How to Change the iPad's Side Switch Function

Set the side switch to lock screen orientation or mute the iPad

Learn to switch your iPad's Switch function

By default, the iPad side switch is used to mute the iPad, but that's not its only function. If you prefer, change a setting on the iPad so that when you toggle the switch, the iPad locks in landscape or portrait mode. Locking the orientation of the iPad is convenient when playing a game or reading a book and holding the iPad at an odd angle. Rather than having a screen that constantly changes between landscape and portrait mode, lock the position in place with the switch.

Not all iPads have a side switch. Those models use the Control Panel, which was introduced in iOS 7, to lock the orientation or mute the iPad.

How to Change the iPad Side Switch Action

Changing what the side switch does on an iPad takes only a few taps in the Settings app:

  1. Open the Settings app to see the iPad settings

  2. In the left pane, tap General.

  3. Go to the Use Side Switch To section and tap either Lock Rotation or Mute to select the function you want to use with the side switch.

    General settings options for iPad side switch

Now, when you use the side switch, the iPad either locks the rotation so the screen doesn't flip as you move it or it silences all sound from the iPad, depending on your choice.

If Your iPad Doesn't Have a Side Switch

Apple's quest to limit the number of hardware buttons on the iPad led it to discontinue the side switch with the introduction of the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 4. The iPad Pro models also do not have a side switch.

On these newer iPads, the hidden Control Center gives quick access to these functions and others such as changing the iPad's volume, skipping to the next song, turning Bluetooth on or off, and accessing the AirDrop and AirPlay features.

  1. Go to the upper-right corner of the screen and swipe down to open the Control Center. On iPads running iOS 9, 8, or 7, swipe up from the bottom of the display to open Control Center.

  2. Tap the Rotation Lock icon to enable or disable the orientation lock feature. It's the one that looks like a small lock with an arrow surrounding it. The screen locks in whichever position it is in when you turn on Rotation Lock.

    Control Center on iPad
  3. Tap the Silent Mode button to mute the iPad. This icon resembles a bell. It turns red when enabled.

The Rotation Lock icon doesn't appear in the Control Center of iPads that are equipped with a side switch.