Secret headphone shortcuts: Twelve clicks to control your iPhone, iPad, and Mac

EarPods on iPhone
EarPods on iPhone (Image credit: iMore)

While rumors persist the iPhone 7 will go 3.5mm headphone jack-free, Apple's done a lot to make the very old port as useful as possible for all of their devices. The EarPods that come with your iPhone or iPod touch can be used to control a wide range of features, including music, calls, and even Siri. So can any other set of headphones, from Beats to Bose, and on iPad as well—as long as they integrate the remote and mic hardware. The remote controls are great for accessibility, but they're also great for convenience. What's more, they also work with the Mac!

If you're not familiar with all the options, here's a complete list!

1. Play/pause

Single click the headset button to play audio — music, podcasts, or audio books — or to pause audio that's already playing.

2. Skip forward

Double click the headset button to skip forward to the next track or chapter.

3. Skip back

Triple click the headset button to skip back to the previous track or chapter.

4. Fast forward

Double click and hold down the headset button to fast forward through the audio.

5. Rewind

Triple click and hold down the headset button to rewind through the audio.

6. Answer or hang up

Single click the headset button to answer and incoming call or hang up an ongoing call.

7. Switch calls

Single click the headset button to switch between multiple calls.

8. Reject a call

Single click and hold down the headset button to send an incoming call to voice mail. (Two low beeps will confirm the rejection.)

9. Hang up on current call

Double click and hold down the headset button to hang up on the current of multiple calls. (Two low beeps will confirm the hang up.)

10. Activate Siri

Single click and hold down on the headset button to active Siri.

11. Talk to Siri

Single click the headset button to ask Siri additional questions or issue additional commands after it's activated.

13. Take a picture

Single click the volume up button while the Camera app is open to take a picture. Works great for selfies!

Your favorite?

I'm pretty sure the remote controls used to work with Voice Recorder, but they're not working for us right now. If you've got any favorite remote controls, or if we missed any, please let me know!

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

23 Comments
  • Excellent! This is the guide I've could never find. Thank you Rene!
  • Thanks for this! Who knew!
  • wow! this is one of the best guide you guys released! Thank you! just looking for con call/multiple call actions.
  • Great thanks
  • Number 5 has NEVER worked for me.
    Why can't we have earphones with more buttons?
  • This actually helped. Thanks!
  • Great info! Could you make into a page that will convert to a pdf instead a slideshow that won't allow it even after I click View All so I can save it for future reference? I tried Readdle, Workflow, and PDF Provider, and none of them can convert this kind of page. Thanks.
  • Hello guys,
    I am opening useful links on my MBP and saving them as PDF on iCloud to read on my 6sPlus later. Love Apple iOS for productivity Sent from the iMore App
  • Why not just use "add to reading list", your iPhone will then automatically cache them for offline reading. No need to covert to PDF etc
  • This might be dumb but where or what is the headset button? Sent from the iMore App
  • It’s just the middle button, between the volume controls.
  • Accidentally stumbled upon the skip track option one day while listing to music on my iPhone and didn't know how I did it.
    This guide helped me a lot.
    Thanks for posting.
  • Is there a way to mute/unmute for conference calls with the earbud buttons?
  • These would work if only the stupid things stayed in my ears. I hope the iPhone 7 ear pods have a new design. I never use them. Sent from the iMore App
  • This! Very annoying while running on treadmill or working out. Sent from the iMore App
  • Very useful. Had no idea most of these shortcuts existed. Sent from the iMore App
  • You should change this sentence "The EarPods that come with your iPhone or iPod touch can be used to control a wide range of features, including music, calls, and even Siri." because the EarPods that come with the iPod touch do not include controls on it. Only the iPhone is included with those. Don't you people research before you write articles? Ever?
  • Crazy that these useful commands are a secret.
  • Just so you guys know, the links for sharing this article on mobile and open in safari are broken. It opens up a page to the imore store... Sent from the iMore App
  • Oh, I'm on my fourth set of earbuds. Something about the way I'm using them shorts them out after a while and the volume control/clicker is the first thing to fail (I can still listen with no problem, but I have no control either).
  • This is very helpful. especially to people who does not well utilized their iPhones. https://www.imore.com/e?link=https2F2Flinks%2F1...
  • How many of these work with Blue tooth headphones?
  • I would love a click action for adding the current song playing in Apple Music to My Music. Maybe pressing both center and plus button? Get on it Apple...