iPhone Keyboard Command and Gestures

Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers extends its appreciation to the unknown author who composed these instructions and the enclosed list of keyboard commands. We regret we are unable to recognize them publicly on this page but we are pleased to share their instructions with other iPhone and iPod users as per their posting we received.

With the introduction of Apple's iOS 4.1, users now have the ability to fully control their iPhone and its VoiceOver function from a Bluetooth keyboard connected to their iPhone. This feature also applies to the iPod Touch.

iPhone and iPod Touch users can now issue several commands through their bluetooth keyboard to control either of these devices without ever touching the screen. For Windows users, there are some noteworthy differences between a PC keyboard and an Apple keyboard. Instead of the Control, Windows and Alt modifiers, Apple devices use C​ontrol, Command and Option keys in these locations on the Apple keyboard. A change that may take some adjustment. Control on the PC keyboard has been replaced ( or maps to) by Control on the Apple keyboard, Windos maps to Command, and Alt maps to Option.

In the keyboard commands that follow, there are several references to a “VO” modifier. The “VO” reference refers to VoiceOver feature on the device which is accomplished through the keystroke combination of Control + Option. For example, if the required keystroke is “VO plus Down Arrow”, you perform this keystroke by holding down Control + Option, then pressing the Down Arrow simultaneously.

In the list of keystrokes that follow, we have use the "+" key or symbol as the connector when two keys are to be pressed such as the Command key followed by another key. The use of the "*" indicates the two keys are to be pressed simultaneously. For example, “Left Arrow * Right Arrow” indicates these two keys are to be pressed at the exact same time.

Should you find some of the keys with multiple modifiers do not seem to work with your Bluetooth keyboard, try using the other modifier. For example, the Apple Bluetooth keyboard has Control, Command, and Option keys to the left of the spacebar, but it also has an Option key to the right of the spacebar. When performing any commands that require holding down all three modifiers, such as to increase the VoiceOver volume (VO + Command + Up Arrow), you may have to use the right Option key; if you use the left Option key, the command will likely not work. This is no doubt a limitation of the Apple keyboard and not iOS 4.1.

Most of the text navigation commands that make use of the Command key can also be performed by substituting the Control key for the Command key; the Command key being easier and faster to locate on the Apple keyboard. This tip is especially useful for some Windows-based Bluetooth keyboards.

iOS 4.1 has a feature called quick nav, which when enabled, allows for easier navigation between elements using the keyboard. To enable/disable quick nav, press the Left Arrow * Right Arrow. Remember, the "*" indicates these two keys are pressed simultaneously.

The following 57 keyboard commands are categorized into four sections under the following headers: General Navigation, VoiceOver Controls, Text Navigation and Unix-Style Text Navigation. For each action, we have listed the corresponding keystroke when quick nav is enabled and when it is not. Some commands can only be performed with quick nav is either enabled or disabled, so the corresponding entry in the table states N/A if the command does not apply. We have also listed the corresponding VoiceOver screen gesture (where applicable) for reference and ease of transition.

General Navigation

Action Keystroke (QuickNav enabled) Keystroke (QuickNav disabled) Equivalent Gesture
Toggle QuickNav Left Arrow * Right Arrow Left Arrow * Right Arrow N/A
Previous element Left arrow VO + left arrow Flick left
Next element Right arrow VO + right arrow Flick right
Previous element by rotor Up arrow VO + up arrow Flick up
Next element by rotor Down arrow VO + down arrow Flick down
Previous rotor setting Up arrow * left arrow N/A Rotate counter-clockwise
Next rotor setting Up arrow * right arrow N/A Rotate clockwise
Activate selected element Up arrow * down arrow VO + space bar Double tap
Previous text field shift + tab shift + tab N/A
Next text field Tab Tab N/A
Read page from selected item VO + a VO + a Two finger flick down
Read page from top VO + b VO + b Two finger flick up
Move to first element control + up arrow N/A Four finger flick up
Move to last element control + down arrow N/A 4 finger flick down
Scroll up 1 page option + up arrow N/A 3 finger flick down
Scroll down 1 page option + down arrow N/A 3 finger flick up
Scroll left 1 page option + left arrow N/A 3 finger flick right
Scroll right 1 page option + right arrow N/A 3 finger flick left
Move to status bar VO + m VO + m N/A
Activate back button Escape Escape 2 finger scrub
Activate home button VO + h VO + h N/A
Start/stop current action VO + - VO + - Two finger double tap

VoiceOver Controls

Action Keystroke (QuickNav enabled) Keystroke (QuickNav disabled) Equivalent Gesture
Next VO setting VO + command + right arrow VO + command + right arrow N/A
Previous VO setting VO + command + left arrow VO + command + left arrow N/A
Next VO setting VO + command + right arrow VO + command + right arrow N/A
Increment selected VO setting VO + command + up arrow VO + command + up arrow N/A
Decrement selected VO setting VO + command + down arrow VO + command + down arrow N/A
Pause/resume speech Control Control Two finger single tap
Toggle speech VO + s VO + s Three finger double tap
Toggle screen curtain VO + shift + s VO + shift + s Three finger triple tap
VoiceOver help VO + k VO + k N/A
Exit VoiceOver help Escape Escape N/A

Text Navigation

Action Keystroke (QuickNav enabled) Keystroke (QuickNav disabled) Equivalent Gesture
Next character N/A Right arrow N/A
Previous character N/A Left arrow N/A
Next character N/A Right arrow N/A
Next word N/A Option + right arrow N/A
Previous word N/A Option + left arrow N/A
Next word N/A Option + right arrow N/A
Next line N/A Down arrow N/A
Previous line N/A Up arrow N/A
Next line N/A Down arrow N/A
Start of line N/A Command + left arrow N/A
End of line N/A Command + right arrow N/A
Top of document N/A Command + up arrow N/A
End of document N/A Command + down arrow N/A
Select text N/A Shift + navigation keystroke N/A
Select all N/A Command + a N/A
Cut N/A Command + x N/A
Copy N/A Command + c N/A
Paste N/A Command + v N/A
Undo N/A Command + z N/A
Redo N/A Shift + command + z N/A
Previous international keyboard) N/A Shift + command + spacebar N/A
Next international keyboard N/A Command + spacebar N/A

Unix-Style Text Navigation

Action Keystroke (QuickNav enabled) Keystroke (QuickNav disabled) Equivalent Gesture
Previous character N/A Control + b N/A
Next character N/A Control + f N/A
Start of line N/A Control + e N/A
End of line N/A Control + a N/A
Backspace N/A Control + h N/A
Delete to end of line N/A Control + k N/A
Return (new line) N/A Control + m N/A

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