Tips

How to use the back of your iPhone as a button in iOS 16

iPhone Back Tap

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Back Tap is an iOS feature that lets you trigger commands or run Shortcuts just by tapping on the back of your iPhone. Here's what you should know.

Back Tap is an Accessibility feature in iOS 16 — first introduced back iOS 14 — that allows you to map commands or features to "taps" on the rear of an iPhone. With a little effort, you can get it so that tapping your finger on the back of your iPhone will trigger just about anything on your device.

So you can lock your iPhone, for instance, or turn on the Flashlight. You can take a screenshot, or open the Camera app.

There are two options, where you can tap twice to trigger something, or three times. Double Tap and Triple Tap are set up the same way, though, and there's nothing to stop you using both.

The feature is a bit hidden, however, and you will need to set it up before using it. Here's how to do it.

How to set up Back Tap

  • Go to Settings
  • Scroll down and tap on Accessibility
  • Tap Touch
  • Tap Back Tap
L-R Go to Settings, Accessibility, Touch, and then Back Tap to setup this feature
L-R Go to Settings, Accessibility, Touch, and then Back Tap to setup this feature

From there, you can either select Double Tap or Triple Tap. These are two separate triggers, and you can have both enabled simultaneously with different features mapped to them.

Apple effectively suggests some features, by just having them all listed right there in the Settings. So to trigger the Flashlight with a double tap, or open the Camera app with a triple tap, you just select Flashlight or Camera from the list.

That list of options is a remarkably comprehensive, not to say long, list of iPhone features — but it isn't complete.

Fortunately, as well as regular features you can trigger, Apple includes the option to launch any Shortcut you've made. Every Shortcut is listed, though the first time you go in to Settings, it can take a time for iOS to gather up the names and list them.

Once they're all there, though, you can assign Double Tap and Triple Tap to any Shortcuts you like.

Which means that there's practically no limit to what you can do with a tap on the back of the iPhone. Shortcuts don't only give you access to more features, too.

If you choose Shortcut, you can have any number of commands work for you, in sequence.

Your imagination is pretty much the only limit to the kinds of easily accessible functions you can unlock with the feature. You will, however, need a phone that supports it. Fortunately, every device from the iPhone 8 and later does.