How do you search for and browse your apps? Bring up notifications or take control? Call out for Siri? Like this!

The Home screen on iPhone and iPad isn't meant to be a destination — a place to store widgets or spend time. It's meant to be a portal to all your apps, built-in and downloaded from the App Store. Whether you get to those apps by browsing your Home screen pages, by searching with Spotlight, by jumping straight to actions with 3D Touch, or by calling up Siri, Home screen is where it all begins.

iPad also has some unique navigation options all its own:

Already know how to navigate the Home screen but looking for pointers on customization?

Understanding the Home screen layout

The Home screen on iPhone and iPad is just what the name implies: home base. It's the place from which everything starts. It began simply enough but has gained more and more functionality over the years, though much of it has been tucked away to reduce confusion. That way, if you don't want it, you never have to see it. If you're curious about how you can swipe one way to get to Today View widgets and another to get more apps, how you can pull down Notification Center or pull up Control Center, then here's where it all lives.

How to get to the Home screen

You get to the Home screen by pressing the Home button. You may need to unlock your iPhone or iPad first or, if you're in Control Center, Notification Center, or some other state, press the Home button twice instead of once. The principle is always the same, though: Home takes you Home, from anywhere, at any time.

If your iPhone or iPad is locked with a Passcode:

  1. Click the Home button.
  2. Enter the 4-digit, 6-digit, or alphanumeric password.

If your iPhone or iPad is locked with Touch ID, Apple's fingerprint identity sensor:

  1. Place your Touch ID-registered finger on the Home Button.
  2. Click the Home button.

If your iPhone is already unlocked, it's as simple as can be:

  1. Click the Home button.

Note: If you're in Control Center, Notification Center, Siri, edit mode, or some other state, clicking the Home button once will bring you out of that state and you'll have to click it a second time to actually go to the Home screen.

How to switch Home screens

Your iPhone or iPad can have more than one Home screen. That way, you can have more apps than would fit on one page. The number of dots to the right of the main Home screen shows you how many additional Home screens you have. To switch between them:

  1. Swipe your finger from right to left to go to the next Home page.
  2. Swipe your finger from left to right to go back to the previous Home page.
  3. Click the Home button to go to the main (first) Home page.

Note: If you don't want to swipe, you can also tap the bottom left corner of the screen to go back a page or the bottom right corner to go forward a page. You can even tap the tiny row of dots that indicate which Home screen you're on, left side for back, right side for forward.

How to launch apps from the Home screen

Launching an app from the Home screen couldn't be easier:

  1. Tap the app's icon.

How to see widgets and quick actions with 3D Touch on the Home screen

If you have an iPhone 6s or later, you can also press firmly (3D Touch) on an app icon to bring up quick actions. All apps have quick actions, even if it's simply the standard App Store app shortcut that lets you share the app with someone else. Some apps have several quick actions, including dynamic quick actions that update based on the last person you contacted, article you read, show you watched, etc. Tap on an action to go directly to that feature or content in the app.

If an app has a widget in Today View, that widget will also show up when you use 3D Touch. Widgets aren't actionable, so tapping on them doesn't do anything. They're designed for information, so a glance is all you should need.

For basic quick actions:

  1. Press firmly (3D Touch) on the Home screen icon you want to open quick actions for.
  2. Tap on the action you want to perform.

Dynamic actions work the same way, only the subject of the action will change based on recency, location, time, and other factors.

  1. Press firmly (3D Touch) on the Home screen icon you want to open quick actions for.
  2. Tap on the action you want to perform.

Widgets will only pop up in apps that offer them. They're the same widgets as the ones available in Today View, but you can access them right from the icon.

  1. Press firmly (3D Touch) on the Home screen icon you want to see the widget for.
  2. Tap on the widget to go to the app.

How to quickly switch to open apps from the Home screen

Launching an app, going back to the Home screen, launching another app, going back to the Home screen, re-launching the first app … it can be tiresome. That's why your iPhone and iPad offer a faster way to jump between recently used apps.

  1. Double click the Home button
  2. Swipe to the app you want to switch to. (They're in order of how recently you used them.)
  3. Tap the app screen to switch to it.

