Secret iPhone Shortcuts and Gestures

by Sandra Henshaw - , Last Updated on December 4, 2017, How To Guides

We’re all constantly looking for ways to make our lives easier in today’s busy world. And if you’ve got an iPhone, then even your phone is packed full of little things that can help speed up your user experience. Sure, you probably know a couple of iPhone shortcuts, but we’re willing to bet that you don’t know them all. Ready to use your mobile more efficiently than ever? Then check out our favourite iPhone gestures and shortcuts below!

Re-Open Your Closed Tabs

If you’re anything like us, you probably have half a dozen tabs open on your browser at any one time. That means that accidentally closing something you actually needed is all too easy to do. Fortunately, if you’re using Safari as your default browser, reopening a tab that you’ve accidentally closed is simple. At the bottom right of the Safari screen, you should see a button. Tap that button and you get a view of all the tabs you have open right now. But tap and hold that button and you’ll get a list of all your recently closed tabs so you can easily reopen anything you want.

Scroll Up

This is absolutely one of our favourite iPhone shortcuts, and it’s so simple! Look at the top of your home screen and you’ll see the menu bar (that’s the strip with the time on it), which should be nothing new. What you might not know though is that tapping that menu bar automatically scrolls to the top of whatever you’re doing. Maybe you’re reading a long web article and want to go back to the beginning, so tap the menu bar. Maybe you’re in the middle of a long Reddit thread and want to go to the top, tap the menu bar… This works in nearly every app on your iPhone, including documents and emails.

Move That Cursor

Typing on a mobile isn’t always easy, especially if you need to move that flashing cursor around, maybe to fix a typo or add in an extra word. The cursor itself is pretty fiddly to move and place correctly, but Apple have fixed this for good. This does only work if you have an iPhone with 3D touch though, and is best used with the native iPhone keyboard (a couple of third party keyboards have it too, like the Google Gboard).

All you do is hard press the space bar on your keyboard. All the letters will then disappear, leaving blank keys, and this blank canvas is sort of like the touchpad on a laptop. Slide your finger around to accurately move the cursor to where you want it, then lift your finger up to place the cursor. How easy is that? This is particularly useful when writing longer emails and messages…

Easier Searching

The inclusion of Spotlight Search has certainly made it easier than ever to search through content on your iPhone. All you need to do is open up the app and type in your search term, and the app will find whatever you want, wherever it is on your phone. That’s no secret, but what might be a secret to you is that you don’t need to scroll through home screens and find the Spotlight Search app to open it. Put your finger anywhere on any home screen and drag down and Spotlight Search will open automatically, saving you precious seconds (especially if you have lots of home screens).

That Handy Home Button

The iPhone’s home button takes you, well, home, when you press it once, but double touching that button does a couple of different things that you should know about. The first isn’t especially exciting, but it’s worth mentioning. Double press the home button (you’ll actually need to press the button down, not just touch it), and you’ll open up Apple’s app switcher. This lets you quickly switch between different apps that you’ve recently had open, which is a bit of a time saver. But there’s more…

If you double tap the home button (touch twice, don’t press!), then you open up what Apple call “reachability mode.” What does that really mean? Well, in reachability mode whatever you have open on your screen shrinks down to the bottom of your screen by a centimetre or so, which means your phone is MUCH easier to use with one hand. This is especially useful if you have a larger screened iPhone Plus model. Want to get out of reachability mode? Then just double tap the home button again and all will go back to normal…

Skipping Around

This is certainly one of the most unknown iPhone gestures we’ve seen, but it’s great if you listen to a lot of music or podcasts. Let’s say you want to fast forward or rewind through a podcast to a certain point. Of course, you can use the little blue progress bar on your screen to do that, but it’s tough to be accurate with such a small bar to work with. So here’s the secret. Touch your finger to the progress bar, then move up or down without removing your finger from the screen. Then move your finger to the left to rewind, or to the right to fast forward. Depending how far away you are (up or down) from the progress bar, you’ll scrub through the track faster or slower, giving you much more control. Okay, it takes some practice, but it is pretty useful.

And the Little Things…

We’ve got a few more goodies for you as well. Made a typo in any Apple app? Just shake your phone to undo what you’ve just typed, simples (though if this annoys you you might want to switch off “shake to undo” under your settings menu). Need a special character whilst typing, say an “á” or “ä”? Then just long press on the regular “a” on your keyboard and wait for the other options to pop up. Want to go back or forwards in Safari? You don’t need to use the menu bar navigation buttons, just swipe left or right on your screen.

Apple really are the kings of convenience, and there are plenty more shortcuts that we haven’t had time to mention. But the above should definitely be enough to get you started!