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Thrilling 3D Touch tricks to make your iPhone 6s feel faster!

3D Touch brings pressure sensitivity to the iPhones 6s, making multitouch effectively multi-dimensional. Instead of tapping through an app, you can press straight into the action you want. Instead of navigating into and out of links and lists, you can peek at content and pop into anything that interests you. It's like having a warp tunnel through iOS, and makes the entire experience perceptibly faster.

If you haven't used 3D Touch yet, here are some tips and tricks to getting the most out of it!

1. Lock screen life

Live Photos are activated by 3D Touch, including on the Lock screen. It might sound silly, but when you're traveling, sitting by yourself, or just want to show off, bringing your Lock screen to life brings the memories to life with it. Your family or child, your pet or perfect moment, and all the feelings they represent—all available to you with a press.

2. Speedy shortcuts

Home screen shortcuts let you 3D Touch straight into actions, bypassing the tapping and swiping you might otherwise have to do to get to exactly where you want to go. If an app is using dynamic shortcuts, though, like showing you recent contacts or messages, you need to launch it at least once after you download it so those dynamic shortcuts can load. For instance, Tweetbot can show you a pending direct message and send you right to it. Dropbox, your most recently synched file.

3. Trackpad tricks

Almost everyone knows this, but it's so great it's worth repeating just in case anyone's missed it. Any time you're using the keyboard to enter text, simply 3D Touch press to transform the keyboard into a trackpad. Then easily position the cursor anywhere you'd like. You can even 3D Touch deeper to select text and change the selection. It's incredibly precise.

4. Switching swipes

In previous versions of iOS, you could swipe in from the left edge to go back inside an app. Now, with 3D Touch, you can swipe firmly to go back between apps. Press down on the edge and drag towards the middle to open the fast app switcher and choose any recent app, or drag all the way across to go directly back to the last app you used.

5. Better browsing

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Sure, you can 3D Touch on links anywhere on your iPhone to peek at the contents and pop right into Safari. When you're already in Safari, however, you can use 3D Touch to peek at everything from your frequently visited sites to your bookmarks, reading list, and shared links. Since you can see everything you need to right in the preview, it spares you the tedium of tapping in and tapping back. And if you see anything that needs a closer look, you can always pop right to it.

6. Managing messages

3D Touching on a message preview to peek at its contents—without tripping the read receipt!—is pretty cool. What's even cooler is pressing on any contact's avatar you see, almost anywhere on your iPhone, to get shortcuts to FaceTime audio, messages, FaceTime video, or mail them. That includes in the Messages app proper, from the Siri suggestion screen, from the Phone app, Mail app, and more!

7. Finding fast

When an app like Instagram implements 3D Touch it makes it much faster to browse accounts and content. If you see someone who you think might be interesting, you can 3D Touch their profile picture to peek at their latest pictures. Like what you see, pop into it and the use 3D Touch to peek at any individual photos. It's way faster than tapping to see a picture then tapping back again. Just press, press, press your way through! If you see something you like, you can even swipe up to get instant access to more options and make it official.

8. Dynamic drawing

3D Touch isn't just for shortcuts, peeks, and pops. There's actual pressure sensitivity data behind it and that means apps can read that data and enable things like more dynamic drawing. It's not just great for drawing better Batmans either, it's great for calligraphy, diagrams, and more. It's not Apple Pencil-level drawing, of course, but it's finger painting—and writing—made even better.

9. Greater gaming

All that pressure sensitivity that comes from 3D Touch doesn't stop with drawing apps—games can benefit too! Take Badlands 2 by way of example. In the original you had to tap faster to control your character. Now, you press harder. In Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade, you press harder as well, but in this case it's make for bigger booms. In both cases it creates a more controlled experience, and one that eliminates the need for on-screen clutter.

10. Print Mail to PDF

Mail still doesn't have access to all the power and potential of the Share Sheet, but thanks to 3D Touch it can give you something similar to Save PDF to iBooks (aka Print to PDF). Find the message you want to print, tap the reply button, tap print, press firmly on the thumbnail to preview, and press firmly again to pop into the PDF.

Your favorites?

If you've been using 3D Touch, let me know your favorite ways to use it. And if you've come across any additional shortcuts, peeks, and pressure sensitive tricks that aren't well know, share away!

Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

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.

