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Guided Access: The best iOS feature (that you’ve never heard about)

guided access

Guided Access is an accessibility feature of your iPhone that has so much more potential. According to Apple, its intended use is in an educational setting – specifically to help students with autism or other attention and sensory challenges stay on task.  It works by limiting an iOS device to a single app and allows for other device functions, such as the touchscreen, to be disabled. With a little bit of creativity, these features can be useful in many more situations.


Here are 5 great uses for guided access – the best iOS feature that you’ve never heard about:


To enable guided access, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access and turn it on. You will also need to set a passcode for it. Once enabled, you can start Guided Access mode by triple-pressing the home button. A menu with options for guided access will show up, allowing you to configure it to your liking. After a Guided Access session is started, you can disable it by triple-pressing the home button again, and entering your Guided Access passcode.


1. Avoid ads while playing a game

There are a lot of great free apps in the app store. Many of them are ad-supported, which can cause a disruption to your gaming experience if you accidentally hit an ad and get redirected to Safari or the App store.

Guided access allows you to disable certain areas of the screen so that even if you touch them by accident, nothing will happen.

How to do it: Go to the game you want to play and start Guided Access mode. When the options screen pops up, circle and resize the areas of the screen that you would like to disable. When you’re happy, click start and enjoy your gaming experience worry-free.


2. Keep your friends (or child) from snooping around your phone

Sometimes you may want to show something on your iPhone to a friend or distract a child with a video at a restaurant. For example, if you want to let someone see a photo, the easiest way is to pass over your iPhone. But your iPhone is more than just your camera, it is also a lot of other things to you as well.  If you don’t want the prying eyes of your friends taking a peek into your messages and emails, or you child into your Twitter of Facebook account, Guided Access has your back.

How to do it: Start Guided Access mode, hit options, and turn off touch – this will disable the touch screen completely. Hit start to begin the session. If you still want your friends to be able to scroll through a few photos, you could choose to only disable the back arrow area of the screen to keep them restricted to swiping through the album one photo at a time.


3. Provide a time limit for a child

If you give your iPhone or iPad to a child to play with, you may want to limit how long they play for. Guided Access will not only make sure they stay on the app you give them, but also disable the device completely when a time limit is reached – without you having to wrestle the device out of their hands. After time is up, the device can’t be used until the passcode is entered (even if you weren’t keeping track). As a bonus, Guided Access blocks apps from accessing the app store – that means no in-app purchases will be made by mistake, even if you haven’t turned on other parental controls or passwords.

How to do it: Start Guided Access mode, hit options, and turn on Time Limit. Choose the desired length of time, and then start the guided access session.


4. Prevent yourself from leaving an online game by accident

Some iOS games require an “always on” internet connection – and they’ll kick you out if you leave for too long to check another app. To avoid forfeiting the game by accident just to check a Facebook notification, turn on guided access for a distraction-free gaming experience.

How to do it: Just start Guided Access with default settings – when you’re all done triple click again and enter the passcode to end the session.


5. Turn off all distractions while driving

Gaming isn’t the only time you may want to go distraction-free. Your iPhone is powerful GPS device, with apps such as Google maps giving you turn-by-turn directions informed by up-to-the-minute traffic condition information. While this is a good use for your phone while in the car, using your phone for almost anything else can be dangerous. To avoid distracted driving, turn on guided access with your GPS app of choice to block incoming text messages or other notifications while you’re behind the wheel.

How to do it: Same as before, just start Guided Access with default settings – when you’re all done triple click again and enter the passcode to end the session.


Note: Do not disturb is another iOS feature that can disable notifications and calls, but it’s also an easy setting to forget that you have turned on. Because of this, Guided Access is our method of choice for driving distraction-free.

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