How to lock iPad orientation in iOS 4.2

Dec 3, 2010 - 49 Comments

lock ipad orientation ios4-2

Update: You can now enable the iPad orientation lock switch in iOS 4.3, this is allows you to adjust the side button to be either a rotation lock or mute button. Highly recommended!

The iPad orientation lock used to be controlled by a switch on the side of the device, since iOS 4.2 the orientation lock switch has been changed to a mute switch, which functions just like the iPhone and iPod touch. So now what? What if you want your iPad screen locked into horizontal or vertical mode?

How to Lock Screen Orientation in iPad iOS 4.2

Here is how you lock the iPad screen orientation:

  • Hold the iPad in the orientation you want locked (vertical or horizontal)
  • Double-click on the Home button at the bottom of the iPad to bring up the task switcher
  • Swipe right on the task switcher to bring up the iPod and iPad controls, and the orientation lock button will be located on the left
  • Tap on the orientation lock button (see screenshot above) to lock the current orientation in place
  • Hit the home button to exit

Locking the screen orientation through software like this is easy once you know how to do it, but from a user experience perspective it can be a little confusing to change the functionality of a hardware button after it’s been established. Just get into the new habit and all will be well.

I want my iPad orientation hardware switch back!

Apple will allow the iPad side switch to be adjustable between either a Mute button or Orientation lock in iOS 4.3, the beta is now available to developers and a public release is expected in March.

In the meantime, you can get the mute button to function as an orientation lock again if you jailbreak your iPad, the app you’d need to install through Cydia is called “NoMute” and returns the mute button to an orientation lock button.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad


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  1. […] If you’re curious why anyone cares about this, here’s some backstory: Apple changed the orientation lock in iOS 4.2.1 to become a software feature, this in turn caused the switch on the side of the iPad to become a […]

  2. I still cannot get to the home button because for my Enterprise E-mail my iPAD has to be password protected. Thus when I press the button twice it locks again and when it is unlocked the home button is not there. Please advise. Otherwise your description and the comments were great!

  3. sidney rhule says:

    I have just ready the tip on how to lock the orientation, and thank goodness I did as I have spent 2 days restoring my Ipad to its original state as I thought that I had corrupted some files in my last sync, that had made the switch function as mute on my iPhone.
    I am gutted to find that this is an intentional functionality change! I find it quite amazing to change the function of a really useful button like this, without any information or warning. I have lost time and data for nothing! Not really pleased about that.

  4. kaz says:

    I was on the verge of taking my iPad back to Apple (a four hour round trip!) because I was convinced I had broken the orientation button somehow! I have been frustrated and annoyed with my beloved iPad and it wasn’t even it’s fault! Would love to have the orientation switch back as I always have my iPad on mute anyway!
    Thank you to this site for solving the problem for me. Boo to Apple for making the problem!

  5. Uk says:

    I did not find out about the orientation until months after I updated. It was funny, I though my iPad is on the blink. Why do they make unnessary changes especially mute when you can just adjust the sound normally, it’s becoming a farce.

  6. Doug says:

    You guys are right, but you are also completely biased. The only people finding this page are the people that are trying to get their orientation switch back. For all you know, there was a similar page of people screaming for a mute button like existed on their iPhones…

  7. Kelly says:

    Thanks for the info! While I prefer the switch option, this change is, after all, only a change. No blood, no foul.

  8. Paul says:

    I always said apples are for eating ! iPads simplicity ruined. Apple have annoyed people unnecessarily. Makes little sense to change something that was fine to something that irritates. The money this cost me – if a button says lock – it should lock not f…… Mute !

  9. BDog says:

    Please, please I implore you to return this to its original state. Poor decision by an autocratic company I am getting more and more pissed off at. And I thought apple was supposed to excel at UI and design and usability. Not by a long shot on this one – reminds me of the ATM and payment processing checkout machines where you have to contort your wrist to get the card to slide upside down. An engineer somewhere in Cupertino is looking for a new job!

  10. Fran M says:

    I spent an hour trying to figure out what went wrong with my ability to lock the orientation on my iPad. Seriously, there should have been some visible warning on this. The only way I found the fix was through Googleing the question. A bit irresponsible. I like the mute button, but I also prefer the easy orientation lock. I thought I was going crazy when I could not figure it out through Settings.

  11. Barry says:

    Terrible decision by pear. Change it back now.

