Learn how to use Apple’s Guided Access feature in iOS to temporarily limit the use of your iPhone to a single app.
Have you ever handed your child your iPhone to play a game, and they somehow opened the Messages app instead? Or maybe you were working hard on a project but got distracted by annoying notifications on your iPad?
You can easily stop these types of situations from happening, thanks to the Guided Access feature on iPhone and iPad.
As we introduced, Guided Access is an iPhone accessibility feature that limits what you can see and tap on your iOS device’s screen. The limitation includes a single app. Thus, during a Guided Access session, you can’t view, open, or use any other apps on your device.
In addition, you can prevent certain areas of the screen from being tapped. This is ideal if the app has banner ads at the top or bottom. It’s also helpful for eliminating the ability to tap notifications you’ve set up to display at the top of your screen. One more use for the feature is when you’re teaching someone to use an app with many buttons to tap—you can limit them to only the ones they really need.
Now that you know what Guided Access is and how it can help, let’s move on to learn how to temporarily restrict the iPhone to a single app.
How to lock an iPhone into Single App Mode with Guided Access
Setting up Guided Access
To begin using Guided Access, you need to first activate the feature in Settings. Here’s how:
- Go to Settings.
- Tap Accessibility.
- Scroll down and tap Guided Access.
- To get started, turn on the switch next to Guided Access.
- Tap Passcode Settings.
- Tap Set Guided Access Passcode, to create a six-digit passcode, ideally one that someone can’t guess.
Activating Guided Access
Before activating Guided Access, you’ll first need to launch the app you want to lock to the screen. Once it’s up and running, if you are using iPhone X, iPhone 11, iPhone 12, iPhone 13, iPhone 14, or iPhone 15, quickly tap the Side button three times. If you are using iPhone 8, iPhone 7, iPhone 6, or iPhone SE, quickly press the Home button three times.
Now, because apps may contain settings menus or in-app purchase options that you don’t want meddled with, Guided Access gives you a chance to mark out any areas on the screen that you want to disable. To do that, simply circle those areas on the screen with your finger.
You also have an options button, giving you a separate menu for disabling the Side button, volume buttons, Software Keyboards, touch, motion, and Time Limit. By default, Side button, Volume buttons, and Time Limit are disabled, but touch, motion and Software Keyboards are left on.
When you’re read to lock in the app, tap Start.
Deactivating Guided Access
When it’s time to disable Guided Access, all you have to do is triple-click the Side or Home button again, enter that six-digit password you created, tap End, and you’re free again to use the iPhone however you wish.
If you want to set a new app in Guided Access, there’s no need to return to the Settings menu. Simply open up the new app and triple-click the Side or Home button to turn Guided Access on again.