Friday, February 19, 2021

Easy one-handed Control Center and Notification Center access on iPhone 12/11/X

 I finally opened up my wallet and replaced my aging iPhone 6S -- fare ye well, headphone jack -- with a new iPhone 12. It's my first purchase of a brand new iPhone since buying an iPhone 5S, all the way back in 2013. (I had bought the 6S secondhand, via a seller on Swappa.)

While I'm finding the 12 to be a nice upgrade, one big usability regression jumped out at me in the early going: The difficulty of activating Control Center. (That's the screen where you can adjust volume and brightness, enable/disable wi-fi and Bluetooth, and so forth.) 

On the 6S, activating Control Center was easily done while holding the phone in one hand, via an easy swipe up from the bottom of the screen. On the 12 -- which has no Home button -- that gesture now navigates to the Home screen. Control Center is now activated via a swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen. 

The 12's larger size makes that gesture difficult to perform one-handed. Compounding the problem, although I'm right-handed, I use my left hand when operating the phone one-handed -- so that top-right corner is unreachable without substantially shifting my grip on the phone (which increases the risk of fumbling it).

With its generally very good support for accessibility features, I figured Apple would provide a simple option somewhere in Settings to swap that top-right-corner gesture for the top-left-corner. Unfortunately -- at least as of iOS 14 -- there is no such option.

The solution

To the rescue comes a configurable accessibility gesture pointed out by @temptertemper: The "Double Back Tap". Under Settings → Accessibility → Touch → Back Tap, you can set a firm "tap tap" performed on the back of your phone to perform one of a number of options -- including bringing up Control Center!

That double-tap is easily done with an index finger, while still securely holding the phone in a one-handed grip. In the early going, I've found the double-back-tap to be a much easier-to-perform alternative to the stock swipe-down-from-top-right-corner gesture.

Triple-back-tap is also assignable from the same place in Settings. I've assigned that to bring up Notification Center, which is also by default activated by a swipe down from the (distant) top of the phone screen.

Thanks to @tempertemper for this great suggestion, which I expect to be a nice quality-of-life improvement in daily use of my new iPhone!


  1. John, I hope you read this. I purchased Timesnapper for Windows a few years ago and installed it on a few of my PC's. Recently, I reinstalled Windows on my main PC to address some networking issues but received an error when reinstalling Timesnapper. The message is "This Unique Code has been validated more times than is expected. Please contact". I have tried contacting them many times with no response. I've also used the contact us form on the website. Can you help me resolve this that you are a team member? I can't get a response from the other guys. Thanks

  2. Hey Roland! I'd love to try and help you! Unfortunately, I'm not sure how to get in touch with you! Can you drop me an email directly, or reach out to me via Twitter DM? (Links to both of those are at the bottom of my homepage at

  3. Glad I found this article. Just switched to the 13 from the 6S and having the same issue. Hopefully they'll eventually allow us to customize swipe gestures. Doesn't seem like something Apple would do though unfortunately...


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