The Harry Potter Compendium

"There are many ways to pass through locked doors in the magical world (see the Fire-Making Spell, Gouging Spell, and the Reductor Curse) where you wish to enter or depart discreetly, however, the Unlocking Charm is your best friend."
—The introduction to the entry on this spell in Book of Spells.[src]

The Unlocking Charm, also known as the Thief's Friend (Alohomora) is a charm that opens mechanical locks that are not protected by magic. It is also able to open doors locked by Colloportus. There is a spell called the Anti-Alohomora Charm which is used to counteract this spell. Magical locks also existed and was placed on several doors, but could be unlocked with this charm.

Descriptions of this spell are written in numerous books, including the first volume of the Standard Book of Spells series, where it is described in chapter seven [1] and a spellbook that can be found in the Hogwarts Library.[2]


Although it is unknown who invented it (the spell was created in Africa) it was brought to Britain and hence to the world in the 17th century by Eldon Elsrickle. He used it to terrorise London, stealing from homes of Muggles and wizards alike, until Blagdon Blay invented the Anti-Alohomora Charm.

Prior to Alohomora, the most popular unlocking spell was Portaberto (used to splinter a lock from a door; though known to occasionally leave a smoking hole where the key should have gone) and, before that, Open Sesame (which ripped doors from their hinges and tore them into firewood). All of these were more rudimentary and by far less subtle than Alohomora.

Known practitioners

Known uses



  • In the 1600s, after multiple robberies, Eldon Elsrickle eventually found that all wizarding households placed an Anti-Alohomora Charm on their doors and could no longer unlock their doors.
  • The door guarding the Sorcerer's Stone in 1991 was protected against the Unlocking Charm; a winged key was necessary to open it. A single door in the Department of Mysteries was impervious to this spell as well. It is the door which presumably conceals the room where the Ministry of Magic studies the power of love.
  • In 1996, Harry assumed that Umbridge's office door had been bewitched so that this spell wouldn't work.
  • In 1996, Harry Potter tried to use the spell on the Hogwarts gates with no effect since Albus Dumbledore had bewitched them.


J. K. Rowling stated that the word was from the West African Sidiki dialect used in geomancy and has the literal meaning "Friendly to thieves". [3]

Behind the scenes


Harry opening Dolores Umbridge's Office with this spell

See also

  • Charms
  • Annihilare
  • Dunamis
  • Liberare
  • Emancipare
  • Open Sesame
  • Portaberto


Notes and references

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (film)
  2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (video game)
  3. Rowling, J. K. (2008-04-14). Statement of J.K. Rowling in testimony during the WB and JKR vs. RDR Books. Archived on 2008-04-16 from
  4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 1 - (The Worst Birthday) - Harry considers the possibility of unlocking Hedwig's cage using magic.

The Standard Book of Spells
Books: The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 1 · The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 2 · The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 3 · The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 4 · The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 5 · The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 6
Charms included in the series: Fire-Making Spell · Levitation Charm · Locking Spell · Mending Charm · Softening Charm · Severing Charm · Unlocking Charm · Dancing Feet Spell · Disarming Charm · Engorgement Charm · Freezing Charm · General Counter-Spell · Memory Charm · Tickling Charm · Summoning Charm · Banishing Charm · Substantive Charm