39 Comments
  • The trackpad feature I find to be very useful, but other than that the other 3D Touch tricks simply haven't caught on with me.
    App switching by hard pressing and swiping is very difficult with my Otterbox case, and even when I didn't have the case I didn't find the gesture to be any faster or easier than double pressing the home button.
    Peeking into an email is also flawed, in that when I do peek into one I'm interested in, my thumb is usually blocking my view of some important part. Take my thumb off, and the peek goes away.
    I realize other people's use cases are different, but for me 3D Touch could use a little more time to mature and let developers take better advantage of it.
  • One thing I started to change is to press the message on the side when I peek. The side swiping works great without a case. Furthermore turn down the pressure required. It helps as well. Mine is at the lowest settings. Sent from the iMore App
  • Try once you press hard enough to peek, sliding it upward. Some of the email will still irritatingly obstructed or flat out disappear, but at least your hands won't be in the way. Cheers! Sent from the iMore App
  • 3D Touch trackpad mode is very inconsistent on my 6s on 9.2. Sometimes, especially in the middle of words, it cannot be invoked at all, no matter how I press. This happens mostly when it's the second time 3D Touch is being invoked. First time is pretty solid, but when I need to move the cursor this way a second time, it mostly doesn't work.
  • Yes, you are correct. Tried it out after reading your post.
  • I've noticed this too. It's been around since the 9.0 release and it still persists. For some reason it is as though you cannot reengage the trackpad in fast succession.
  • Same issue here. Good to know I'm not alone. Never bothered me too much since I remember a time when I didn't have it but I would still like it to work more consistently.
  • @jhpx123, @dejanh, @Quis89 Me too, tried this by typing a word and activate trackpad in the middle of the word and it did not worked, the first time. Upon further experimentation, the function seems to require a time out of about 0.1 of a second. And if you've tried to go into trackpad mode before that timeout, just keep your finger pressing down on the screen AND wiggle it a bit, the trackpad mode will engage, after a brief pause. The timeout to distinguish between typing and trackpad mode could be (maybe) connected to the option: Accessibility/touch Accommodations/Ignore Repeat. Even though I've been using the trackpad function, the trackpad extend select function was new for me so I got something out of this articale :)
  • Not even that fast succession IMHO. It just doesn't work the second time when keyboard is shown.
  • Noticed that also BUT...Try to wait a little, THEN push! It doesn't work immediately, so that's why you have to wait some milliseconds. Hopefully this will get improved.. Sent from the iMore App
  • You have to wait for the cursor to start blinking again.
  • I rarely use it. I think it's great but it's just habit clicking and opening apps. Sent from the iMore App
  • I use it frequently for app switching (homebuttons die) and for quick actions in apps like Camera, Phone or Messeges. It requires learning a new habit but once you do that, 3D Touch is actually quite awesome.
  • There's a bunch of people out there that use Assistive Touch simply to "preserve" the Home button. As ridiculous as that sounds, I suppose they'd welcome swiping between apps via 3D Touch.
  • I never used Assistive Touch as a home button replacement but I have had bad experiences with home buttons, so I am using 3D Touch for app switching. I reduced the pressure required so it is much easier to actuate. Sent from the iMore App
  • That's because iPhone's home and power buttons almost always do not function after some months. At least for the older models.
  • I'd like to be able to customise the options you get when using 3D Touch. For example 'Create new contact' in the phone app. Creating new contacts isn't something I do so often I need a shortcut. I realise others may do but it's a waste of an option for me. I also think there should be more options, at least five. App switching can sometimes require I press so hard I feel I'm going to break the glass. I know I'm not going to but it's an uneasy feeling and therefore not a good user experience. Long term when it's been refined and expanded and really good uses have been incorporated it will probably be awesome. That being said I often find myself wondering if most of what 3D Touch does couldn't have been achieved with a long press. I also find I forget to use it most of the time because being honest, I don't think in its infancy 3D Touch is solving any real problems. Sent from the iMore App
  • For the app switching problem, reduce the pressure required to its lowest settings. That's apparently helpful.
  • That's a smart idea. Customizable shortcut menu. I approve! Sent from the iMore App
  • Never knew about the contacts shortcut - thanks Rene! Sent from the iMore App
  • The trackpad feature I can just move the cursor there's no deeper press for me to actually select text. Sent from the iMore App
  • Let up the pressure a little and then push down again.
  • Imore should use 3D Touch in it's own app! That would be cool? Sent from the iMore App
  • Aside from the track pad feature I don't really use it. Double clicking the home button is a quicker app switch option to me and I don't really think about some of the other features.
  • I use the Safari preview mode a lot. Wish more app makers would built in the preview mode in their applications.
  • Rene - great tips on this one. Please send my suggestion along to Apple - drop the home button and go forced touch for everything.
  • I'm finding that as I retrain myself to use 3D Touch and Peek 'n' Pop, I'm using it a lot everyday in Wunderlist and Evernote, two of my heaviest use apps I agree with the poster above who mentioned it would cool to be able to select which shortcuts show up.
  • For safari app I am requesting customization abilities to 3d touch. For example I would like to open a new tab with the ease of 3d touching a link to open a new tab. I would like to peek and pop into a new tab instead of the current hold link and then select open new tab. This should save some time.
  • If you're a musician or interested in sound generating apps, I highly recommend the app "NOISE" by Roli, which has a very clever method of registering pressure on the keyboard to generate some really interesting synthesized sounds. I'm always on the lookout for apps to create music that sound and feel more like their real world counterparts or do something really interesting in a UI. The "NOISE" app did both for me.
  • Thanks these are very helpful. Sent from the iMore App
  • Eh no. Trackpad isn't that precise.. I refer to mark one letter only! But you can't, you'll mark the whole word. "Precise" my *** Sent from the iMore App
  • The worst thing with Peek 'n Pop in links is that it OFTEN loads the site so long that it's better to open the link!! Sent from the iMore App
  • And yes! Settings for these 3D shortcuts would be great! I don't understand the logic in the iMessages contacts app! It sucks Whatsapp, for instance, doesn't have "latest chats" or "Favorites" as shortcuts.. Sent from the iMore App
  • I wish i can customize the the 3d touch so that when i force touch a link in safari fir example It will automatically open a new tab. This will save me some time instead of holding a link and tap new tab.
  • 3d touching a link within Safari activates a preview that you can "pop" into the current tab but not a new tab - I agree, it should pop open in a new tab, not the same tab.
  • Swipe up in the preview for open in new tab option :)
  • still not that many things to do with it... and as a right handed person, really wish I could switch apps from the right side, not left. and even that requires so much force from like the far left edge... really uncomfortable...
  • For me, the new 3D Touch and Live Photos perks aren’t substantive enough to make it worth upgrading to a 6s. While Apple improved the camera resolution and designed the 6s and 6s Plus with stronger metal and glass than the last iPhones, a major component... battery life was not improved. It would be wiser to hold off until the next version, which will most likely include more significant improvements. http://www.irepairsandiego.net
  • Good. This is so stupid. If people are so concerned about their salt intake, make it yourself. Assume the worst when you go out to eat.
    Besides the data is inconclusive about salt intake.+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+ www.pocket-cents.com