How to Use the Virtual Trackpad on iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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One of the more useful actions that 3D Touch makes possible is pressing an iPhone's onscreen keyboard to turn it into a virtual trackpad. If you 3D Touch, the keyboard turns blank and morphs into a trackpad that allows you to quickly move the cursor on the screen through the text you've written.


This popular gesture is useful because it allows you to make quick edits without having to reach up and tap the display. However, in its latest crop of devices, Apple has replaced 3D Touch with Haptic Touch, and the way the virtual trackpad activates has changed slightly.

On iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max, you have to press and hold on the spacebar to bring up the trackpad. In other words, pressing just anywhere on the keyboard no longer works.

It's a small adjustment, but it's worth highlighting in case you tried to activate the virtual trackpad on your new iPhone in the traditional way and wondered why it wasn't working. Note that the gesture functions similarly on all Apple devices that lack 3D Touch, including the iPhone XR and all models of iPad.

Article Link: How to Use the Virtual Trackpad on iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max
 
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jona2125

macrumors 6502a
Jul 12, 2010
771
632
I really miss the magnifying glass. This new system has been awful to seek out what you want to put the cursor on. Constantly reverts from where you intended to put it to somewhere else once you let off.
 
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GregJohn

macrumors regular
Oct 29, 2015
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Saskatoon, SK
I think I just always used the space bar on the XS max, didn’t even really know I could do it from anywhere haha - especially since I’m use to it from the iPad Pro.
 
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incoherent_1

macrumors member
Oct 19, 2016
78
70
A real shame — gestures like this showed the potential 3D Touch had.

I guess the talking point an Apple exec gave a couple years ago about 3D Touch being a long term investment and something they really believe in was just a bunch of baloney.

FYI, if you tap with another finger on the "trackpad" while doing this you can also select text.
Thank you! This answered my biggest question.
 

Bistroengine

macrumors regular
Jan 16, 2004
205
82
A big step backwards for many of us. Just have to use the iPad muscle memory for this feature. Practicing on my max, this is a far slower way to do a quick edit or highlight.
I completely disagree. I hated the old way. I could never exactly place the cursor where I wanted it. I would place the cursor but the minute I lifted my finger it would shift to a different location nearly every time. This new implementation is MUCH nicer.
 

incoherent_1

macrumors member
Oct 19, 2016
78
70
I completely disagree. I hated the old way. I could never exactly place the cursor where I wanted it. I would place the cursor but the minute I lifted my finger it would shift to a different location nearly every time. This new implementation is MUCH nicer.
How does the new way avoid this problem?

(I’m not giving you a hard time; I’m genuinely curious how they’ve changed the workflow :))
 

darkslide29

macrumors 65816
Oct 5, 2011
1,412
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San Francisco, California
Did I miss something? That’s not exclusive to iPhone 11, I have it on my X
Yes, you missed the last paragraph.

"It's a small adjustment, but it's worth highlighting in case you tried to activate the virtual trackpad on your new iPhone in the traditional way and wondered why it wasn't working. Note that the gesture functions similarly on all Apple devices that lack 3D Touch, including the iPhone XR and all models of iPad."

This means your X has 3D touch, and these are instructions for those going from an X (or Xs) to an 11 that no longer has 3D touch. Noting the slightly different way of activating the same feature that's available across all phones and iPads, since habits can be hard to change.
 

Ankaa

macrumors 6502a
Jul 27, 2008
668
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Yes, you missed the last paragraph.

"It's a small adjustment, but it's worth highlighting in case you tried to activate the virtual trackpad on your new iPhone in the traditional way and wondered why it wasn't working. Note that the gesture functions similarly on all Apple devices that lack 3D Touch, including the iPhone XR and all models of iPad."

This means your X has 3D touch, and these are instructions for those going from an X (or Xs) to an 11 that no longer has 3D touch. Noting the slightly different way of activating the same feature that's available across all phones and iPads, since habits can be hard to change.
My bad, thank you! I only scanned the article and read it as "Look at this awesome new feature of the iPhone 11" instead of what it really is. Oops.

No Macrumors before coffee for me.
 
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adammusic

macrumors 6502
Jun 6, 2007
364
81
I’m on 13.1 beta and i can still long press anywhere on the keyboard to move the cursor. Doesn’t have to be spacebar
 

PestoBalsamic

macrumors newbie
Sep 20, 2019
4
6
I fear this is the logic that encourages Apple to make these moves without reservation.
Lol. No. I'm pretty sure it has more to do with the fact that 3D Touch has existed for 5 years and not a single meaningful application for it has arisen in that entire time.
- 99% of it can (and should) be accomplished with long press instead.
- What few things actualized used the pressure sensitivity were gimmicks.

This one here (text selection) was the single meaningful thing that used the hardware, and it came directly from Apple. Despite 5 years of availability to developers, they did nothing with it. Nothing worth keeping or writing home about.

That makes it a dog. Dedicated hardware that dictates several design, engineering, and manufacturing concerns...for one measly feature. Nope. Out. Time for something new.
- - Post merged: - -

I’m on 13.1 beta and i can still long press anywhere on the keyboard to move the cursor. Doesn’t have to be spacebar
You're not on an iPhone 11.
 

adammusic

macrumors 6502
Jun 6, 2007
364
81
Lol. No. I'm pretty sure it has more to do with the fact that 3D Touch has existed for 5 years and not a single meaningful application for it has arisen in that entire time.
- 99% of it can (and should) be accomplished with long press instead.
- What few things actualized used the pressure sensitivity were gimmicks.

This one here (text selection) was the single meaningful thing that used the hardware, and it came directly from Apple. Despite 5 years of availability to developers, they did nothing with it. Nothing worth keeping or writing home about.

That makes it a dog. Dedicated hardware that dictates several design, engineering, and manufacturing concerns...for one measly feature. Nope. Out. Time for something new.
- - Post merged: - -


You're not on an iPhone 11.
**** i will be when FedEx arrives.
why the hell would they do such a stupid thing