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How to Enable (and Disable) Screen Rotation in iPhone / iPad?

Last updated: March 5, 2015 at 0:22 am

Say you are reading a book on your iPhone or iPad device using Kindle ebook reader and… the pages of the book cannot be rotated either horizontally or vertically to the screen. How do you feel?

Or say you are watching a movie clip or YouTube video on your large iPad screen and even after rotating the screen, the video just doesn’t turn ON the full-screen mode?

Or you cannot browse through gallery photos by rotating your iPhone or iPad sideways.

Seriously, it’s frustrating to have a screen that is locked and stuck for no reason at all. We have been there. And yet, we love Apple devices for some magical reasons. In this article, I will explain you everything you need to know about the iOS’s screen rotation feature – from basics to the advanced topics.

Plus, I will also share with you tips and ways to fix your locked iPhone/iPad screen in a few minutes. Some of you might find this tutorial simple (and it is actually simple – made-for-beginners tutorial). But all this should be said.

So let’s get started with the basics.

iPhone Orientation Mode Explained

To put it in simple words, orientation is “positioning” of the iPhone or iPad screen. Remember that every iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch screen can be rotated in two ways:

  • Portrait orientation (vertical)
  • Landscape orientation (horizontal)

Portrait orientation:

When you hold the iOS device in your hand with the front facing camera at the top (as shown in the picture below), that’s the portrait mode.

Note that at this point of time we are not talking about “locking” the screen to portrait mode.

But what happens when portrait lock is enabled? All the iOS apps cannot be rotated (games are always an exception). So, say, on your iPhone if you are playing a video with portrait lock enabled, the screen will not rotate.

Or if you are swiping through pictures from your album, the screen will not rotate.

iOS device in portrait mode (vertical)
iOS device in portrait mode (vertical)

Bottom line: Activating Portrait orientation will lock the iOS screen in vertical mode.

Landscape orientation:

When you hold the iOS device in such a way that the front facing camera is either to your left or right, then you are in the Landscape mode.

For now, just know that landscape orientation lock is opposite to Portrait.

iOS device in landscape mode (horizontal)
iOS device in landscape mode (horizontal)

Bottom line: Activating Landscape orientation will unlock the iOS screen from vertical mode.

Tip: Find Out If Your iPhone’s Screen is Locked

Over the years, with new iOS firmware releasing every year, Apple has made it easier for us to find out whether the iPhone screen is locked or not. It takes a few seconds to figure it all out, and here’s what you should do:

  • Unlock the iPhone/iPad screen
  • Look at the top-right bar
  • Check if orientation lock button is visible

Note: Here is the orientation lock button at the top-right of your iPhone’s or iPad’s screen:


And what does this button indicate? It indicates that orientation mode is turned ON. And that is the reason why your iPhone cannot rotate pictures, videos, apps vertically!

Quick Note

I have a lawyer who recently bought a new iPhone 6 Plus. He is not an expert when it comes to technology, but he is always using WhatsApp and Facebook effortlessly.

Last month he asked me to install new apps on his device, and so I did. At this point of time, I noticed the orientation lock icon at the top-right corner and asked him immediately: “Did you enable this?”

His response: “No, what does it do?” Long story short, he was surprised to know his iPhone 6 Plus screen is locked and went onto thank me for explaining this to me. For weeks, he wondered why he wasn’t able to rotate his iPhone’s screen.

Back to the main topic: So how do you disable or get rid of this orientation lock screen? The answer is given below.

How To Activate Landscape / Horizontal Screen Rotation in iOS 8

To enable the option to rotate screen vertically or horizontally in iPhone / iPad, you have to disable the portrait orientation mode. And here’s how to do that:

  • Unlock your iPhone
  • Swipe your finger from bottom to top
  • Tap on the fifth icon

This fifth circular icon should turn grey (assuming you are using the default theme). If it is white, then portrait orientation lock is enabled (meaning you cannot rotate the screen vertically) and you will get the same icon at the top-right corner of your iPhone’s screen (as shown here).

Orientation button that locks / unlocks rotation
Orientation button that locks / unlocks rotation

Still Stuck? 4 More Solutions To Fix iOS Rotation Problem

Have you performed the steps outlined above? Yes? Good. But for some reason if your iPhone / iPad still has screen rotation issues, then let me tell give you more “fixes.”

Solution #1: Check for iOS update.

In iOS 8.0.2, Apple has admitted that the iPhone screen stopped rotating because there was a bug. This has been fixed in iOS 8.1 (and the newer version). So, from your device, see if any iOS update is available and install that update.

Solution #2: Close apps running in the background.

If the third-party or native apps are running for a longer period of time, it is time to shut them down. To do so, follow this guide. After closing the app, relaunch them and see if the the landscape mode works.

Solution #3: Restart Your iOS Device

This one is easy. Whenever the screen is stuck and fails to rotate even after shaking and moving the devices in every possible direction, it’s time to give your iPhone / iPad a reboot.

Solution #4: Change Zoom Settings

Apple has, again, accepted problem visible widely on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. And this problem has to do with the homescreen’s inability to rotate. If you change the zoom settings to standard, you will be able to quickly and easily the iPhone’s screen. Follow these steps:

  • Go to Settings -> Display & Brightness -> Display Zoom.
  • Tap on View -> Standard

Note that changing Display Zoom will restart your iOS device.


So far you have learned the basics of finding out whether your iOS screen is locked or not. Then you explored the right way to activate the rotational settings in iOS 8.

Lastly, you also glanced through the 4 simple yet working solutions to fix every orientation related problem. We hope you found this beginner’s tutorial useful. If you have any questions related to locking screen and its working, feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Note: Articles written at are valid for every Apple device running iOS 8.0, iOS 8.1, iOS 8.2, iOS 8.3, iOS 8.4 / 8.4.1 firmware
  • wanda goodloe

    tried all solutions, orientation still not fixed. Still unable to rotate screeen

  • carlamc

    I am suspecting that either there’s something missing from this article … or my iphone is weird?
    SOME of my apps rotate, but some don’t… areas that I always used in landscape on my Droid and really miss that (I just switched to an iPhone).
    Although my text-messages will rotate…. these won’t (and typing while holding it in portrait is so awkward!)

    – The Setup process itself wouldn’t
    – App store won’t :-/
    – Home screen itself won’t!

    This is confusing and frustrating… does iPhone just presume to force you to stay in vertical/ portrait mode for its key functions? I NEVER used my Droid in portrait other than to make phone calls :-(
    Very disappointed so far in iPhone.