Inside your iPhone/iPad’s Accessibility options, you’ll find a feature called Guided Access. This is a parental-control-type feature that can help you disable access to “marked areas” on the iPhone screen.

Setting up and using Guided Access is easy although it can take sometime to get the hang of it. Guided Access is useful when you want to let your kid (or friend) use your iPhone/iPad but with limited access (like restrictions). Here’s a complete guide to using this special feature.

How to Setup Parental Controls on iPhone and iPad Using Guided Access

Useful Scenarios

Guided Access can come in handy in a lot of situations. Think of it as a restricting, limiting feature for all apps on your iPhone/iPad but one where you can customize what’s restricted based on visual cues.

  • You want to let your kid use an app but want to prevent him/her from tapping on certain buttons/links/areas on the app
  • You want to disable the power-button or volume-button
  • Your kid is watching something on the iPhone/iPad, so you want to disable the touch or motion-sensors
  • You wan to prevent access of the menu links in apps like Dropbox, Whatsapp, Facebook etc.

As we’ll see, all this is possible through Guided Access on iPhone/iPad.

Setting up Guided Access on iPhone and iPad

  • Open Settings.
  • Tap on General.
  • Now tap on Accessibility.
  • Scroll down and tap on Guided Access.

Setting up Guided Access on iPhone and iPad

  • Switch on Guided Access.
  • You might also want to turn on the quick-shortcut (Accessibility Shortcut.)
  • Optionally, you can also set a passcode by tapping on Set Passcode (you will be required to set one later on if you don’t set it up here.)

You’ve now setup Guided Access. Now you can turn on Guided Access and configure the options for any app.

How to Start Guided Access on iPhone and iPad

  • Open any app that you want to apply Guided Access for
  • Triple-click the home button
  • The app will zoom out a bit; you should now draw circles/shapes around the areas that should be disabled. Once you draw them, these areas will be grayed out. (for instance, as shown below, the user wants to prevent menu items and the player controls disabled so he/she has marked the areas)

How to Start Guided Access on iPhone and iPad

  • Once you’ve marked the areas, tap on Start.
  • If you haven’t setup a passcode for Guided Access, you will be asked to do so now. Set a new passcode (this doesn’t have to be the same as your lockscreen passcode.)

The Guided Access will start now. You’ll notice grayed out areas on the screen (in the app, that is). When you tap on these zones, no action will be taken. If there’s a button/link, it won’t activate when you tap.

How to Stop Guided Access on iPhone and iPad

  • Triple-click the home button to pause/stop Guided Access.
  • Enter the passcode you setup for Guided Access.

Guided Access will end. (a small popup shows up and then fades out.)

Guided Access Options

When you start Guided Access (triple-click home button) for the first time, you will see this screen with an Options button. Tapping Options gives you a few extra things to tinker:

  • Disable Power Button: enable this switch to disable power-button functionality. When Guided Access is running, the user won’t be able to use the power button to switch off or lock the screen.

Guided Access Options in iPhone and iPad

  • Disable Volume buttons: enable this to disable volume buttons. Volume buttons, in some apps, take on other functions too. (for eg. shutter in camera.)
  • Touch / Motion: enable these switches to prevent any touch/motion-based gesture. Doing this is useful if you don’t want accidental taps. Suppose your kid is watching a video and you want to disable all touch events, turn on Touch.

Once you have started Guided Access and then stopped/paused it, resuming Guided Access is easy. Triple-click home button again.

But this time, you might not see the options screen. To get to that, disable Guided Access again (and enter the passcode). After you enter the passcode, you will be back to the Guided Access customization screen. You can then set the options, mark the areas and resume guided access.

Forgot Guided Access Passcode

This is the hard part. What happens when you forget the Guided Access passcode? You won’t be able to get out of Guided Access at all. If you’ve disabled touch or the sleep/wake, it’s worse.

There are a couple of solutions that work (on and off). You can try them out.

You can try a hard-reset:

  • Hold down power and home simultaneously till the screen goes blank.
  • Now, press the power button to reboot your iPhone
  • In most cases, Guided Access should be disabled now. This works with stock apps.

Another option is to use Find My iPhone (this is assuming you have Find My iPhone enabled):

  • Login to iCloud.com
  • Click on Find My iPhone
  • Click on All Devices and then select your device.
  • Click on Lost Mode (and give a passcode)
  • When you lock device from iCloud, your iPhone will be locked down. You have to enter the passcode to unlock it.
  • In many cases, when users unlocked their device this way, Guided Access was disabled.

Once you’re done, head back to Settings -> General -> Accessibility and disable Guided Access (or just tap on Set Passcode and set a new one).