Apple has done plenty in the last couple of years to optimize its software for users with specific needs. Both iOS and iPadOS now come with a host of accessibility-related settings, letting you fine-tune the way your device works. This is one of the most overlooked features, and we’re sure you’ll be happy to have discovered it. With that said, we present to you the eight best iPhone accessibility hacks that everyone can use.
Where to Find the iPhone Accessibility Menu?
On earlier iOS versions, the Accessibility menu was somewhat hidden. However, that is no longer the case. Now you can access it by going to “Settings -> Accessibility.”
Some accessibility hacks mention setting the “Accessibility Shortcut.” By triple-pressing the Side button on newer iPhones (or the Home button on older iPhones), you can invoke the accessibility shortcut to activate or deactivate some of the accessibility hacks quickly.
Set the accessibility shortcut at the bottom of the Accessibility menu. If you enable more than a single shortcut, invoking the shortcut will expose a menu where you can select which of your selected accessibility shortcuts to enable or disable.
1. Disable Your iPhone’s Auto-Brightness
In the past, iPhones came with a dedicated “Auto-Brightness” option located within the Settings app. Using that option, you could disable your phone’s sensors from making automatic adjustments to the screen’s brightness. However, as a clever way to extend the battery life of your iPhone, this feature is now part of the Accessibility group of settings and comes enabled by default.
More precisely, navigate to “Settings -> Accessibility -> Display & Text Size,” then scroll to the bottom and tap on the switch on the right side of “Auto-Brightness.” Once you disable this default setting, you can use your iPhone’s brightness slider (“Settings -> General -> Display & Brightness”).
2. Enable a “Smart” Dark Mode
With “Smart Invert” (General -> Accessibility -> Display & Text Size), you can intelligently invert your iPhone’s UI colors. This has the effect of darkening the screen and generally making the text more legible, especially in very dark or very bright areas.
“Smart Invert” comes as a better version of the “Classic Invert” accessibility tool that is still available. That would make the entire interface negative, including images, app icons, and every interface element. Thankfully, the new “Smart Invert” color scheme is more selective with its inversions. It doesn’t invert things like images, media, and the interface elements of some dark-themed apps.
3. Access Your iPhone’s “One-Handed Mode”
As iPhones have increased in size, the one-handed operation has become less realistic. The Reachability option can make this a little easier.
This feature is designed to slide down the top of your screen to roughly midway, bringing menus and icons within reach. To activate this tool, swipe down on the bottom edge of the screen.
The problem with this feature is that it comes enabled by default. If you don’t have an overly large iPhone, you may find this setup to be a bit distracting. Yet, this accessibility hack can be easily enabled or disabled. To enable or disable Reachability, go to “General -> Accessibility -> Touch.”
4. Make Your iPhone’s UI Static
We believe that Apple has done a great job of creating smooth animations throughout iOS. However, we also understand that not everyone likes it. If you want things to be static, head to “General -> Accessibility -> Motion.”
Take a look at the top of that page. That’s where you’ll see the option to reduce the motion of the iOS user interface, which also includes the parallax effect of icons. Tap on the switch next to “Reduce Motion” to activate this feature. Another option will also appear, letting you reduce the motion of UI controls that slide in when appearing and disappearing.
5. Enable Custom “Back Tap” Actions
Did you know that you can tap on the back side of your iPhone to trigger specific actions? For example, you can tap two times to launch the Camera app or three times to open your phone’s multitasking menu. This recently introduced accessibility feature is found in “General -> Accessibility -> Physical and Motor -> Touch -> Back Tap.”
We have to admit that Apple has done an excellent job of hiding this feature, and we’re not sure why. You may find it helpful, which is why we have a dedicated article on how to enable Back Tap actions on your iPhone.
6. Get a Persistent Shortcut Menu
You can use the on-screen “AssistiveTouch” button as a highly customizable shortcut for accessing different kinds of iPhone features and tools. Once you turn it on, the “AssistiveTouch” button always appears on-screen. However, you can slide it around the screen to keep it out of your way. And when not in use, the icon fades to a lower opacity.
Enable “AssistiveTouch” under the Touch section of the Accessibility menu. You can adjust how the button responds when tapped and set the button to work just like the (physical) Home button or enable and customize its shortcut functionality.
7. Communicate with Siri via Text
Turn on “Type to Siri” under the Siri menu to interact with Apple’s digital assistant via your keyboard. For silent running, set “Voice Feedback” to “When Silent Mode Off.” This enables silent interaction with Siri when your phone is set to silent.
You can still use the voice-activated version of Siri by saying “Hey Siri” or speaking to this digital assistant once invoked, which will temporarily re-enable voice interaction. With this accessibility hack on, holding the Side button will bring up a keyboard and disable Siri’s vocal replies. (You can hold down the Home button instead if you have an older iPhone.)
8. Access the Hidden Magnifier App
Wouldn’t it be great if you could use your iPhone as a magnifier? This option is already built in and not through the Camera app. This app is also disabled (hidden) by default.
To enable your iPhone’s Magnifier app, go to “Settings -> Accessibility -> Magnifier.” Enable this option from there by tapping on the toggle. This will add a new app to your iPhone that you can open by searching for “Magnifier.” It can also be added to Control Center.
The Accessibility menu is full of other hacks to make your iPhone easier to use. Make sure to spend some time exploring this side of the Settings app. We’re sure you’ll find something useful.
To dive even deeper into this topic, here’s how to use sound recognition alerts on your iPhone. You may also want to learn how to invert the display colors on your Mac.