If you have 3D Touch on iPhone 6s or later:

  1. Press firmly (3D Touch) on the left side of the screen.
  2. Swipe all the way to the right to go back to the previous app.
  3. Swipe just a little bit to the right and let go to bring up the fast app switcher.
  4. Swipe to the app you want to switch to. (They're in order of how recently you used them.)
  5. Tap the app screen to switch to it.

How to access Spotlight search

Apple's built-in search system, Spotlight, can be used to quickly find information in any app that supports it. That includes not only the apps that came with your iPhone or iPad but many apps that you download from the App Store as well. With it, you can find things like contacts, emails, songs, and much, much, more.

  1. Touch your finger to the Home screen (in between apps works best).
  2. Swipe your finger down to pull down the Spotlight search field.
  3. Type in what you're looking for.
  4. Tap the result you want.

Note: If you swipe from the top of the screen, you'll get Notification Center, not Spotlight, so make sure you swipe down from lower on the screen to get to search.

How to quickly access the Today View widgets from the Home screen

Today View widgets have been combined with Siri recommendations, and now you can access them in the same way from everywhere, including the Home screen.

  1. Go to your main (first) Home screen.
  2. Swipe your finger towards the right edge. (i.e. swipe right.)

How to quickly access Notification Center from the Home screen

  1. Touch the bezel above the screen.
  2. Swipe your finger down onto the screen. (i.e. swipe down.)

Once you've swiped down, you can also swipe right to go to Today View without having to dismiss Notification Center first. Time saver!


How to quickly access Control Center from the Home screen

Control Center lets you quickly toggle settings, adjust brightness and volume, launch actions, turn on screen sharing and file transfer, and access your home accessories. It's available everywhere, including from the Home screen.

  1. Touch the bezel below the screen.
  2. Swipe your finger up onto the screen. (i.e. swipe up.)

You can then swipe between the different Control Center panels, or swipe back down to dismiss it.


How to quickly access Siri from the Home screen

If you have an iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, or 9.7-inch iPad Pro, you can use your voice to activate Siri, even from a distance. (Note: Voice activation doesn't work in Low Power Mode.)

  1. Say "Hey, Siri!"
  2. Tell Siri what you want to know or do. (e.g. "What time is it in Hong Kong?" or "Text Serenity 'I'll be late with this guide!' ")

You can also activate Siri manually at any time:

  1. Press and hold down the Home button.
  2. Tell Siri what you want to know or do. (e.g. "What's the weather today?" or "Remind me to move my car at 6pm.".)
  3. Release the Home button.

Cool questions and commands you can give Siri right now

How to quickly access handoff apps from the Home screen

Apple lets you "hand off" the activity you're doing on one device so you can continue it on another. For example, if you're using Safari on your Mac, you can pick up your iPhone and iPad and continue browsing right where you left off.

  1. Double click the Home button or, if your device supports 3D Touch, press firmly on the left edge of your iPhone, to bring up the Fast App Switcher.
  2. Tap the app icon at the bottom left of the screen. (If there's no app icon there, it means there's currently no suggested app, and no handoff app available.)

How to Lock your iPhone or iPad

By default, your iPhone or iPad will automatically turn off the screen to save power. You can, however, turn off the screen manually and go into standby mode at any time. If you have a passcode or Touch ID set up, the screen will also lock once you turn it off.

  1. Click the On/Off button on the right side (iPhone 6 or later) or top (all other iPhones, iPods, and iPads).

When you wake your iPhone or iPad back up again, you'll return to the Lock screen.

How to turn off your iPhone or iPad

If you're not going to be using your iPhone or iPad for a while, you can turn it off to save even more power.

  1. Press and hold down the On/Off button on the right side (iPhone 6 or later) or top (all other iPhones, iPods, and iPads) of your device for 3 seconds.
  2. Swipe the slide to power off confirmation slider to the right.

How to reboot or reset to troubleshoot problems with your iPhone or iPad

iPad multitasking

What Apple calls "iPad Multitasking" really refers to several different things. The first is multitouch navigation that lets you use four finger gestures for fast app switching. The second is multi-window multitasking, which lets you use two apps side-by side in slide over or split view mode, and optionally watch a video as well in picture-in-picture mode.

Any Home screen questions?

If you have any trouble navigating your Home screen, or you need more help, drop your questions in the comments below!