokémon Egg?

Not usually. However, in the past, Niantic has made Unown available in eggs for events. As far as we know, there are no plans for Unown to be permanently added to Eggs but they might show up for future events. Fingers crossed.

How do you increase your odds of catching Unown when you find it?

Pokemon Go Catch Unown night

Pokemon Go Catch Unown night (Image credit: iMore/Rene Ritchie)

Unown seems to be hard to find but it doesn't seem to have an especially low catch rate or high flee rate. So, if you do find it, you should be able to get it. That said, best practices are best practices for a reason:

  1. Use a Golden Razz Berry. Unlike other bonuses, it's not dependent on you hitting the target. And there's no point in using a Pinap Berry because Unown doesn't evolve nor does it power up to a significant enough level to be worth hoarding candy.
  2. Throw a Curve Ball. A successfully thrown Curve Ball has a higher catch rate than a Great Ball and almost as good as an Ultra Ball.
  3. Bonuses stack up, so throw a Curve Ball with an Ultra Ball and a Golden Razz Berry to max out your catch rate.
  4. Go for a Nice, Great, or Excellent throw — if you know you can get it reliably — by nailing the center of the target circle. Again, the bonuses stack.

With a little luck, you'll get all the Unown you can find.

How to stack bonuses and to catch tough Pokémon in Pokémon Go

Is there an Unown medal to help make catching them easier? And, yes, fine, to show off with?

Unown Medal Screen

Unown Medal Screen (Image credit: iMore/Rene Ritchie)

There is... but you'll need to catch a lot of Unowns to get the gold. And it only credits you one for each form, so repeats don't count. That means, even if you're in an area where Unown spawns, you're likely to get a lot of dupes before you encounter every different type. According to Silph Road math, it would take an average of 100 catches to get all 26. So, if you encounter one a day, that's a minimum of 26 days, an average of 100 days, and a max of... forever. If you encounter one a week...

  • Bronze: Catch 3 Unowns, get a 1.1x bonus.
  • Silver: Catch 10 Unowns, get a 1.2x bonus.
  • Gold: Catch all 26 Unowns, get a 1.3x bonus.

How to get all the medals in Pokémon Go

Are there any other ways to make finding Unown easier?

Pokemon Go Unown y and z

Pokemon Go Unown y and z (Image credit: iMore/Rene Ritchie)

Attend a Pokémon Go or related event, if there's one near you. Pokémon Go has had Unown at all its major events, including C H I C A G O at the first Go Fest, and C E L E B I ? at the second. It's also had Unown at Pokémon events, gaming events, even some sports events.

Keep an eye on The Silph Road on Reddit and your local Facebook, Discord, WhatsApp, etc. groups.

Where have you found Unown in Pokémon Go?

If you have any tips on finding and catching Unown in Pokémon Go, or any questions, drop them in the comments below!

Images and compilation via Reddit, Twitter, Reddit. Some images have been modified or composited because catching Unown is kinda hard, folks.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.