Portrait or landscape? Up to you…

By | October 17, 2022
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I’ve got a quick tip for you this morning if you use a smartphone or tablet – it’s simple, but something I use a lot.

So, if you have a tablet or smartphone, you probably know that you can hold it either way round. You can hold it “portrait” (where it’s taller than it is wide) or “landscape” (where it’s wider than it is tall).

Some people use it one way round all the time.  That’s fine, of course – after all, it’s your tablet or phone, so it’s up to you how you use it. But it’s worth thinking about whether that’s always the easiest way.  A lot of the time it depends what you’re doing.

Even if you’re browsing the web, it can depend on exactly which web pages you’re looking at.

For example, normally when I’m reading a web page, I prefer to hold it in the “portrait” position, so I have a longer bit of the web page on the screen at once. But if the text is very small, I might change it to landscape so I can see it better.  Or if there are several pictures on the webpage so the text ends up in a narrow column, I might turn it to landscape.

If I’m typing a quick message on my phone I hold it upright… though I’ve never got the knack of typing with my thumbs like lots of people do! But if I have something longer to type, maybe on a tablet, I’ll turn it round to the sideways position so it feels more like a real keyboard.

One other thing to know about this: some apps display different options on the screen depending on which way round you have it.  I particularly find that in portrait mode it might only show you the main part of the screen of whatever app it is but in landscape mode it might show you extra menus.

So a really handy tip is if you can’t see an option for what you want to do, turn the screen round and it might appear.

It can get a little bit complicated, though (as always)…

Some apps – especially phone apps or games – will only work one way up. So if you turn your phone or tablet round and nothing happens, that could be why.

It could also be that the rotation is “locked”. To check that, open the Control Panel on an iPhone or iPad (swipe down from the top right of the screen or up from the bottom of the screen), or Quick Settings on an Android device (swipe down from the top of the screen, then swipe down again). On an iPhone or iPad, you’re looking for a padlock symbol with a circular arrow round it. The setting on an Android phone or tablet will be labelled “auto-rotate”, “screen rotation”, “landscape” or something along those lines.

Sometimes it might not be obvious whether it’s locked or not from just looking at the symbol. If you’re not sure, tap the symbol and swivel the phone or tablet to see if the screen starts rotating again. (Remember that the Home screen doesn’t usually rotate, so you’ll need to open something like your web browser to check it.)

One more weirdness I’ve come across is on some Android phones. Instead of the screen just rotating when you turn the phone, you might get a little icon pop up on one corner asking you if you want to rotate it. I suppose it makes sense – stops you rotating the screen by accident – but that’s something to look out for if your screen rotation doesn’t seem to be working.

Anyway, as I say, it’s up to you but it’s worth thinking about – you might find you can make your device easier to use just by turning it round every so often.

3 thoughts on “Portrait or landscape? Up to you…

  1. Tim Grimwade

    One thing i have noticed (and maybe it’s just me) is that when you turn the iPhone to landscape mode you cannot lock it in this position. Try to lock it and it it reverts to portrait mode. Is this right? Am I missing something?


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