How to use Back Tap to trigger specific actions on your iPhone

  • Technology
  • How to use Back Tap to trigger specific actions on your iPhone

By tapping the back of your iPhone two or three times, you can launch different actions and commands when running iOS 14 or higher.

Image: James Martin/CNET

Normally you perform specific actions on an iPhone by pressing physical buttons or tapping the front screen. But with iOS 14, Apple has introduced a new and innovative way to trigger an action, command, or shortcut just by tapping the back of your phone.

You can now set your iPhone to react to a double or triple tap on its back. That tapping can lead to a variety of actions, such as opening the Home screen, taking a screenshot, muting your phone, or calling upon Siri.

It can also turn on certain accessibility features, such as the Magnifier or Voice Control. And it can enable any Siri Shortcut you’ve created on your iPhone. The back tapping is sensitive enough that it even works through a case. Here’s how to set it up and use it.

SEE: How to migrate to a new iPad, iPhone, or Mac (TechRepublic Premium) 

First, make sure you’ve updated your iPhone to iOS 14 or higher. Open Settings and go to General and then Software Update. Your iPhone will tell you that your software is up to date, or it will prompt you to download and install the latest update (Figure A).

Figure A


Next, open Settings and then go to Accessibility and then Touch. Swipe down the screen for Touch and tap the setting for Back Tap. You’ll see two options: One for Double Tap and another for Triple Tap (Figure B).

Figure B


Tap the option for Double Tap. Swipe down to review the different actions and commands in the various sections. From the System section, you can set a double tap to trigger Control Center, the Lock Screen, Mute, a Screenshot, or Siri, among others.

From the Accessibility section, you can choose from the Magnifier, VoiceOver, Zoom, and more. From the Scroll Gestures, you can choose Scroll Down or Scroll Up. And from the Shortcuts section, you can select any Siri Shortcut already accessible on your phone. Tap the action you wish to associate with a double tap (Figure C).

Figure C


Tap the Back Tap link at the upper left to return to the previous screen. Tap the option for Triple Tap. The same choices appear. Select the action you want to trigger with a triple tap. Tap the Back Tap link at the upper left to review the actions for Double Tap and Triple Tap (Figure D).

Figure D


Now test your two actions. You can use Back Tap from any screen on your iPhone. Tap the back twice to confirm that your associated command is run. Then tap the back three times to confirm the second command.

The only problem I found is that the taps can sometimes get triggered accidentally based on how you place your phone on certain surfaces. If you run into any trouble, you can always return to the Back Tap settings and change the actions or turn off the feature entirely by setting both options to None (Figure E).

Figure E


How to use Back Tap to trigger specific actions on your iPhone

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