How to Use Control Center on iPhone and iPod touch

control center in iOS 12

iPhone image: Apple

Control Center is one of the most useful hidden features of the iOS. It offers shortcuts to a ton of handy features on your iPhone or iPod touch (and iPad) no matter what you're doing on your device. Want to turn on Bluetooth? Forget tapping through menus; just open Control Center and tap a button. Need to see in the dark? Use Control Center to turn your camera flash into a flashlight. Once you start using Control Center, you'll wonder how you ever got by without it.

How to Customize Control Center in iOS 11​​​ and Up

Apple delivered a great update to Control Center with iOS 11: The ability to customize it. Now, instead of getting one set of controls and being stuck with them, you can add ones you find useful and get rid of ones you never use (from within a certain set, that is). Here's what you need to do on any device running iOS 11 and up:

  1. Tap Settings.

  2. Tap Control Center

  3. Tap Customize Controls.

  4. To remove items already in Control Center, tap the red - icon next to an item.

  5. Tap Remove.

  6. Change the order of the items by tapping and holding the three-line icon to the right. When the item rises up, drag and drop it to a new location.

  7. To add new controls, tap the green + icon and then drag and drop them to the position you want. 

  8. When you've made all the changes you want, leave the screen and your changes are saved.

How to Use Control Center

Using Control Center is pretty easy. To reveal it, swipe up from the bottom of your iPhone's screen. You'll need to get as close to the bottom as possible; I've found it most effective to start my swipe slightly off the screen, right next to the home button. Experiment with what works best for you.

On the iPhone X, XS, and XR, Control Center has moved. Rather than swiping up from the bottom, swipe down from the top right corner.

Once Control Center is showing, here's what all of the items in it do:

  • Airplane Mode: To turn on Airplane Mode, simply tap this icon. Airplane Mode is on when the icon is orange. Tap it again to turn it off.
  • Wi-Fi: To enable your device's Wi-Fi connectivity, tap this icon. Technically, this doesn't turn Wi-Fi off (you need to go into the Settings app to do that), but it does disconnect you from any networks your device is connected to.
  • Bluetooth: Forget navigating through the Settings app to turn on Bluetooth. Just tap this icon to enable your device to connect to Bluetooth, or disconnect from, peripherals.
  • Screen Rotation Lock: To prevent the screen from rotating when you turn your device, tap this icon.
  • Do Not Disturb: Want to avoid calls and messages for a bit? Tap this icon to turn on Do Not Disturb. If you've already set up Do Not Disturb, this enables the settings you've already got.
  • Brightness: Use this slider to make your iPhone screen brighter or dimmer.
  • AirDrop: Tap this button to enable AirDrop file-sharing feature. When you enable this, you'll need to choose some options for who you want to share with. This option is not present in iOS 12; access it in the Settings app instead.
  • Night Shift: Change the color warmth of your device's screen for better viewing at night by tapping this button. Only present on iOS 9-11. In iOS 12, it's in the Settings app.
  • Flashlight: Need to get a better view of something? This app turns your camera flash into a bright flashlight.
  • Clock: This icon is a shortcut to the built-in iOS Clock app. This app lets you see what time it is in various cities, set alarms, and use a stopwatch or timer.
  • Calculator: Need to figure out the tip on dinner or do some quick calculations? Tap this icon to jump to the iOS's built-in Calculator app.
  • Camera: Need to snap a photo right away? A quick tap on this icon will launch the built-in iOS Camera app and you'll be ready to capture memories in no time.

Control Center has a number of other options that you may find useful. They're not enabled by default, but they can be added using the customization instructions above. These options are:

  • Accessibility Shortcut: If you've configured the Accessibility Shortcut, this button will reveal it with just one tap. 
  • Alarm: A shortcut to the alarm screen in the Clock app.
  • Apple TV Remote: Control your Apple TV from your phone.
  • Do Not Disturb While Driving: Reduce distracted driving by enabling Do Not Disturb, and turning off your screen, while you drive.
  • Guided Access: Lock down your iPhone to allow it to use only a single app or small set of features with this option.
  • Hearing: A shortcut to reach accessibility options for hearing-impaired users.
  • Home: Control your HomeKit-compatible smart home devices.
  • Low Power Mode: Squeeze extra life out of your battery by tapping this button to enable Low Power Mode.
  • Magnifier: Need to see things on your screen blown up to a larger size? This onscreen magnifying glass has what you need.
  • Notes: Access the built-in Notes app.
  • Scan QR Code: Scan QR codes using your iPhone camera after tapping this button.
  • Screen Recording: Want to capture a video on everything happening on your screen. Just tap this button to start recording.
  • Stopwatch: Jump to the stopwatch screen of the Clock app.
  • Text Size: Adjust the default text size of the words on your screen with this option.
  • Timer: Jump to the Timer screen of the Clock app.
  • Voice Memos: Jump to the Voice Memos app to record your thoughts as sound files.
  • Wallet: Access the Wallet app, where credit cards for Apple Pay are stored, here.

In iOS 10, Control Center has two panels of options. The first contains the options described above. Swipe right to left and you'll reveal the Music and AirPlay options. Here's what they do:

  • Music Controls: These buttons let you control the music playing on your device. The progress bar shows how far into the song you are and how much is left. You can drag the line in that bar to move within the song. The buttons underneath it let you move to the last song, play/pause, or move to the next song. The slider below that controls volume.
  • AirPlay: The bar along the bottom of this panel lets you use AirPlay to choose where the music is played. The default is the iPhone's built-in speakers or if headphones are attached, those. But if there are AirPlay-compatible devices nearby, choose one to broadcast the music to them.

Using Control Center and 3D Touch

If you have an iPhone with a 3D Touchscreen (as of this writing, the iPhone 6S seriesiPhone 7 series, iPhone 8 series, iPhone X, iPhone XS and XS Max), a number of items in Control Center have hidden features that can be accessed by hard-pressing the screen. They are:

  • Networking: This panel contains multiple controls: Airplane Mode, Cellular Data, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirDrop, and Personal Hotspot. One quirk is that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth don't turn off the features, just disconnects networks and devices. To truly turn them off you need to go into Settings.
  • Music: Access the scrubber bar, volume, and AirPlay settings.
  • Screen Brightness: Get more fine-grained control over the slider by enlarging it.
  • Volume: Like with screen brightness, the enlarged slider delivers more precise control.
  • Flashlight: Choose from Bright, Medium, or Low Light intensity for the flashlight.
  • Clock: Set a timer of 1 hour, 20 minutes, 5 minutes, or 1 minute from this menu.
  • Calculator: Copy the last result totaled in the app to paste into another app.
  • Camera: Shortcuts let you take a photo, record slo-mo video, record regular video, or take a selfie. 
  • Home: ​Access your common Home scenes.

How to Hide Control Center

When you're done using Control Center, hide it by swiping down from the top of the screen (or up from the bottom on iPhone X and newer). You can start your swipe at the top of Control Center or even in the area above it. As long as you're going from top to bottom, it will disappear. You can also press the Home button to hide Control Center.

Control Center Options

Control Center is enabled on iOS devices by default, so you don't need to turn it on — just use it.

There are two Control Center settings you may be interested in, though. To get to them, tap the Settings app and then Control Center. On that screen, you can control whether you can use Control Center even when your device is locked (I'd recommend it; there are lots of things you may want to do without unlocking your device, especially if you have a passcode. This option is only available on iOS 11 and earlier) and whether you can reach Control Center from within apps (rather than having to go back to the home screen). Move the sliders to green to enable these options or to white to turn them off.