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This iPhone 15 Pro trick gives you the Action button functionality you’ve dreamed of

Published Sep 30th, 2023 10:46AM EDT
iPhone 15 Pro profile shows the Action button.
Image: Jonathan Geller, BGR

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I haven’t upgraded to one of the four iPhone 15 models that went on sale around the world on Friday. But if I were to get one, it’d probably be the iPhone 15 Pro. It’s one of the two only possible upgrade routes for this iPhone 14 Pro user. I do happen to be envious of a few of the new features that Apple added to this year’s Pros.

The Action button is one of them, as it brings another set of quick actions that power users will appreciate. The Action button is just as useful as the Control Center, the “back tap” button, and the Haptic Touch features. They all let you get faster to where you’re going without necessarily dealing with elaborate menus or opening apps.

But the iPhone 15 Pros do not feature an advanced Action button that would make it even more useful. This first version of the iPhone Action button lets you select only one action you’d like it to do. It acts as a mute switch by default. But it also supports other eight features that Apple lets you pair with the button.

Thankfully, one of the nine features tied to the Action button is support for the Shortcuts app. And it so happens that you can use the powerful iPhone app to come up with the Action button functionality you’ve always dreamed of.

Once it was clear that the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max would feature Action buttons, I started imagining what they could do. One thing the Action button could do is change behavior automatically depending on Focus mode. Here’s what I said I want from the button after the iPhone 15 launch event:

Finally, what I really want is a way to associate the Action button with the current Focus mode. Say I set Focus to Travel mode, which could include silencing the iPhone. I’d want the Action button to turn into an instant translator automatically. Or I might be working, and I need Voice Memos handy when the Work Focus mode silences the handset.

An even better feature would be a smarter Action button that adapts to what you’re doing. A button that could have commands ready depending on what you’re doing on the iPhone.

iPhone 15 Pro Action button shortcut assigns a menu to the button.
iPhone 15 Pro Action button shortcut assigns a menu to the button. Image source: YouTube

It’s too early to tell whether Apple will offer any of that. But, while we wait, there’s a YouTuber who has figured out a few great shortcuts for the Action button. If you want an Action button that offers more customization, you have to check Stephen Robles’s video at the end of this post.

The YouTuber offers two types of shortcuts that many iPhone 15 Pro owners will love. One of them lets you create a menu for the Action button. Why settle for one action at a time when you can pair multiple shortcuts to it? The list can include the mute toggle, a rotation lock, the camera, and any other app or shortcut app you might want to pair with the Action button.

But Robles also teaches you how to create an Action button shortcut that lets you change the action based on the Focus mode. That’s the functionality I mentioned before.

It turns out the Shortcuts app lets you create a shortcut that will automatically change the functionality of the Action button based on the Focus you’ve set up on the phone. The YouTuber demos a shortcut where a Focus mode called “Filming” would assign the Camera option to the Action button. A Focus mode called Weekend will pair the Calculator app with the Action button.

You could rinse and repeat and assign different Action button behaviors to each of your Focus modes. You can even add an Action button menu for the times when there’s no Focus mode enabled on the iPhone.

Check out the full video below to learn how to create your own iPhone 15 Pro Action button shortcuts or copy the ones Robles has made.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.