While the iPhone has a beneficial two-finger drag gesture to select some or all files and other items, Apple barely mentions that capability anywhere, and it’s largely unknown. It’s fair to call this a hidden iPhone trick because there is no visible way to know it’s possible. It’s the sort of thing that requires a large amount of reading or discovering this gesture as a happy accident. Once the shortcut is revealed, it might change how an iPhone is used on a daily basis. It’s that valuable.
There are often many ways to achieve the same result with an iPhone. For example, pressing and holding a word highlights it, and selection handles appear, making it possible to drag the handle at either end to extend the selection in either direction. A faster way to select a whole sentence is by triple-tapping on a word. Double-tapping selects the word, giving a small taste of the many selection tools available in iOS.
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Handling long lists can be time-consuming, but the iPhone has a great shortcut to help speed that process up. In the Files app, pressing two fingers on the screen and dragging any direction will begin selecting files. The iPhone’s dual-finger drag gesture works in several other apps that show a list of several items. Many of Apple‘s built-in apps support this batch selection method, including Mail, Reminders, Notes, Voice Memos, Shortcuts and possibly more. Third-party apps can use this gesture as well, and it’s part of iOS. By starting with the first file in a folder and making a double-fingered drag to the last, it’s possible to choose all files relatively quickly. This also works with the other iPhone apps mentioned above to select all mail or notes in a folder.
Select All iPhone Photos
It’s a bit surprising that the iPhone’s two-finger drag gesture doesn’t work in the Photos app, but that could be because it would conflict with the pinch gesture, which is active in the list view to make thumbnails larger and smaller. A random selection when resizing the thumbnails would be annoying. Thankfully, Apple found another way to choose more than one item in the Photos app quickly.
After tapping the select button in the upper right, a user can quickly choose a range of sequential pictures and videos by pressing and holding one and dragging any direction. While this works just like the two-finger drag gesture, it starts with entering selection mode and then using a single finger. It can be a bit disheartening to select every item in an extensive photo library, even when using this shortcut. However, Apple hasn’t added a select all button or gesture for lists yet. In the meantime, the iPhone’s one and two-finger drag methods make choosing photos, files, and more quite a bit faster and easier.