How to Create and Use iPhone X Shortcuts

iPhone X

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 – and add other options, too. If you really prefer to have a Home button on your screen, you have an option.​ Not only does the iOS include a feature that lets you add a virtual Home button to your screen, but you can also create custom shortcuts that make that virtual Home button do all kinds of things the traditional button can't. Here's everything you need to know.

NOTE: While this article mentions the iPhone X and its lack of a Home button, the instructions in this article apply to every iPhone.

How to Add an Onscreen Virtual Home Button to the iPhone

enable assistivetouch on iPhone screenshots


In order to configure the virtual Home button with shortcuts, you first have to enable the Home button itself. Here's how:

  1. Tap Settings.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Accessibility.
  4. Tap AssistiveTouch.
  5. Move the AssistiveTouch slider to on/green.
  6. At this point, the virtual Home button appears on your screen. Tap it to view the top-level menu (more on that in the next section).
  7. Once the button is present, you can control two preferences for it:
    1. Position: Position the button anywhere on your screen with drag and drop.
    2. Opacity: Make the button more or less transparent by using the Idle Opacity slider. The minimum setting is 15%.

How to Customize the Virtual Home Button's Top-Level Menu

customize top-level assistivetouch menu screenshots


In step 6 of the last section, you tapped on the virtual Home button and saw the menu of options that appeared. That's the default set of Home button shortcuts. You can change the number of shortcuts and which ones are available by following these steps:

  1. On the AssistiveTouch screen, tap Customize Top Level Menu.
  2. Change the number of shortcuts shown in the Top Level Menu with the - + buttons at the bottom. The minimum number of options is 1, the maximum is 8.
  3. To change a shortcut, tap the icon you want to change.
  4. Tap one of the shortcuts from the list that appears. 
  5. Tap Done to ​save the change.
  6. If you decide you want to go back to the default set of options, tap Reset.

Adding Custom Actions Shortcuts to iPhone Virtual Home Button

configuring custom action shortcuts on iPhone screenshots


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

  1. On the AssistiveTouch screen, find the Custom Actions section.
  2. In that section, tap the action that you want to use to trigger this new shortcut. Your options are:
    1. Single-Tap: The traditional single click of the Home button. In this case, it's a single tap on the virtual button. 
    2. 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 will treat them as two single taps, not a double tap.
    3. Long Press: A 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 in order for this to be activated.
    4. 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.
  3. Whichever action you tap, each screen presents a number of options for shortcuts that you can assign to these actions. These are particularly cool because they turn actions that might otherwise require pressing multiple buttons into a single tap. Most shortcuts are pretty self-explanatory (I don't think you need me to tell you what Siri, Screenshot, or Volume Up do), but a few need explanation:
    1. 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.  
    2. Shake: Choose this and the iPhone responds to a button tap as if the phone has been shaken. Useful for undoing certain actions, especially if physical issues prevent you from shaking the phone. 
    3. Pinch: Performs the equivalent of a pinch gesture on the iPhone's screen. This is useful for people who have impairments that make pinching difficult or impossible.  
    4. SOS: This enables the iPhone's Emergency SOS feature. This triggers a loud noise to alert others that you may need help and a call to emergency services.
    5. Analytics: This begins the gathering of AssistiveTouch diagnostics.