Best Ways to Use 3D Touch on Your IPhone

Apple introduced 3D Touch to the iPhone back in 2015. The concept of this technology is simple: you press harder on the screen to get additional functionality in different areas of iOS. Magic!

At first, 3D Touch seemed like a gimmick. Even now, three years later, many people I talk to don’t even know they have it on their phone. Apple itself may soon admit this fact . Until then, I became an avid 3D Toucher. So, while we still have this handy feature, here are a few ways to make the most of it.

3D Touch is available on iPhones 6s and later, with the exception of the iPhone SE. These are 6s and 6s Plus, 7 and 7 Plus, 8 and 8 plus and iPhone X. Here’s how to get started:

Enabling 3D Touch

By default, all compatible iPhones must have 3D Touch enabled. If you once disabled it (or want to turn off in the future), open the application “Settings” and select “General”> “Universal access»> «3D Touch». Use the switch to turn 3D Touch on and off.

While there, you can also adjust the pressure required to trigger the 3D touch. I find the Medium setting ideal. When he’s at the Firm, it’s all too easy to “pop out” during “peeping” (I’ll explain this shortly). Light is too easy to launch when I just click 2D.

Quick Actions and Peek & Watch

Most 3D Touch gestures fall into two categories: Quick Actions and Peek & Click. Quick actions are usually shortcuts to notification actions or to go to a specific app bar. I will list a few of them.

Another category is Peek and Pop, a way to both preview and act on different elements. To “peep”, you hard click on an element, say a photo thumbnail or a web link. If iOS offers a preview for it, a popup will appear with a larger version (or full web page in the case of links). If you press a little harder, it will “burst”, which actually opens it. In many cases, you also have the option to slide up instead of a popup, revealing additional options for things like saving images and bookmarking websites.

Trackpad Mode

One of my favorite 3D Touch features is the trackpad mode for the keyboard. This works on the default keyboard as well as some third party keyboards like Google Gboard .

To use it, press any key on your keyboard hard. The keys will go out when you click and start dragging. The cursor will move, allowing you to quickly move through a line or paragraph of text to the position from which you want to edit. You can also select text by releasing touch for a moment and then pressing hard again to begin the selection.

It’s a great tool for doing both large and small movements through text, but the frustrating thing is that the cursor always moves one character to the right or left when I lift my finger – the point where I long for arrow keys.

Application switcher

On all 3D Touch-enabled iPhones except the iPhone X (which has its own gesture), you can use 3D Touch on the left side of the screen instead of double-clicking the Home button to navigate to the App Switcher. Once you get used to the gesture, it becomes a convenient way to maneuver your apps.

Peek zoom

9to5Mac has posted a less prominent 3D Touch feature called Peek Zoom. This allows you to use the hard pressed to increase the area using your iPhone’s zoom feature (found in the “Settings”> “General”> “Universal Access”> “Scale”). Turn Zoom on, turn on Show Controller, and then you can activate zoom by double-tapping the screen with three fingers and use 3D Touch to zoom in on what you’re looking at.

Control center

One of the best places to explore 3D Touch is in the Control Center. Open the Control Center panel by sliding up from the bottom of the iPhone screen or by pulling down on the battery icon (on iPhone X). Try hard clicking on any of the icons and many of them will offer you additional options.

  • Calculator : copy the last result to the clipboard
  • TV : Take the Apple TV Mini Remote and switch between Apple TV
  • Screen Recording : Specify where to save recordings, and turn the microphone on and off.
  • Volume : high volume slider
  • Flashlight : large brightness slider
  • Wi-Fi / Bluetooth Cluster : Shows details like current Wi-Fi network and advanced options like Airdrop and switch for personal hotspot
  • Camera : Shows quick actions for portrait mode, slow motion video, regular video, and selfies.
  • Timer : Quickly start the timer using a slider
  • Voice memos : new recording, playback of the last three recordings
  • Playback Controls: Advanced controls playback / volume and connected speakers broadcast
  • Brightness : Large slider plus Night Shift and True Tone switches

Main screen

Some of the best 3D Touch features are available right from your iPhone’s home screen.

If you use folders to organize your home screen, you’ve probably noticed that iOS bundles a number of notifications into a single icon for a folder. 3D Touch lets you see and navigate to apps showing notification icons. Press hard on a folder and it will show you a list of apps and their number of notifications. Swiping your finger over one of them will open it immediately. You can also quickly rename a folder from the same menu.

Quick Steps for Apps

All Apple apps and most third-party apps have actions that you can access if you 3D Touch their app icons. I mainly use this shortcut for the Settings app. By pressing its icon hard, I can go directly to the Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cellular data, and battery settings.

Find My iPhone can instantly play locator audio on any device connected to your current iCloud account. Press firmly on the app icon and select a device from the list.

The Camera app offers the ability to go straight to portrait mode, slow motion video, regular video, or take a quick selfie without having to manually switch to the front camera.

A number of third-party apps also have useful actions, including Instagram and Twitter , which allow you to take pictures and post updates, respectively. Some, like Launch Center Pro and Drafts , offer easy access to your favorites and recent documents.

Both Maps and Google Maps allow you to quickly get directions to predefined destinations. With my automatic transmission in my car cards even offer a quick way to find my parked car.


Some applications offer summaries in a 3D Touch pop-up window. Weather , for example, will let you see current local conditions without opening the app, while Stocks will show you the performance of the stocks you are viewing.

Action Center, Lock Screen and Today View

With 3D Touch, you can also work directly with notifications and results from the Today screen on the iPhone (swipe right on the home screen), the lock screen, or the iOS Notification Center — basically also the lock screen.

The survey “Today» 3D-touch search result is fast action, depending on the type of the result, such as communication with the contacts, answer emails and saving web links in your reading list. 3D touch also works with app icons, allowing you to access all of their default quick actions right from the search screen.

On the lock screen and in the Notification Center, many notifications provide instant access to functionality related to the type of notification. Mark the letter as read or start replying, reply to the text or save the news for future.

In applications

When you open your apps, 3D Touch is implemented less widely (especially in third-party apps), but still manifests itself in a predictable way. Whenever you can click on an image for a larger preview, you can also swipe up to save it, or click to view it full screen. The same is true for web links in most apps, with the option to open in Safari or save to your Reading List.

In Apple Mail (and many third-party email apps), you can use 3D Touch to preview an email message on the list screen, then swipe up for quick actions, or “pop up” to open it. Or you can let go and pretend you’ve never seen it, which as I can attest is not the best way to deal with your inbox.

You can also 3D Touch a contact’s details button in an email message (and in other contact apps) to take quick actions for that person, including sending them email, text messages, or adding them as a new contact.

Safari allows you to view tabs by opening them and tapping a little on a tab to view its contents. Press harder to open it in your browser.

In the Photos application , 3D Touch will preview the photo as well as play Live photos and videos in a pop-up window.

In iBooks , if you go to Table of Contents view, you can click a chapter to view it without jumping to it.

The last thing I’ll highlight is the Notes app , where 3D Touch lets you draw in pressure-sensitive sketches. The lighter you touch, the lighter the stroke of the line.

Basically, everything in iOS can reveal additional options and shortcuts if you press on them a little harder, but not always. There is no visual indicator to let you know what will bear fruit with a little pressure. If you are like me, once you get used to 3D Touch, you will start trying it on everything (and get a little frustrated if nothing happens). At least you could. If 3D Touch doesn’t work, it’s best to start pressing gently while you can.


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