Assign quick actions to tapping on the back of your iPhone

Written on September 22, 2020

If you’ve got an iPhone X or newer, did you know you can tap the back of your phone and perform a quick action? Like taking a screenshot.

Along with many exciting features that dropped with iOS 14, you can assign a quick action to either a double tap or triple tap to the back of your phone.

Turn on and assign a quick action to back taps

To turn on this feature, you’ll go to Settings > Accessibility > Touch. If you scroll down to the bottom of the Touch screen, you’ll see an option for Back Tap which should be currently turned to Off.

Touch Accessibility menu with Back Tap option

Tap the option and you’ll be given two options for back taps. You can assign an action for a double tap or a triple tap.

Screen with double or triple tap options

Tapping on either of these options will pull up a menu of possible actions to assign to the specific number of taps.

Available system actions with tap

What’s really neat is you can also assign a Shortcut from the Shortcuts app. I could imagine this could open up all sorts of neat automations with your iPhone.

List of shortcuts from my phone's Shortcuts app

Where to tap on the back of your phone and how hard?

From my tests, it seems that tapping just about anywhere on the back of your iPhone will trigger the back tap action.

Which makes me believe there isn’t really a sensor of sorts on the back of the phone, but perhaps it’s a way the phone is picking up on motion based on an internal sensor.

With regards to how hard you have to tap to trigger the action. I found that you have to tap it harder than you’d think.

I thought a slight tap with my index finger with the hand that’s holding the phone would trigger the action. But it didn’t. It wasn’t until I tapped it a bit harder that I could get the action to trigger.

This left me with a feeling that it was only a matter of time before I’d tap it out of my hand with the single hand, single finger action.

I found that holding with one hand and tapping with a finger on the other hand resulted in the action registering a lot more consistently and the phone felt safer since I had a good grip of the phone with an entire hand, while the other hand performed the tap.

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