5 amazing iOS 7 gestures: How to get more done faster!

iOS 7 includes even more gesture-based navigation shortcuts than ever, and that means, if you master them, you can navigate your apps, peek at information, and general get things done faster and more easily than ever before. Whether it's glancing or navigating back at your list in Mail or Messages, swiping up Control Center or down Notification Center, moving through your Safari history, or flinging away tabs or entire apps, with iOS 7 gestures, all the shortcuts you need are literally at your fingertips. Here's how to use them:

1. Calling Control Center and Notification Center

Notification Center has been accessible via a downward swipe from the top edge of the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad display for a while now. With iOS 7, the all new Control Center can be accessed via a swipe up from the bottom edge as well.

That works from anywhere in the system, though on full-screen apps you need to swipe twice - once to reveal the "handle" and a second time to activate the center itself. That's to stop you accidentally covering your game, movie, etc. If you really don't want to trigger Control Center accidentally, you can disable them from working inside apps, period. Also, if you're concerned about security, you can disable them from functioning on the lock screen - so no one can read your messages or take your device offline without authenticating first.

2. Peeking at, and navigating to, lists in Mail and Messages

Both Mail and iMessage include a new gesture that lets you either peek back at your messages list, or pull back to it entirely. From an individual message, simply touch the screen on the left edge and swipe right, and your full list of messages will appear. Pull back only slightly for a quick glimpse of the message list, or pull back all the way to switch to it entirely. You can also swipe from right to left on an individual message to access delete and other functions.

In the Mail app you can swipe back again to get your full list of mail accounts and folders, and in messages you can swipe right to glance at time stamps for individual messages.

3. Swiping through history in Safari

With iOS 7, Safari gets gesture-based navigation all its own. Now, you can swipe from the left edge towards the right to go back to the previous page in your browser history, or from the right edge towards the left to go forward to the next page (if you've previously gone back). If you imagine following each link on a website adds another page to the stack, these gestures let you quickly move pages off of and onto the stack until you get to just exactly the one you need.

4. Tossing away cards and tabs

iOS 7 lets treat a lot more objects like objects, including and especially the new card interface for multitasking and the new rolodex interface for Safari. In both, when you trigger them, you can grab a screen and simply toss it away. From anywhere on the system, double click the Home button to bring up the new card interface for multitasking. Then just touch one app, two apps, or as many as three apps, and flick them up and off the screen. They'll quit and be one. In Safari, tap the bookmarks button, touch a tab, and flick it to the left to close it. Couldn't be simpler. You can even fling down passes in Passbook to get back to the wallet view.

5. Accessing Spotlight Search from any Home screen

While it might seem like iOS 7 banished Spotlight Search from the Home screen system, what it actually did was move it from its own screen off to the left, and integrate it into every screen. Now, instead of swiping the other way, you simply touch anywhere on the Home screen (except the top edge, that's reserved for Notification Center), and swipe down slightly. It works the same way search has worked inside apps for years. The screen drops down and the Spotlight field is revealed.

Bonus tip: iPad gesture navigation

The iPad and iPad mini also still include several, system-wide gesture shortcuts all their own. They make it incredibly quick and easy to move between apps, open the fast app switcher, and even return to the Home screen. To access the multitasking card interface, place four fingers on the screen and swipe up. To move between apps without having to click into the multitasking card first, place four fingers on the screen and swipe from right to left to go to the previous app, and from left to right to return to the next app. To return to the Home screen, place four fingers on the screen and pinch them in together.

You can also use the basic pinch to get back from a single photo to the new Moments view in the Photos, or back from single place view to multiplace list in the Weather app.

Your top iOS 7 tips?

Those are our top 5 secret shortcuts that make moving around the iOS 7 interface not only faster, but funner as well. If you've found other ways to save time, let us know how!

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.

