Do you use 3D Touch on your iPhone? From 2015 through 2018, every iPhone from the iPhone 6s through the iPhone XS supported 3D Touch, other than the iPhone SE and iPhone XR. With 3D Touch, you could (sometimes) press a control, and then press a little harder to make additional options appear. But because the 3D Touch hardware was expensive, it never made its way to the iPad or iPod touch. Apple replaced 3D Touch in the entire iPhone 11 line this year with the iPhone XR’s simpler Haptic Touch hardware that provides haptic feedback—the sensation of touching something—when you tap-and-hold (or long-press, if you prefer) on an object. With iOS 13, 3D Touch is gone, and almost everything it could do, you now accomplish with a tap-and-hold. So give it a try—long-press icons on the Home screen, panels in Control Center, messages in Mail, links in Safari, and a lot more.
Want a faster way to reply to a conversation in Messages? If you see a Messages notification on the Lock screen of your iPhone 6s or later, press and hold on it to expand it into an interactive box where you can reply without unlocking your iPhone or navigating into the Messages app. It’s perfect for those sporadic conversations where the iPhone goes back into your pocket or purse after each reply. (On an iPad or older iPhone, you’ll have to slide left on a Lock screen notification and unlock the device to open the Messages app.)
On an iPhone 6s or 7, you can use 3D Touch on an item in Mail’s message list to peek inside without loading the entire message. Just press hard on a message summary to bring up a more complete preview of the message. Either let up to close the preview or press harder without lifting your finger to load the full message. You can also swipe up while previewing the message to reveal commands for Reply, Reply All, Forward, Mark, Notify Me, and Move Message. It’s faster than going back and forth repeatedly from the message list to individual messages.
Have you ever needed to copy the phone number from an incoming call that’s not associated with one of your contacts? In the Phone app’s Recents screen, you can’t select the number to copy it, but there’s a hidden workaround. Tap the button next to the call, and then press and hold the number for a second or two until a Copy button appears. (It’s not a 3D Touch press, just a normal press without removing your finger right away.) Tap Copy and you can then paste that phone number into Mail, Messages, Notes, or any other app. To paste, tap where you want the number to go and tap the Paste button that appears.
In theory, it should be easy to move the cursor in text on an iPad or iPhone—just press and hold until the magnifying circle appears over the cursor and then slide it around. In reality, it’s often fussy and annoying. Apple came up with a better solution starting in iOS 9: trackpad mode.
In trackpad mode, you turn the onscreen keyboard into a virtual trackpad. Just as on a Mac laptop, moving your finger around the virtual trackpad moves the cursor around in the text above. How you invoke trackpad mode differs between the iPad and iPhone.
Trackpad Mode on the iPad
On an iPad, open any app that allows text input, like Notes, and bring up the keyboard. Touch the keyboard with two fingers, and you see the letters disappear from the keyboard as it switches to trackpad mode. Immediately swipe your fingers (or just one, you can lift the other up) around to move the cursor within the text.
You can also select text in trackpad mode. Instead of swiping immediately after entering trackpad mode, pause with your two fingers down briefly, which causes iOS to switch to selecting text. Then move your fingers around to change the colored selection.
For easier selection of chunks of text, tap once with two fingers to select the word underneath the cursor, twice to select the sentence around the cursor, and three times to select the entire paragraph. To expand or contract the selection, keep your fingers down and drag the selection cursor. To deselect text, tap once on the keyboard with two fingers.
You can use trackpad mode even if you have an external keyboard attached. Tap in a text field, place two fingers inside the field to engage trackpad mode, and then move your fingers to reposition the cursor. To select text, put the cursor inside a word, release your fingers, and tap once to select the word, twice for the sentence, and three times for the paragraph.
Trackpad Mode on the iPhone 6s and 7
To use trackpad mode on an iPhone, you’ll need 3D Touch, which limits it to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, and the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus (the iPhone SE does not support 3D Touch, alas). Instead of tapping with two fingers, press firmly on the keyboard with one finger—you’ll feel the iPhone’s Taptic Engine simulate the feel of a click. Keep your finger down to move the cursor around. If you need more room, you can move your finger off the keyboard image right onto the text.
To select a word, relax your finger pressure slightly without removing it from the screen, and then press again. It’s quite similar to the feel of clicking on MacBook trackpad.
You can even double-press—again, with a slight relaxing of the finger first—to select the current sentence and triple-press to select the entire paragraph. Keep dragging after selecting to select more text by the word, sentence, or paragraph.
Trackpad mode takes a little getting used to, but it’s so much better than the previous selection methods that it’s worth forcing yourself to use it a few times until it becomes second nature.
The iPhone’s flashlight is one of its most popular low-tech features, but have you ever wished you could make it brighter or dimmer? Now you can, at least on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 models in iOS 10! Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring up Control Center, and then 3D Touch (press hard!) the Flashlight button to reveal Bright, Medium, and Low Light options. Tap the one you want to get that brightness level. iOS 10 remembers your last setting, so if the light isn’t as you want the next time, you may have to adjust it again.