Most Useful 3D Touch Gestures on iPhone

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 18, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    3D Touch is a feature that's been around since the 2015 release of the iPhone 6s, and it's become an integral gesture system on all of Apple's latest iPhones.

    Though it's been around for a while, there are several hidden and less obvious 3D Touch gestures that you may have forgotten or might not be aware of, especially if you don't use the feature often. In our most recent YouTube video and in the guide below, we've highlighted some of the most useful and lesser known 3D Touch gestures.

    3D Touch Cursor

    Whenever you're typing something using the default iOS keyboard on the iPhone, 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 is a useful gesture that allows you to make quick edits without having to reach up and tap the display.


    If you hold the cursor over a word for a short length of time, you can also use it to select text for deleting multiple words, copying and pasting, formatting, and other purposes.

    You can use this cursor gesture in Mail, Notes, Messages, and more on 3D Touch-enabled devices running iOS 11.

    Control Center

    In Control Center on devices running iOS 11, you can 3D Touch on almost all of the included icons to get additional control options and shortcut access.


    Some of the available options are listed below:

    [*]Wi-Fi - 3D Touch the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth box to get additional options for AirDrop and Personal Hotspot.
    [*]Music - 3D Touch for additional Music control options both for the iPhone and for connected devices that include HomePod and Apple TV.
    [*]Brightness - 3D Touch the brightness control to see a larger slider and to access options for Night Shift and True Tone.
    [*]Volume - 3D Touch to see a larger slider.
    [*]Flashlight - 3D Touch to change the brightness of the rear flash, aka the "Flashlight." There are four brightness levels.
    [*]Timer - 3D Touch to choose a timer length using a built-in slider bar.
    [*]Calculator - 3D Touch to copy your last result.
    [*]Camera - 3D Touch to access quick options for taking a selfie, recording a video, recording a Slo-mo video, or taking a portrait.
    [*]Home - 3D Touch to access controls for your favorite scenes and accessories.
    [*]Screen Recording - 3D Touch for options that include screen recording to camera roll or Facebook, turning the microphone on and off, and starting a recording.
    [*]Wallet - 3D Touch for a shortcut to your default credit or debit card and an option to access your last transaction.
    [*]Notes - 3D Touch to access shortcuts to create a new note, a new checklist, a new photo, or a new sketch.
    [*]Remote - 3D Touch for a full Apple TV Remote interface.

    Prioritizing App Downloads

    When you're downloading a bunch of updates from the App Store, if you 3D Touch on an app that's pending, you can force it to download first. This is useful if you're stuck with an app that's loading but need to access it quickly.


    You can also cancel downloads and pause downloads with this feature.

    Bonus: In the App Store itself, if you 3D Touch on the icon, you can update all of your apps with a quick tap that doesn't require actually opening up the App Store app and navigating to the Updates tab. There are also shortcuts for accessing your purchased apps, redeeming a gift card or promo code, and conducting a search. Note: The "Update All" icon doesn't seem to appear reliably at all times, which may be due to a bug.

    Previewing, Sharing, and Saving Photos

    In the Photos app, if you 3D Touch on a thumbnail, you can see a preview of the image without needing to tap to open it, which is known as a Peek and Pop gesture. Swipe up after the initial 3D Touch to get access to options to copy a photo, share a photo, favorite a photo, or show additional photos from the same day.

    You can use this same gesture in Safari and other apps that have images, such as Messages, Mail, and Apple News. For example, 3D Touch on an image in Safari, swipe upward, and you'll see options to save the image to your camera roll or copy it. Make sure to 3D Touch and then immediately swipe, because if you continue to hold down it will initiate a full "pop" gesture which eliminates the quick save option.


    Bonus: 3D Touch on the Photos app icon to get access some fun and useful shortcuts to your most recent photos, your favorite photos, photos from one year ago, or a search interface.

    Third-Party App Shortcuts

    Apple made 3D Touch available to third-party developers, and there are now hundreds of popular apps that have incorporated it, offering up new options on compatible iPhones.


    3D Touch, for example, enables pressure sensitive drawing and writing in note taking and sketching apps, and it's even been incorporated as a control method in some games. Blackbox, Asphalt 8: Airborne, and BADLAND 2 are all examples of games that incorporate 3D Touch in some way.

    On a more basic level, most apps have Home screen shortcuts accessible using 3D Touch. Instagram, for example, lets you access the camera, create a new post, view activity, or switch accounts using 3D Touch options, while Facebook has shortcuts for things like scanning a QR code, searching, or writing a post.


    Many apps also support 3D Touch gestures in app. For example, within Instagram or Facebook, 3D Touch on a thumbnail or a link for a preview of the content. These kind of Peek and Pop gestures have been built into quite a few third-party apps for a consistent usage experience on devices that support 3D Touch.

