10 accessibility tweaks every iPhone user should learn

You can make your iOS life a little better using some or all of these tools

Apple’s operating systems always offer a range of useful accessibility features, but many of these tools are useful to everybody – here are just a few features I think most iOS users should explore.


You can get your iPhone to light up the LED flash beside the rear camera when a notification comes in – this is particularly useful if you’re waiting for an urgent message but need to keep quiet. You enable this in Settings>General>Accessibility and toggle LED Flash for Alerts to on (green).

Gentler touch

3D Touch will be part of the future of Apple user interfaces, but if you’re one of those heavy-handed souls who mistakenly trigger the 3D Touch controls too often, or even if you want to make things happen with a lighter touch, you can adjust 3D Touch sensitivity in Settings>General>Accessibility>3D Touch Sensitivity (Light, Medium, Firm).

Better buttons

iOS is able to draw shapes around buttons to make it easier to find them. You enable this in Settings>General>Accessibility where you can also darken colors and reduce transparency if you wish.

Dimmer switch

Smartphone addiction is actually a “thing”, and if you’ve become hooked to checking your email in the wee small hours and haven’t yet reached out for help, you should at least make sure you don’t wake your partner when you do. You can reduce screen display brightness in Settings>General>Accessibility>Increase Contrast.

A new Home

Broken Home button? Try this: Enable Assistive Touch in Settings>General>Accessibility to invoke a floating palette through which you can access a range of features, including an on-screen Home button. You can also grab a screenshot and explore Notification and Control Center features with this.


Assistive Touch is configurable, so you can create your own collection of shortcuts. Three of the more useful system supplied options you can add include 3D and Screenshot buttons. You can also create your own in Settings>General>Accessibility>AssistiveTouch.

Larger text

Give your eyes a rest by increasing text size (Settings>Display & brightness>Text Size and increase size using the slider in apps that support Dynamic Type). You can make the characters even larger in Settings>General>Accessibility>Larger Text. You can also make text a little easier to read by enabling Bold Text (which requires the device restarts itself) in Settings>General>Accessibility>Bold Text.

Reduce Motion

Some iOS users are less fond of the animations and parallax effect Apple has bound within the UI, while I quite like them you can disable them in Settings>General>Accessibility>Reduce Motion. If the transparency effects on iOS bother you then you can get rid of them using the Settings>General>Accessibility>Increase Contrast command.

Invert Colors

Another cool effect, Invert Colors (Settings>General>Accessibility) inverts the colors on your display – great for reading in low light conditions or trying to reduce the brightness of your display at night. You can also use the Greyscale (Settings>General>Accessibility>) button to turn the entire system grey.

Triple click

Hidden right at the bottom of the selection of Accessibility settings sits Accessibility Shortcut. This handy feature lets you set one of six different tools you can enable when you triple-click the Home button, including: Voiceover, Invert Colors, Greyscale, Zoom, Switch Control and AssistiveTouch. I use it as a quick and dirty shortcut to Invert Colors on the fly.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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