Understanding the iPad Sleep/Wake Button

One button with many purposes

The Sleep/Wake button on the iPad is one of the device's few buttons that offers uses beyond just locking the device or waking it up.

Because this button is used to put the iPad into a suspended mode, the Sleep/Wake button is sometimes referred to as the suspend button or the hold button, or also the lock and power button.

This information applies to all hardware models of the iPad and the iPad mini.

Sleep/Wake button on the iPad

Where Is the iPad's Sleep/Wake Button?

It's a small, physical button at the top of the iPad. It protrudes only slightly from the edge of the device; just enough to feel when you're not looking right at, but not too far so as to catch it on something or have it be a bother when using the iPad.

What the Sleep/Wake Button Does When the iPad Is On

With the iPad powered on and you're viewing the lock screen, pressing the Wake/Sleep button once will wake the iPad up to the point that you can see the lock screen, like the clock and any notifications that are set up to display there. It's at this point that you can get on the iPad, either after a passcode or by sliding to unlock.

If the iPad displays the home screen, pressing this button just once will blacken the screen, locking it and sending you back to square one, where pressing it again will show you the lock screen.

Holding down the lock button for a few seconds, whether the iPad is on the lock screen or home screen, will ask you if you want to shut off the device.

Taking a screenshot on an iPad uses the lock button, too. Click down the Lock button and the Home button at the same time, just briefly — don't hold them — so that the screen will flash to indicate that it took a picture of whatever was displayed on the screen. The image is saved in the Photos app.

What the Sleep/Wake Button Does When the iPad Is Off

Pressing the Wake/Sleep button one time when the iPad is off will do nothing. It needs to be held down for a few seconds, after which it will serve as a way to turn on the iPad.

What the Sleep/Wake Button Does When the iPad Is On or Off

Similar to a screenshot, you can hold down the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button simultaneously to perform what's called a hard reboot. Do it when the iPad is frozen and the power-down screen doesn't appear as expected, or when you can't turn on the iPad.

Keep both buttons pressed down for 15 to 20 seconds to perform this type of reboot.

How to Sleep the iPad Without Using the Button

The iPad will automatically go into suspend mode after a certain amount of time has passed without any activity. This auto-lock feature is set to just a few minutes by default, but it can be changed.

A "smart" case for the iPad will automatically wake it when the case is opened and suspend it when closed.

Ensuring the iPad is properly suspended when not in use is a great way to save battery life.

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