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How to Lock the iPad to a Single App for Kid Mode

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iOS 6 includes a new feature that lets parents lock the iPad to a single app so kids cannot open other apps, post to Facebook or delete apps from the iPad.

The iPad is a popular tablet to hand to children for reading books, exploring virtual worlds or just watching a show on Netflix, but it’s easy for kids to get into apps they shouldn’t or to start removing apps from the iPad without controls in place.

The new iOS 6 software update includes Guided Access mode, that locks the iPad to a single app, and allows blocking certain areas of the screen or other features while the iPad is locked. This may as well be called Kid Mode for the iPad.

This solution isn’t a perfect kids mode, but it is far better than we’ve seen on the iPad in the past. Until Apple releases controls like the Kindle Fire HD, this is what we need to work with.

How to Lock the iPad to a Single App

The video below shows how to lock the iPad to a single app, aka turn on Kid Mode for the iPad. This works with any iPad running iOS 6, which rules out the original iPad.

Once Guided Access is set up, users only need to triple tap the home button to turn on Kid Mode for a specific app. The process works with any app, and even allows parents to block off specific areas of the screen from accepting touch input.

Open Settings on the iPad.

Tap on General and scroll down to find Accessibility.

How to Lock IPad to a Single App - Kid Mode - 2

How to Lock IPad to a single app.

Tap on Guided Access.

On the Guided Access screen toggle the switch to On.

Set a Passcode that a child isn’t likely to guess, so no “1111″ passcodes here.

How to Lock IPad to a Single App - Kid Mode - 3

Guided Access lets users lock the iPad to a single app for kids.

Now Guided Access, or Kid Mode is ready to use.

Open the app that you want to lock the iPad to. Once the app is open triple tap the home button. This needs to be fairly fast.

From here, choose if the kid can use touch or motion controls.

It’s also possible to lock out certain areas of the screen from touch control. This is useful for blocking links to buy items or to exit a specific movie in Netflix.

iPad kid Mode - Netflix for Kids

Lock a child to a specific app and disable touch in areas to keep them in a single section of an app like Netflix for Kids.

Guided access is the perfect companion to Netflix for Kids. After opening the Netflix for Kids section of the new Netflix app, turn on guided access mode and block the top part of the screen from accepting touch input. In the photo above, the top section of the Netflix app will no longer respond to touch. This means kids can pick any Netflix for kids movie, but won’t be able to jump to the main screen to watch R rated movies.

This isn’t a perfect kids mode. Restarting the iPad while holding the home button and power buttons will quit Guided Access, giving the user full access to the iPad without a passcode. This is also a good way to exit Guided Access if it doesn’t recognize the triple tap.

Josh Smith is Editor of GottaBeMobile and Notebooks.com. He's always looking for ways to help you get the most of your gear and loves to talk about tech on radio and TV. Josh uses an iOS and Android devices as well as Mac and Windows Computers. Josh Smith on Google+ Email: [email protected]

15 Comments

  1. Yolo swag

    12/13/2012 at 11:05 pm

    Brilliant! Did not know about this, thanks alot

  2. Tim

    01/03/2013 at 9:56 pm

    Thank you so much

  3. sue

    01/06/2013 at 4:20 pm

    Well, we tried the “lock” think for my daughter who has special needs. It worked the first couple times. We are using locking it for her communication program and have all the screen locked so she cannot access the “edit” button……but somehow SHE is able to edit and delete thigns and has found a way to get out of there without putting in the security code! I’ve tried watching to see how she does it, but she won’t do it when I am watching!

    • pedro

      03/18/2013 at 3:16 am

      just put a passcode for the whole ipad, and she won´t be able to unlock it

      • Alee

        07/31/2013 at 6:13 pm

        I think it’s meant for people who have apps for their children and they don’t want them to go to the home screen and get into other apps

  4. ds

    03/14/2013 at 3:34 pm

    well what about kids who know how to restart the ipad!! this wont be helpful then!

    • pedro

      03/18/2013 at 3:17 am

      put a password to unlock the ipad. You have to turn on the autolock feature with password..

  5. shaunna minnick

    03/25/2013 at 8:48 am

    Here is my dilemma, and maybe I’m just not tech saavy enough!! I need to lock an entire folder so that the kids cant delete certain things like my Rhapsody and some other apps that take FOREVER if I have to re-download everything in that app.

    • Alex Findlay

      03/27/2013 at 9:48 am

      You can add a restriction: Settings, General, Restrictions (you will need to a put a password in here, and don’t forget it!) that can prevent apps from being deleted.

  6. Sharon

    04/11/2013 at 6:17 am

    How can I make the settings inaccessible?

  7. miladzeitounilad

    05/07/2013 at 7:08 am

    brilliant thx helped a lot

  8. harry

    05/20/2013 at 7:55 am

    how can i lock certain apps (notes, mailbox) from someone else accessing it? someone is using my ipad on a trip and i would like to lock my personal info.

  9. Anonymous

    06/18/2013 at 1:20 pm

    Once you reboot it, it goes back to the same app and starts Kid Mode again. No need to worry!

  10. Oscalet

    06/25/2013 at 7:04 am

    This is brilliant, thank you so much. We are using iPads for surveys and don’t want customers to start surfing instead of responding. The video was excellent and it all worked first time.

  11. Richard Campbell (@Soccer5se)

    10/12/2013 at 6:19 am

    Never new this existed! It would be even better if we could restrict more than one app.

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