Why Does My iPod Touch Have a Lock Symbol on the Top of the Screen?

Updated February 21, 2017

If you look at your iPod Touch and notice a small lock icon at the top of the screen, it means that the "Portrait Orientation" mode is locked. When you are viewing a document, such as a website, an e-mail message or a book, you might prefer to lock the orientation so the iPod Touch's screen won't shift to horizontal mode when you rotate the device.

iPod Touch Features

Apple's iPod Touch is a portable music player with a multi-touch display and a built-in microphone and two cameras. The device connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi, so you can exchange e-mail, do video chatting with FaceTime, download music from the iTunes Store, as well as get games and apps from the App Store.

Horizontal Mode

When you are watching a movie with the Videos app or a video with the YouTube app, you can get a better view of the image when you rotate the iPod Touch 90 degrees so that it is horizontal, much as you can watch a widescreen movie on your TV. Some websites are designed so that they are easier to read when you view them in horizontal orientation with the native Safari Web browser.

Using the Keyboard

When you compose an e-mail message, type a memo with the Notes app, or enter terms in a search engine, you might find it easier to use the virtual keyboard if you rotate the screen. The keyboard automatically grows larger to fit the wider screen when you hold the iPod Touch horizontally.

Unlock Portrait Orientation

If you see a lock icon at the top of the screen, indicating that Portrait Orientation is enabled, you can easily disable it. Press the "Home" button twice. You will see four icons appear at the bottom of the iPod Touch's screen. Swipe your finger across the icons to the right to scroll left. The Portrait Orientation lock is an icon of a lock inside a circular arrow. Tap the Portrait Orientation lock to disable it. The icon turns into a circular arrow, and the icon lock at the top of the screen disappears. Press the "Home" button once to go back to the device's home screen.

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About the Author

Julius Vandersteen has been a freelance writer since 1999. His work has appeared in “The Los Angeles Times,” “Wired” and “S.F. Weekly.” Vandersteen has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from San Francisco State University.