Advanced touchscreen controls


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Advanced touchscreen controls

tap and hold on a touchscreen

What's coming up?

In this activity, you’ll learn some more advanced gestures that you can use with your tablet. You’ll find out how to zoom in and out, and how to rotate things.

You’ll also find out about the long tap gesture which is used for certain special tablet functions.

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How to zoom

You can temporarily enlarge content on the screen of your tablet, to make it easier to see. This is known as zooming in and is done using a pinching out gesture called the reverse pinch.

You can also zoom out to restore content to its original size, or make it even smaller, by using a pinching in gesture called the pinch.

Together, these gestures are sometimes called pinch-to-zoom. Let's take a look at them in more detail.

using pinch to zoom on a tablet
zooming in on a tablet

Zooming in

To make objects on the screen bigger, you use the reverse pinch gesture. To perform a reverse-pinch:

  1. Put the tips of your thumb and finger together and place them gently on the area of the screen that you want to enlarge
  2. Slowly spread your finger and thumb apart while keeping your fingertips touching the screen
  3. As you spread your fingers, the content will become enlarged and more detailed. When you are happy with the size, take your fingers off the screen
  4. Depending on the app you are using, the content might stay zoomed-in, or it might snap back to its original size
  5. Repeat this gesture to zoom in again, or to keep zooming in.

Zooming out

To make content on the screen appear smaller, or to return it to its original size after zooming in, you can use the pinch gesture. To do this:

  1. Place the tips of your thumb and finger wide apart on the touchscreen
  2. Gently bring your finger and thumb together keeping your fingertips on the screen, until the object is the size you want.
zooming out

How to zoom on a touchscreen - demonstration

double tap to zoom

Double tap to zoom

Another way to zoom in or out quickly on a touchscreen is to use a double tap gesture. This doesn’t always work, as it depends on the app you are using, and what you are tapping. However, photos are a good example of when this works well. To zoom using double tap:

  1. Lightly tap a photo on the screen twice, quickly. The photo will zoom in
  2. Double tap once again, and the photo will zoom back to the original size.

If the double tap gesture doesn’t work, you can always use the reverse-pinch gesture instead.

How to double tap to zoom on a touchscreen - demonstration

Content rotation

There may be times when you want to move something that you see on screen, such as a map, to look at it from a different angle. To rotate what you see on screen:

  1. Lightly place your thumb and finger onto the screen at the same time
  2. Rotate your finger and thumb in a circular motion, while keeping your fingertips touching the screen
  3. The content will move and when the angle is just right, take your finger and thumb off the screen.
rotating a map

How to rotate content on a touchscreen - demonstration

Device rotation

You can change how you see things on a screen by rotating the tablet itself. Having the long edge of the screen at the top is called being in landscape mode. When the short edge is at the top, it's called portrait mode. To move between landscape and portrait, simply rotate the device in your hands 90 degrees clockwise or anti-clockwise. You’ll notice the content on screen will adapt as you change the orientation of your device.

If the content doesn’t rotate, you might need to unlock device rotation in your tablet’s settings first.

rotating a tablet

How to rotate a device - demonstration

long tapping the clock app icon

How to long tap

The long tap gesture is also known as tap and hold and can be used to open additional menus for content on your device.

For example, you can long tap on an app icon to display the app's menu, or on a news article to see options for saving or sharing it with a friend via email.

To perform a long tap, press and hold your finger on an item until a menu appears, then release your finger and tap on an option from the list.

To close the menu, tap anywhere else on the screen.

How to long tap on a touchscreen - demonstration

Well done!

This is the end of the Advanced touchscreen controls activity. You’ve learned different touchscreen control gestures and we recommend you practise them in our Practice area.

If you’re a registered user, you can now complete a short quiz to test your learning. If you’re not registered, this is now the end of the What is a tablet? course.

rotating a mapping app