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

Daniel Nations

By default, the iPad side switch is used to mute the iPad, but that's not its only function. If you prefer, you can change a setting on your iPad, so when you toggle the switch, it locks the iPad in landscape or portrait mode instead.

Locking the orientation of the iPad is convenient when you are playing a game or reading a book and are holding the iPad at an odd angle. Rather than becoming frustrated with the screen constantly changing back and forth between landscape and portrait mode, lock the position in place with the switch.

The other option for the side switch is to use it when you want to mute the iPad so that it doesn't make any sound.

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 your iPad takes only a few taps in the Settings app:

  1. Open the Settings app to see the iPad's settings

  2. Tap General in the menu on the left side of the screen.

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

    General settings options for iPad side switch

Now, whenever you use the side switch, the iPad either locks the rotation so the screen doesn't flip around 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 one of these newer iPads, the iPad's hidden Control Center gives you 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. Slide your finger down from the top right edge of the screen to open the Control Center in iOS. On iPads running iOS 7, 8, or 9, slide your finger up from the bottom edge 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 reds when it's enabled.

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