How to customize the function of the side switch on an iPad

Apple has given iPad users the option to customize the side switch on the iPad. People can set it to either mute the iPad, or to lock the screen rotation. This simple guide will show you how to set a preferred behavior for the switch, as well as where to find the shortcut to the secondary behavior.

Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
2 min read

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

Some people don't realize that the iPad's side switch can be customized, allowing them to set the switch to either lock the screen rotation or mute their iPad. This simple guide will show you how to set the behavior of the switch, and where to find a shortcut to the secondary behavior.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

The side switch is located above the volume rocker on the iPad.

Apple has the side switch set to mute from the factory. For some people this works, but for others it makes more sense that the switch controls the screen rotation lock.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

To change the behavior of the side switch, go into Settings on your iPad. General should be selected by default; if it isn't, select it. About halfway down the options under the General tab you will see "Use Side Switch to."

You will see a check mark next to the current behavior of the switch. If you would like to change it, simply tap on the option you prefer the side switch to perform. To test it, simply move the switch up or down and you should see an alert on your screen informing you of what action was just completed.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

Now that you have set the side switch to carry out the task of your liking, we are going to show you how to gain quick access to the unused option.

Double click the home button on your iPad to bring up the fast app switcher. This time, instead of swiping right-to-left to view the additional apps that are open, swipe left-to-right and you should see an additional screen containing some useful options.

This screen will give you fast access to controlling your music (the icon for the iPod changes depending on what music app you are using. For example, if you were streaming Slacker radio, you would see the icon for Slacker here instead of the iPod icon.) You can also control the volume and brightness of your iPad with the slider on either side of the playback buttons.

The top bar shows the lock rotation icon while the bottom bar shows the mute icon. Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

On the far left side of the screen you will see an icon to either lock the screen rotation or to mute your iPad. The icon that shows up will represent the opposite function of what you have set your side switch to perform.

Tap on the icon to turn mute on or off, or turn the rotation lock on or off. Tap on your screen or press the home button when you are done.

Now that you have learned how to customize the side switch on your iPad, play around with it and see what your preferred setting is. Some prefer to have quick access to locking the screen in place, while others prefer the ability to mute the iPad.