Ever want to lock your iPad’s display in portrait or landscape mode, or make the screen a little brighter without digging in the Settings menu?

You can do both—and more—from the iPad home screen or anywhere else, if you know what to tap and when to swipe.

Now, you may already know that double-clicking the Home key reveals the iPad’s multitasking bar at the bottom of the screen—you know, the row of apps that you can swipe back and forth, or tap to switch from one app to another.

Perhaps you didn’t know, though, that if you double-click the Home key and immediately swipe the multitasking bar right rather than left, you’ll find a panel of (very handy) media playback and display controls.

On the left end of the panel, you’ll see a square gray button stamped with a circular arrow; tap the button, and a padlock will appear in the middle.

So, what happens when you tap that button? Simple: the orientation of the iPad’s display will be locked in place, meaning the screen won’t twirl around as you turn the iPad this way and that.

It’s a setting that comes in handy for when, say, you’re reading a book or magazine and you want the page you’re reading to stay right where it is.

Next to the screen-lock button is a slider that controls the iPad’s screen brightness; just tap and slide to make the screen brighter or darker.

The iPad's hidden control panel revealed

Just tap the “lock orientation” button to keep the iPad’s screen from twirling this way and that.

(By the way: even if you manually adjust the screen brightness, your iPad will still adjust the display backlighting automatically, depending on your surroundings. You can turn auto-brightening on and off by tapping Settings, Brightness & Wallpaper.)

After the brightness control comes a trio of media playback buttons: skip back, play/pause, and skip forward. If you ever have an app playing in the background while you’re doing something else on the iPad, you can always jump to these playback buttons to pause your tunes or skip to the next track.

In addition to the three main playback buttons (which also work for videos, by the way), you may also see a fourth media button: one for streaming music and video to the Apple TV or another compatible device via Apple’s nifty “AirPlay” feature. If you don’t see the AirPlay button, it’s because your iPad isn’t detecting any nearby AirPlay devices.

The iPad's hidden control panel revealed

Yep, the iPhone and iPod Touch have their own media control panels, too.

Right next to the playback buttons is a volume slider, which mimics the function of the physical volume rocker that sits on the iPad’s spine.

Finally, on the right end of the control panel, you’ll see an icon that represents an app (usually the main Music app, but it could also be YouTube, Pandora, or something else) that’s currently (or was recently, at least) playing music or video; tap the icon to switch to the app.

All done futzing with the controls? Just tap the screen anywhere above the control panel, and the screen will slide down, hiding the controls from view once again.

Bonus tip

So, wondering why the iPhone and iPod Touch don’t have the same media/display control panel as the iPad? Well, they do.

Double-click the Home key, swipe the multitasking bar from left to right, and voila—a smaller version of the iPad control panel, minus the brightness slider. (Swipe a second time from left to right to get to the volume slider.)

Looking for more iPad tips? Click here!

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