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Lockpicking is something all players can do and is not a character skill or ability but simply a mini-game. It is required to open locked chests found randomly in the world, as well as the various locked doors and safeboxes in cities.


Before a player can pick locks, they must have at least one Lockpick in their inventory. These lockpicks can be bought from vendors or found in furniture.

Positioning Yourself[edit]

If the lock you are picking is marked with a red Unlock prompt, the lock is owned. If an NPC spots you while you are unlocking the lock (a.k.a. in the minigame) you will gain a bounty. Thus before attempting to pick the lock, crouch and ensure that you are completely "Hidden" before you proceed. This does not apply to unowned locks, such as those on treasure chests found in the wild.

Lock Difficulties[edit]

Locks come in five difficulties: Trivial, Simple, Intermediate, Advanced and Master. All locks have five pins that must be correctly set in order to succeed, but higher difficulty locks have pins that move faster, making it harder to land the pin in the correct position. All locks also have a timer. If the timer runs out, the attempt fails and there will be a short cooldown period before you can attempt to unlock the lock again. Higher difficulty locks have shorter timers (Trivial: 60, Simple: 25, Intermediate: 20, Advanced: 15, Master: 10 secs), thus precision is needed. This cooldown also applies if you choose to abandon the attempt early by pressing "Esc" while in the minigame.

Some locks possess an "Impossible" lock level and are intended to never be opened or open by some other means during a quest. Examples include the first door in Fang Lair and Bal Sunnar.

Setting the Pins[edit]

The lockpicking screen

To begin, move the mouse to over one of the five pins. The order you do them in does not matter. Press the mouse button to begin to depress the pin. When the pin wiggles, release the mouse button. If done correctly, the pin will remain in the lowered position, meaning that it is correctly set. Repeat this for all five pins to unlock the lock. There are only three positions that a pin can occupy, as shown by the picture. 0 is the initial position.

If you continue to hold the mouse button down even when the pin wiggles or release the mouse button too early, the pin will snap back to the original position as a penalty. You will then need to depress the pin again, possibly wasting precious time. When pins snap back they will also damage your pick, and if the pick is damaged enough, it will break.

When all five pins are set, the lock opens and you may loot the container. Opening the lock also grants you a small amount of leveled experience, as well as Legerdemain points. (Simple: 1, Intermediate: 2, Advanced: 4, Master: 8)

Forcing the Lock[edit]

If you do not want to go through the lock picking minigame, you can press R to force the lock. If you are successful, the lock is immediately opened. If you fail, you will need to wait a while before you are allowed to attempt the lock again. Note that forcing the lock will always break your pick, even if you are successful. Forcing a lock will not grant you experience or legerdemain points, so only use it sparingly.

The default chance of forcing a lock depends on its difficulty (Trivial: 100%, Simple: 15%, Intermediate: 10%, Advanced: 5%, Master: 0%), but this chance can be improved by adding points to the Locksmith skill in the Legerdemain skill tree.


There are ten Achievements related to Lockpicking.

Achievement Points Description
ON-icon-achievement-Explore Dominion.png Treasure Chest Spotter 5 Loot any 10 Treasure Chests.
ON-icon-achievement-Treasure Chest Seeker.png Treasure Chest Seeker 5 Loot any 50 Treasure Chests.
ON-icon-achievement-Explore Cyrodiil.png Treasure Chest Stalker 5 Loot any 100 Treasure Chests.
ON-icon-achievement-Treasure Chest Hunter.png Treasure Chest Hunter 5 Loot any 1000 Treasure Chests.
ON-icon-achievement-Safebox Cracker.png Safebox Pilferer 5 Break into and loot the contents of a safebox.
ON-icon-achievement-Safebox Cracker.png Safebox Looter 10 Break into and loot the contents of ten safeboxes.
ON-icon-achievement-Safebox Cracker.png Safebox Cracker 15 Break into and loot the contents of one hundred safeboxes.
ON-icon-achievement-Master Burglar.png Home Trespasser 5 Successfully pick the lock on a locked door.
ON-icon-achievement-Master Burglar.png Sneaky Housebreaker 10 Successfully pick the lock on fifty locked doors.
ON-icon-achievement-Master Burglar.png Master Burglar 15 Successfully pick the lock on one hundred locked doors.


  • If another player is working on a chest, you will not be able to attempt it until they are done, and if they remove all of the items, the chest will disappear and you won't be able to try. You'll have to wait until the chest respawns, which may take a while.
    • The exception to this is that in Group Dungeons or Trials, all members of your group may loot the chest, though only one can actually unlock it. Once all group members have looted the chest, it will disappear. These chests do not respawn unless you finish the run and start a new one. Generally, each Group Dungeon contains exactly 2 chests, though not always in the same locations.
  • The game does not pause while you are picking a lock, so if there are any hostile enemies in range, you should make sure to kill them first. This can be especially problematic when picking locks in Cyrodiil, as players in opposing Alliances may approach at any time, especially if you are in their territory. NPCs will also continue to move around even while you are attempting to unlock, and you may become exposed halfway if an NPC happens to pass by.
  • Trivial locks are only encountered in introductory quests such as Soul Shriven in Coldharbour‎, and various tutorials, namely Broken Bonds and The Gates of Adamant.
  • Before the One Tamriel update, some chests would have their difficulty listed as "Impossible". This only happened if you were in a zone that was overleveled for you, as the contents of chests were directly tied to the level of the zone. With the addition of battle leveling, the contents of chests you unlock will always match your own level.
  • If you unlock a chest but don't loot everything, any weapons or armor left inside will be at your level for anyone else who comes along.
  • A lockpick is not consumed upon successfully unlocking a chest, and therefore may be reused until broken.[verification needed]