How to Change the iPad's Side Switch Function

Use the side switch to mute or lock the rotation on your iPad

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 to lock the orientation or mute the iPad.

How to Change the iPad Side Switch Action

For iPads that have a side switch, changing what it does on an iPad takes only a few taps in the Settings app:

  1. Open the Settings app to see the iPad settings

    The Settings app on the iPad home screen
  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

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 don't 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 with iOS 9, 8, or 7, swipe up from the bottom of the display to open Control Center.

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

    Control Center on iPad with Silent Mode button highlighted

In some versions of the iOS, the Rotation Lock icon doesn't appear in the Control Center of iPads that are equipped with a side switch.

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