  12. rickg87 says:

    Thanks for info. I couldn’t figure it.
    But really. What are you complaining about.
    Now you know how to do it. Whats the big deal.
    You all sound like you want to boycott Apple.

  13. encl4ve says:

    Big thanks. I was really confused about this. Hardware lock was really better. hope they will fix this =)

  14. matt says:

    I hate this I pad now! give me back the orientation button,
    Really i have to jailbreak an ipad for the OEM, screw you!
    never mind, i just smashed mine, my nephue wants his smashed too, he was an avid apple ipad reader. so much for this junk! We know jobs did this for profit he didn’t like people showing his ipad locked without the orientation function. a sales creep thing.

  15. Edyth Pehrson says:

    This is ridiculous to have my IPad switching directions all the time. I probably used the hard switch to lock the direction I wanted 20 times a day. Now it’s gone, what the heck, why did you change such a great feature? I’ve never owned an IPhone and may never own one, they don’t have to be the same. If it’s so controversial, give us a choice but don’t just take it away.

  16. Digital_survivor says:

    I would have to agree, just got my iPad for Xmas I played with it for a few hours and found the screen lock switch an incredibly NEEDED feature… Then I hook it up to my PC did the 4.2 upgrade and I loose the switch within 4 hours of owning the iPad… Really dose seem like an idiotic move on apples part… Guess I’m still a PC lol… As everyone has stated before me, give us an option to toggle the switch between a mute or screen lock switch, please!

  17. bubbamatix says:

    Bad apple, bad apple. It may be hard to accept, but sometime a single switch is better than going through a series of menu taps. Besides, as noted earlier, the mute switch was already totally simple–just press the down volume button.

  18. K says:

    Seriously you drama queens…I thought I’m a big drama queen but seriously…all this anger from a change? Its not healthy, go see a therapist…or go get a android based tablet.

  19. tootu says:

    I use my iPad a lot, but it’s changes like this that have made me reconsider Apple products the next time I upgrade. I will definately check out the competition now.

  20. Paer0 says:

    It used to be very easy to lock the screen to a particular orientation, now it has to be done through software and I don’t like it. How many buttons does apple want to dedicate to the volume alone?

  21. Tom says:

    I agree with those above and wanted to add my voice. While I don’t mind the new menu feature, the button should be assignable in the General Preferences section. I personally have little use for a mute button, but use the orientation button all the time.

  22. Tricia says:

    Just adding my input on the change to the lock orientation button: I hate it. Like so many other people have said, I used the button many times a day and the new method is time-consuming and annoying. Give it us back Apple, or at least an option to choose. I mean, why would they mess with something that worked so well? Very annoyed.

  23. Bryant says:

    Who the hell does that after release??? The kids WILL NOT be able to do this now.

  24. Mad as hell says:


  25. Che says:

    Dumb move on Apple’s part. I was in a meeting with the iPad on my lap typing some note and shifted my weight just a little and the screen contents rotated so I pushed the orientation lock button quickly only to see the mute pop up. WTF! Mute was a simple hold volume button down before. I am ticked off that Apple did not establish a software setting for those who want to use it as a mute vs the orientation lock! For all their brilliance Apple can make some major dumb moves. Bad Apple! Give us a configuration setting.

  26. Stacy says:

    This SUCKS! Why change the most useful tool on the machine, which I use all the time, from one flick of a switch to a very complicated, very long multi-step procedure? If I had known this “upgrade” were included I would never have installed no matter how many other features it may offer. And since they didn’t warn me they’d take away the most useful function on the machine with this “upgrade” I’m freaking stuck with it. Thanks a lot, Apple.

    You could at LEAST have a preferences option for us to choose if we want that switch to be mute or orientation lock. I lock my orientation vertically to read, cause otherwise a slight tilt changes the orientation. Then when I take a break to websurf or do something else that uses a keyboard, I unlock, tilt, lock it horizontal. I do this multiple times every day. That used to take a second. Now it takes forever. Ugh!

  27. sonny says:

    the change with no option and not even a warning sucks. is there a way to lock using the keyboard. or how do you create such a macro?

  28. Eunique says:

    Ok, it’s not the end of the world, but seriously, why didn’t they leave the hardware functionality alone and use the task bar to add the mute? When reading, I really liked the ability to quickly click that button. This is one of those ideas that one person in a meeting thought was a great idea. Whoever you are, it wasn’t! The rest of us don’t need to quickly mute the sound because our boss is coming.

