Quite some time ago someone told me (or maybe I read it) that iPhones have a built-in trackpad or mouse pointer that makes it easy for you to move the cursor around for editing text. I want to know if this is actually possible?

Right now my computer is in for repairs and I’m stuck using an iPhone to edit a Word document and being able to do this would be great if its possible, but I can’t see any options anywhere in the settings.

So is it true that iPhones have a built-in trackpad or mouse pointer function? And how do I get to use it?

2 Answers 2


iOS 13 and later

As of iOS 13 and above the process for using this feature has changed.

The steps are largely the same as for iOS 12 and earlier (see below), but instead of pressing hard on any of the keys on your keyboard, you need to press on the space bar and not let go to see and use the trackpad.

The other change is that this feature is now available to any iPhone compatible with iOS 13 or later, not just iPhones with 3D Touch. So, models like the iPhone SE are now covered!

iOS 12 and earlier

Yes, this is true but not for all iPhones. It has to be an iPhone 6S or above (basically any iPhone with 3D Touch, which unfortunately means the current iPhone SE is not included).

The way to access it is via the keyboard, so you need to already have the keyboard visible on the screen.

More specifically, follow these steps:

  1. Press hard on any of the keys on your keyboard (but don’t let go)
  2. After a moment your keyboard will turn into a grey “trackpad”, so to speak (remember, don’t let go)
  3. Now move your finger around the grey trackpad area (where your keyboard was) and this moves your cursor around the editing area (so if it’s only a small field, you can only move the cursor around that, if it’s your Word document, you should be able to move around the page).
  4. As soon as you let go, the trackpad disappears and your keyboard returns, and you can start typing from where you left the cursor.

Highlighting text

Since you’re stuck having to edit a Word doc on your iPhone, you’ll probably need to know how to highlight text while using the above feature. This is a little tricky, but you just move the cursor to a word you want to highlight and then reduce the pressure on your finger ever so slightly for a moment and then press hard again. This should highlight the word for you.

Note:- This may take a little while to get used to and, while handy, certainly doesn’t make the job of editing a Word document on your iPhone easy! But it is handy for small notes or adding comments to news stories, etc.


Below are two screenshots showing a before and after shot of how this works when using this mode to edit this very answer!

enter image description here

  • 3
    Yes, you can, but it's a little tricky. When you reduce the pressure of your finger and the word is highlighted, you then drag your finger at the same pressure to highlight more text. TBH it does take a little while to master, but if you're editing a Word document you'll get plenty of practice! :)
    – Monomeeth
    Jul 14, 2017 at 9:37
  • 2
    I could not find office Apple documentation on it, but many sites call this "trackpad mode", so if you search for that you can find examples of all the features.
    – Jan Fabry
    Jul 14, 2017 at 12:50
  • 2
    "adding comments to news stories" Surely you mean adding comments to Stack Exchange posts! Jul 14, 2017 at 13:44
  • 2
    Holy crap... I am so glad this was in the hot network question list. I have been struggling to move my cursor with my finger when editing text messages before sending. Thank you so much for it and the highlighting was easy! I did it on my first try.
    – ggiaquin16
    Jul 14, 2017 at 20:37
  • 1
    It might be worth hooking up a Bluetooth mouse (and keyboard?) to a newer iPhone and see if it works. The keyboard has always worked but the mouse hasn't because the iPhone didn't have the concept of a cursor before. On Android phones both the keyboard and mouse have always worked as though it was a tiny laptop.
    – Bill K
    Jul 14, 2017 at 21:32

This is also possible on an iPad, even one without force touch. When the keyboard is up, simply do the following on the keyboard (all of these require two fingers):

  • Drag to move cursor like a trackpad.

  • Single tap to highlight the current word.

  • Double tap to highlight the sentence.

  • Triple tap to highlight everything.

When something is highlighted:

  • Drag left to move the left highlight bound.

  • Drag right to move the right highlight bound.

  • video or it didn't happen 😇
    – gman
    Jul 16, 2017 at 14:15

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