9 Finger Movements to Use on an iPhone Touchscreen - dummies

9 Finger Movements to Use on an iPhone Touchscreen

By Joe Hutsko, Barbara Boyd

Your iPhone’s touchscreen is similar to other touchscreens you may have used, such as an ATM or the custom sandwich selector at your local minimarket. You need just a few good moves to make iPhone do all the things you’re used to doing with a phone and more. These are the finger gestures that control everything on your iPhone:

  • Tapping: A tap is lighter than pressing a button. It’s a quick touch without any holding. Tap an app button on the Home screen to open the app. Tap an item in a list to select it. Variations on tapping are

    • Double-tap: Two quick taps zoom in on a map in Maps, and zoom in and out of a web page, e-mail message, or photo. A double-tap also changes the Shift key to a Caps Lock key if you enable that function in Settings→General→Keyboard.

    • Two-finger tap: On a map in the Maps app, a two-finger tap zooms out of the map; double-tap with a single finger to zoom in again.

  • Scrolling: Scrolling is a dragging motion done with one finger, or more if that’s more comfortable for you. You can even rest one finger on the screen and scroll with another one. Touch the screen and drag up or down. In some apps and websites, you can scroll left or right, too.

    Scrolling is most often used when reading something online or a document, to go through a list, such as Contacts, or to rotate a rotor like the one used to set the alarm clock. Scrolling doesn’t select or open anything, it only moves the list. You must tap to select.

  • Pulling: Pulling, sometimes referred to as swiping, is a scroll with a specific starting point. Place your fingertip on the status bar and pull down to open the Notification Center, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open the Control Center, or pull your list of messages down as far as they go. They refresh.

    Flicking: Touch your finger to the screen and quickly flick it up, or left, or right, and down. Flicking left and right on the Home screen moves to the next or previous screen. Flicking in a list, instead of scrolling, moves the list up and down more quickly.

    You can wait for it to stop or tap when you see what you’re looking for, and then tap the item you want to select.

    Your iPhone has many options to make gestures easier for people with visual, auditory, or manual dexterity challenges. You adjust those settings by going to Settings→General→Accessibility.

  • Zooming in and out: Pinch and spread (unpinch) two fingers together or apart to zoom out and in on photos, web pages, e-mail messages, and other elements.

  • Sliding: Slider bars show up when you want to turn your iPhone on or off. They also appear on the lock screen when your iPhone rings. Touch and hold the slider bar on the arrow on the left and slide your finger across the bar to the right. The action listed on the slider bar happens.

    Some sliding actions take place without a slider bar, such as when you unlock your iPhone; just slide your finger across the screen. Sliding across an item in the Notification Center opens the item, such as a message, e-mail, or tweet.


  • Pressing: Press the physical buttons on your iPhone: the Home, the On/Off Sleep/Wake, or the volume buttons. You switch the Silent/Ring switch on and off.

  • Double-clicking: Double-clicking the Home button reveals the open apps carousel, which shows apps that are running. You can then tap the app you want to switch to.

  • Triple-click Home: Press the Home button three times to activate functions that are selected in Accessibility Settings: VoiceOver, Invert Colors, Zoom, and/or AssistiveTouch.