How to Stop Your iPhone Screen From Rotating

Learn how to use the screen rotation lock feature

What to Know

  • iOS 7 and above: Enable the screen rotation lock feature in the Control Center to stop your iPhone from suddenly flipping orientation on you.
  • You'll know screen rotation lock is enabled when the icon is highlighted in white (iOS 7-9) or red (iOS 10-15).
  • Earlier versions (iOS 4-6) use the multitasking bar.

This article explains how to enable and disable screen locking on devices running iOS 4 and up. It's broken down by iOS version and covers the ways to tell if screen locking is enabled.

How to Stop iPhone Screen From Rotating (iOS 7 and Up)

What if you don't want your iPhone screen to rotate when you change the device's position? Then you need to use the screen rotation lock feature built into the iOS (this tip also applies to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch). Here's what to do:

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen (or swipe down from the top right on the iPad and iPhone X and later) to reveal Control Center.

  2. The location of the screen rotation lock depends on what version of the iOS you're running.

    • In iOS 11 and up, it's on the left, just under the first group of buttons.
    • In iOS 7-10, it's on the top right.

    Whatever version you have, look for the icon that shows a lock with a curved arrow around it.

  3. Tap the rotation lock icon to lock the screen to its current position. You'll know screen rotation lock is enabled when the icon is highlighted in white (iOS 7-9) or red (iOS 10-15).

  4. When you're done, click the Home button or swipe down Control Center (or swipe up, on the iPad and iPhone X and later) to return to the app you were in or to the home screen.

Not all apps support screen rotation. Some apps only work in portrait or landscape mode. This is particularly true of some games and video apps. For those apps, your screen rotation settings don't matter. The app will only only display in the orientation it supports.

How to Turn Off iPhone Screen Rotation Lock

If your iPhone won't rotate when you want it to, you need to turn screen rotation lock off. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen (or swiping down from the top right on iPhone X and newer).

  2. Tap the screen rotation lock button a second time, so that the red highlight disappears. You'll also see a message at the top of the screen that the rotation lock is off..

    Three iOS screens showing rotation lock button in Control Center in ON and OFF states
  3. Close Control Center by clicking the home button or swiping down the Control Center (or swiping up, on iPhone X and later).

Is your iPhone screen not rotating even though the rotation lock is turned off? Learn reasons why the screen might not rotate and how to fix it.

How to Disable iPhone Screen Rotation (iOS 4-6)

You can lock iPhone screen rotation on earlier versions of the iOS, but on iOS 4-6, the steps are slightly different:

  1. Quickly double-click the Home button to bring up the multitasking app switcher at the bottom of the screen.

  2. Swipe left to the right until you can't swipe anymore. This reveals music playback controls and the screen rotation lock icon at the far left.

  3. Tap the screen rotation lock icon to enable the feature (a lock appears in the icon to indicate that it's on). Disable the lock by tapping the icon a second time.

How to Know If Screen Rotation Lock Is Enabled

In iOS 7 and up, you can see that screen rotation lock is turned on by opening Control Center, but there's a quicker way: the icon bar at the top of the iPhone screen. To check if rotation lock is enabled, look at the top your screen, next to the battery icon. If rotation lock is on, you'll see the rotation lock icon—the lock with the curved arrow—to the left of the battery icon. If you don't see that icon, rotation lock is off.

The rotation lock icon is hidden from the home screen on the iPhone X, XS, XR, and 11. On those models, it's only shown in the top right corner of Control Center.

Another Option For Enabling Rotation Lock?

The steps listed above are currently the only way to lock or unlock the screen orientation—but there was once another option.

In early beta versions of iOS 9, Apple added a feature that allowed the user to choose whether the ringer switch on the side of the iPhone would mute the ringer or lock the screen orientation. This feature has been available on the iPad for years, but this was the first time it appeared on the iPhone.

When iOS 9 was officially released, the feature had been removed. The addition and removal of features during beta development and testing aren't unusual for Apple, but this was disappointing to some people. While the feature didn't come back in iOS 10-15, perhaps it will return in a later version.

Why the iPhone Screen Rotates

The iPhone screen rotating when you don't want it to can be annoying, but it's actually caused by a useful feature. The iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad are smart enough to know how you're holding them and rotate the screen to match. They do this using the accelerometer and gyroscope sensors built into the devices. These are the same sensors that let you control games by moving the device and that help give you accurate directions in the Maps app.

Image of an iPhone with a horizontal screen

If you hold the devices sideways (in what's called landscape mode), the screen flips to match that orientation. The same is true when you hold the phone upright (also called portrait mode). 

  • What should I do when autorotation on my iPhone doesn't work, but it is turned on?

    If you're positive an app supports screen rotation and it isn't working on your iPhone after you activate the feature, restart the device. If rotation still won't work, your phone may have a broken accelerometer and needs to go to an Apple Store for repair.

  • Why should I use autorotation to view my iPhone in landscape mode?

    It's a case of bigger is better. In landscape mode, the keyboard and its keys are larger, making it easier to type. On some newer models, the keyboard includes additional options when in landscape mode.

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