Assistive Touch | How to use it on iPhones / iPads

In addition to Siri and Spotlight Assistive Touch is another feature to simplify and speed up interactions with your iPhone or iPad. Especially one-hand operation on larger devices is easier when using this feature.

Assistive Touch
Illustrations: eb / ebblogs

Assistive Touch

As soon as you have activated Assistive Touch, you will see a small dark spot in one of the corners, at the top or at the bottom of your device. You may adjust its idle opacity in the settings. While inactive the spot will fade.

When you open an app and use the keyboard, the spot will automatically move up (most of the time). After the keyboard is closed, the spot will return to its previous position. After tapping the spot, a menu window will pop up. From there you may open two more menus.


There is a selection of some basic actions, represented by specific icons. For example

Clicking the Lock, Multitasking, Siri oder Home replaces the corresponding home button action
Notification center and Control center can be opened without swiping
You may adjust volume and lock / unlock screen rotation and
take screenshots without having to press two buttons which is quite uncomfortable.


To activate Assistive Touch, you go to system settings

› General
›› Accessibility
››› Interactions – Assistive Touch
››››› Turn on

Customization of the main menu

You may use up to eight icons in the main menu, define their action, position and order.

After you clicked on the + or one of the already defined icons, a list of all possible actions will be displayed. You mark one of the actions and save it.
If you like to delete one or more icons, you tap the and the icon on top will disappear.

Changing the position / order

Unfortunately you cannot rearrange the icons by drag-and-drop. And you cannot use the same icon (action) twice. So the fastest way to organize your actions is

› tap the icon that you would like to move
›› select an action that is not in use or not needed
››› tap the position where the original icon shall be displayed
››› mark that action on the list
›››› save.

Then continue as described above until all your icons are in the correct position. In case you would like to use system- or special actions, one of the icons in the main menu has to be Device. This is the only way to access the second and third sub-menu.


In addition to the already mentioned actions you may create gestures. E. g. you scroll websites automatically by tapping the specific gesture via Assistive Touch. To create a custom gesture you go to the Assistive Touch settings

› new gesture
›› draw a gesture, e. g. draw a line from the bottom to the top
››› stop
›››› play
» if you do not like it
»» record
»»» draw a new gesture
»»»» save.

Afterwards you name it. You may create up to six gestures. They will be listed as New Gestures.

By tapping Edit you can organize the list:

› Changing the order
›› tap the three lines at the right
››› move the row upwards or downwards

» Deleting a gesture
»» tap the x on the left side of the row

To use these gestures you have to activate the action Favorites ☆ in the main menu.

Using gestures

Clicking the star opens a special menu. There you will find two pre-defined gestures (pinch and double-tap) and one more star for each of your custom gestures. When you e. g. open a website and click the star for scrolling, another small spot will show up. Tapping this spot will scroll the page. You do not have to scroll manually. To end this action tap the spot again. The gesture spot will be gone.

More actions

Besides the menu actions you can define four more actions to be executed when tapping the Assistive Touch spot itself.

Long tap
3D Touch (if your device supports this feature)

E. g. a single tap brings you back to your home screen. Do not forget that one action has to be Menu to gain access to the actions in the menu.

assistive touch


Actually you may do most of the interactions without Assistive Touch. But, for example, swiping from the top to open the notification center on larger devices needs some acrobatic movement of your thumb. If you use Assistive Touch, your device will safely remain in your hand. You move the spot to a part of the screen where you can reach it easily and where it does not bother. Then you just tap the spot plus an icon and here we are.

Moreover it will take the load off the home button because you will only need it to turn on the screen, but not to turn it off, access multitasking or Siri. If you use Assistive Touch actions on your lock screen, this will not bypass the security lock. Before you have access to your home screen or any app, you will still have to use your finger print, Face-ID or unlock code.

As a last point a few words regarding favorites/gestures. In my opinion this is a nice gimmick but not really necessary.

Nevertheless Assistive Touch is a very comfortable feature not just for those having a handicap.
Check it out …

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