How to Quickly Fix Stuck Orientation on the iPad, iPhone, iPod touch

Jul 3, 2013 - 6 Comments

Every once in a while an iOS device or app will get stuck in the wrong orientation, unresponsive to rotating the device and it either stays in portrait or horizontal mode, despite every effort to rotate the device any which direction. Though this seems to happen more often on the iPad than the iPhone or iPod touch, it can still occur on every iOS device and with just about any app.

Orientation stuck in iOS

Thankfully, resolving this inconvenience is usually a very simple process.

1: Toggle Orientation Lock On & Off

Though this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s not terribly uncommon to either forget that the orientation lock is on (or off), and it’s easy to double-check. Also, sometimes just toggling the switch off/on again is enough to dislodge a device stuck in either horizontal landscape or vertical portrait mode. For the iPad, just flip the side-switch ON and OFF again. Or you can do it through software as follows:

In iOS 6 and before:

  • Double-tap the Home button to summon the multitasking bar, and scroll to the left until you see the Orientation Lock button
  • Orientation lock in iOS multitasking bar

  • Tap the button to toggle it ON and OFF again, then go back to the app that was stuck and try rotating to the desired orientation again

In iOS 7 and newer:

  • Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to summon Control Center
  • Tap the Orientation Lock button in the upper right corner so that ON and OFF

Orientation lock in iOS Control Center

This is particularly effective on the iPad for those who set the side switch to be function as an orientation lock rather than as a mute button.

2: Kill the App & Relaunch

Sometimes the app is just stuck, and in this case just quitting and relaunching it usually enough to dislodge the orientation weirdness.

In iOS 6 and before:

  • Double-tap the Home button to bring up the multitasking bar
  • Tap and hold on the app icon until it starts jiggling, then tap the red (-) button to quit the app
  • Quit an app in iOS

  • Relaunch the same app to find orientation functioning as usual

In iOS 7:

  • Double-tap the Home button, then swipe over to the app that is stuck
  • Swipe up on the app window to quit it, then relaunch the app

Quitting an app with a swipe in iOS 7

If the app is unresponsive and actually frozen, you will need to use force quit instead.

Quitting and relaunching most apps will resolve the issue entirely, and it’s pretty rare to have to reboot the device unless the home screen itself is stuck in an orientation.

3: All Else Fails? Reboot iOS

Though iOS is remarkably stable, sometimes just rebooting the iPhone, iPod, or iPad is enough to set orientation working again (not to mention other stubborn bugs or quirks). This is particularly true if the Home Screen and Springboard are stuck in portrait or landscape mode and the above tricks didn’t do anything. The simplest way to reboot the device is to basically just turn it on and off again:

  • Hold down the Power button until the “Slide to Unlock” message appears, then slide
  • Now hold down the power button again until you see the Apple  logo on boot

Once the iPad, iPod, or iPhone has rebooted, orientation should be responsive again, but don’t forget to double-check the settings again to be sure.

This is the same approach when a device freezes up or is relentlessly crashing, and it often works to resolve the more peculiar unexplained issues of all sorts.

Orientation Stuck in iOS 8?

Another issue seemingly unique to iOS 7 and iOS 8 is that orientation gets stuck and none of the above solutions worked. In this situation, the Compass app may demonstrate a solution as outlined in our comments by David B. Simply open the “Compass” app and go to the Level, then turn calibrate the Compass, then turn the iPhone onto its side repeatedly until it registers. This seems to resolve issues with iOS 7 and iOS 8. Let us know in the comments what works for you.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

6 Comments

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  1. David B says:

    I had the same thing happen to me with my iPhone 5s with latest iOs 7. Phone was stuck in landscape mode for any app that wasn’t already locked in a certain orientation. I tried closing all apps and reopening them and tried restarting several times. Nothing worked. I decided that the accelerometer must be physically broken so I decided to test it with the “compass” app. At first, it was all messed up, but then I went to the “level” app which is part of the compass. After turning the phone on it’s sides several times, the accelerometer seemed to re-calibrate itself and now everything seems to work fine. Try that.

    • Aaron Adams says:

      I’ve tried All the things in this help and the only way I can my screen to rotate is to lock my screen then turn my device then unlock it again then it works but can’t get it to automatically turn any other I try any ideas please
      Thanks
      Aaron Adams

  2. Bijay says:

    Thank you very much. It worked.

  3. Bill-from-SF says:

    Hi David B, thank you very much, that worked for me with iPhone 6 and iOS 8.

  4. Dunk says:

    Omg….. This issue has been bugging me for months! The compass fix worked….. Thank you! :-)

  5. deb says:

    It’s hopelessly stuck! The lock icon is able to open and close the lock but it won’t disappear. There is an update in the background that is perpetually verifying. I can’t turn the thing (ipad) off with the switch to reboot. I can only press and depress the on/off button quickly to get the frozen screen on…any hope for me?

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