    3D Touch-Compatible Devices

    3D Touch continues to be a feature that's limited to the iPhone, and it's enabled through a built-in Taptic engine included in every generation since the iPhone 6s. 3D Touch is available on the following iPhones:

    [*]iPhone 6s
    [*]iPhone 6s Plus
    [*]iPhone 7
    [*]iPhone 7 Plus
    [*]iPhone 8
    [*]iPhone 8 Plus
    [*]iPhone X


    3D Touch can do a whole lot more than what's included in this guide, and the best way to discover everything is liberal use of the feature. 3D Touch on third-party app icons to see what shortcuts are available, 3D Touch within apps to see if there are built-in 3D Touch gestures, and give it a try in all of Apple's apps, most of which have been built with 3D Touch integration.

    Use 3D Touch in apps Messages, Safari, and Mail on links and photos to preview content with Peek and Pop or to find new sharing options, and 3D Touch on notifications to get more information.

    Have a favorite 3D Touch gesture that we didn't cover in the guide? Let us know in the comments.

    Article Link: Most Useful 3D Touch Gestures on iPhone
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Thank you so much for this article. I knew about all of them except the Force Touch keyboard. Man alive it's like waking up.

    Boy do I feel like a fool. My excuse is that my last phone was the 5S. Still though, I should've known, seeing how much time I spend on here.

    Thanks again. :)
  3. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    3D touch isn't actually necessary for the control center stuff. Just tap and hold and they'll all do the same. I know because it all works on my 6+.

    Also, I'm still pretty pissed that they removed the cursor feature from the 6+. In iOS <I forget which> betas, you could use two fingers on the keyboard to move the cursor. Then they suddenly changed it when they went out of beta to only work with Force Touch. Became really obvious that 3D touch is nothing more than marketing/gimmicky nonsense. It's only required in the places where it is just to entice people to upgrade to something newer than the 6+. I suspect the fact that touch and hold works in control center is a bug and Apple will remove the feature if they realize it's there.
  4. Wanted797 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 28, 2011
    The 3D Touch cursor has been my favourite since the 6s came out.

    So small but so good. I struggled using a android phone for work because of it and is the one thing that would stop me using a SE.
  5. rom3o macrumors regular

    Dec 22, 2014
    Nice guide! Though I knew most of them (accept the download prioritisation), this is pretty useful to share.

    I miss the app switcher, which I would consider a 3D Touch gesture as well.
  6. jdawgnoonan macrumors 6502


    Apr 22, 2007
    Clive, Iowa
    I love 3D Touch on my phone. Another great use of 3D Touch is to view a preview of a web page at a link.

    That said, the lack of 3D Touch on my iPad Pro makes it frustrating to use. I wish Apple enabled long press gestures to fulfill 3D Touch uses on the iPad.
  7. jayducharme macrumors 68040


    Jun 22, 2006
    The thick of it
    Another really helpful article. Thanks! When I got my 8, 3D Touch was the feature I was most looking forward to, but so far have been really underwhelmed. I couldn't seem to find any useful applications of it. But now I know better. 3D Touch Cursor is fantastic!
  8. wolfshades macrumors 6502


    Nov 1, 2007
    Toronto, Ontario Canada
    Thanks for this. I learned some interesting stuff today. I wonder why Apple never bothered with 3D Touch for the iPad too.
  9. AppleMad98004 macrumors 6502

    Aug 23, 2011
    Cylde Hill, WA
    The keyboard cursor is the thing I use most. App updates on the app store icon as well. People that actually open the app store are wasting their time.
  10. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

    Jul 12, 2016
    3D Touch has to be one of the most useful features I use regularly. Its highly convenient and a great shortcut to navigate various parts of an application. Peek and Pop for emails/messages I use frequently as well.

    Its just unfortunate Apple doesn’t Market 3D Touch enough, where a large majority of iPhone users don’t know or understand all of its capabilities.
  11. Pagemakers macrumors 68020


    Mar 28, 2008
    Manchester UK
    Not sure 3D touch is useful at all. I’d much prefer a short press and hold. Would work on all iOS devices.
  12. lec0rsaire macrumors 65816

    Feb 23, 2017
    I was surprised that Apple has managed to successfully add pseudo “3D touch” to devices without it for the control center and things like the iCloud Drive folder. The latter doesn’t always function perfectly since if you put too much pressure or press too long you will trigger the delete/rearrange option.

    I must say that when it was first introduced on the 6s I saw it as a complete gimmick and it was. Now that it has matured a little bit and does more throughout iOS 11, it’s hard to go back to a non-3D touch device. Still I feel that Force Touch on the MacBooks is much more useful than it is on iOS devices. It really makes the already superb Apple trackpads really the best in the business and unmatched by anyone else.
  13. bodonnell202 macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2016
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    Honestly, if my next iPhone didn't have 3D touch I think the 3D touch cursor is the only thing I would miss.

