Using the iPad’s side switch settings to bring back the sound in your app

by Moms With Apps on June 10, 2012

Our guest post this week is written by Maggie Sheldon of Learning Touch (creators of First Words Deluxe), in response to questions app developers often receive from customers about how sound works in their app. Thanks Maggie!

Did the sound stop working on your kid’s favorite iPad app? Are you just about ready to downgrade that 5-star rating to a 1 because it’s just clearly broken? Please don’t. Here’s why:

Your iPad is muted. No, I’m not joking, it really is muted. I know you’ve tried toggling the mute switch on the side and are sure that it’s in the off position. I know that your Netflix, Pandora, Spotify and Youtube apps all have sound and work just fine. But your iPad is most definitely muted. Here’s how to fix it:

Thanks to a design decision made by Apple, you can also use that side switch (formally the mute switch) as an orientation lock. Meaning you can lock the screen so it doesn’t change orientations when you turn the iPad on its side. Nifty, right?


Unfortunately, switching the side switch (say that five times fast) to control the screen orientation also disables its control over sound.

To make the side switch the sound overlord again follow these simple steps:

  • Navigate to Settings on your iPad.
  • Tap on General and scroll down to the “Use Side Switch to” box and select the mute option.
  • Toggle the side switch to the off position and presto! Your favorite kid’s app has sound once more.
  • To lock the rotation again, just go back to settings to switch what the side switch controls.

Are you wondering why your music and video apps still had sound when your kid’s favorite app didn’t? Apps that include media playback (such as videos, podcasts and music apps) override your mute button settings because their functionality is dependent on sound. Most kid’s apps respect the mute button setting (but yes, we agree, their functionality is dependent on sound, too).

Now that your iPad is sounding off appropriately, could you do me a favor and sound off about your favorite kid’s app? As an app developer, I rely on the recommendations of parents and educators like you to get the word out about my apps. Thanks!
Here is another resource on App-Sound-Troubleshooting from Natasha at @Reks, who outlines a similar method to Maggie along with additional possibilities and video tutorials for resolving unexpected silence.

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

MusingMom6 June 11, 2012 at 6:56 am

Talk about a timely post! My 10 yr had noticed this a day or two ago and I hasn’t looked into it till I read this post.

I must share my ignorance, I didn’t realize there was a toggle button and a volume button! Us adults are supposed to learn something new everyday too, right?!

Thanks for the post!

Natalie June 11, 2012 at 9:35 am

Thanks for the nicely written article. Boy, if I had a nickel for every time this has come up :)

Stu June 11, 2012 at 9:45 am

This totally happened to me. I was reviewing development on our app, and the sound wouldn’t play. The YouTube app worked, but our Hansel and Gretel app wasn’t. That’s when I figured out it was the switch! I felt so silly. Hopefully this helps other avoid that confusion!

Jon @ Interface3 June 13, 2012 at 3:52 am

Another useful way of disabling Mute if you’re using the side switch for Orientation Lock is to bring up the app drawer by swiping up with four fingers, or pressing the Home button twice – and then swipe to the left and use the handy Mute button sitting in the corner. :)

Stephen June 21, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I have to say your response to my issue was quick(10 min or less).
The sounds on the app are now working.
Thank you for resolving, my daughter was getting frustrated and she’s now calm and collected enjoying the app “FW At Home”.

Raks July 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm

It still doesn’t work for me. We use Skype a lot from our iPad and every time we use it, somehow the audio changes from speaker to headphones? So no matter what unless headphones are plugged in we cannot hear any audio. How do I stop that from happening?

Jamie January 10, 2013 at 10:16 pm

Woohoo! Thank you! I have been bedazzled as to why some apps stopped working for my 3 yr old and why some website sounds were not playing. The toggle is covered by the child proof cover I have. I took the cover off, found the toggle, and wha la! Sound! Thank you very much. We like the bugs and bubbles, bugs and buttons app.

Paula February 10, 2013 at 4:25 am

Thank you so much! I was very confused, as others above, as to why some worked and some did not. Thank you for the VERY clear instructions, and even for your tactful way of telling us we didn’t know what we thought we knew ;-)

Jillian February 11, 2013 at 1:05 pm

I’ve been experiencing this problem with my preschoolers apps for weeks now and finally decided to google the problem… Thanks for the article! My son is greatful!

Matt March 1, 2013 at 8:48 pm

I need help… All my game apps sound won’t work and my music plus youtube and other videos pause itself when I press play… How do I get the sound back ? I followed these steps but it didn’t help

Anne March 13, 2013 at 9:45 am

Thank-you! That was exactly the problem on my iPad! The sound is now back on my YouTube videos!