    • Kris Krol says:

      As far as I’m concerned, this is more of an enhancement. If I’m in court, I like having the quick mute feature. Turning the sound all the way down may not satisfy all apps, and the last thing I need when I’m on the record is for my iPad to start playing who knows what from my iPod app or something.

      Notification of this would have been nice if it wasn’t included in the release notes, but I was so anxious to get the multi-tasking that I knew was included (and was actively watching for) that I don’t recall reading the while thing, anyway.

      I’m also glad Apple made it more iPhone-like in operation. I have a Nano, the iPhone 4 and the wi-fi iPad from April. The other improvement I REALLY like is that I can actually make CAPS LOCK work now. You want to return your iPad just because of the mute button thing? Please.

      • The dude says:

        What is hilarious is it doesn’t work as a mute button. I just muted the device and pandora is still playing quite fine despite being in mute.

        Volume controls were already on the exterior.

        I want my orientation lock back!

  29. andre says:

    That is really silly… Kudos for changing a great feature? You sound like you have drank so much koolaid that you think everything they have done is great. MOST people I know with IPads change the orientation very often when they feel like it is needed and to change a great feature without telling anyone was just plain stupid. So please do not applied a company for stupidity… They will just keep doing stupid things.

    I mean, why did I need too come here to find out about this? Because Apple thinks that they don’t need to because they are Apple and we will love anything they do. To bad they are wrong.

  30. Jefe says:

    I have never submitted a comment on any site about anything Apple – good or bad – despite having an iMac, iPhone through all gen, and an iPad. However, this “little” change is the worst change ever. It affects me numerous times per day and the ability to mute via volume control was just fine and quick. I think the orientation (physical) switch was one of the best functions of the iPad. If I could go back to 4.1 I would. I am SO disappointed in this ill-thought out change.

  31. Matt says:

    This does suck. Apple should not change functionality like this without talking to the users.
    So far I have see no support for this feature!!!

  32. andre says:

    Most people either keep it locked all the time or keep it unlocked but again most of the time, so this change should not be an issue for anyone. Because this is THE change every one goes ballistic, alas people don’t like change. Kudos to apple for pushing us off the comfort zone :-)

  33. mad says:

    Ugh. Typical.
    What an obnoxious change.

    Thanks for posting this. Too bad I didn’t have the info during my meeting when I needed to do it and was left playing with mute like a fool.

    • steffer says:

      Very same thing happened to me, I’m actually still sitting in that meeting. I just spent a chunk of time in Settings looking for the option to change it back…which of course they didn’t include.

      What a crap move, Apple.

  34. ariesguitar says:

    Thanks for the info about this. I agree that this change should have been stated before the upgrade or there should have been an option installed as part of the upgrade. I often change the orientation and, given that we now have multi-tasking, this feature is going to used even more frequently. Unbelievable – I’m very disappointed.

  35. Tina Shelton says:

    Thank you for having this available. When I upgraded my IPAD software, suddenly the orientation lock wasn’t working. I knew something was up….glad YOU told me. Tina

  36. Parakeet says:

    This should really be a preference option that the user can adjust, it’s too cumbersome to double click tap and swipe and tap to just do something simple

    I jailbroke just so I could reinstall the lock switch, that said the current jailbreak for iPad is tethered (must be connected on restart) which is annoying

  37. Mike Reys says:

    I do agree here with the fact that the least that could be done is offer the setting in the preferences.
    Especially because you can mute your iPad easily by holding the volume down button for 1second (not 100% equal to mute because you can’t return to previous volume level in one step, but hey…!)

  38. logicalnot says:

    Indeed. I want my iPad orientation hardware switch back too! NOBODY anywhere online complained about that feature.
    They should AT LEAST offer an option in the preference.

    Sometimes Apple really screw up.
    I remember when they – FOR NO REASON – change the shortcut command-N (create a folder) to commande-shift-N.
    It’s also happen with the design of keyboards. One generation is near perfect, the next generation of keyboard is white and collect dust.
    Same with the mouse design.

  39. Josh says:

    I don’t mean to sound over the top, but I literally want to return my iPad now. A key functional component has been changed without warning and without the simple option to change it back. Tilt lock is, indeed, a very useful feature, and a big part of its genius was having it available at your fingertips. This is an unwelcome change. The mute feature does not even mute my iPod, only sounds running within apps. Booooo Hisssssssss

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