3D Touch: Ultimate Guide

3D Touch is multitouch made multidimensional. With it you can press deeply to launch actions instead of apps, reply to notifications, preview messages and links, switch keyboards, switch apps, animate Live Photos, vary stroke width, and more. It's like a wormhole through iOS that lets you move around faster than ever. And with iOS 10, 3D Touch lets you do more than ever.

How to see Home screen actions with 3D Touch

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.

When you're downloading apps there are now specific quick actions just for downloading, including prioritizing one app over all others, pausing downloads, and canceling them.

  1. Press firmly (3d Touch) on the installation icon for the app you want to open quick actions for.
  2. Tap on the action you want to perform.

Folders also have 3D Touch actions now. The default lets you rename the folder, but if apps have notification badges, you can see the count and tap straight into the app without having to open the folder.

  1. Press firmly (3d Touch) on the Home screen folder you want to see quick actions for.
  2. Tap on the action you want to perform.

Quick actions also work inside some apps. For example, you can press contact avatars in Messages to get quick actions for calls, texts, and more.

  • Messages: Peek on a message and slide up for contextual responses; Press a contact for additional ways to connect (call, message, etc.)
  • Calendar: Peek and slide up to accept or decline a calendar invite.
  • Photos: Peek and slide up to copy, share, favorite, or delete a photo.
  • Maps: Press on a pin or location for directions, option to call, open homepage, or share location.
  • Notes: Peek on a note in list view and slide up to share, move, or delete the note.
  • Reminders: Press on an individual reminder for actions.
  • iBooks: Peek on a book and slide up to share or show in iBooks store.
  • News: Peek on a story and slide up to like, save, or share.
  • Safari: Peek on a link and slide up to open link in new tab, add to the reading list, or copy.
  • Phone: In favorites and recent calls, press on contact name for additional ways to connect.
  • Music: Peek and slide up to play album/playlist, shuffle, add/remove to My Music.
  • FaceTime: Press contact for additional ways to connect (call, message, etc.)
  • Contacts — Press contact for additional ways to connect (call, message, etc.)
  • Find My Friends: Peek on friend and slide up to get directions, notify me or notify a friend about a change of location.

Many App Store apps also provide shortcuts. The best way to find them is to experiment by pressing firmly on all the things.

How to switch apps fast with 3D Touch

You can use 3D Touch to bring up the fast app switcher.

  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 interact with notifications using 3D Touch

3D Touch can now be used to preview and interact with a wide range of notification, from the Lock screen, to Notification Center, to in-app. Though the amount of interaction will vary depending on the app, from a simple preview to a full-on, persistent experience, the way it works is the same.

  1. Press firmly (3D Touch) on a notification.
  2. Type, tap, or otherwise interact with the notification.
  3. Tap the X button or swipe down to dismiss the notification.

If you have 3D Touch you can also — finally! — clear all notifications from Notification Center.

  1. Press firmly (3D Touch) on the X button above your notifications.
  2. Tap on Clear All Notifications.

How to see Control Center actions with 3D Touch

Control Center has been completely revamped. Now, on the Control card, you can use 3D Touch to set options for the quick app actions.

  1. Swipe up from the bottom bezel onto the screen to bring up Control Center.
    • Press firmly (3D Touch) on the Flashlight to set the intensity from bright to low light.
    • Press firmly (3D Touch) on the Timer to set the interval from one minute to one hour.
    • Press firmly (3D Touch) on the Calculator to copy the last result.
    • Press firmly (3D Touch) on the Camera to go right to selfies, video, or slow-mo.
  2. Tap the Option you want.

You can also use 3D Touch on the Home card to interact with your HomeKit-enabled accessories.

  1. Touch and hold your finger down on the current Control Center panel.
  2. Swipe from right to left to go from Control to Now Playing, swipe from right to left again to go to the Home card (if you're not already there.)
  3. Press firmly (3D Touch) on the accessory to pop up additional options.

How to peek and pop with 3D Touch

Peek and pop let you preview and jump into messages, web links, and automatic links (data detectors for dates, locations, airline information, etc.). Peek can also provide you with quick actions so you can act on it without having to launch the full screen or full app. If peek is available, the rest of the screen will blur and the item or link will be highlighted.

  1. Press on the item or link you want to peek at.
  2. The rest of the screen will blur and the item or link will be highlighted.
  3. Press firmly to peek at the item.


If the peek is enough, or the item or link isn't what you wanted:

  1. Let go to dismiss the peek.

If you want to access quick actions:

  1. Swipe up from the peek to see the list.
  2. Tap the quick action you want to execute.

Mail has a couple of unique options to make email triage even faster:

  1. Swipe left to mark a message.
  2. Swipe right to trash a message.


To pop into a message or link and make it full screen or to go to the full app:

  1. Press to peek at it.
  2. Press deeper to pop into it.

To get back to the previous screen or app:

  1. Press firmly on the left side of the screen (or use the Back link button at the very top left of the screen).
  2. Swipe all the way to the right.

How to animate a Live Photo with 3D Touch

Live Photos capture 1.5 seconds of motion before and after the photo, so you can see the smile emerge, the bird take off, the rain begin, or the stumble happen. They animate in when you swipe between them in the Photos app, but you can animate them at any time, including as your Lock screen wallpaper, with 3D Touch.

  1. Go to the Live Photo you want to animate.
  2. Press firmly to see—and hear—it come to life.

If you're using an iPhone previous to the 6s, you can animate a Live Photo by touching and holding your finger down on it.

How to activate trackpad mode with 3D Touch

When Apple unveiled the new trackpad mode on the iPad, many of us immediately wanted it elsewhere in the iOS ecosystem. Well, with iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus we're starting to get our wish. There is one difference, though. On the new iPhones you don't need to use two fingers to switch from keyboard to trackpad, you only need to use one. And that's thanks to 3D Touch.

  1. Launch the app you want to use and bring up the keyboard.
  2. Press firmly on the keyboard.
  3. Drag your finger around to move the cursor.

You can also use 3D Touch to switch between moving the cursor and selecting text:

  1. Launch the app you want to use and bring up the keyboard.
  2. Press firmly (3D Touch) on the keyboard.
  3. Press deeper to select text. (It's almost like relaxing slightly and pressing again—the equivalent of "clicking" on a laptop trackpad.)
  4. Let go to finish.

You can continue to "click" with 3D Touch to toggle between cursor movement and text selection. So, if you select the wrong text or simply change your mind, you just press again to go right back to moving around.

How to customize 3D Touch

If you're either tripping 3D Touch too easily or you're having too hard a time engaging it, you can change the pressure sensitivity levels in Settings as well. You can test each setting using the peek and post demo below the setting. That'll make sure you get the best option.

  1. Launch Settings from your Home screen.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Accessibility.
  4. Tap 3D Touch.
  5. Move 3D Touch from Medium to either Light (to require less pressure) or Firm (to require more pressure).

If none of the settings work for you, or f you have a motor skill or interactivity impairment, you can turn 3D Touch off in the Accessibility Settings.

  1. Launch Settings from your Home screen.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Accessibility.
  4. Tap 3D Touch.
  5. Switch 3D Touch to OFF.

To turn 3D touch back on, repeat the same process flip the switch to ON.

Any 3D Touch questions?

If you have any trouble with 3D Touch or any additional questions, drop them in the comments below!

Updated January 2017 to reflect changes in iOS 10.

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