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disable auto rotationHere’s an all-too familiar scenario. You’re lying in bed, trying to sleep or having just woken up. Android device in hand, you decide to try to check some emails or maybe read a blog post or two. You run the Gmail app, but since you’re lying on your side in bed, it decides to switch over to landscape mode. Now you can’t read anything, so you need to hold the device at an angle that would make it switch back to portrait. But now you can’t read anything either!

Maybe you shouldn’t be messing with your Android device while in bed, or maybe you should try Shake ‘n Rotate or Smart Rotator.

Smart Rotator

disable auto rotation

Smart Rotator (for Android 1.6 and above) really couldn’t be simpler to use. When you run the app, you get a list of all other apps on your system. Scroll down to an app for which you’d like to disable auto-rotation, and tap its name. You’ll get a prompt looking like this:

Just tap “Turn off”, and you’ve just turned off neck pain, at least for that application. One issue though, is that Smart Rotator won’t let you see which apps are on and which are off. Here’s that same list again, after I disabled auto-rotation for Gmail:


disable auto rotation android

Can you tell the difference? Me neither. It did work very well, though. Immediately after switching auto-rotation off for Gmail, I switched to Gmail and couldn’t make it go to landscape mode, no matter how I held the device. Smart Rotator doesn’t request root privileges and doesn’t clutter your notification bar with any messages. As simple as could be, really.

One caveat though, is that Smart Rotator may work a bit too well: Gmail wouldn’t auto-rotate even after I uninstalled Smart Rotator. So you might like to test Smart Rotator first with one or two apps before you decide if you want to stick with it.

Shake ‘n Rotate

Requiring Android 2.0 and up, Shake ‘n Rotate is a bit more of a vigorous option, since it requires you to physically shake the device. It’s also a bit more rich, graphically:

disable auto rotation android

Almost looks like a game, doesn’t it? Let’s tap the large CONFIGURATION button and see what we get.

disable auto rotation android

This is a more standard Android look, with a bit of Engrish thrown in for good measure. My sensor is rather sensible, thanks for asking. I just left all options at default (it’s the sensible thing to do) and went back to the main screen to switch the app on.

I then started the Gmail app and shook the device to toggle auto-rotation. It took quite a vigorous shake, the kind that might wake up your significant other if they’re lying on the other side of the bed. But I then got this nice overlay:

disable auto rotation

Auto-rotation has now been enabled. Very clear, and quite satisfying. You will probably want to dial the sensitivity up a notch, though. This isn’t a per-app setting, either – it impacts all apps on your system.

In Closing

It should be noted that if you happen to have Tasker installed, you could easily replicate both apps’ functionality without installing anything else on your device. But we won’t delve too deeply into that, as we will shortly be looking at Tasker in an upcoming article.

Another note is that some apps (such as Gentle Alarm and previously-reviewed Miren Miren - A Fantastic Free Browser For The Android Phone Miren - A Fantastic Free Browser For The Android Phone When people ask me about an alternative browser for Android, I usually point them in the direction of Dolphin Browser or Opera. But there's now a new kid on the block called Miren. Miren tries... Read More browser) have built-in settings to prevent auto-rotation. If you’re having trouble with just one or two apps that auto-rotate at inopportune times, you might want to dig into their settings and find out if auto-rotation can be toggled just for them.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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  1. eeeee
    August 8, 2011 at 5:21 am

    Exactly what I was looking for, I don't understand why android doesn't have a menu like that by default.

  2. Anonymous
    June 21, 2011 at 3:38 am

    @Ezuk what I did is I simply unchecked Orientation in the Settings->Sound and Display->Orientation. It has stopped rotating the screen and the application which need landscape as default have no effect of it i.e. I can watch the videos in landscape even though I've turned off the orientation :) 

    • Anonymous
      June 29, 2011 at 8:50 pm

      I like! That's a clever and simple solution. Pretty much what I ended up doing myself, actually.

      • Anonymous
        June 30, 2011 at 3:30 am

        lol.. am glad you liked it :)

  3. Bill
    June 18, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Erez did you re-enable the auto rotate for GMail BEFORE you uninstalled the app? I would like to know before I use it. Thankss

    • Anonymous
      June 18, 2011 at 7:53 pm

      Hmmm, IIRC, no, I did not re-enable auto rotate for gmail before uninstalling. But I can't tell you with 100% certainty. That's what I think.