How to use Activator to replicate Zephyr functionalities

By , Jan 8, 2014

Activator gestures for Zephyr

Zephyr is, with BiteSMS, one of my must-have jailbreak tweaks for iPhone. While BiteSMS has started making its way to devices on iOS 7 for a few weeks now, Zephyr is still nowhere to be found.

In fact, after chatting with Zephyr developer Grant Paul (aka chpwn), I was told that there were no plans at this time to update the tweak for iOS 7. So I decided to make the best I could with what I have: Activator by Ryan Petrich…

This workaround doesn’t aim to exactly replicate the functionalities of Zephyr, but it is indeed the best I could come up with. Obviously, your mileage may vary. As a matter of fact, you might even get a better mileage than me by tweaking the settings of Activator to your liking.

Veteran jailbreakers won’t learn anything from this post, so before jumping to the comment section and tell us you already knew about all this, please consider skipping this post altogether.

There are two things I really miss from Zephyr. The first one is how you can flick the screen up to close an app you’re in, mimicking what the Home button does. The second one is how you can switch between applications by sliding your finger in from left or right of the screen.

How to use Activator to close applications

The Home button is a great invention. I like to have one button to rule them all, but it sometimes frustrates me to see that Apple isn’t taking full advantage of multitouch gestures the way it could. My single favorite feature of Zephyr was how you could flick your finger up from below the screen to close an application you were in. Thankfully, Activator allows you to somewhat replicate this, even though Control Center can sometimes get in the way.

Here is the gesture and action I have set up in Activator to replicate this feature of Zephyr: Go to Activator > In Application > Slide in Gesture > From Screen Bottom-Left > First SpringBoard Page.

You might have noticed that I used the “First SpringBoard Page” action instead of the Home Button action. The reason is that I can’t get the Home Button action to work with this specific gesture. I brought this up to Ryan Petrich‘s attention, and that’s hopefully something he will fix in the future.

I use the From Screen Bottom-Left gesture so that I can still get to use Control Center from the right side of the screen.

This gesture/action combo works fairly well, although I sometimes accidentally pull up Control Center, or don’t perform the gesture the right way, resulting in no action at all. It takes a few minutes to get used to it, but once you get it running, it really feels like a natural gesture to close applications.

How to use Activator to switch to the previously used app

You may remember how Zephyr would let you switch from an app to a previously used one, simply by flicking in from the left of the screen to the right, and vice versa. This gesture was especially useful when switching back and forth between two applications.

You can’t exactly replicate this with Activator, but you can certainly add an extension that will help you switch between two apps. To do so, you have to install the LastApp extension from Cydia, which was recently updated for iOS 7 and iPhone 5s.

After installing LastApp, go to Activator and set up the following gesture and action: Activator > In Application > Slide in Gesture > From Screen Right > LastApp.

Now anytime you’re in an application and you want to switch to the previously used one, simply slide your finger from outside the right side of the screen onto the screen, and your last used app will show up. Do this gesture again to go back to the first app.

As noted above, this will not allow you to switch between all apps that are in the app switcher. It will only allow you to switch between two apps, but that is certainly better than nothing.

Make your own

Activator really is a powerful tweak with virtually endless possibilities. I have found that some of the gestures/actions don’t always work well, or sometimes at all, but for the most part, it is a solid option when it comes to using gestures to assign various actions.

What I described above is something that works well for my specific workflow, but it doesn’t mean you should replicate exactly what I did there. You’re obviously free to customize this to your liking and come up with your own workflow.

Zephyr, for example, also allowed you to invoke the app switcher. That is something that I did not try to replicate with Activator, but it could be fairly easy. A swipe up gesture from the bottom right of the screen could definitely be a good trick for that purpose. Again, it’s all up to what you’re trying to accomplish.

I’d be curious to hear about some of your gestures/actions. Please make sure to share them in the comment section below.

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  • Shawn

    Activator: When other apps cannot

    • dan

      Activator: where amazing happens ?

  • Pranav Shankar

    Virtual Home(if you’re using the 5s that is), you can also try ‘menu button emulator’ (haven’t tried it personally)

    • Mondo

      I’m still trying to figure out, is there a way to even take a screenshot with Virtual Home installed? Every time I try it just locks the phone.

