How to stop your iPad screen from flipping while you read
Mac Tip #489, 01 June 2011
I hadn’t realised my partner was frustrated with reading on the iPad because the screen kept flipping between landscape and portrait. It seems I’d forgotten to mention the screen lock. So to save you the same anguish, here’s what you need to know.
The iPad and iPhone work slightly differently on this, and it also depends exactly which version of the iOS you have. But I’ll explain the ins and outs of it.
The iPhone Mute button
There’s a small hardware button on the side of your iPhone that mutes the sound, as I explained in Silence your iPhone. Flip it down to mute and up to unmute your phone.
That makes a lot of sense as phones are about sound: ringing, talking and so on.
Rotation Lock on an iPhone
But what say you’re reading something on your iPhone and want to prevent the screen from ‘flipping’ if you move it just the wrong way?
My first 2 screenshots show how when you visit MacTips the screen could be either vertical or horizontal, depending on which way you hold the phone.
To lock the screen rotation on an iPhone:
- Turn on and unlock the iPhone.
- Turn the phone round so it’s in the orientation you want to use.
- Press twice quickly on the Home button. A strip of icons appears across the bottom of the screen. This is the multitasking interface that lets you quickly switch between apps.
- Slide the strip of icons to the right until it goes no further. The icon at the extreme left shows a curly arrow, as in my screenshot. That’s the Rotation Lock icon.
- Tap once on the Rotation Lock icon. A padlock is displayed inside it.
- Press once on the Home button to get back to the Home Screen.
Now when you tilt the iPhone the screen will not rotate.
To undo the lock just follow the same steps as above. When you tap once on the Rotation Lock icon the padlock disappears and you’ll be able to rotate the screen again.
Mute or Rotate the iPad
The iPad has the same side switch, but how it behaves depends on how you tell it to behave and which version of the Operating System you have installed.
Before iOS 4.2 the iPad’s side switch locked orientation. In iOS 4.2 Apple changed it to be a Mute button. In iOS 4.3 (after an outcry from users) they made it a preference.
Keep that in mind and check which version of the iOS you’re using as you follow the instructions below.
To check the iOS version call up
Settings and go to
General — About — Version .
Set the iPad Preference
The first thing to do is to decide what you want to use the iPad’s side switch for: to lock rotation or to mute.
Keep in mind that it’s quick and easy to mute the iPad with the volume rocker switch just below the side switch: press and hold on the
decrease volume portion of the rocker switch to instantly mute the device.
Then, on the iPad:
- Tap on the
Settingsapp to open up the Preferences.
- Tap on
General. Numerous General preferences are displayed on the right-hand side of the screen. Scroll if necessary until you see the
Use Side Switch forsection.
- Tap once on either
Muteto select that option. A checkmark appears beside your selection.
- Flip the side switch down to engage your preferred option, or flip it up to disengage it.
I prefer to use the side switch on my iPad to lock the rotation, and to press and hold the Decrease Volume button to mute the device. I can also access the Mute option by following the steps listed above for the iPhone: call up the multitasking interface, scroll left and tap the Volume icon.
If you prefer to set the side switch to Mute then the Rotate Lock is available at the left end of the multiuser interface.
I no longer have an iPod touch to test things on. I’d be interested to hear what options are available on that device.
Don’t suffer any longer with a screen flip flopping as you try to read: lock it in place.