How to use Interactive Home Screen Widgets on iPhone

Learn how to use interactive widgets on iPhone, so you can perform actions without leaving the ‌Home Screen

By Stacey Butler - Senior Staff Writer
1 Min Read

Home screen widgets have been around since iOS 14 and iPadOS 15. But unlike their Android counterparts, they lacked interactive buttons. For example, the Music widget could show the song currently playing, but offered no way to play or pause the music. The best you could do is tap the widget to open the associated app.

That has changed with both iOS 17 and iPadOS 17. Widgets can include interactive elements. You can play and pause songs in the Music widget, check off items in the Reminders widget, and turn accessories on and off in the Home widget.

How to use interactive widgets in iOS 17

  • Touch and hold a blank spot of a Home screen to enter jiggle mode.

  • Tap the plus button.

  • Select a widget from the list or use the search field to find one

  • Most widgets come in different sizes: small (about four app icons in size), medium (two whole rows of app icons), or large (four rows of app icons). Select the size you want. Then, drag it onto the Home Screen or tap Add Widget at the bottom.

  • Choose an Apple widget like Reminders, Music, or Podcasts to benefit from interactivity. A different color shade is used to differentiate the interactive buttons from the rest of the widget.

  • Then, tap on the buttons to start or pause music and podcasts. Or tap on the circles in the Reminders widget to complete tasks without opening the Reminders app.

Additionally, don’t forget that many widgets made since ‌iOS 17‌ was released are fully interactive, so you can tap buttons and items within these widgets to perform actions without leaving the ‌Home Screen‌.

Widget Stacks

There’s also a special widget called the Smart Stack. The Smart Stack contains a grab bag of choices: Memories from Photos, recent Notes, Apple Music selection, items from News, and more. The Smart Stack comes in two sizes, small or medium, and it changes content dynamically throughout the day. Alternatively, you can swipe through each item in the Smart Stack.

Most widgets have settings of their own, which you can access by tapping and holding a widget and choosing Edit Widget. The Smart Stack has a special option, called Edit Stack, which lets you rearrange the order of the Smart Stack items and turn off Smart Rotate, which automatically cycles through different widget types.

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By Stacey Butler Senior Staff Writer
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Stacey is a senior staff writer at GeeksChalk and has been writing about Apple for nearly a decade. She covers all things Apple for GeeksChalk, including iPhones, iPads and Mac. Based in Honolulu, Hawaii, Stacey is often found hiking precarious landscapes or tinkering with a camera.
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