Below is a listing of iOS and iPadOS finger gestures arranged by gesture type. All text, single document. Verified in iOS and iPadOS 15, using VoiceOver Practice; (Settings>Accessibility>VoiceOver>VoiceOver Practice).
Additional tips given at bottom.
Note: Much of the information gathered below is a rearrangement of Apple's original materials. Some editing has been performed to better fit the layout. Some editor's additions have been included, from experience and use.
Portions copyright Apple, Inc. All rights reserved.
The most direct method of navigation is to lightly drag a finger around on the screen and listen to what it touches. VoiceOver will speak everything you touch.
Use thumb and forefinger, like turning a knob on the surface, to choose different Rotor settings and navigation modes. The Rotor can be turned in both directions. Use 1 Finger flick up and down, to adjust each setting or to navigate in the chosen mode.
You can also place a finger from one hand on the screen, then drag a finger from the other hand around it in a circular motion and it will turn the Rotor.
Flick Right or Left
1 Finger: move focus to next or previous item.
2 Fingers left: move out of item when navigation style is set to grouped in VoiceOver settings.
2 Fingers right: move into item when navigation style is set to grouped in VoiceOver settings.
3 Fingers: scroll left or right one page.
4 Fingers: switch to next or previous running app.
Flick Up or Down
1 Finger Up/Down: move focus to next or previous item using Rotor setting. Or change the status of the current Rotor setting.
2 Fingers Down: read page starting at selected item.
2 Fingers Up: read page starting at top.
3 Fingers Up/Down: scroll up or down one page.
3 Fingers Down when VoiceOver Focus is in the Status Bar: loads Notification Center.
3 Fingers Up when VoiceOver Focus is in the Status Bar: loads Control Center.
4 Fingers: not mapped.
1 Finger: select an item without activating.
2 Fingers: if VoiceOver is speaking, pauses and resumes speaking.
3 Fingers: speak page numbers, rows being displayed, or image description.
4 Fingers Near Top: move to first element on the screen (usually top-left corner element).
4 Fingers Near Bottom: move to last element on the screen (usually bottom-right corner element).
1 Finger: activate the selected item.
2 Fingers: stop and start the current activity. Answers or hangs up a call, pauses or resumes a video or music, plus others. See VoiceOver practice.
3 Fingers: toggles speech on and off.
4 Fingers: toggles VoiceOver help on or off.
1 Finger: double tap the selected item.
2 Fingers: activate Item Chooser.
3 Fingers: toggles Screen Curtain on and off.
4 Fingers: not mapped.
Unique Gestures and Tips
Quadruple Tap with 2 Fingers: open VoiceOver Quick Settings.
Quadruple Tap with 3 Fingers: copy last spoken phrase to the clipboard.
Double Tap with 1 Finger and Hold: drags the selected item. On the Home screen, move, edit or delete apps. In text, pop-up window with editing options.
Double Tap with 2 Fingers and Hold: set a custom label.
Split Tap: place a finger on the selected item, then tap anywhere with another finger to activate the selection.
Activate Anywhere: when an item is selected, you can double-tap anywhere on the screen to activate the item. No need to tap directly on the item.
2 Finger Scrub: like drawing a 'Z' with both fingers close together. Dismisses alerts or goes back one screen.
2 Finger Double Tap: when editing text in any field or app, starts and stops dictation.
One Finger Double Tap and Drag: adjust a slider to a new position.
Triple Click Home Button: (or Side button if your device doesn't have a Home Button) turns VoiceOver on and off (can be customized in Settings>Accessibility>Accessibility Shortcut).
App Switcher: double-click the Home button to access all running apps; 1 finger flick left or right to move between the apps; double-tap an app with 1 finger to switch to that app; 3 finger flick up to quit a running app. If your device doesn't have a Home button, access the App Switcher by tapping the bottom of the screen and moving one finger up until you hear the third ascending tone.
2 Finger Pinch Open: select text.
2 Finger Pinch Close: unselect text..
4 Finger Tap Near Right Side of Screen: move focus to next app.
4 Finger Tap Near Left Side of Screen: move focus to previous app.
Note: it is entirely possible that I have overlooked a gesture, so please let me know in the comments of any others that you are aware of.
A few more items
On an iPad, you can swipe left with three fingers while focused on the status bar to bring up the slide over panel for multitasking.
A three-finger tap will also announce the VoiceOver hint for the item currently focused, if it has a custom hint. This can be useful if you have hints turned off, but an app has some additional details buried in the hint.
A double-tap in the status bar will scroll to top. If there are two views side by side, a double-tap on the left side of the status bar will scroll the left pane to the top, while a double-tap on the right side of the status bar scrolls the right pane to the top.
At least on an iPad, a five-finger swipe up will bring up the app switcher, the same as a double-click of the home button. Also, a five-finger pinch returns to the home screen. I don't know if these gestures work on iPhones or not.
Another VoiceOver gesture…
Another VoiceOver gesture for the iPhone is the 4 finger swipe. For example if you have multiple apps running, turn your iPhone as if it is in landscape mode, then swipe up or down with 4 fingers on the screen to switch between the running apps. This gesture also works on iPad and iPod touch.
Thank you for your comments.
