Guided Access: What is it?

Control acces to your iPhone, while letting others use it

Guided Access

You can trust PC GuideOur team of experts use a combination of independent consumer research, in-depth testing where appropriate – which will be flagged as such, and market analysis when recommending products, software and services. Find out how we test here.

Last Updated on

If you’ve ever had a time when you want to share access to your iPhone, you won’t want the person having access taking liberties and snooping through apps or files. This could be because you want to prevent purchases, or simply to keep some things private.

For this, Apple designed a feature on the iPhone known as guided access, but it’s not as well known as some other iPhone features.

It is useful though, and if it sounds like it may be of use to you, this guide on guided access is for you.

What is iPhone’s Guided Access?

Some people refer to guided access as “guest mode” for their iPhone. However, it is actually called guided access in iOS 11. It allows users to create a list of items they wish to protect from others – such as sensitive information, personal photos, etc.

Once these items are protected, they can be viewed only by those with the passcode associated with that item. If a user attempts to view an item without the correct passcode, they will receive a message asking the person to enter their passcode.

Essentially, it limits your iPhone to a specific app. This can be useful for many reasons, but it’s a feature that is frequently used by parents when handing their iPhone to their kids.


How to enable guided access on your iPhone

Follow these steps to activate Guided Access, allowing you to restrict your device to a single app temporarily:



Open the Settings app

Locate the Settings icon on your iPhone’s Home screen and tap it. It usually looks like a gear.



Access Accessibility settings

Within Settings, scroll down and choose the “Accessibility” option.



Navigate to Guided Access

Scroll within the Accessibility settings until you find “Guided Access.” Tap to open its specific settings menu.



Enable Guided Access

Toggle the switch next to “Guided Access” so that it turns green, indicating it is now active.



Set your passcode

Tap on “Passcode Settings.” Choose “Set Guided Access Passcode.”

Enter a secure passcode that you’ll remember. This passcode will be used to exit Guided Access mode later.



Verify the passcode

Re-enter the passcode you just created to confirm.

You can also decide to choose biometrics instead (face ID or thumbprint) if you want full control. You can do this with the same steps, but select face ID instead of passcode. 


How to use Guided Access on your iPhone

Now that you have enabled guided access, you’ll need to set up which apps you want to allow access to.



Open the app you want to use

Launch the app that you intend to keep the user restricted to during Guided Access.



Start Guided Access

Triple-click the Side button (or Home button on iPhones with a physical Home button).

Select “Guided Access” from the pop-up menu and tap “Start.”



Optional: Circle areas to disable

If desired, you can use your finger to circle specific areas of the app’s interface you want to disable (such as buttons or links).

These circled zones will be unresponsive to touch during the Guided Access session.



Start the restricted session

Tap on “Start” in the top-right corner to begin the Guided Access session.

Your iPhone will now be locked within the chosen app.

That’s it! Now, whenever you try to launch that app, you’ll get prompted with a message saying that you need to enter your passcode.

This will help you limit what apps can be accessed by other users of your iPhone. It’s important to note that once you remove an app from the list, it cannot be added back into the list. So, make sure you’re careful about adding the right apps to the list.

Also, if you change your mind later on, you can always re-enable access to any of the apps you previously restricted. Just repeat the process above and deselect restricted apps.

Why is Guided Access useful?

One of the biggest benefits of using guided access is that it helps keep your iPhone safe. When someone else has access to your phone, they could potentially delete all of your data, install malicious software onto your device or make accidental purchases. 

They could also view things you wish to remain private. With guided access, you can prevent them from accessing certain parts of your phone. For example, if you’ve got some personal photos or documents stored locally on your device, you can use guided access to prevent anyone from viewing those items.

Bottom line 

Guided access can be helpful for certain iPhone users, so we hope our guide has been of use to you if you’re considering utilizing the feature!

Andrew is one of three co-founders of BGFG, the parent company of PC Guide. A keen gamer and PC enthusiast, Andrew dabbles in a bit of writing sometimes - when he gets the chance to!