Jerry Pearl March 20, 2013 at 3:19 am

Thanks much for getting my sound back on. Sound was working on internet, but not for Ipad internal features. Performing the correct order of on and off with side switch and the mute selection in settings did the trick. Also, I had turned off “lock sounds” in sound settings when trying to fix this myself. Thanks again!

Nicole April 5, 2013 at 12:53 am

This didnt work for me at all :( I tried the switch to mute and turn off side switch and still no sound. And I am also having the problem occasionally of when I remove my headphones u can no longer hear sound unless you turn iPad off and back in but as if right now no sound at all. I think I’m going crazy here

Nicole April 5, 2013 at 12:53 am

Sorry I meant unless u turn iPad off and back *on

Mike April 15, 2013 at 12:39 pm

This really does work thank you thank you thank you.

Jim May 4, 2013 at 7:06 am

Thank you. It worked!

Jas May 20, 2013 at 4:29 am

Thanks!! This worked as a blessing!!!

Bartek May 22, 2013 at 11:17 am

thanks a lot it works! nothing is perfect;)

Christina May 24, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Thank you!! I am so relieved =)

Areefa May 31, 2013 at 2:34 pm

I tried every setting but I couldn’t figure this one out. My son was so frustrated where he couldn’t hear his apps. I am so thankful for this help

Mom June 4, 2013 at 6:29 pm

It works

Sue June 24, 2013 at 6:05 am

I’ve had my iPad for over a year and finally got this issue solved. Thank you!!!!

Jamie O'Leary June 27, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Great post worked without any hassle :)!

Calene June 30, 2013 at 7:39 am

Thank goodness. I just noticed this happening a couple of days ago and it was driving me crazy. I have no idea how it got changed to lock the rotation so I didn’t know where to look to change it back. Thanks for the post!

Ellie July 3, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Thankyou sooo much! It was so frustrating I wanted to chuck my ipad away!

Diane September 1, 2013 at 11:30 pm

I tried everything in this including checking and using iPad manual. I still have no volume on my iPad. I cannot listen to music. It shows ths songs playing. I have checked to see if the pause button is on but it does not show that it is in pause mode.. I’ve also checked the toggle button nd side button. Plusbove tried resetting it to no avail. My apple iPad is only 6 months old and I haven’t had volume for the past three months. How frustrating. Are their any Apple experts that don’t charge 50 to 60 bucks for an answer. Also no sounds when p,aching games or any other feature

Cynthia September 21, 2013 at 7:06 am

This only works partially for me. It works when I have the orientation lock on, but I don’t want that on. When I go back to mute, the sound is off again. I have no mute button from the home page on the bottom. The new ios7 update took it away. This sucks!!!

Louis Lategan September 24, 2013 at 2:42 am

When I switch to music on my IPad it switches back to the general screen before I can start listening to music.What must I do to rectify the problem?

Erin September 27, 2013 at 5:06 pm

A big big thank you! I was so upset thinking something happened to my son;s I Pad. He uses it as a communication device. His communication program was still working but all his other apps were not . SO glad it was a simple fix. Thanks for sharing this helpful information :)

Kristie October 2, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Thanks!!

Ray Hines October 24, 2013 at 8:38 am

To Diane Sep 1 – pull up from the bottom of screen the little control menu – which includes volume and mute functions.
Touch the bell icon to turn mute on or off.
Note the volume slider, drag it to the max sound end – if it wont let you or it slides back by itself, this may suggest the sound switch is partly stuck on “down” or intermittent, that is why you dont have sound??
This is only a possible explanation – as I have the same problem, but when I type on the keyboard I can hear key clicks – ie mute off, but with mute on – you dont hear any clicks.

Sarah November 12, 2013 at 6:01 pm

You are my hero!

Yono November 18, 2013 at 7:02 am

I develop iPhone/iPad apps for kids. I get SO many emails claiming that my app’s sound doesn’t work. I copy a section of our FAQ to them, which is very similar to your blog post here. Those people I can at least help and they are usually very grateful. Unfortunately, some people decide to give my apps a 1 star review without ever even trying to contact me. It’s extremely frustrating! I don’t know what else to do!

bryan December 13, 2013 at 6:11 pm

This did not work for me. Still soundless.

Julie January 19, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Thank you! This worked! Yay!

Mellissa April 13, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Thankyou a million it worked for me…..omg it’s back!!!!!

Carol May 19, 2014 at 10:37 pm

It worked…easy..so happy

Jaden Vazquez May 23, 2014 at 7:42 pm

My iPad used to have the mute on or off button on the side button but today the lock rotation appeared when it wasn’t there for the past 5 months

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