Tired of fumbling around in the dark? With iOS 14 or later on an iPhone 8 or newer, you can quickly turn on and off your flashlight with two or three taps on the back of your iPhone using a feature called Back Tap. Here’s how to set it up.

How Does Back Tap Work?

Back Tap is an iOS accessibility feature that detects physical finger taps on the back of your iPhone using your phone’s built-in accelerometer. It works on the iPhone 8 and newer iPhones. When configured in Settings, you can use two or three taps to launch many different actions on your phone, including shortcuts, which is what we’ll use here to turn on the flashlight.

RELATED: How to Launch Actions by Tapping on the Back of Your iPhone

Creating the Flashlight Toggle Shortcut

To turn the flashlight on and off, we’ll need to create a custom shortcut using the built-in Shortcuts app. To do that, open “Shortcuts.” If you can’t find it, try a Spotlight search: With one finger, swipe down from the middle of your Home screen. Type “shortcuts” in the search bar, then tap the “Shortcuts” icon.

If you see the “Shortcuts” overview screen when the app opens, tap the “My Shortcuts” tab and then select “All Shortcuts.”

Tap "My Shorcuts" and "All Shortcuts" on iPhone.

On the “All Shortcuts” screen, tap the plus (“+”) button.

Tap the plus (+) button.

Next, you’ll see a “New Shortcut” page where you add the steps (called “actions”) to the shortcut. First, let’s rename the shortcut. Tap the “ellipses” button (three dots).

In Shortcuts on iPhone, tap the ellipses button to rename the shortcut.

Tap the “Shortcut Name” text area and rename the shortcut to “Flashlight Toggle,” then tap “Done.”

Rename the shortcut "Flashlight Toggle," then tap "Done."

When you’re back on the shortcut screen, tap “Add Action.”

Tap "Add Action."

When the “Actions” panel appears, search for “flashlight.” Tap “Set Flashlight” in the results.

In Shortcuts, search "flashlight," then tap "Set Flashlight."

The “Set Flashlight” action will appear in the actions list. By default, it is only set to turn the flashlight on when the shortcut is run. What we want it to do is toggle the flashlight to either turn on or off when the shortcut runs. To do that, tap the word “Turn” within the “Turn flashlight on” phrase.

In the action list, tap "Turn."

When the “Operation” menu pops up, select “Toggle.”

In the Operation list, select "Toggle."

Back in the actions list, the “Flashlight” action should now read “Toggle flashlight.” That means if you run the shortcut and the flashlight is off, the flashlight will turn on. If you run the shortcut while the flashlight is on, the flashlight will turn off. You’re programming!

Tap “Done” to finalize the shortcut.

Tap "Done."

After that, you’ll see your “Flashlight Toggle” shortcut in your list. You can test it now by tapping the shortcut’s button. If the flashlight turns on, tap the shortcut button again to turn it off.

The Flashlight Toggle shortcut seen in Shortcuts on iPhone.

Now you’re ready to go to the next step: linking the shortcut to Back Tap.

Configuring Back Tap to Run the Flashlight Shortcut

Now that we’ve set up the shortcut that will toggle the flashlight on and off, we’ll need to configure how we activate it with Back Tap. To do so, open “Settings.”

In Settings, navigate to Accessibility > Touch.

Tap Touch in Settings on iPhone or iPad

In “Touch Settings,” select “Back Tap.”

In Accessibility Touch settings on iPhone, select "Back Tap."

In “Back Tap” settings, choose whether you’d like to activate your flashlight using two taps (“Double Tap”) or three taps (“Triple Tap”) on the back of your phone, then select the matching option.

In Back Tap settings, select "Double Tap" or "Triple Tap."

Next, scroll down through the actions list until you see the “Shortcuts” section. Select the “Flashlight Toggle” shortcut we just created.

In Back Tap settings, select the "Flashlight Toggle" shortcut.

Press back once to make sure the change is registered, then exit Settings. The next time you double or triple tap the back of your iPhone (depending on how you set it up), your iPhone flashlight will turn on. Tap the back two or three times again to turn it off. Have fun illuminating dark spaces!

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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