Sorting Out iPad Brightness Controls

The iPad is a fairly intuitive device to use, but a few features can be just a little confusing — like sorting out why adjusting the screen brightness doesn’t always apply to all of your applications.

Apple’s iPad lets you adjust your system-wide screen brightness, and also the screen brightness for specific applications like ebook readers.

The iPad’s system-wide brightness slider.

To adjust the screen brightness for all applications, do this:

  • Tap Settings.
  • Tap Brightness & Wallpaper.
  • Use the Brightness slider to increase or decrease your iPad display’s overall maximum brightness. Lowering the brightness level can help extend how long you can go before needing to recharge your iPad, too.

The in-app brightness slider in iBooks.

In Apple’s iBooks ebook reader, look for the brightness symbol in the upper right corner of book pages, and tap the AA button at the bottom right of book pages in the Kindle app to adjust the screen brightness. Since those controls are in-app, you’d assume they control the brightness just for those applications — and you’d be partially right. The brightness slider in the Kindle app adjusts the brightness just in-application, but the iBooks brightness slider controls how bright your screen is system-wide.

As if that isn’t confusing enough, when you adjust screen brightness in iBooks, then hop back to Settings, the Brightness & Wallpaper settings slider hasn’t changed even though the screen brightness has. I found, however, that after leaving iBooks if I tap the power button to lock my iPad, then tap it again, the system-wide brightness I set in Brightness & Wallpaper has been restored. That sure looks like a bug to me.

The Kindle app has its own brightness slider, too.

Offering app-specific brightness controls gives iPad users more control over how they use their multimedia tablet, but does add some complexity since you need to keep track of your brightness settings in more than one location — especially since Apple’s own in-app brightness controls work differently than the Kindle app’s controls. Knowing where those settings are, however, makes it easier to understand why your screen brightness might change when you switch applications.