iOS: A Guide to Guided Access

| How-To

Being the parent of a toddler, who just loves to get his grubby little paws on my iPad, Guided Access has become one of my best friends. Let me show you why.

Here's the scenario: The family is on a roadtrip, and the toddler needs some entertainment in the back seat. He just loves to watch his favorite show, Dinosaur Train. I've purchased several episodes from iTunes and have loaded them on my iPad mini for him to enjoy. But toddlers are inquisitive, and love pressing buttons to see what they do.

How can I keep him from getting access to Real Racing 3, crashing my car and making me spend all that hard-earned racing money to fix my car? Enter Guided Access! With the tweak of a few settings, I can set up my iPad so that the ONLY thing he can do is watch Dinosaur Train!

To activate Guided Access, navigate to: Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access

Guided Access setup screen within the Settings applicationSettings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access

Flip the switch to 'On' and then tap on Set Passcode. This will be a secret, 4-digit code that you'll use to disable Guided Access when it's in use. Pick something you can remember, but don't let the toddler see. I would also suggest flipping the switch for Enable Screen Sleep to ON, otherwise you may end up draining your battery faster than you like when the little guy in the back seat falls asleep and leaves the iPad running. Now, exit out to your home screen.

Now that everything is set up, it's time to put it to use. Here's what to do: get a video started, then triple-click on the home button. This activates Guided Access for the application.

Guided Access activated with available settings shownGuided Access activated, with available settings shown

From here, there are a couple of settings that are available to choose... the Hardware Buttons are set to Always OFF. I turn off Touch and leave Motion ON. Turning off Touch disables the entire touch screen, which prevents the little guy from prematurely ending his video.

Another option is to turn this on, and then select areas of the screen that you'd like to be disabled. Leaving Motion turned on still allows for the screen to orient itself based on how the iPad is being held. Once you're happy with the settings you've chosen, tap on Start in the upper right corner. 

To exit out of Guided Access, triple-click the home button, and then tap in your secret 4-digit passcode. You'll be taken back to the Guided Access settings screen, where you can tap on the End button in the upper left corner, or you can tap on Resume in the upper right corner.

Disabling Guided AccessExit out of Guided Access by triple-clicking the home button and tapping in your secret code

Now you can safely hand your iPad over to the little guy, and he's off for a ride on the Dinosaur Train without being able to crash your car in Real Racing 3!

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Apple should advertise this. I know they’re not into making commercials about specific features at the moment, but this is something people (ie. parents of toddlers) need to know about. Guided Access has preserved my sanity on countless occasions.

I discovered it about 5 months ago, and posted it in the forums here, and I’m glad to see an article written about it. My wife and I have twin 20-month-old boys. We have taken several long car trips and even flown with them - anyone who has flown with a lap rider can appreciate the difficulty in keeping a toddler calm on their lap for several hours. Guided Access allowed us to let them hold my iPhone and my wife’s iPad, and keep them calm for long stretches watching videos, playing games, and looking at pictures.

I try to tell anyone I see with an iPhone or iPad and small children about Guided Access. Most have no idea it exists, so please keep spreading the word!

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