iPhone X Home Button Basics

iPhone X
Shutterstock

Perhaps the biggest change Apple introduced with its groundbreaking iPhone X was the removal of the Home button. Since the iPhone's debut, the Home button had been the only button on the front of the phone. It was also the most important button since it was used to return to the Home screen, to access multitasking, to take screenshots, and much more.

You can still do all of those things on the iPhone X, but how you do them is different. Pressing a button has been replaced by a set of new gestures that trigger those familiar functions.

How to Unlock the iPhone X

Waking the iPhone X from sleep, also known as unlocking the phone (not to be confused with unlocking it from a phone company), is still very simple. Just pick up the phone and swipe up from the bottom of the screen.

What happens next depends on your security settings. If you don't have a passcode, you'll go right to the Home screen. If you do have a passcode, Face ID may recognize your face and take you to the Home screen. Or, if you have a passcode but don't use Face ID, you'll need to enter your code. No matter your settings, unlocking just takes a simple swipe.

How to Return to the Home Screen on iPhone X

With a physical Home button, returning to the Home screen from any app just required pushing a button. Even without that button, though, returning to the Home screen is pretty simple.

Just swipe up a very short distance from the bottom of the screen. A longer swipe does something else, but a quick little flick will take you out of any app ​and back to the Home screen. 

How to Open the iPhone X Multitasking View

On earlier iPhones, double-clicking the Home button brought up a multitasking view that let you see all open apps, quickly switch to new apps, and easily quit apps that are running.​

That same view is still available on the iPhone X, but you access it differently. Swipe up from the bottom to about a third of the way up the screen. This is a little tricky at first because it's similar to the shorter swipe that takes you to the Home screen. When you get to the right place on the screen, other apps will appear at the left.

Depending on your settings, you may also feel a slight vibration when you've reached the one-third spot that activates the multitasking view.

Switching Apps Without Opening Multitasking on iPhone X

Instead of having to open the multitasking view from the last item to change apps, switch to a new app with just a simple swipe.

At the bottom corners of the screen, about level with the line at the bottom, swipe left or right. You'll jump into the next or previous app from the multitasking view—a much faster way to move. 

Using Reachability on iPhone X

With ever-bigger screens on iPhones, it can be hard to reach things that are far from your thumb. The Reachability feature, which was first introduced on the iPhone 6 series, solves that quandary. A quick double-tap of the Home button brings the top of the screen down so it's easier to reach.

On the iPhone X, Reachability is still an option, though it's disabled by default (turn it on by going to Settings > General > Accessibility > Reachability). If it's on, access the feature by swiping down on the screen near the line at the bottom. That gesture can be a little hard to master, so you can also swipe up and down very quickly from the same location.

New Ways to Do Old Tasks: Siri, Apple Pay, and More

There are tons of other common iPhone features that use the Home button. Here's how to perform some of the most common ones on the iPhone X:

  • Take Screenshots: Click the Side and volume up buttons at the same time.
  • Turn Off/Restart: Press and hold the Side and volume up buttons at the same time.​
  • Activate Siri: Press and hold the Side button.
  • Confirm Apple Pay and iTunes/App Store Purchases: Use Face ID.

So Where Is Control Center?

Control Center in iOS 11
iPhone screenshot

Control Center offers a handy set of tools and shortcuts; it's normally accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the screen on other models. Since swiping around the bottom of the screen does so many other things on the iPhone X, Control Center is elsewhere on this model. ​

To access it, swipe down from the top right side of the screen (to the right of the notch), and Control Center appears. Tap or swipe the screen again to dismiss it when you're done. 

Still Really Want a Home Button? Add One Using Software

Still wish your iPhone X had a Home button? Well, you can't get a hardware button, but there is a way to get one using software.

The AssistiveTouch feature adds an onscreen Home button for people with physical challenges that prevent them from easily clicking the Home button (or for those with broken Home buttons). Anyone can turn it on and use that same software button.

To enable AssistiveTouch, tap Settings > General > Accessibility > AssistiveTouch. Move the AssistiveTouch slider to on/green to instantiate a button on the screen that performs some of the Home button's tasks.