How to Unlock the Screen Rotation on an iPad

The iOS operating system supports user control over screen orientation on your iPad.
Image Credit: Hero Images/Hero Images/GettyImages

The iOS operating system supports user control over screen orientation on your iPad, so you can choose whether an app rotates or not when you turn your device from portrait to landscape mode and vice versa. If you lock rotation in a mode, the screen stays in that position, no matter which way you turn the iPad. If you notice an iPad screen rotation problem, try unlocking the rotation. If the iPad isn't locked, but its screen still won't turn, you can try a couple of troubleshooting fixes.

Check the Lock Icon

If your iPad screen won't rotate, check your rotation settings. If you can see a lock icon on the Status Bar at the top of the screen, rotation is locked, and you need to unlock it.

If the lock icon doesn't show in the Status Bar, but the screen still doesn't rotate, the app may be the problem. Not all apps rotate; some stay in single-view mode. Before you start troubleshooting, open an Apple app that does switch around, such as the App Store or Camera. If this app switches position, screen rotation is not locked, and the original app just doesn't rotate.

Manage Rotation With Side Switch

The Side Switch on an iPad works as a Mute button or a Screen Rotation control, depending on its settings. If you've set this switch to control rotation, push it up to unlock the feature and remove the lock icon from the Status Bar. Put the switch down to lock rotation again.

To set the Side Switch as a rotation control, open Settings and tap General. Go to the Use Side Switch To area and tap Lock Rotation. You can now use the switch to turn rotation on and off, but you can no longer use it to mute sound.

Unlock Rotation Through Control Center

If you haven't set Side Switch rotation control, use the Control Center to unlock the feature. Depending on your iPad's software version, you'll either swipe up from the bottom or swipe down from the top of the screen. Locate the Orientation Lock — the lock with an arrow around it. If screen rotation is locked, the icon is highlighted white; tap to unlock it.

You'll see a message — Orientation Lock: Off – flash up in Control Center and the lock icon disappears from the Status Bar.

You can use the Control Center to turn rotation on again if you ever want to fix the screen in one position. The Control Center doesn't show the lock icon if the Side Switch manages rotation; it then defaults to displaying the Mute button.

Restarting or Erasing Your iPad

If rotation is unlocked, but you can't change screen orientation, even when using apps that you know should rotate, you may have a glitch on your iPad. You can clear most minor bugs by powering down the device and starting it up again.

To restart, press and hold the Sleep/Wake switch at the top of the iPad until you see Slide to Power Off. Swipe the slider right. When the iPad is off, hold down Sleep/Wake again until you see the Apple logo on the screen.

When the device restarts, open an app to check if it rotates. If it still doesn't work, use a reset using one of these two options:

  • Hold down the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons at the same time for a few seconds until you see the Apple logo. Release the buttons and wait for the iPad to start up again.
  • Open the Settings app and select General followed by Erase All Content and Settings. Confirm when asked if you want to continue erasing your iPad.
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