iPhone: Control iPod functions through headphones

The little microphone/switch that bulges out on the right side of the headphones included with the iPhone can do some neat tricks other than answer or hang up a call. When not in a call, you can use this switch to control the iPod functions of the iPhone. It’s a testament to Apple’s designers to implement something simple like this that would be easy to overlook.

When not on a call, if you click the iPhone’s headphone switch once, music will start playing without having to access the iPod features through the screen. The iPhone doesn’t even need to be unlocked for this to work.

Tap the switch once again and the music will pause.

Double-click the switch twice quickly and you will fast forward to the next song.


About Quinn McHenry

Quinn was one of the original co-founders of Tech-Recipes. He is currently crafting iOS applications as a senior developer at Small Planet Digital in Brooklyn, New York.
View more articles by Quinn McHenry

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33 Responses to “iPhone: Control iPod functions through headphones”

  1. October 13, 2008 at 1:25 pm, tim said:

    Click 3 times and you jump back to the previous song


  2. November 11, 2008 at 10:24 pm, Daniil said:

    If you triple-tap it (3 times fast) it rewinds


  3. December 04, 2008 at 10:12 pm, zach said:

    where do u get these headphones?


    • January 22, 2009 at 4:33 pm, tom said:

      you get them when you buy an iphone :-)


    • April 27, 2012 at 12:39 am, Hey said:

      or u can buy them for $30 on apple’s website or amazon or ebay or the apple store>


  4. March 13, 2009 at 1:13 am, Click Master said:

    Triple click the switch, it plays the previous song.


    • January 03, 2011 at 3:51 am, Roslee7 said:

      it doesnt work to click the switch to play previous song


      • February 12, 2011 at 3:48 am, Anonymous said:

        yes … it does work … 1 click, play … double click to play next song … triple click to play last song


  5. July 06, 2009 at 9:43 pm, Rob said:

    Click three times and it goes back a song! Shame no volume control though.


    • July 22, 2009 at 9:09 pm, Name said:

      Rob, there is volume control, if you look theres a plus and minus on the control specifically for volume control


      • January 23, 2010 at 4:15 am, Nicholas said:

        No thats not on the model i have and it might be the same with Rob.


    • November 21, 2010 at 11:38 pm, Daisy said:

      There is volume control on that thing…look closely and you’ll see the + or – sign. Click on it!

      If you click twice to forward song, but you told the second click longer, it will fast forward the song to the middle or whatnot.


    • January 18, 2011 at 10:32 pm, Shellio66 said:

      there is volume control if you purchased the updated iphone (4) or purchase the iphone 4 earbuds on ebay


    • February 12, 2011 at 3:49 am, Anonymous said:

      the switch is a volume control as well … click the top or bottom of the switch to increase or decrease the volume


  6. September 14, 2009 at 7:30 pm, John said:

    Click and hold the headphone button to activate voice control on the new 3gs


  7. September 14, 2009 at 7:30 pm, John said:

    Press and hold the switch and it activates voice control allowing you to jump to any song if your voice is clear enough


  8. September 23, 2009 at 12:32 pm, Anonymous said:

    If you pause then dub tap then restarts the playlist


    • October 02, 2009 at 10:04 am, Ben said:

      with the skip forward & skip back control, if you hold the button on the final tap it will fast forward/ rewind the current song (ie click twice quickly and hold on the 2nd click and it will audio scrub forward). Takes a bit of practice but bloody brilliant when you get it


  9. December 11, 2009 at 1:50 am, Anonymous said:

    Click once then hold to ff, click twice then hold to rewind


  10. February 28, 2010 at 2:54 pm, Anonymous said:

    The volume controls are on the 3GS Iphone headphones =] !


  11. March 16, 2010 at 3:20 pm, Anonymous said:

    and press it threew times and it goes back a song


  12. May 17, 2010 at 7:04 pm, kathy said:

    how do i take off the headset mode off my phone ??


  13. February 12, 2011 at 3:50 am, Anonymous said:

    the earphones and switch works with iTunes as well (plugged into your Mac)


  14. June 16, 2011 at 7:45 pm, Stealthartist1 said:

    hold centre button for voice commands


  15. July 18, 2011 at 8:14 pm, Kaitlynbancroft said:

    Can u use the voice controls on the iPod touch 2 nd gen an if so how


  16. August 21, 2011 at 6:31 pm, Sapan said:

    All the functions work amazingly.. I was looking for how to change to the previous song, and found some new tricks too…
    Thanks all… Keep sharing…


  17. August 29, 2011 at 11:07 pm, tonyastro said:

    if you click 3x it will play the previous song! oh and if you click 3x it will play the previous song! and you know what if you click 3x …


  18. October 17, 2011 at 8:00 am, Mister anonymous said:

    Here is everything in short
    1x = play music/ pauze music
    2x = next song
    3x = previous song
    2x = (second longer) fastforward
    3x = (third longer) fastbackward
    Hold = voice control


    • November 29, 2012 at 10:29 pm, Neil said:

      This is the best tip sheet I’ve ever seen. thank you so much


  19. November 04, 2012 at 9:03 am, Conor said:

    Is there some way u can mute where you talk into on the headphones because i think i done this as Siri can never hear me or when i try to use the headphones to make/receive calls no one can hear me talk. But when i tried other headphones they worked so its not my iphone!


    • November 20, 2012 at 8:43 pm, Erik said:

      > Your mic is broken.


  20. January 17, 2013 at 1:30 am, rick said:

    click twice
    Hold second click, will fast forward within chosen song


  21. April 07, 2013 at 10:36 am, Emory said:

    If you hold the button it will go to voice control.


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