Daily Tip: How to get around a buggy iPhone Home Button using Activator [Jailbreak]

Have a broken or buggy iPhone Home Button and curious how to work around it? When Apple released iOS 4.1 several of our readers reported a bug with their iPhone Home Button, and for some of us, performing a restore or waiting for Apple to fix it in a software update hasn't paid off.

If you aren't near an Apple Store to swap out your iPhone, or you're out of warranty, here's something you can do to help circumvent the problem using Activator gestures to simulate a Home Button click -- hit the jump to find out how it's done!

Activator is a well-known jailbreak extension that integrates gestures into your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch using a system-wide mobilesubstrate hook in iOS. You can designate a number of gestures to do things like launch apps, perform tasks, toggle WiFi on-the-fly and a lot more -- you can even map a gesture to the Home Button!

My personal iPhone 4 has had this issue for a while. Right now I just swipe up from the bottom of the screen in order to 'press' the Home Button, and swipe up from the bottom-right to call up the app switcher. It was a little awkward at first, but after a day or two my muscle-memory kicked in and I haven't been annoyed by the Home Button problem ever since -- simply because I never actually have to press it anymore.

If you haven't already jailbroken your iPhone then check out our jailbreak starters guide first. Now just follow these quick steps to get Activator set up to allow a custom Home Button gesture:

  1. After installing Activator in Cydia (free) open the Settings app and select Activator from the settings menu.
  2. Tap 'Anywhere'.
  3. Now you'll have to select your desired gesture here. I chose the Slide In gesture but you can choose whatever you prefer.
  4. Now swipe up to reveal the search bar and run a quick search for the Home Button.

You'll need to kill the Settings app for the gesture to kick in, and you can go through the same steps for setting up a gesture for the iOS app switcher as well.

That's it! Using a gesture to simulate the Home Button has taken away those random frustrating moments when my Home Button wouldn't respond, and we hope it helps you get around the problem too! Let us know what other suggestions and work-arounds you've come up with in the comments below!

Bonus Tip: @JBaby_9783 on Twitter suggested using rubbing alcohol to help clean dust and grit from areas around the Home Button. You'll need to wet a QTip with 91% rubbing alcohol and apply it on and around the Home Button after you've powered off your iPhone. Get the button area slightly wet (having a small puddle in the concave of the button is fine) and then press the Home Button multiple times while it's still wet, then let dry. You can quicken the drying process by applying a blow dryer to your iPhone for about a minute, but make sure it's fully dry before powering the iPhone back on. This should help address response issues with the Home Button but you won't see a change if your problem is bug-related.

Tips of the day will range from beginner-level 101 to advanced-level ninjary. If you already know this tip, keep the link handy as a quick way to help a friend. If you have a tip of your own you’d like to suggest, add them to the comments or send them in to dailytips@tipb.com. (If it’s especially awesome and previously unknown to us, we’ll even give ya a reward…)

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Andrew Wray

Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.

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Reader comments

Daily Tip: How to get around a buggy iPhone Home Button using Activator [Jailbreak]


Great article! I've been having a slight issue with my home screen button and will look into jailbreaking for this app along with other helpful apps on cydia

I was having this issue and after two clean restores I finally decided to take it in to the apple store. The tech wouldn't replace the phone. After three separate appointments (same guy every time) I took it to a different Apple store. That store replaced it immediately. Problem is fixed (although this iPhone is running a bit warmer than my last).

Been using activator for that for a while now and it makes my phone feel more fluid. Swipe right -> sbsettings, swipe left -> app switcher, swipe down -> close app ( simulate home button press)

You know, this should have been obvious to me. I have Activator, and use it for all kinds of functionality. I have a problem with my home button, but I just keep mashing it until it does what I wanted it to do. I never connected the two together as a solution. Also, for some reason it's nice to know others are in the same boat as me.
Thanks for the article, Andrew.

I'm glad I was able to help :) On a side note, hopefully Apple fixes this soon... Seems to be an issue for a lot of users.

I have the same problem with my iphone as well .It was fine in iOS 4.1 but with iOS 4.3.1 it became worse.Read some where that keeping the camera app running the background did fix the issue for some .Tried the same and voila it works for me.I have tested with out camera app running in the background the home button issue arises but with camera app running in the background its all fine.
Its sounds weird but it works for me.

Apple is so hung on patents they should lock in crappy magical software and hardware. This is sad you have to go through all this because apple is incompetent to fix this.

i don't use apple's crappy switcher anymore... i use the double tap home button for multifl0w, and then there's sbsettings with the removebackground addon with i use frequently (for the apps which stay in the background but don't show up in multifl0w)
the standard switcher is still there but its under short hold home button and it barely sees the light

This is a crazy issue. I have had a new iphone4 since October. It was a replacement from my launch day iphone 4(yellow spots). It came with 4.0.1 and apple upgraded it to 4.1. I was on 4.1 until Feb. I have been on 4.3.1 since earlier this month. I started seeing the home button issue yesterday and it got worse last night and early this morning. I did the alcohol cleaning method this morning and so far after 2 hours it's fine. My buddy on the other hand had a launch day iphone 4 and for 3 months it's been sporadically happening. Last week it he couldn't take it anymore and Apple Genius bar guy opened it up and blew canned air and cleaned it. He was fine for 5 hours and then it came back. He has since got a replacement. I have no idea how long the alcohol cleaning trick will work for me. I just don't want to spend a half day restoring everything.

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