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Using a feature called Back Tap on iPhone 8 or newer running iOS 14 or later, you can configure your iPhone to play or pause your music just by tapping two or three times on the back of your phone. Here’s how to set it up.

Part 1: Create the Play/Pause Shortcut

To play or pause music with taps, we’ll need help from an Apple shortcut, which is a type of automated procedure that you can set up on your iPhone to perform a task. But not to worry—in this case, the task is very simple, so creating it is easy. We’ll walk you through the process.

First, launch the Shortcuts app. If you can’t find it, swipe downward from the center of the screen until you see a search bar. Type “Shortcuts,” then tap the Shortcuts app icon that appears.

Once Shortcuts is open, tap the “My Shortcuts” button on the bottom of the screen and select “All Shortcuts.”

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

On the “All Shortcuts” screen, tap the plus (“+”) button to add a new shortcut.

Tap the plus (+) button.

On the “New Shortcut” page, tap the ellipses button (three dots in a circle) to begin renaming the shortcut.

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

On the “Details” card, tap the “Shortcut Name” text area, type “Play/Pause Music,” then tap “Done.”

Rename the shortcut to "Play/Pause Music."

Next, tap the “Add Action” button.

In iPhone Shortcuts, tap "Add Action."

In the “Actions” panel that appears, type “Play/pause” in the search bar, then select “Play/Pause” from the list of results below.

In the action list, search for 'Play/pause" and tap "Play/Pause."

Next, you’ll see an overview of our very simple Shortcut. It will read “Now Playing,” then list the “Play/Pause on iPhone” action. When you’re satisfied, tap “Done.”

Tap "Done."

After that, tap the “Play/Pause” music button in your shortcuts list to test it out. Music will begin to play. If you tap it again, the music will pause. It works!

Part 2: Configure Back Tap

Next, we’ll need to configure the Back Tap feature to use the “Play/Pause Music” shortcut that we just created. To do so, open Settings.

In Settings, navigate to Accessibility > Touch > Back Tap.

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

In “Back Tap” settings, you can choose whether two or three taps will trigger the “Play/Pause Music” shortcut. Tap the one you’d prefer.

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

You’ll see a list of actions that can be triggered if you use Back Tap. Scroll down the list until you get to the “Shortcuts” section at the bottom and tap the “Play/Pause Music” shortcut that we created earlier. When it’s been selected, it will have a blue check mark beside it.

In the Back Tap action list, select the "Play/Pause Music" shortcut.

After that, exit Settings.

Tap the back of your iPhone two or three times (depending on how you set it up) and music will start playing. Tap the back again and the music will pause. You can alternate between play and pause as many times as you like. Back Tap works anywhere on the iPhone, including the Lock screen, but your iPhone’s screen must be active for it to work. Happy listening!

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

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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