      • Sam

        Its relatively simple to take a screenshot. You just do it in quick succession -> first the home button and then the power button. Having used this functionality with both virtual home and biolock installed on my iPhone 5s, I can safely that taking screenshots works a 100% if you do it quickly enough and not dilly dally.

      • Pranav Shankar

        Hmm well I tried and It didn’t work for me:/ but looks like SAMs figured it out!

      • Jeff W

        Apply slight pressure on the power button then home button works 100%.

  • czbird

    Slide in from right would interfere with Forward in Safari. I have assigned it to Slide off to right, instead. Thanks for the tip about updated LastApp.

  • Ismail ‘marco’ Azeem

    3 finger pinch to close apps :D

    • Kenrick Fernandes

      where do i find this on the iphone?

      • Ismail ‘marco’ Azeem

        its there in Activator.. go to settings>activator>in application scroll down to multi-touch gestures and select “three finger pinch” thats it :D

  • RarestName

    I was never a fan of Zephyr. I tried it out. I keep on accidentally switching and closing apps.

    • leart

      You know that switching from left to right is a option so is possible to disable it….

      • leart

  • Srikanth

    video please….

    • Victor

      What the freaking frick man this guy did the best job ever explaining it in text you simply DON’T need a video tutorial…

      • Dani Hayes

        A simple no would have been better. Don’t have to get hostile. People come here for help and such not to be insulted by people.

      • SimonReidy

        Cruel, but fair :)

  • Fermín Osorio

    A video will be awesome…

  • Gabriel Diaz

    Thought of this after the first day I jailbroke and downloaded Activator

    • Gabriel Diaz

      “Veteran jailbreakers won’t learn anything from this post, so before jumping to the comment section and tell us you already knew about all this, please consider skipping this post altogether.”

      Lol ooops sorry!

      • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

        No problem :)

  • Sympho Ny

    Hi,
    - I use the slide from bottom gesture to switch to the multitask when i’m in an application, make sure you disable the control center so it can’t be run from an app, it’s the easiest way I found instead of yours.

    - On the springboard, i use the flick down icon to go to the multitask.

    - The three finger pinch assigned to home button, make it easy for me to close an app.

    Once you use these tricks, you don’t need the last-app addon, you use directely the multitask to perform the switch.

    Problem: I see that activator’s features do not work from the lockscreen, am I the only one?

    Symphony, ios 7.0.4 iphone 5

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

      I also can tell that some gestures do not work from the Lock screen

  • MrJohnBlaze

    Activator was updated to also launch apps from different fingerprints I use my index to launch safari

  • Eric M

    Virtual Home is incredible.

    • http://www.ideaprison.com/ ideaprison

      Incredible at draining your battery :p

      *Really hopes it is fixed in the future, because yeah.. IT IS INCREDIBLE!

      • Eric M

        Been fixed. Extra options is settings to fix it.

      • Pranav Shankar

        By extra options do you mean the switch to toggle haptic feedback? Cause I didn’t notice much of a difference in battery irrespective of that

  • Lionelle

    —@Anywhere:
    Device Locked: Vibration On.
    Device Unlocked: Vibration Off.
    Joined Wi-Fi: LTE/3G/4G Off.
    Left Wi-Fi: LTE/3G/4G On.
    Double Tap Status Bar: Take Screenshot.

    —@Lockscreen:
    Triple Press Home Button: Toggle Flashlight On/Off.

    —@Home Screen:
    Short Hold Home Button: Toggle Rotation Lock On/Off.
    Slide In From Screen Bottom Right: Toggle Switcher(Multitasker).
    Slide In From Screen left: Open Calender(Fantastical).
    Facebook Icon Flick Up: Compose FB Post.
    Mail Icon Flick Up: Compose Email.
    Messages Icon Flick Up: Compose Quick Message.
    Phone Icon Flick Up: Show Favorite Contacts.
    Twitter(Tweetbot) Icon Flick Up: Compose Tweet.
    Status Bar Single Tap Left: Lock Device.
    Status Bar Single Tap Right: Toggle Flashlight

    —@In Application:
    Short Hold Home Button: Toggle Rotation Lock On/Off.
    Slide In From Screen Bottom Right: Activate Switcher(Multitasker).
    Slide In From Screen Bottom Left: First Springboard Page.
    Slide In From Screen Right: LastApp.
    Slide In From Screen Left: Lock Device.
    Triple Press Home Button: Toggle Flashlight On/Off.

