Remember when our minds were all blown when we discovered we could move the cursor on our iPhones by holding the space bar? Well, there are more hidden shortcuts like that — some of which are, admittedly, more useful than others, but all of which are worth a test drive to see if they, too, can become your new favourite shortcuts.
The Back Tap
As long as you have iOS 14 or later versions of iOS on your iPhone, you can double- or triple-tap the back of your iPhone to execute certain tasks. This action is totally customisable, so you can set up something like launching the Control Centre with a double-tap and taking a screenshot if you triple-tap the back of your iPhone.
To set this up, go to Settings > Accessibility > Touch > Back Tap.
Use Reachability to pull down apps
If you find it hard to reach the upper half of your iPhone’s screen, you can make it easier with a feature called Reachability. This lets you swipe downwards from the bottom edge of the screen to bring the upper half of the page within reach. You can enable this by going to Settings > Accessibility > Touch > Reachability.
Three-finger pinch gestures for cut, copy, and paste
You already know how to easily select a single word (double-tap) or an entire block of text (triple-tap). But once you’ve done that, if you ever have trouble getting the copy/cut/paste menu to come up, try this:
- Copy: Use three fingers to pinch inwards once. This will automatically copy the text and if this is successful, you’ll see a small Copy notification at the top of the screen.
- Cut: Use three fingers to pinch inwards twice.
- Paste: Use three fingers to pinch outwards.
The quicker way to “undo”
If you accidentally typed something or executed any action you want to undo, you can grasp your iPhone firmly and shake it a few times to undo the text or action. If you’re afraid you’ll drop the phone while vigorously shaking it, though, you can try using three fingers to swipe left to undo instead.
Similarly, if you want to redo, you can use three fingers to swipe right.
Two-finger drag to select messages
If you are trying to select multiple message threads in the Messages app, simply press two fingers down and then drag up or down to select multiple messages at once. (This also works in other apps, such as Files and Telegram, but you may have to choose Select Messages before you can start dragging — and it doesn’t work when you’re trying to select messages within a thread.)
Drag-and-drop multiple items
If you have iOS 15 on your iPhone, you can select multiple text messages to drag and drop them quickly in a new note. We’ve previously written a guide for how to drag-and-drop items on your iPhone and shared a few fun examples of what you can do with it.
Swiping to go back or to search
Another useful hidden gesture lets you return to the previous page quickly. You can swipe towards the right from the left edge of the screen to go back. This works in Safari, Settings, and most other apps.
You can also swipe down from any empty area on your iPhone’s home screen reveal Spotlight, which lets you search for apps, content within apps, contacts, word meanings, and more. If your iPhone is crowded with apps, for example, Spotlight search makes it easy to find what you need without having to hunt for it.