Since iOS 11, a thumbnail preview appears on your iPhone when you take a screenshot. It’s useful for accessing quick sharing options and editing tools, but you can’t turn off the preview image. You can wait for it to disappear or swipe it off the screen, but that’s as good as it gets – until now. In an iOS 14 update, there is an option to turn off the screenshot preview – just you won’t find it in Settings.
That’s because Apple hasn’t included a handy toggle that you can turn off to prevent screenshot thumbnails like the ones there are on macOS. Apple may not even know it included an option to avoid screenshot previews on iOS and iPadOS, and that̵
It’s a pretty simple action that takes a screenshot when triggered in a shortcut. This can be useful for many reasons, such as automatically inserting a screenshot in a frame, for example an iPhone mock-up image (an otherwise slow process). You can also have the image sent to an app right away, change the resolution, crop it to specific dimensions, and much more.
When used to save screenshots in the Photos app as normal screenshots already do, there is an interesting side effect: there is no thumbnail preview. So it works more like screenshots used in iOS 10 and earlier.
- Shortcuts app: The app is pre-installed on iOS and iPadOS, but if you uninstalled it, you can get it back from the App Store.
- iOS 14.5 beta 2 or higher (or iPadOS 14.5 beta 2 or higher): The iOS update with the new Shortcuts promotion is not available to everyone yet, so you’ll need to join the beta as a developer or public tester if you want to try it out sooner rather than later.
Step 1: Build the shortcut
Open Shortcuts to the “My Shortcuts” tab, then tap the plus sign (+) in the top right corner to start a draft. Tap the “Add Action” button or the search bar, find and select “Take Screenshot” from the available actions. This is the basis of our shortcut.
As it is now, the shortcut will take a screenshot when triggered, but it won’t do anything with it as we haven’t added those instructions yet. To fix this, tap the plus (+) or search bar again, but now find and select “Save to Photo Album.” This action will save all screenshots in Photos.
You can change the album from “Recent” to any of your personal albums, but of course the screenshot will still appear in “Recents”, as well as the “Screenshot” folder. If you change the album, you just get a different place to put it if you want.
That’s it for the shortcut workflow. Tap “Next”, enter a name for your shortcut and change the icon if desired. Tap “Done” to finish.
You can now tap on the shortcut’s card to take a screenshot, but that’s not very useful. You could also say the name of your shortcut to Siri, and a screenshot will be taken for you, but you have the Siri interface in the image. To fix this issue, we need another feature that is new in iOS 14 that also benefits from being easier to use than pressing your iPhone’s buttons to take a screenshot.
Step 2: Assign it to Back Tap
Apple added a new accessibility feature in iOS 14 called “Back Tap,” which allows you to trigger actions by tapping the back of your iPhone two or three times. Assign your new screenshot to it, and taking screenshots just got so much easier.
Open the Settings app and go to Accessibility -> Touch -> Back Tap. Choose “Double Tap” or “Triple Tap” for the trigger, but know that it is easier to accidentally take screenshots with two taps. Then scroll down and pass the “Screenshot” option, which takes a screenshot with the thumbnail preview as before. Find the name of your shortcut in the shortcuts section of the list and select it.
That is it! Double-tap or triple-tap the back of your iPhone to test it out. If it is your first time using the shortcut, you will see a prompt on the screen asking if you would like to have a screenshot taken, so tap “OK” to agree. You will only see that prompt once after you approve it.
After double-tapping or triple-tapping, you’ll see that familiar white flash, followed by a short confirmation notification. It disappears after half a second, so it’s much less intrusive than the thumbnail preview. While there are ways to get rid of notifications for the Shortcuts app and for automation, Back Tap ignores both workarounds, so there’s no way to turn off the checkmark short warning at this point.
So what do you do with the other Back Tap gesture? Pretty much anything you can think of. Some ideas include activating Spotlight Search, opening your calculator, operating your flashlight, or even starting an audio recording to record real-time conversations like a spy.
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