iPhone Touchscreen Basics

Using an iPhone is pretty intuitive.  But there are some actions that are unique to the device.  Some of the gestures and basic screen functions are  important to effective use of your iPhone.

This recipe will take us through the basic touchscreen actions for the iPhone.

Recipe #127

List of Ingredients

Use the links below to quickly access specific topic or information about this recipe.

Smart Tip:  How to Kill an App


iPhone and Touchscreen Basics



Screen Orientation

The iPad provides the ability to support either portrait or landscape orientation when using your apps. The best orientation choice is often a personal preference.



Touchscreen Basics

The iPhone’s touchscreen allows you to touch the screen to provide directions to the device. Use the pads of your fingertips (not your fingernails)

Here is a review of the essential gestures to direct your iPhone.

Tap Once


Tap once to:

  • Open an app from the Home screen
  • Select a field where you want to type
  • Select an arrow or app function.
  • Select an item to display

Tap Twice

Tap twice to:

  • Enlarge a web page or picture
  • Zoom in a map



  • Zoom out or reduce a photo, web page, e-mail message.



  • Zoom in to enlarge a photo, web page, e-mail message.



Swipe/Drag to scroll

  • Press your finger to the screen and drag to the right, left, up, or down, you move around the screen.



  • To scroll rapidly, flick your finger on the screen in the direction you wish to move.


Switch Between Apps with the App Switcher

You may have multiple apps running at the same time with one app in front but other apps running in the background.  For example you might be making a phone call with the Phone app but need to go to a text message in the Messages app to retrieve some information.

The App Switcher allows you to toggle between your apps.  The App Switcher can also be used to kill a misbehaving app that isn’t responding like you wish.

The action you use to access the App Switcher  will differ depending on whether your iPhone has a Home button.

On an iPhone with a Home button:  Double-click the Home button.

On an iPhone without a Home button:   Swipe up from the bottom of the screen, then pause in the center of the screen.

With the App Switcher displayed, swipe left or right to display your open apps.

Tap on any app you want to use.

Swipe up on any app that you want to kiss.

Shortcut to Switch apps

To quickly switch between open apps on an iPhone without a Home button, swipe right or left along the bottom edge of the screen.

Close an App

You can completely close an app using the App Switcher.

As you swipe left or right to move between previous apps, close or kill an app by swiping up from the app switcher display.


Smart Tip: Kill an App

Sometimes apps misbehaving.  They get hung up and unresponsive.  A misbehaving app can be forced to quit with the following actions:

  • Access the App Switcher
  • Swipe up on the app the app that is misbehaving.
  • Restart the app as you normally would.

That “kill” action will often resolve any misbehavior with an app.



Check for Understanding

Use the following questions to determine if you need to read or study this recipe.  You might already have an understanding of this topic. Following your study, answer the same questions to help you check your understanding of the skills taught in this lesson.

  1. Can you describe three functions that can be performed with the Home button
  2. Describe three gestures and what function they perform.

Additional Information

The Senior Tech Club recommends the following additional resources for members that wish to pursue additional and/or advanced information on this recipe:

iPhad User Guide – Basics

GCF Learn Free – iPad Basics: Getting Started with the iPad

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