Hello dvdmth and Fatima.Hamoud10,
Thank you for the excellent additions. They make this a much better resource. I appreciate your comments and contributions. I feel that I should note, part of the credit for my blogs and posts goes to the AppleVis Editorial team and the wonderful work that they do.
Another part goes to the excellent comments contributed by members of the AppleVis Community, such as yourselves. I am very gratified to be a small part of AppleVis!
Thank you again for your comments.
An exclamation and another gesture
First, how in the world did I not know you could place a finger on the screen, then move another around to turn to certain router options. I've been using the two finger twist this whole time. No wonder I hated the router. Second, on an Ipad, if you place five fingers on the screen and move them around like you would with one finger to look around with voiceover, the screen will scroll left, right up and down as it does when voiceover is turned off and you move your finger around the screen. That is such a cool feature I just suddenly discovered. Also, when you say a command is not programmed, does that mean you can create custom gestures?
Thank you for your excellent comments. I did not know about dragging 5 fingers around, very nice!
After I read your question about custom gestures I became curious. Unfortunately I could find no place in the iOS settings to make custom gestures specifically for VoiceOver.
The term Not Mapped refers to a gesture where Apple did not assign any action. On the mac, using Trackpad Commander, you can create custom gestures which are activated by holding down one of the control keys. On Mac you can also create custom keystrokes which can be assigned to Not Mapped keys, or replace existing keys. I too was hoping for this type of functionality in iOS. To my current knowledge this is not possible.
Something that may help in certain situations:
The Assistive Touch menu allows for custom gestures, this feature is mainly intended for those who might have adaptive needs with controlling their touch on the screen. After a look, it seems like a customizable widget that can be accessed from the edge of the iOS screen. A shape will appear on the screen with 6 positions, 3 across the top, 2 in the middle and 1 on the bottom. You can add or remove positions. Each position has default actions assigned; SIRI, Notifications, etc. In the Assistive Touch settings, Customize Top Level Menu, you can edit or add a new actions for each position. For certain functions this may also help a VO user, though it would involve navigating an additional item on the screen.
Farther down in the settings is an option for creating a custom gesture. These can be added to the "Custom" position on the Assistive Touch menu.
After playing with this with VO I decided it would require help to set up with any certainty. Apple's instructions direct me to choose the amount of fingers for the new gesture, but VO never lands on this option, so I am not sure what gesture I am actually making.
However, I must say that I am very impressed with the ability to customize the main Assistive Touch menu.
Using Assistive Touch:
Sorry for the side-track, sometimes other adaptive tech can blend very well with the use of VoiceOver, at least in some situations. To explore these features more would probably take an entire blog post. Hmm. :-)
Thank you again for your great contributions! They are always welcome.
Gesture Pass Thru
At one point a double tap and hold would allow for another iOS default gesture to be passed through to iOS. This seems to have been replaced by dragging.
Has anyone found if the pass through gesture exists in some other form? Thanks.
Describing an image?
I thought I heard there was a way to at least try to get Voiceover on iOS to describe a graphic with a gesture, but I can't find anything about this. Am I misinformed?
Thanks for This
Thanks for posting this. I just came back from my first formal iPhone training, and learned some of these but not all yet. The trainer highly recommends I practice what he showed me thus far. My session today went very well.
In case you might be interested
Thanks for the great comments! Please excuse my delayed, group response. Life is what happens...
RE Travis Roth
I looked into the iOS voiceover pass through gesture, but couldn't find mention of anything except drag and drop. From my experience with iOS, there used to be a contextual Menu that would pop up when editing text. It was pretty much filled with default items like copy, paste, etc. Many of those options are now available as Rotor options.
You can add/remove items, or change their position on the Rotor. Often, depending on the focus, the Rotor will have additional items like Edit, Text Selection, Action or such.
For the Contextual Menu, in Pages, I can't get the menu to work consistently, but I may need more time with it. In Notes it works well. Select a word, sentence or something and double-tap-hold on it. When you let go, the Contextual Menu will pop up with more options. This is the closest thing I can find to a pass-through option, but may mostly work on text elements.
Or, on the Mac, you can press Control-Option-Tab to have VO ignore the next keypress. This is for allowing system key combos that VO is messing with. You can pass through a one-shot key combo then VO takes over again. After some digging, I can only find examples of coding for iOS that reference a pass-through of sorts, but that is all code for building app interfaces.
Or I may have misunderstood. :-)
Thanks for your comment. I'm glad that it is helping some. Good to hear that your training is going well! Feel free to share any tips here if you wish. :-)
If you are interested, you may find some ideas to explore for using both Mac and iPhone together at my Continuity blog post.
It also has some links to Apple's support that are worth a look, if you are interested.
Hello and thanks for the great comments. For image description, I found the following.
"VoiceOver can now describe images to you, such as telling you if a photo features a tree, a dog, or four smiling faces. It can also read aloud text in an image — whether it’s a snapshot of a receipt or a magazine article — even if it hasn’t been annotated. And in the Photos app, you can touch to explore the facial expressions of people in your photos. Just tap the image with three fingers to have VoiceOver describe what’s there."
This is from the Apple Accessibility Support site at:
It seems that the VO focus should be on an image, then tap with three fingers.
I checked out your blog. Really nice! Lots of good tips and well written. You have a wealth of information there. Thanks for sharing.