  • Great tips! Some new ones in there I hadn't known.
    Check out some of my tips for iPads here: http://teachingwithipad.org/2013/09/23/10-ipad-features-every-ipad-owner...
  • Did not know about the message/mail peeking... awesome. Thank you.
  • Wow, that didn't take Apple long at all. We can thank BlackBerry10 for that.
  • Not exactly 'secret' gestures
  • Anything you don't know is a secret. iOS 7 has a lot of new stuff.
  • That's a pretty loose definition Rene. Apple is not trying to hide these 'secrets' - they are documented all over their website. Why not drop the superlatives altogether? These are neither secret, nor amazing. They are at best cool, but you could have also just said new.
  • I just love it when Apple copies features from Android devices (#2, #4).
  • Yes because android hasn't copied a single thing from Apple, all totally original! Get a clue!
  • ...I didn't say that, it's just funny how the tables have turned. Now Apple has to "play catch up".
  • Apple has a fantastic user experience, so why are they are playing catch-up?
  • He has a point. We have to hear about Samsung stealing from Apple all the time. Even the article today about the Galaxy Gear ad. But if Apple does it, the article could at least give Android/Google a tip of the hat.
  • You mean webOS?
  • Right, and the Samsung/Apple ad was stolen to begin with. So why is it always stealing when Samsung does it. That is all I am getting at. I am OK with it (companies borrowing from other companies), but Samsung seems to be bashed relentlessly for it...
    All the cool kids are bashing Samsung... good for pageviews I suppose.
  • They definitely meant webOS. I used webOS and loved that the OS was intuitive and notifications were unobtrusive. You could multi-task and get rid of apps like cards like iOS7 has implemented, and all your contacts had their profiles condensed (facebook, gmail, hotmail, etc.) automatically no need to enter any info on your end. Honestly, I like the idea of taking something great and implementing it to existing things. You don't expect me to Honda without airbags and safety mechanisms just because maybe Toyota came up with is first do you? If anyone took cues from an OS it would be Android when they took Muarte of WebOs lore and added him to their brand.
  • Um. Those were copied from webOS. (By Android and BlackBerry as well) Awkward...
  • And now Apple.
  • Yes, great. Thanks. Now shut up about your Android. If the article was a comparison I'd welcome Fandroid comments. But its not. So even bringing up a comparison is out of line. I appreciate reading these kinds of articles because iPhone is what I chose. If I chose a different platform, I'd look elsewhere for help, especially from the peanut gallery.
  • It's like a guy invents the car - and not just the rubber and glass and metal, but the *hard* stuff, the invisible stuff, how it's going to work and be used. The 2nd guy comes along and copies it - it's easy now!! Then he puts a red interior inside his. Later the 1st guy does the same. The 2nd guy gets upset and has the nerve to act as though there is an equivalence between the two.
  • Another good Mail addition... swipe from right on message in inbox to bring up 'Trash' or 'More' options. 'More' allows you to quickly reply, forward, or move to another folder.
  • Aren't the swipes to the right in mail also mailbox sensitive?
    i.e. in Gmail there'll be an option for archiving, in Outlook/Hotmail ,there won't? Pretty neat.
  • HOLD UP!! Do you have Fantastical 2 <pic 1>
  • You left out my favorite one. The ability to hide the apps that you can not delete (or dont want others to see) 1. Fill your first page with apps (no empty spots)
    2. Make sure one of the spots is a folder with apps inside
    3.Place the app that you want to hide on the dock (or a folder of apps that you want to hide)
    4. Hold your finger on the app that you want to hide, as you double tap the home button (If you do it right, the app that you want to hide will be grayed out, and just a little larger)
    5. Go back to the first page
    6. tap the folder (on your main page). You will notice that the grayed out app will move a little
    7. Tap the anywhere on the screen, then tap the home button. App is gone.
    8. You can still search for that hidden app in spotlight search 9. The down side. Those hidden apps will re-appear after a reboot (or a respring). So you might have to do this twice a day if you have a phone like mine
  • I just dump them into folders. :)
  • Any excuse to use that 'three guys of a different size' image once again, haha. All we need now is the Eric Bana "Fire Everything!!!" pic to return. ____________ Sent from the iMore App
  • i had no idea about the peak awesome lol
  • When I am in mail or messages, if I swipe to the right it does nothing. Swiping to the left works. Anyone else? Edit: never mind. I wasn't touching the edge of the screen.
  • You shouldn't have to be touching the edge of the screen. I get the options even if I swipe from the middle of the screen. right to left and left to right. edit: I take that back, in order to go from left to right you DO have to touch edge of screen. Right to left should work no matter where you touch, UNLESS it's to move "forward".
  • With multiple apple devices on the same iTunes and iCloud account, you can see what Safari tabs are open on your other devices. While looking at the open tabs Rolodex, simply swipe up until you see the other devices listed.
  • Hold down on a message bubble in messages to bring up copy/more options. From there you can delete the entire conversation or specific bubbles. I use this a lot because I like to keep my storage size down, messages takes up space on the HDD, but still keep people that I always message in messages so I'm not creating a message from scratch everytime.
  • These tips a great. Thank you for the effort, Rene.
    :) Sent from the iMore App
  • I don't know where to type this, but here seems a good a place as any. I find that accessing the homescreen from the multitasking screen to be less jarring in comparison to merely clicking the home button, (mainly on the iPhone, since multitasking is a small "zoom out" motion, while on the iPad Mini, it's a weird zoom out and shift right, so that's jarring in a different way). Hopefully this will provide some relief to people experiencing motion sensitivity. "Double click, swipe, tap" might be more complicated than just clicking the home button and blink slowly, but extra steps for the extra sensitive.
  • The history gesture is terrible. It breaks any webapp that uses the hamburger UI affordance (a la facebook) since the history gesture will grab that burger swipe almost everytime. Truly terrible.
  • Hmmm...would this explain why Facebook crashes while using certain gestures?
  • Swiping to the previous web page is a horrible addition. I'm often browsing around a page or playing a web app and suddenly find myself on a different web page altogether. Get rid or give us the option to disable.