Tips sought for mastering the rotor gesture

I have been using an ipad mini 4 for several months now. I am getting pretty good at the gestures, but one gesture that is still giving me trouble is the rotor. I can't seem to turn my fingers at the same time. I have much better luck turning the rotor to the left, but sometimes that doesn't work. I can't go clockwise at all or at least when I've tried it, nothing happens. I am r3ght handed, so could that have something to do with why I have difficulty with clockwise? The only reliable way I can do the rotor is if I put my fingers on the screen and turn the ipad itself, but that is a bit awkward to do with an ipad. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can place my fingers differently and more importantly how to get the motion right? Are there exercises I can do to help with the motion?


iPad rotor option

Might I suggest holding the iPad with both hands on either side. Place both thumbs on the screen and move one up while moving the other down. I often do this with my iPad and iphone. Seems to work fairly well.

what works for me

I use thumb and middle fenger of right hand.
Make sure you have solid contact.
Make sure the two digits are separated an inch or so.
Do it a bit slower than most flicks.


What works for me is to grip my iPhone with the right hand, and use my index and middle fingers on the left hand to turn the rotor either direction. I think of it as turning a knob on a washing machine.

finger placement/usage


I'm right-handed myself. And like you, I've had my mini 4 for a bit over half a year now. I had issues with the rotor too. I use the 1st 2 fingers of my right hand. Have solid contact & do not put your fingers together! Give each one some space to move & turn them both together. I can't relly recommend any excercises for you, but I STRONGLY recommend you practice, practice and practice some more. You'll get the hang of it in time! It is a bit hard to get used to I'll admit that. Gope this helps & good luck!


You really need to get a hang of this gesture. This is a pretty crucial one. You can do things such as: change how you navigate, select text to copy/paste, change speaking rate on the fly, etc.

Rotor Gesture

When I began working with the Iphone, I noticed everyone did the rotor differently. It's something you have to play with to see what works best for you. I tend to use my right thumb to rotate down and my left index finger on my left hand to go up. Sometimes I'll use a thumb to go up and ther for down, but most of the time, it's the thumb and index finger I mentioned previously. I don't remember why I chose this way; one day I just found myself doing it that way.

Something you can try.


A simple exercise you can do is find a comination type padlock. Use your thumb and pointer finger. Keep turning clockwise and counter clockwise with just the tips of those two fingers. Soon you’ll get the hang of it.

This is what I do for folks having issues or understanding how the rotor works.

HTH and good luck.

Thank you

I used your tip and I can now use the rotor. Geez! It's so easy now! I was struggling with this finger gesture forever!! Thanks again

I don't have an iPad but

I use the index finger of each hand. I simply placed them next to one another, then I go up with one while going down with the other.

the rotor gesture

Club AppleVis Member

This is one of those things which seems to be so intuitive for some of us that it's hard to get your mind around how it could be so difficult for others. I've never had a problem with the rotor from day one back in 2011 when I got my first iPHONE. I just put my thum and index finger on the screen and turn the imaginary knob without much thought. You're far from the only person I've encountered who just can't seem to use the gesture without undue stress.

One workaround is to do the gesture with two hands. Put both index fingers on opposite edges of the touchscreen in the middle of the vertical edge so the fingers point at each other. Next, at the same time, move one hand toward the top of the screen and the other downward. To turn the rotor right, move the left index finger upward while moving the right index finger downward. Do the opposite to turn the rotor left. That's helped some people who I've explained it to. Hope it helps you out.

The Rotor Gesture

I must say I'm among the people who were driven insane trying to get this gesture right when I first started working with an iPhone in 2011. I think it was about a year after I purchased the phone when one day, thanks to one of my fully sighted friends, it finally clicked. He doesn't use VoiceOver himself but seemed determined to come up with a way to try to help me, so he played around tirelessly by turning on VoiceOver and turning on the screen curtain. I'm right handed too, and the way that has finally worked for me is to hold the phone in my left hand: thumb resting just below the down volume button, the other fingers of that same hand resting along the right hand edge of the phone. I place the index and middle fingers of my right hand roughly in the centre of the screen, well spread out to give them lots of room to move. Once in this position much of the movement comes from my left wrist rather than my fingers, so to turn clockwise my left wrist tilts to the right, and when moving anticlockwise (counterclockwise) it tilts left. Since starting to train others to perform this gesture I have generally been successful in physically demonstrating the technique to them, even if in the end they come across an alternative that suits them better, so I must apologize if this whole idea sounds totally confusing written down - it really is much easier than it sounds.

Rotor Gesture

I now have an iPhone and believe it or not, the rotor gesture is easier on the phone thann the iPad. However, I still find the clockwise direction difficult, but counterclockwise is easier. It's almost like my wrist doesn't want to turn in the clockwise direction.

Here is a way to use the rotor with one hand

I hope this helps:
Just extend your thumb and middle finger and place them on the screen, then just move your middle finger either to the right or to the left without moving your thumb. That way you will be moving the options for the rotor.
Try it.
Once you are able to do this gesture, moving the rotor options should be a piece of cake.
Good luck.

Didn't work for me

DrummerGuy, your suggestion didn't work for me. I just got the bong sound when I moved my middle finger per your suggestion. I think it's necessary for your 2 fingers to move vertically in opposite directions to perform the rotor gesture.

Keep trying. You will get it.

Jeff, keep trying, my friend. You will get it. It just takes a little time, I suppose. If that doesn't work, try rotating a little bit your hand to the right or to the left well having your fingers on the screen. That way, you will be doing a movement such as when you are turning a knob or a dial.
Just keep trying. I know you will get it.

Oh, I have no trouble

I have no trouble with the rotor gesture, although I do think it's a bit awkward. I actually have a couple of methods that work well for me. It's just that I couldn't get your method to work for me. I think it doesn't work to keep the thumb stationary. As I said, I think the gesture requires that the 2 fingers move vertically in opposite directions.

Do that sometimes

It works for me, DrummerGuy, and I use that single moving finger gesture sometimes. It's kind of like drawing a circle with a compass.
My gripe with the rotor gesture is that there are too many empty clicks in between each option, or that you have to move so much to get to the next option. It's a big hassle to me, and wastes time.

Another way

The way it was explained to me was:
Think of it as if you were turning an imaginary key.
I only use my thumb and index fingers, my wrist doesn't move at all.
The side of my thumb, and the tip of my index finger.
Its like trying to make a circle with them, like trying to draw a circle with them. And you do need to move both fingers. if you leave one of them stationary, it wont work. OK, it will, but sometimes.
And it is nothing but practice, practice, practice.