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

Home Button

Pressing the Home button on your iPhone is a “go to” action that provides access to the Home screen and even provides a standard action if you ever feel unforgettable with the actions of an app or if your iPhone seems to be misbehaving.

Press the Home Button to:

  • Unlock iPhone from it’s sleep state.
  • Go to the Home screen
  • Double Tap twice to see apps that are open (See Multitasking )
  • Use Siri. Press and hold the Home button to make a request.  With later versions of the iPhone, you may prefer to say “Hey Siri” if this function is activated.


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 – Multitasking

You can switch between apps you have been using on your iPhone.

  • Press the Home button twice to display your open apps in the app switcher. Swipe sideways to move between your recent apps
  • Tap an app from the app switcher to switch to it.
  • Close 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:

  • Double tap the Home button.
  • In the App Switcher, Swipe up on the app the app that is misbehaving.
  • Restart the app as you normally would.

That “kill” action will typically 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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