iPhone outline with an Apple logo

While holding one of the larger iPhone models, it can be difficult to reach the upper portion of the screen with one hand. Luckily, Apple created a feature called “Reachability” that virtually lowers the upper portion of the screen so you can reach it. It works on iPhone 6 and up. Here’s how to use it.

What Is Reachability Mode?

Beginning with the iPhone 6 Plus in 2014, Apple began releasing iPhone models that were significantly larger than ever before. Some journalists called phones of this size “phablets” (a combination of “phone” and “tablet”), because they seemed unusually large at the time.

An iPhone 6 publicity image from Apple
Apple, Inc.

Due to the size of the iPhone 6 Plus, it was no longer easy for most people to reach every portion of the screen with your thumb while holding the iPhone with one hand. So, Apple created a new feature in iOS called “Reachability” that lowers the top portion of the screen using a software trick to make it reachable. Here’s how to turn it on and use it.

How to Enable Reachability on iPhone

To use “Reachability,” you’ll need an iPhone 6 or later—in other words, any iPhone released in 2014  or later. You’ll also need to have the feature enabled. To do so, open the “Settings” app (which looks like a grey gear icon) and navigate to “Accessibility.”

Tap Accessibility in Settings on iPhone or iPad

In Accessibility, select “Touch.”

Tap Touch in Settings on iPhone or iPad

In “Touch” settings, tap the switch beside “Reachability” until it is turned on. When enabled, the switch will be green with the toggle in the right half of the switch. (If Reachability is already on and you don’t want to use it, you can disable it using this switch as well.)

In iPhone Touch settings, tap the switch beside "Reachability" to turn it on.

After that, exit “Settings.”

How to Use Reachability on iPhone

Now that “Reachability” is enabled, you’ll need to learn how to trigger it.

On an iPhone without a Home button, swipe down on the bottom edge of the screen. In other words, touch the bar on the horizontal bottom of your screen (or the area just above the bar) and swipe down on it.

On an iPhone with a Home button, gently tap your finger on the Home button twice without pushing it in—in other words, tap the Home button, but don’t “click” it.

When triggered, the entire display on the screen will shift downward by about a third of the screen’s height.

From there you can use your thumb (or whatever other finger you prefer) to reach interface elements near the top of the screen.

If you want the screen to return to normal, perform the “Reachability” shortcut again—swipe up from the bottom edge of your screen on an iPhone without a Home button or double-tap the Home button on an iPhone with a Home button.

You can also tap the upward-pointing arrow located at the top of the screen display area. Nice and easy!

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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