Accessing the iPhone Control Center and All its Features

Devin Pickell
Devin Pickell  |  November 27, 2018

Some of the most important settings on your iPhone can be accessed with a single swipe.

This feature is called the control center.

You may have not realized it, but you have likely accessed the control center on your iPhone at some point recently.

If you’re not familiar with the control center, let me formally introduce you.

What is the iPhone control center?

If you’ve ever lowered the brightness, put your phone on airplane mode, or turned on the flashlight feature to find something between car seats, you probably did so by accessing the control center.

The control center on your iPhone contains some of the most important and frequently used settings – including the ones I mentioned above, and many others.

Apple introduced the control center feature as part of the iOS 7 update released in late 2013. Now, it's considered a signature feature on iOS devices.

How to access the iPhone control center

To access control center, simply swipe up from the bottom of your iPhone’s lock screen or home screen. The control center is accessible by default but can also be disabled.


There are many settings that make up the control center. These settings can essentially be split into two categories: Permanent controls and customizable controls.

The controls below highlighted in yellow are ones that are there by default and cannot be removed from the control center – even when disabled.


Permanent controls (from left to right) include:

  • Airplane mode – When tapped, this icon will turn orange and will prevent your device from sending or receiving calls and text messages.
  • Cellular data – When tapped, this icon will turn green and will transfer data from your device. Turning off cellular data may affect the performance of some applications.
  • WiFi – When tapped, this icon will turn blue and attempt to connect to the nearest WiFi or networks saved on your device.
  • Bluetooth – When tapped, this icon will turn blue and connect to the nearest Bluetooth device saved on your iPhone.
  • Audio – Tapping on the large squared labeled “Music” will show you which audio is being played and its source (Spotify, Youtube, Pandora, etc.) You can play, pause, find the previous song or go to the next one using this control.
  • Orientation lock – When tapped, this icon will turn white and red and disable screen rotation on your iPhone.
  • Do not disturb – When tapped, this icon will turn white and disable all incoming app notifications, texts, and calls.
  • AirPlay – Tapping on the rectangular box labeled “Screen Mirroring” will attempt to find the nearest Apple TV to mirror screens.
  • Brightness – You can make your display brighter or dimmer by scrolling up or down this vertical rectangular box.
  • Volume – You can raise or lower your device’s volume by scrolling up or down this vertical rectangular box.

Perform a 3D touch

There are two other permanent controls that can be accessed by performing a 3D touch on either the WiFi or Bluetooth icons.

  • AirDrop – When tapped, this icon will turn blue and connect to the nearest iOS or MacOS device with AirDrop turned on as well.
  • Personal hotspot – When tapped, this icon will turn blue and give off a hotspot signal from your phone. Hotspots may only work depending on your mobile plan.

In addition to permanent controls, there are controls that can be custom added to the bottom of the control center display. These controls are highlighted in yellow below:


My custom controls (from left to right) include:

  • Flashlight – When tapped, this icon will turn blue and access your camera’s flash until the user turns it off.
  • Timer – When tapped, your device’s timer will immediately be accessed.
  • Calculator – When tapped, your device’s calculator will immediately be accessed.
  • Camera – When tapped, your device’s camera will immediately be accessed.
  • Screen record – When tapped, this icon will turn red and count down from three seconds to being screen recording on your device.

How to customize the iPhone control center

The iOS 11 update gave users more “control” over their control centers by allowing them to add or remove custom controls. Here’s how:


Disabling the iPhone control center

Control center is an intuitive feature, however, it may not be for everyone. Below are two ways to disable control center on your iPhone.

Access within apps

Looking to disable access to the control center when using applications? Find and click the toggle next to Access Within Apps so it’s greyed out – as shown below.


Disabling access within apps comes in handy when using applications or mobile games with a similar swipe pattern. This way, the control center won’t be accidentally pulled up during a session.

Access on the lock screen

For those looking to disable access to the control center on their lock screen, simply go to Touch ID & Passcode, scroll down, and find Control Center.

Click the toggle next to Control Center so it’s greyed out.


Not everyone wants quick access to settings from their lock screen. Disabling this feature may add another level of privacy and security. For even more protection, rest your iPhone passcode to something that only you know, and that no one will guess.

Take control of your iPhone

You may have accessed the control center before, but now, you can add your most frequently used custom controls.

This is true control of your iPhone.

Many of the instructions provided in this article were done through iPhone’s screenshot feature. To take high-quality screenshots of your own, check out our guide on how to take screenshots on iPhone. Additionally, learn How to Back Up Your iPhone

Devin Pickell

Devin Pickell

Devin is a Content Marketing Specialist at G2 Crowd writing about data, analytics, and digital marketing. Prior to G2, he helped scale early-stage startups out of Chicago's booming tech scene. Outside of work, he enjoys watching his beloved Cubs, playing baseball, and gaming.