    Based on my iPads I think most other useful 3D touch features can be accomplished with a long press on devices without 3D touch anyway...
  14. Pagemakers macrumors 68020


    Mar 28, 2008
    Manchester UK
    Still think it’s a gimmick. Press and hold works just as well, infact better and it’s works across all devices.
  15. bluecoast macrumors 6502a

    Nov 7, 2017
    Thanks for the article, but 3D Touch is terrible!

    It smacks of iOS becoming way too complex over the years.

    Personally, the only app I ever used 3D Touch quite a bit in, was Apple Music. But that’s only because Apple Music is an absolute mess, UX-wise.

    I get that it’s the Touch equivalent to a power user right click on desktop. But it means we all get to pay extra for a harder to make screen component that a) adds cost to each iPhone b) is more expensive to replace when it breaks c) adds on weight to the phone plus reduces battery space & thus overall battery capacity.

    I’d rather Apple take a good look at iOS and strip it of the any excessive complexity. Long presses should be ok enough. And surely Apple Pencil is the future?

    Thanks for the article though - it was really well written.
  16. autrefois macrumors 65816


    Oct 22, 2003
    Somewhere in the USA
    This is the most useful one for me. In fact, when I use my wife's phone or the iPad, I automatically try to do 3D touch cursor without thinking and it doesn't work, which frustrates me. It's become second nature to me to use it and it's surprising that no iPads can do it.

    3D touch is definitely useful but underutilized. I'm not sure which direction Apple should go — incorporate it on the iPad and hopefully give more room for it to grow since it will be on both devices, or grow it more on the iPhone first so there will be more of a demand and use for it on the iPad.
  17. Pagemakers macrumors 68020


    Mar 28, 2008
    Manchester UK
    For the cursor why does the iPhone use 1 finger and the iPad 2? What’s wrong with 1 finger for both!
  18. BrettArchibald macrumors member


    Jul 31, 2007
    3D Touch on the iPhone is as useful as the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro.
    (Make of that comment what you will.)
  19. MacFanBoi macrumors regular

    Aug 29, 2009
    I wish Apple could add 3D Touch to the iPad Pro. I’m so used to them on iPhone I keep trying the same on my iPad and keep forgetting iPads don’t have them.
  20. coumerelli macrumors 6502

    Apr 7, 2003
    state of confusion.
    3D Touch isn’t necessary on the 6/6+ because it isn’t ON the 6/6+. The behavior is specific to the hardware the OS is running on. The “tap and hold” doesn’t work on the 6s, for instance because 3D Touch exists and therefore is required. Difference behavior for depending on hardware capabilities.
  21. kafka27 macrumors newbie


    Nov 17, 2017
    The very first thing I done when I got my iPhone 8 was to disable the 3d touch.
  22. C DM macrumors Sandy Bridge

    Oct 17, 2011
    But doesn't provide the same level of functionality that 3D Touch can, nor can it provide more than one function, while with 3D Touch, there's still the "old" long press (press and hold) that provides one functionality as well as the additional functionality that 3D Touch can provide.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 18, 2018 ---
    3D Touch on the iPhone, while no 3D Touch on the iPad?
  23. unQuestionable macrumors newbie


    Feb 14, 2018
    Fargo/Moorhead Area
    I love the 3D Touch feature with Music. Having a quick access to Beats 1, my favorite radio station on Earth!

    --- Post Merged, Apr 18, 2018 ---
    Both are extremely handy. Use the tools that are given to you to your advantage. Don’t sit there pounding a nail with your hand when they gave you a hammer.
  24. TheWatchfulOne macrumors 6502


    Jun 19, 2009
    Apple recommends developers use the long press gesture in place of 3D Touch in their apps on devices that don't have the 3D Touch hardware. Perhaps they are following their own advice?

    Also, 3D Touch is optional on devices that have it. If you switch it off on a 6S/6S Plus or greater, chances are you will then be able to use the long press gesture instead of 3D Touch.

    I like 3D Touch and I use it in my App Store app (see my signature). On devices that don't have 3D Touch, I use a long press gesture to access similar functionality.
  25. 827538 macrumors 65816

    Jul 3, 2013
    I agree with iOS perhaps needing some of its bloat trimmed a little, but you have to remember how much more complex and capable the software and hardware has become.

    I like 3D Touch and use it regularly. It’s a good way of increasing functionality without overwhelming the user. I’ve been critical of iOS 11 - mainly the battery/throttling mess - but overall iOS 11.3 on my 6S is one of my best smartphone experiences.

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