The guided access feature on iOS 7 can be used to disable certain areas of the screen, keep the iPhone or iPad in a single app and even disable the hardware buttons. Outside of using this as a practical joke, there are some real world uses for guided access. For one, it’s a useful feature if you have kids who are accessing your iPhone or iPad. If your child wants to spend some time with a learning app, this can keep them focused on that app. Guided access can do just that. Those using the iPad in commercial, kiosk applications may also find this to be a useful application, in addition to locking the hardware buttons. Read on for how to setup, enable and use guided access on iOS 7.

Guided Access on iPhone

To turn on Guided Access, follow these easy steps:

  1. Navigate to Settings > General > Accessibility
  2. Toggle from Off to On

Important: Guided Access can be bypassed unless you setup a password.

Turn on guided access

This alone turns Guided Access on, but it won’t function until you enable it within a specific app. From within the app for which you’d like to use guided access, triple click on the home button. Using Netflix as an example, I can disable access to the menu screen where other content can be accessed. My daughter hits the AirPlay option all too often, so I’d like to disable that as well. To do so, I simply use my finger and circle the areas I’d like to disable. There are handles that you can ‘grab’ to size to your liking. This effectively disables any touch control. When you are happy with the settings, select ‘Start‘ from the top right.

At this point, the app should take over the entire screen. It should work as it normally would, save for one big difference. You’ll notice that the areas where you selected in the previous step are now shaded. If you or anyone using the iPhone or iPad try to click on these tap points, nothing will happen.

Applications are not tied to one screen and neither is guided access. Using Netflix again as our example, if I select a movie, I can use my finger to create a circle around the AirPlay or any other control to disable it. This is particularly useful for using the feature several levels deep in a particular app.

Resume guided access options

Guided Access Options To Turn Off Hardware Buttons

Disabling sections of the screen only go so far to prevent accessing other apps, but Apple has got your back. In iOS 7, you also disable the hardware buttons. Once again, triple click the home button to enter the configuration screen for guided access. Select the ‘Options‘ button. Here you can disable the volume buttons and sleep/wake switch. Going one step further from the screen selections, you can disable touch entirely, which for might be useful for some.

Disable hardware buttons

Tip: When using a password, changes or exiting will require you enter a password. If you get the password incorrect, you’ll have to wait 10 seconds for before trying again.

Ending Guided Access

To end a Guided Access season, triple-click the home button and press the ‘End‘ button at the top right.

Guided Access is one of the hidden features of iOS 7 that can provide practical uses. If you have young children, either at home or in an education setting, it’s great to keep them within a specific app and only selecting options you’ve permitted. With iPads being used more and more in commercial applications, this is a must have feature. I could see restaurants using it for menus or shops that use iPads as kiosks. If you have plans on using Guided Access, please take the time to leave a message in the comments on how you plan to utilize this excellent feature.