How to take control of the Control Center in iOS and iPadOS

The Control Center of the iPhone or iPad is a function many take for granted — an afterthought rather than something to use to its best advantage. The Control Center can be made available from the same place from any app at any time. In iOS 13 and up, and iPadOS, it serves as a shortcut to a set of device functions you want to immediately access without having to hunt for the right app. You can instantly turn Bluetooth on or off, get a song to play, or tap and drag to change the screen brightness or audio volume. We’ll show you how to take command of the Control Center and make it your own.

The Control Center has some default items like the ability to control your music, go into Airplane mode, Do Not Disturb, and adjust volume and screen brightness. In addition, there are a number of customizable items. For example, you can turn the Flashlight on, change the font size, launch the Camera or Calculator app, start a Stopwatch, and more.

There are also plenty of apps you can add to the Control Center. To do that, go to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls, where at the top, you will see the default functions and also items you can add to the list, including Do Not Disturb While Driving, the Home app, Low Power Mode, Magnifier, Notes, or QR Code Reader. You can even access your Wallet if it’s enabled. Some iPads may have variations of the Control Center widget list, and skip Flashlight, Wallet, Calculator, and Voice Memos.

To access Control Center from your lock screen, first, make sure it is enabled by going to Settings > Touch or Face ID and Passcode > Control Center. You must type in your passcode and switch on the Control Center toggle.

How to Access Control Center in iOS 13 and iOS 12

The following steps apply to all iPad models and all iPhone models without a Home button.

  • From the Home Screen or Lock Screen of your iPhone or iPad, the Control Center is located at the top right corner of the screen.
  • Swipe down from the top right corner to access Control Center in iOS 13 on iPhone or iPad.
  • Only new iPhone models with no Home button will use this new gesture for accessing the Control Center.
  • For older phones with a Home button, just swipe up from the bottom of the screen,
  • To dismiss the Control Center, swipe in the opposite direction.

How to customize Control Center apps

Customizing the Control Center is how you can personalize these quick-access controls anywhere in iOS. This feature is available on iPhone and iPad and it works the same on both devices. You will need iOS 11 or later to customize Control Center. Why bother? Customizing the Control Center lets you quickly change settings for the functions you use most often. Want to record an announcement or a set of instructions? Add the Voice Memos control. Want to dim the lights in the kids’ room? Add Home controls. Here’s how to customize the Control Center.

  • Go to Settings > Control Center.
  • Tap Customize Controls.
  • Tap the green Plus icon to add controls to the center.
  • Tap the red minus icon to remove controls from the center.
  • To rearrange controls within the center, tap and hold next to the controls and drag to place them in the order that you want them.

You can choose to access the Control Center exclusively from the home page, or from any app you’re working in. To do that go to Settings > Control Center > Access Within Apps and toggle the control on or off.

You can add or remove apps from the Control Center using the existing buttons, but some of them have more functionality. Notes serves to launch that app, giving you the choice of a new note, checklist, photo, or to scan a document. You can add Low Power Mode, the Magnifier, and more. Adding Text Size means that you can drag on the right up and down to make text bigger or smaller. With Flashlight, you get a variety of different flashlight levels and with the Timer, you tap it and then launch right to the Clock app. For the Calculator, you can copy the last result or tap to jump into the app. For the Camera, tap and hold and go straight to a particular mode — selfie, video, slo-mo — rather than just a quick tap to launch the camera.

Control Center looks similar on the iPad. The Control Center is revealed by pulling down on the upper right side of the screen. Even though it’s arranged somewhat differently, the buttons are the same and perform the same functions.

Each Control Center control has a specific function. Besides tapping on and off, if you tap and hold on a control, some modules expand or present additional options. Hold icons for Airplane Mode, AirDrop, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Cellular, or Personal Hotspot, and view additional options. In iOS 13 or iPadOS 13.1, there are more options for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth — a list of nearby wireless networks or the ability to connect to a specific Bluetooth device.

What you can’t control

Right now, only built-in Apple apps and controls are available for the Control Center. Some widgets can’t be removed from Control Center, for example, the spacious Screen Mirroring button, despite the fact that many users don’t use it, and the Music control. Controls for Wi-Fi, networking, Bluetooth, AirDrop, Cellular, Volume, Screen Orientation Rotate Lock, and Brightness are all permanent fixtures within the Control Center. Some controls are available only for specific devices, like Personal Hotspot and Cellular controls which are available on iPhones and Cellular equipped iPads.

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