How to Create and Use iPhone X Shortcuts

Miss the Home button? Add a virtual one

iPhone X
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The iPhone X is the first iPhone without a Home button. In place of a physical button, Apple added a set of gestures that replicate the Home button along with other options. If you prefer to have a Home button on your screen, you have an option.​ The iPhone's iOS includes a feature that adds a virtual Home button to your screen. You can also create custom shortcuts that do things the physical button can't.

The instructions in this article apply to any iPhone without a Home button. It covers the shortcuts you can assign to a virtual Home button. It does not cover the Shortcuts app that Apple introduced in iOS 12.

How to Add a Virtual Home Button to the iPhone

To configure the virtual Home button, you first have to enable the Home button itself. Here's how:

  1. Tap Settings.

  2. Tap General.

  3. Tap Accessibility.

  4. Tap AssistiveTouch.

    Accessibility Settings on iPhone
  5. Move the AssistiveTouch slider to On/green. The virtual Home button appears on your screen.

  6. Position the button anywhere on your screen using drag and drop.

  7. Make the button more or less transparent by using the Idle Opacity slider.

  8. Tap the button to view its default menu.

    Virtual Home button and its default menu on iPhone

How to Customize the Virtual Home Button Menu

To change the number of shortcuts and the specific ones that are available in the default menu:

  1. On the AssistiveTouch screen, tap Customize Top Level Menu.

  2. Change the number of icons shown in the Top Level Menu with the plus and minus buttons at the bottom of the screen. The minimum number of options is 1; the maximum is 8. Each icon represents a different shortcut.

  3. To change a shortcut, tap the icon you want to change.

    Customize Top Level Menu settings on iPhone
  4. Tap one of the available shortcuts from the list that appears. 

  5. Tap Done to ​save the change. It replaces the shortcut you selected.

    Options for virtual Home button menu
  6. If you decide you want to go back to the default set of options, tap Reset.

How to Add Custom Actions to the Virtual Home Button

Now that you know how to add the virtual Home button and configure the menu, it's time to get to the good stuff: custom shortcuts. Just like a physical Home button, the virtual button can be configured to respond differently based on how you tap it. Here's what you need to do:

On the AssistiveTouch screen, go to the Custom Actions section. In that section, tap the action that you want to use to trigger the new shortcut. Your options are:

  • Single-Tap: The traditional single click of the Home button. In this case, it's a single tap on the virtual button. 
  • Double-Tap: Two quick taps on the button. If you choose this, you can also control the Timeout setting. That's the time allowed between taps. If more time passes between taps, the iPhone treats them as two single taps, not a double-tap.
  • Long Press: Tap and hold the virtual Home button. If you select this, you can also configure a Duration setting, which controls how long you need to press the screen for this feature to be activated.
  • 3D Touch: The 3D Touch screen on modern iPhones lets the screen respond differently based on how hard you press it. Use this option to have the virtual Home button respond to hard presses.

Whichever action you tap, each screen presents several options for shortcuts that you can assign to the action. These are particularly cool because they turn actions that might otherwise require pressing multiple buttons into a single tap.

Customizing AssistiveTouch actions

Most shortcuts are self-explanatory, such as Siri, Screenshot, or Volume Up, but a few need explanation:

  • Accessibility Shortcut: This shortcut can be used to trigger all kinds of accessibility features, such as inverting colors for users with vision impairment, turning on VoiceOver, and zooming in on the screen.  
  • Shake: Choose this, and the iPhone responds to a button tap as if the user shook the phone. Shake is useful for undoing certain actions, especially if physical issues prevent you from shaking the phone. 
  • Pinch: Performs the equivalent of a pinch gesture on the iPhone's screen, which is useful for people who have impairments that make pinching difficult or impossible.  
  • SOS: This button enables the iPhone's Emergency SOS feature, which triggers a loud noise to alert others that you may need help and a call to emergency services.
  • Analytics: This feature begins the gathering of AssistiveTouch diagnostics.