Use Your iPhone 15 Pro's New Action Button for More Than One Thing

By default, the action button on the iPhone can only trigger one action at a time, but there's a way to unlock more.

Nelson Aguilar
Nelson Aguilar is an LA-based tech how-to writer and graduate of UCLA. With more than a decade of experience, he covers Apple and Google and writes on iPhone and Android features, privacy and security settings and more.
Nelson Aguilar
4 min read
Action button on the iPhone 15 Pro Max

Unlock the action button on the iPhone 15 Pro models to do more than you thought possible.

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The higher-end iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models both feature a new action button, replacing the ring/silent switch that the iPhone has had since its inception. The action button is customizable, allowing you to quickly perform actions like turn on the flashlight, open the camera and record a voice memo.

However, the action button can only do one of these actions. If you want it to perform another action, you'll have to go into your settings and remap the button each and every time.

To make it more useful, some iPhone 15 Pro users have suggested having the action button switch between what it can do depending on the state of the phone, to make things easier. For example, the action button could switch between actions depending on whether Do Not Disturb is enabled. Or do the same but for when Low Power mode is toggled off and on.

And while the iPhone 15 doesn't yet have that capability built-in, there is a way to "hack" the action button into performing more than just one action -- depending on the orientation of your phone. Check out the guide below to learn how to make the action button on your iPhone 15 Pro do more for you.

Also, check out our reviews of the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus and the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max.

1. Download the Orientation Action Mode shortcut

For this to work, we'll be using the Orientation Action Mode shortcut. This shortcut changes what the action button does based on your phone's orientation. If your iPhone 15 is horizontal, the action button will trigger one thing, but when the phone is vertical or face down it will trigger something different.

If you're unfamiliar with shortcuts on iOS, they provide an easy way to trigger actions on your iPhone with a single tap or by asking Siri. Any shortcut you create or download lives in the Shortcuts app, which is predownloaded on your iPhone.

Download: Orientation Action Mode for your iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max

Add the shortcut to your Shortcut library.

Downloading the Orientation Action Mode shortcut

Hit Get Shortcut > Add Shortcut to add it to your Shortcut library.

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2. Download the Actions app from App Store

You'll also need to download Actions, from developer Sindre Sorhus, which provides additional actions to your shortcuts. This app is necessary for the Orientation Action Mode shortcut to work.

Download: Actions (free) from the App Store.

The Actions app in the App Store

The Actions app is free to download from the App Store.

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3. Customize the Orientation Action Mode shortcut

Next, it's time to customize what the action button does when you trigger the Orientation Action Mode shortcut. Go into the Shortcuts app, tap Shortcuts on the bottom-left, find the Orientation Action Mode shortcut and then tap the three-dot menu button on the top-right of the shortcut.

Orientation Action Mode in Shortcuts

All the shortcuts.

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Here, you'll see the triggers and actions for the shortcut -- there are actions already chosen for you. If your device orientation is landscape left, meaning it's held horizontally, with the top of the phone facing left, the action button will trigger the shortcut to open your camera in photo mode. If your device orientation is portrait, which is how you typically hold your phone, the action button will toggle between silent and ring modes.

However, these are the default options. You can replace those actions with your own actions pretty easily. To do this, tap inside the search bar at the bottom of the shortcut and browse through all actions your phone can perform. To make it easy, you'll see suggestions based on your downloaded apps as well.

Actions you can choose for the Orientation Action Mode shortcut

You can see a few of the suggested actions you can choose from.

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You can have the shortcut do things like scan a document, call someone, record a voice memo, turn on your flashlight and open a specific app. When you find an action you like, press and hold down on the action, drag and place it right above the default action (lift your finger to drop it) in the shortcut and then delete the default action (X button). This will replace the default action with your new action.

Changing actions in the Orientation Action Mode shortcut

For this example, I changed what happens when I hit the action button in a landscape right orientation. Instead of opening the camera in photo mode, it plays my HARDCORE playlist in Apple Music.

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You can add actions for the following orientations, for a total of five:

  • Landscape right
  • Portrait
  • Landscape left
  • Face up
  • Face down

4. Add the shortcut to the action button

The last thing you need to do is to set your customized Orientation Action Mode shortcut to run when you hit the action button. Go to Settings > Action Button and swipe through until you reach Shortcut. Next, tap Choose a Shortcut... and then search for the Orientation Action Mode and select it.

Setting the Orientation Action Mode with the action button

Exit the action button setting after you choose the Orientation Action Mode shortcut.

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5. Trigger the Orientation Action Mode shortcut

To trigger an action, set your device to the orientation you want and then hold down on the action button.

Note: The first time you trigger any actions, you'll be asked to give your phone and the shortcut access to your applications and other settings. Hit Allow.

You'll know the Orientation Action Mode shortcut is triggered when you see the shortcut load up in your Dynamic Island.

Pressing action button on the iPhone 15 Pro Max

This right landscape orientation triggers my camera to open.

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