The Complete Guide to iPhone X Gestures & Navigation

Gestures on the iPhone’s touch screen have always been important, but with the iPhone X they become essential. Whether you need to go to Home screen, open Control Center, or simply unlock your iPhone X, it’s going to require a gesture. There are also a lot of functions, including talking to Siri and opening Apple Pay, that require use of the iPhone’s buttons in unfamiliar ways. So consider this your one-stop shop for all of the gestures and navigation tricks on your iPhone X. I’m going to cover it all, including how to use Reachability on iPhone X, taking a screenshot on iPhone X, turning off iPhone X, and even how to temporarily disable Face ID should you need to. Welcome to the complete guide to iPhone X gestures and navigation. Let’s get started.

There are a lot of new gestures and changes to navigation on the iPhone X. We’ll go over how to use those gestures on your iPhone and how to navigate your device since it doesn't have a Home button. You're probably familiar with the usual iPhone gestures, such as pinching with two fingers to zoom or Shake to Undo. And with iOS 11, you can even drag multiple photos and drop them into another app. Gestures on iPhone has always been a part of navigation, but the iPhone X introduces a lot of new ways to do old stuff. We’re going to go over each one below.

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How to Wake up iPhone X

Raise to Wake is turned on by default on the iPhone X; so when you lift your phone, the screen will automatically come on. You can turn this feature on or off within settings by selecting Display & Brightness, then toggling Raise to Wake on or off.

But to simply wake up the screen on iPhone X, all you actually need to do is tap it. Simple, right?

  • Tap the screen to wake it up.

How to Unlock the iPhone X

Once Face ID is set up, this process will feel seamless most of the time.

  • Wake the screen up by either tapping the screen or using Raise to Wake.
  • Look directly at the screen, near the top where the notch is, to use Face ID to unlock your device.
  • Swipe up from the bottom of your screen to close the Lock/Notifications view and go to Home screen.

If, for any reason, Face ID didn't unlock your phone, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to enter your passcode as well. Once you've entered your passcode, it will automatically open to Home screen (or whatever app was open).

How to Return to Home Screen on iPhone X

  • From within any app, swipe up from the bottom of your screen to return to Home screen.

This swipe up motion quickly becomes natural; however, if you like a visual indicator, look for the small bar at the bottom of the screen.

How to Open Control Center & Notifications

The notch at the top of the iPhone X clearly distinguishes a right and left side of the screen.  

  • To open Control Center, swipe down from the top right of the screen.

  • To open Notifications, swipe down from the top left of the screen.

How to Talk to Siri on iPhone X

  • Click and hold the Side button (formerly known as the Sleep/Wake button) to talk to Siri.

How to Activate Apple Pay on iPhone X

  • Double click the Side button to open Apple Pay
  • Glance at your iPhone X to confirm with Face ID.

If Apple Pay doesn't come up when the Side button is double clicked, one of two things is going on: either you haven't set up a credit card with Apple Pay (check even if you have; my card disappeared after setting up my iPhone X) or you aren't allowing it in settings. This can be fixed with the following steps:

  • Open Settings app.
  • Select Face ID & Passcode.

  • Toggle on Apple Pay under Use Face ID For.

How to Take a Screenshot without the Home Button

  • Simultaneously click and release the Side button and Volume Up button.

How to Use Reachability on iPhone X

Reachability on the iPhone simply lowers the top of the screen, which cuts off the lower half but gives you easy one-handed access to the top of your screen. Reachability is turned off by default on the iPhone X. To turn Reachability on:

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Select General.
  • Tap Accessibility.
  • Toggle on Reachability.

  • Swipe down on the "Home" bar at the bottom center of the screen to activate Reachability.

You can activate Reachability within any app pretty easily by swiping down on the horizontal bar at the bottom (the one that's also used to return Home). You can also activate it from Home screen; the Home bar won't be there to act as a guide; but if you swipe down in the same spot, it will still work. 

How to Switch Between Apps on iPhone X

There are two different ways to switch between apps on the iPhone X: with the App Switcher and without. You’re likely familiar with the App Switcher. On iPhones previous to the iPhone X, the App Switcher was activated with a double-click of the Home button. It’s different, of course, for the iPhone X and Apple also included the ability to quickly jump from one app to the next without having to open the App Switcher. We’ll go over both.

  • To open the App Switcher on iPhone X, swipe up from the bottom of the screen and stop about a fourth to a half of the way up. You’ll feel a little haptic feedback to let you know when the App Switcher has been engaged. Then simply lift your finger and the App Switcher will open. You can swipe through, as usual, and tap on an app to open it. (To remove and app from App Switcher, tap and hold the app, then tap the red circle in the upper corner.)

To switch apps without opening the App Switcher, swipe across the “Home” bar at the bottom of the screen. Swiping from left to right will open your most recent apps in descending order.

How to Temporarily Disable Face ID

  • Hold down the Volume Up or Down button and the Side button simultaneously.

  • Once the shutdown screen appears, let go of the buttons. This is important; if you continue to hold down the buttons, Emergency SOS will automatically be enabled.
  • Tap the X at the bottom to cancel the shutdown.

Now, Face ID is temporarily disabled until you enter your passcode. Once you enter your passcode, Face ID will continue working as usual.

How to Turn off iPhone X with & without Buttons (plus, How to Hard Restart!)

  • To turn off iPhone X, hold down the Side button and Volume Up or Down button until the option to slide to power off appears. Then slide to power off!

  • To turn off iPhone X without buttons, open the Settings app, select General, scroll all the way down to the bottom, and tap Shut Down. Then slide to power off.

  • To Hard Restart (a.k.a. Force Shut Down) your iPhone X, quickly click the Volume Up button, then the Volume Down button, then press and hold the Side button until the device shuts off.

It’s good to note that when performing a Hard Restart, it takes the iPhone X a few seconds to shut down when you’re holding the Side button. So don’t give up! I thought it wasn't working at first, but I just needed to hold the Side button down for a longer period of time. To turn on the iPhone X, press and hold the Side button until the Apple logo appears. 


Top Image Credit: Hadrian /
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Conner Carey holds a bachelor's in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing and resides in Fairfield, Iowa. When she's not writing, you can find her singing jazz or lifting weights. Her personal blog is currently under construction, but you can follow her on Instagram @connerleecarey.