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Summary:

Suffering from an unresponsive home button? There’s an app for that, sort of.

iPhone home button

Is your iPhone’s home button busted? Do you have to press it down as hard as you can ten times in a row before it actually takes you to the home screen? Are you contemplating buying a new phone because you just can’t stand it any longer? Don’t do that! There’s a simple fix for your problem, and it won’t cost you a dime.

I’m going to let you in on the secret: AssistiveTouch. This is most assuredly the good kind of touch — one that will gently wake you from your home button nightmare.

Before I get into how it works, here’s how to turn it on:

  • Open up Settings
  • Tap on General
  • Scroll down and tap Accessibility
  • Scroll down almost to the bottom, tap on AssistiveTouch, and switch the button to ON

Assistive Touch Setup

Once you complete these steps, a small, semi-transparent button will appear on your screen — think of it as the closest Apple will ever get to a widget. And it won’t just appear on your settings screen, it will appear on every screen. You see, this is the button that’s going to take you back home.

You can drag the AssistiveTouch button wherever you please on the left or right-hand side of your screen, but it never disappears, so put it somewhere out of the way. When you touch it, a small menu pops up over whatever screen you’re on, with options for Favorites, Voice Control, Device, and, yes, Home.

Tapping on Home will make the pop-up menu disappear and bring you right back to your home screen, just like your physical home button did. It works like your physical home button in every other way as well. For instance, if you tap on it twice it will activate your phone’s multitasking capabilities.

Assistive Touch Menu

You’re probably wondering why Apple even snuck this feature in there in the first place. It’s almost like your home button was destined to break all along, right? Actually, AssistiveTouch was designed for people who can’t hit the physical home button properly. Apple understands that it’s important to make modern devices accessible to as many people as possible. It’s just a happy coincidence that it’s also a cheap fix for your broken home button.

And while it may seem a little obtrusive at first, you start to forget the AssistiveTouch button is even there after a while. Give it some time, and you’ll find yourself wondering why it wasn’t there all along, and what’s so good about physical buttons anyway?

Once you’ve sworn off your old home button for good, you may even start to notice there’s a lot of other cool stuff you can do with AssistiveTouch. Want to take a screenshot? Go for it. Turn the volume up or down? You can do that too. In fact, the AssistiveTouch button makes it so that you never have to press another physical button again… Except your power button. If that one goes, and you’ve got a got a busted home button, get yourself to the Genius Bar, and fast.

  1. Very inconvenient workaround and the shortcuts you need most are buried 3 levels down. This is not at all a usable replacement for the home button. Just buy a new phone.

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    1. Beanbag McGee Monday, October 21, 2013

      “Just buy a new phone.” That really sums it up, jackass! Thanks for the helpful comment.

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  2. I had this problem with my old iphone. Now moved to a lumia 920. Its a breeze to use without physical start button. After using this for a while using any iphone feels like a strain

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  3. Here’s a better option from Smalldog Electronics:

    Do you have an older iPod or iPhone that has a sluggish Home button? Does it take a couple taps to get it to register? It may just need to be recalibrated.

    Before today, I didn’t even know you can do this; I’d always figured it was just a failing part. But thanks to an article on snapguide.com, I learned that you can recalibrate the button.

    In order to do this, you need to open up one of the stock Apple apps (like Calendar, YouTube, Weather, Maps, etc.). Once the app is open, hold down the power button until the red “slide to power off” shows up, then immediately press and hold down the home button until the slider goes away. The app quits and you’re back at the home screen. There’s no guarantee that this will fix the problem, but depending on the issue, it may.

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    1. Thx champ! Worked a treat!!!

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  4. handy tip!

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  5. Absolutely awesome post. Mine was not responsive after a year. I accidentally goo-ed my phone with hand sanitizer, and then it was working fine for a while, but then back to the press press press frustration press! so this is GREAT! Thanks for the post.

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  6. Assistive Touch is an option,
    so is Restarting the iPhone.

    Underneath the hand sanitizer option lies the:

    Clear Alchohol Droplet on the Home Button…

    keeps the button working for weeks ;-)

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  7. …sorry the correct wording is: Pure Alchohol Droplet

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  8. I’ve used 100% pure alcohol (isoropyl) on my phone a bunch of times and it always does the trick. Plenty of guides online about how to apply it to fix a ‘broken’ home button. Suggest you do that before resorting to the above option.

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  9. The semitransparent button lies in constant wait in the upper left corner…right where a lot of apps have a menu button (like Facebook.) Not useful.

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    1. Just drag the semitransparent button elsewhere on the screen if it’s in the way.

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  10. If you think it’s a happy coincidence, see Google come up with auto suggestions as you start typing home button… or iphone home…

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