Screenshots–those images we often shoot to record information on our iPhone screens–were once a straightforward and intuitive process. Back when iPhones had both a home button and a top sleep-wake/power button (iPhone SE 1 and earlier), all you had to do was press those two easy-to-find physical buttons simultaneously and you got a picture of whatever was on your screen saved to your Photos app.
With the arrival of the side sleep-wake button (iPhone 6/SE 2 and later), things got awkward fast. With the sleep-wake and volume-up button combo required, you now had to think about how you were holding your phone, which side was up, and in which hand. Then you had to figure out which of the two volume buttons was the correct one to use, otherwise, you’d accidentally wind up locking your phone or pressing the wrong volume button instead of recording your shot. Even when you correctly identify all the buttons, it still feels like a contortion act to press them at exactly the same time. The effort fails as often as it succeeds–at least on the first try.
Today I learned that I could make this time-consuming sleight of hand disappear with a simple iPhone accessibility feature, first introduced in iOS 14, called Back Tap. This accelerometer-based feature perceives taps on the back of the handset is available on the iPhone 8 or later.
First, launch the Settings app and choose Accessibility. In the Accessibility menu under Physical and Motor, choose Touch. Then scroll all the way down to the bottom of the next pane until you see the Back Tap command. If it’s off (which it probably is) tap it and you will see a choice of assigning the Screenshot action to the double tap or the triple tap. (The double tap is fine with me.) As soon as you check the action, the command takes effect.
Now, when it comes time to take a screenshot, all I have to do is double-tap the back of the iPhone. That’s it!
While you’re at it, you may want to assign the triple tap to another function like Flashlight, Notification Center, or Siri–there are plenty of choices. I assigned the available triple tap to Flashlight, which is now much easier to evoke in the dark than trying to find it on my app screen.