How to stop your iPad screen from flipping while you read

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.

Landscape orientation.

Landscape orientation.

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.

Portrait orientation.

Portrait orientation.

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:

  1. Turn on and unlock the iPhone.
  2. Turn the phone round so it’s in the orientation you want to use.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Tap once on the Rotation Lock icon. A padlock is displayed inside it.
  6. Press once on the Home button to get back to the Home Screen.
The Rotation Lock icon on the iPhone.

The Rotation Lock icon on the iPhone.

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.

Set iPad Preferences.

Set iPad Preferences.

Then, on the iPad:

  1. Tap on the Settings app to open up the Preferences.
  2. 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 for section.
  3. Tap once on either Lock Rotation or Mute to select that option. A checkmark appears beside your selection.
  4. 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.

Access the other option.

Access the other option.

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.

Have you tried out this Tip? How did it work out for you? Tell us in the Comments. Could you write a guest MacTip? If so, contact me.

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  1. Hind said:

    Thanks a lot it was a bigg problem to me , and was so easy to handel it whith you … Thanks agean :)

  2. David Buckelheide said:

    After reading your tip on locking rotation it didn’t work. Your tip was to complex. I have an iPad I and went to another link and the advice they mentioned was so easy. Just double tap the home key, slide the bar to the lock/unlock button and click it. It worked like a charm. No more rotation when I am reading in bed.

  3. Pat said:

    I still don’t understand how to lock screen rotation
    It’s driving me craZy when I try to read a novel
    Please help
    iPad 2

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Pat did you follow all the instructions above? Look especially at the part about choosing the setting in Preferences.



  4. Jane said:

    Thanks so much for the tips! Now I can enjoy reading in bed with my iPAD3. (I was so frustrated and cursed for the supposedly nice feature of tilting.)

  5. Rhonda said:

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you !!!!! You don’t understand how beneficial this is to know. Fixed it!

  6. Louis said:

    It still did not work my iPhone screen does not rotate on both of the options. Cauz I want it to rotate.

  7. Caz said:

    Thanks for that concise explanation of stopping my i phone 3 screen from flipping. Much appreciated.
    Regards Caz.

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