Use Switch Control to navigate your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch

Learn about the Switch Control accessibility feature in iOS.

Switch Control lets you control your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch using a single switch or multiple switches. With switches, you can select, tap, drag, type, and even freehand draw. Just use a switch to select an item or location on the screen, then use the same (or a different) switch to choose an action. 

Add a new switch

Before you add an external switch, you need to connect it to your device before it will show in the list of switches. You can use any of these options as a switch:

  • External: Choose a Bluetooth switch or Made for iPhone switch.
  • Screen: Tap the screen to use a switch or press and hold.
  • Camera: Move your head to use the iPhone front-facing camera as a switch. You can use the camera as two switches: One when you move your head to the left, and the other when you move your head to the right.

Add a switch and choose its action:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Switch Control > Switches.
  2. Tap Add New Switch and choose a source. 
  3. Follow the onscreen steps to choose how you want the switch to work. 
  4. Remember to turn on Switch Control, so you can use your new switch. 

Turn Switch Control on or off

Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Switch Control and turn the setting on or off. You can also triple-click the Home button or the Side button on certain models at any time to exit Switch Control.

Use Switch Control

There are three ways to select items on the screen: Item scanning, point scanning, and manual selection. Item scanning is the default when you turn on Switch Control.

After you select an item, a menu appears that lets you choose an action. 

Use item scanning

Item scanning highlights items or groups on the screen one at a time. Here's how to use item scanning:

  • To select an item or a group, watch (or listen) as items are highlighted. While an item is highlighted, choose it with the switch that you set up as your Select Item switch. When you select a group, highlighting continues with the items in the group. 
  • To exit a group, use your switch when the dashed highlight around the group or item appears.

Use point scanning

Point scanning lets you select an item on the screen by pinpointing it with scanning crosshairs. To turn on point scanning:

  1. Use item scanning to select an item. 
  2. Wait for the menu to appear.
  3. Select Point Mode. The wide vertical crosshairs appear when you close the menu.

To select an item with point scanning: 

  1. Use your select switch to stop the wide vertical crosshairs. The fine vertical crosshair appears.
  2. Use your select switch again to stop the fine vertical crosshair. The fine scanning line will appear next.
  3. Repeat to stop and refine the vertical crosshairs. 

To turn off point scanning: 

  1. Use point scanning to select an item. 
  2. Wait for the menu to appear. 
  3. Select Item Mode.

Use manual scanning

If you use multiple switches, you can set up each switch to perform a specific action and customize how you select items. For example, instead of automatically scanning items, you can set up switches to move to the next or previous item on demand. If you just have one switch, keep using Auto Scanning. 

To use manual scanning:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Switch Control.
  2. Tap Scanning Style, then select Manual Scanning.

Choose an action after you select an item

After you select an item with your switch, the possible actions for that item appear in a new menu. Select the dots at the bottom of the menu to see more options. 

Tap an item

You can tap an item three different ways:

  • Choose Tap from the menu that appears when you select the item.
  • Turn on Auto Tap at Settings > General > Accessibility > Switch Control > Tap Behavior > Auto Tap. After you turn on Auto Tap, you can select an item and wait for the Auto Tap interval to finish. 
  • Set up a switch to perform the tap gesture at Settings > General > Accessibility > Switch Control > Switches.

Use a gesture

Select the gesture or action from the menu that appears when you select the item. If you turned on Auto Tap, use your switch within the Auto Tap interval, then select the gesture. If more than one page of actions is available, select the dots at the bottom of the menu to go to another page.

Exit the control menu

Use your switch while all the icons in the menu are dimmed.

Scroll up or down

Select any item on the screen, then choose Scroll from the menu.

Press a button or flip a switch

Select any item, select the dots at the bottom of the menu, then select Device from the menu that appears. You can use the menu to mimic these actions:

  • Click the Home button.
  • Double-click the Home button for multitasking.
  • Open Notification Center or Control Center.
  • Press the Sleep/Wake button to lock the device.
  • Rotate the device.
  • Flip the Mute switch.
  • Press the volume buttons.
  • Hold down the Home button to open Siri.
  • Triple-click the Home button.
  • Shake the device.
  • Press Home and Sleep/Wake buttons simultaneously to take a screenshot.

Change your settings and adjust how each switch works

To change your settings, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Switch Control. Then make your changes:

  • Add switches and specify their function
  • Choose, create, and edit recipes
  • Choose a scanning style
  • Adjust how rapidly items are scanned
  • Turn off auto scanning (only if you’ve added a Move to Next Item switch)
  • Set scanning to pause on the first item in a group
  • Choose how many times to cycle through the screen before hiding Switch Control
  • Choose a tap behavior and set the interval for performing a second switch action to show the control menu
  • Choose whether Switch Control resumes scanning at an item you tap or from the beginning
  • Set whether a movement action is repeated when you press and hold a switch, and how long to wait before repeating
  • Add another action to a switch by pressing and holding the switch for a long duration
  • Choose which items appear in menus and the order in which they appear
  • Set whether and how long you need to hold a switch down before it’s accepted as a switch action
  • Have Switch Control ignore accidental repeated switch triggers
  • Adjust the point scanning speed
  • Turn on sound effects or have items read aloud as they are scanned
  • Choose what to include in the Switch Control menu
  • Set whether items should be grouped while item scanning
  • Make the selection cursor larger or a different color
  • Save custom gestures to the control menu (in Gestures > Saved)

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Fine tune Switch Control

Choose Settings from the control menu to:

  • Adjust scanning speed
  • Change the location of the control menu
  • Turn sound or speech accompaniment on or off
  • Turn off groups to scan items one at a time
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