Adjusting the Accelerometer on an iPad


Thanks to your iPad’s built-in accelerometer, you can steer cars, objects and characters through perilous mazes in various games, type on a bigger canvas with a bigger keyboard, shake to undo freshly typed text or read books in a preferred two-page spread. The accelerometer detects your iPad’s movement and position and then prompts its operating system to respond accordingly. Notably, it adjusts your display's landscape or portrait orientation based on whether you’re holding the iPad upright or sideways. The accelerometer works constantly, but you can temporarily override its display rotations when desired.


  • Tap the “Settings” app on your home screen to display the Settings split screen.

  • Tap “General” on the left pane to reveal settings controls on the right. Skim down to the “Use Side Switch to:” section.

  • Tap “Lock Rotation” to enable the feature. A check mark indicates your selection.

  • Press the “Home” to return to your home screen. Hold your iPad upright or sideways to view your iPad’s display in the orientation you prefer.

  • Push the side switch downward to fix your orientation and prevent your accelerometer from changing it. The switch reveals a red dot on its upper portion, and a small circle-arrow icon displays beside the battery indicator on the status bar.

Multitasking Bar

  • Choose "Mute" from the "Use Side Switch to" section of the general settings if you prefer to use the side switch to mute your iPad. A check mark indicates your choice.

  • Double-press the “Home” button to open the multitasking bar at the bottom of the screen.

  • Swipe over the multitasking bar to the right.

  • Tap the “Rotation Lock” button, which resembles a circular arrow on the extreme left side of the bar. A padlock appears within it to indicate you’ve locked the orientation of the display in whatever position you’re holding your device and a message briefly appears below the Play button to confirm. A small circle-arrow icon displays on the upper right of your status bar to remind you that the feature is activated.

  • Tap the “Rotation Lock” button again to unlock your current orientation and allow your accelerometer to freely orient your display again based on movement. Tap this button whenever you need to lock or unlock your display's orientation.

Tips & Warnings

  • The icon on the extreme left of the multitasking bar’s music control pane switches to a Mute button when you configure your side switch to function as a rotation lock.
  • If an app seems to defy your accelerometer’s rotation prompts, it’s probably because the app is designed to display in only one specific orientation.
  • You cannot disable or control iPad’s Shake to Undo feature. Simply choose “Cancel” when asked if you’d like to undo what you just typed.
  • Instead of double-pressing the Home button to summon the multitasking bar, you can swipe over your touch-screen upwards with four or five fingers, but first, enable this gesture by tapping “Settings,” followed by “General” and then toggling the “Multitasking Gestures” switch to “On.”

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  • Photo Credit Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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