How to put your iPad into "Guest User" mode with Guided Access

The iPad is a fantastic, big screen devices with a great web browser and amazing games, and anyone who sees it is likely going to want to borrow it to use or just to try out. If you need to lend your iPad, however, all your personal content, messages, email, etc. get lent out with it. And that cause problems because unlike traditional computers, the iPad doesn't support multiple accounts, or even a restricted "Guest User" mode.

But with iOS 6, you can use the brand new Guided Access mode (or single-app mode) to simulate it.

If you've ever wished your iPad -- or iPhone or iPod touch -- or be locked down into Safari web browsing only, or that you could let someone run a presentation or try a new game without snooping through your personal business, now you can.

How to turn on Guided Access

  1. Launch Settings.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Scroll down and tap Accessibility.

  1. Scroll down and tap Guided Access.

  1. Toggle Guided Access to On.

  1. Set a Passcode you'll remember.

If you don't set a Passcode immediately, iOS will have you set one the first time you use Guided Access.

How to use Guided Access to simulate "Guest User" mode.

  1. Launch any app you want to share.
  2. Triple-click the hardware Home button.
  3. Tap Guided Access on the popup menu.

  1. Configure any specific options you might like.

  1. Tap Start

The Home button will automatically be disabled so no one will be able to press it to exit the app you give them and go poking around your device. You can also use your finger to trace a circle around any additional controls you want to disable (for example, you can trace around bookmarks to prevent someone accessing your personal bookmarks).

How to exit Guided Access and your simulated "Guest user" mode

  1. Triple-click the hardware Home button.
  2. Enter your Passcode.
  3. Tap the **End button* at the top left.

Bug note: iOS 6 Guide Access on the iPad currently has a bug that causes disabled controls to re-enable when the device is rotated from portrait to landscape or vice versa. However, you can go into Settings and make orientation lock accessible only in the fast app switcher (and not the hardware switch on the side), thereby preventing that bug from occurring. Hopefully Apple fixes this in the next update.

So that's it, with iOS 6 and Guided Access you've now created a faux-"Guest User" mode for your iPad (or iPod touch or iPhone) and can rest easier if someone wants to borrow it, at work, at school, or at Home.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Important to note for anyone using this on their phones... keep in mind that you will not see (or hear) calls or texts coming through while in Guided Access mode. I discovered that yesterday after setting up Netflix for my kids to watch without worrying about them continually hitting random things on the screen - and discovered after they were done, that I had missed a couple of things...
  • Thanks for the heads-up
  • This is awesome....I hate when trying to show someone something on my phone & they have it in their always wonder if they are looking at more than what you intended them to. Up until now, I have been sure to be right there....but now I no longer have to. I agree with the above poster, you will miss calls & such, but I'm okay with that to have a little more
  • ^this
  • This x 2
  • Had completely forgotten about this feature so just tried it, it brilliant! It has so many applications, from educational use, display purposes, or just keeping ur mates out of your dodgy pics! And it's actually impossible to get around like most restrictive software. I'm sold.
  • Seems that the excluded parts of the screen apply to the app no matter what sub-screen the app displays. I excluded the Options section of Word Seek and it resulted in part of the game screen being unusable. So this appears to only work for screen elements that are consistent through the entire app.
  • HELP!!! I tried out this feature on my iPad and it works like a charm--except that now I cannot get out of this mode. It won't respond when I triple click the home button (except to instruct me to do that), won't reboot, won't shut off, nothing! I am forever stuck in the "Pages" app. I have never been great at triple clicks but have tried many many times now and nothing is working. Help, please!
  • Thanx for teaching us step by step how to put in guest user. Very informative