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Pogue’s Basics: The secret trackpad on the iPhone 6s and 7

David Pogue
Tech Critic

The big bummer about a smartphone, of course, is that it doesn’t have any pointing device except your big fat finger. That can make life clumsy when you need to highlight some text, for example.

And yet: The iPhone 6s and 7 (and their Plus siblings) actually come with trackpads!

Whenever text is on the screen and the keyboard is open, press firmly anywhere on the keyboard. All the keys go blank, as shown in the video above. You’ve just triggered the Force Touch feature (screen-pressure sensitivity) of those phones.

You can ease up on the pressure, but don’t lift your finger from the glass. You can now move the insertion-point cursor through the text just by dragging your finger across the keys. If it hits the edge of the window, it scrolls automatically.

Still keep your finger down. At this point, hard presses also let you select (highlight) text:

  • Hard-press twice to select an entire sentence.
  • Hard-press three times to select an entire paragraph.

Or use this trick: Move the insertion point to a word; if you now press hard, you highlight that word.

At this point, you can expand the selection by doing any of these things:

  • Drag up or down. (Again, you don’t have to keep pressing hard, but you do have to keep your finger on the glass.)
  • Hard-press twice to extend the selection to the entire sentence.
  • Hard-press three times to extend the selection to the entire paragraph.

Once you’ve selected text in this way, the usual command bar (Cut, Copy, Paste and so on) appears, for your text-manipulation pleasure.

Little by little, the iPhone is revealing its secret ambition to be a laptop.

Adapted from iPhone: The Missing Manual, 10th Edition, by David Pogue, tech columnist for Yahoo Finance. He welcomes nontoxic comments in the Comments below. On the Web, he’s davidpogue.com. On Twitter, he’s @pogue. On email, he’s poguester@yahoo.com. You can read all his articles here, or you can sign up to get his columns by email