Limit your child to one app with Guided Access

Here’s the scenario – you’re sitting in the bleachers at your daughter’s basketball game.  Her younger sister is sitting next to you and says “Mommy, I’m bored.  Can I play a game on your phone?”  You hand over your iPhone and the little one starts happily playing Angry Birds.  You go back to watching the game.  Next thing you know, she’s closed out of Angry Birds, scrolling through your camera roll, and all your apps are rearranged.  Argh!

Did you know there is a feature on your iPhone that lets you prevent this scenario from happening? You can use Guided Access to temporarily restrict the device to one app. Guided access also disables the hardware buttons (the “Home” button) so your child can’t return to the Home screen.  No more deleting mommy’s apps!

Guided Access is one of the Accessibility options in iOS6 (that’s Apple’s current mobile operating system), but it can be used as a temporary parental control tool.  I wouldn’t recommend using it on your child’s own iPod or device – if you’ve trusted them enough to give them the device you shouldn’t need to lock it down to this extent.  But Guided Access can be handy for these one-off situations.

Using Guided Access is a three-step process

1. Enable Guided Access

2. Start a Guided Access session when needed with a triple-click.

3. End the Guided Access session with a triple-click and passcode to return to normal device usage.

How to enable Guided Access

1. Go to SettingsGeneralAccessibility.

2. Scroll down to Learning and select Guided Access.

Guided Access option in Accessibility settings in iOS6

3. Turn Guided Access from Off to On.

4. Set a Passcode. This is the passcode you will use to get out of a Guided Access session. *It is important that you remember this passcode!* For example when ‘lil sis is tired of Angry Birds she’ll give you back your iPhone and you’ll use this passcode to return to normal iPhone behavior.  You could use the same passcode you’ve used if you set restrictions, to keep things simple.  Just make sure to choose a 4-digit number that you’ll remember and your child won’t guess.

5. Choose whether the device can go into “sleep” mode while sister plays a game.

Setting up Guided Access

6. Now you’re ready to uses guided access.

How to use Guided Access

Now that you’ve enabled your device (and by the way this works on iPad, and iPod touch as well as iPhone) you can start guided access.  Here’s how to safely hand over your device to the little one.

1. Open the app you want to run.

2. Now triple-click the Home button.

3. With your finger circle any areas on the screen you’d like to disable.

4. Click Options if you want to prevent any touch screen or shaking-the-device behavior.

5. Then click Start in the upper-right of the screen.

Start Guided Access to restrict kids to the current app


How to get out of Guided Access

1. Triple-click the Home button.

2. Enter the passcode you set up for Guided Access.

3. Click End in the top-left of the screen.

End Guided Access


And that’s it! You can now use Guided Access to safely use your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch as an occasional boredom buster without fear of little fingers wreaking havoc.

More about Guided Access:

From Apple Support:

Troubleshooting Guided Access problems:

From Apple Forums: and


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