Almost a full month ago, I wrote about the camera I need, something I’ve thought a lot about since getting the refurbished Apple Watch. I even designed it, sort of.

I’d love to be able to take with me when I’m out around the neighborhood a thin, compact camera with no protruding lenses that isn’t also a device that’s tethering me to interconnectedness. I enjoy lately leaving the house with nothing but my watch and maybe my Kindle, but sometimes there really is a good photo asking to be taken.

This past week it got me to thinking that it would be great if there were some setting, or collection of them, that would put my iPhone 12 Mini into a sort of Camera Mode. I spent some time looking at content and app restrictions within Screen Time but had no luck.

As often happens, I asked Reddit.

There’s an answer, and it’s beautiful.

It’s called Guided Access.

After some tinkering, I now have a Shortcut that turns on Airplane Mode, sets my Focus to Do Not Disturb, opens Camera, and starts Guided Access. If I say to Siri, “Camera Mode”, my phone becomes locked into being a camera until and unless I click the power button three times and enter a passcode.

It’s weirdly common for me to have a need that I can’t seem to fulfill. It’s partly why my tagline refers to being an unsupported use case. Not this time, and it’s pretty great.

Now if only Apple will put the periscope lens into something smaller than the iPhone 15 Pro Max.


  1. Alas, I spoke too soon. Seemingly nine times out of ten, that shortcut ends up opening the Shortcuts app after the Camera app, and starts Guided Access there. It shouldn’t be opening the Shortcuts app at all.

  2. This bug is persistent, and sometimes it doesn’t even reach the Guided Access step. I’ve reverted to a version that eliminates that step and I’ll have to activate that part manually with the triple-click. The shortcut also now turns on a completely black Lock Screen.