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

      Wow, you’re an Activator power user!

    • Mike Colacone Saal

      how do you do it for individual icons?

      • Eddie Hines

        you first have to create a new event for that particular icon. Click EDIT, then click the plus sign of the activation you want to invoke, like Icon Flick up…select the application you want associated with that event, then it will show up at the bottom of the list with a red minus sign to the left of it. do that for every icon you want a custom activation for. now click DONE up the upper right. now go back into your settings and scroll down. you will now see your invidual gestures you created with Icon flick up!

      • Mike Colacone Saal

        sweet, thanks bro!
        Ill have to see how that does whenever Apex gets updated.

      • Marcus Brown

        Love this, Thanks for the detailed how to!

    • Kenrick Fernandes

      how do you remember all this lol

      • Lionelle

        Use your brain. XD

  • iltas

    video plzzzzzzzzzzzz jefff

  • Đức Nguyễn

    I use slide off top to kill app and activate switcher. Kinda easy. Hope chpwn notice this and make zephyr-gesture like this :D

  • Patrick Ochoa

    Is there a kill all apps running action? If there is I can’t find it.

  • Hotrod

    Oh no I can’t believe there aren’t any plans to update zephyr this is a crushing blow for me…. ;(

  • n0ahcruz3

    This is what i did. I cant stand using the assistive touch. Activator is the all purpose tweak.

  • ARIA

    I don’t know why you guys jailbreak your beautiful iOS 7! I faced a lot of problems in my last iOS 6.1.1 jailbreak. The only useful thing was Finder but i think it doesn’t worth it; Does it?

  • Jonathan

    Did my comment in another post inspire you to write this?

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

      Possibly. I’m not sure though. It’s something that has been in the back of my head for a week or so.

      • Jonathan

        Probably not then, because I posted it either yesterday or the day before. Someone asked about Zephyr compatibility on iOS 7, so I just suggested using Activator to replace Zephyr’s function.
        Great minds think alike. ;)

      • Kamrul

        Yeah after closing an app i was like damn i need zephyr and then activator was looking straight at me on my home screen then it was like a eureka moment. I used 3 finger pinch first but it isn’t feasible with one handed use. Then used swipe up from bottom left but used to interfere with CC and now i use swipe left to right on bottom works like a charm.

  • Jonathan

    Three Finger Pinch, close an app.
    Swip from screen to bottom, reveal multitasking
    Double tap left status bar, compose an iMessage
    Doubletap right status bar, compose an email
    Press both volume buttons simultaneously, reset Volume Amplifier
    Five Finger Spread, lock device
    Double tap time, BiteSMS quick compose.
    I <3 Activator.

    • Kenrick Fernandes

      jonathan if your swiping from bottom then doesn’t the control centre open up. Unless you disabled that when your an in an app?

      • Jonathan

        You read that wrong. :P
        It says from screen, to the bottom. So, thumb anywhere on the screen (center, top, almost the bottom right corner, anywhere) and just swipe down to the edge of the bottom. If you look for it in Activator, there will be a total of 4 in the group, 1 for each side.

  • Alberto Espinal

    The three finger pinch for the Appswitcher it is pretty neat!!

  • Alberto Espinal

    I use Virtual Home to go back to the Home screen and Three finger pinch for the Appswitcher

  • GuiyeC

    I tried something similar with Activator, I set double tap on the home button to open Control Center and every time I pressed it, it opened it, I ended up using the triple tap so with two would work. Anyway, it didn’t work as expected, and the swipe from bottom sometimes made the Control Center appear too, so I’m back to square one.

    I was really expecting this for iOS 7, well, I guess one man can dream…

  • Damian W

    The problem with activator gestures is that they are not instantaneous. You need to complete the full gesture before anything happens if you miss the point of release the gesture will not take an effect sometimes. Let’s say you performed the activator gesture and you did everything right, but your finger was for some reason a bit off in one direction. The likelihood is that the gesture will not work. In other words zephyr was much more responsive in this case. You could swipe with zephyr however you like and it would work just the way you intended.

  • dc7007

    For music:

    Anywhere:
    Up/down volume buttons:
    – Press both to play/pause
    – Short press Up: Next song
    – Short press down: Previous song

    Plug/unplug earphone: Play/pause

    • walter088

      Great idea!! Tnx

    • :)

      I’ve had this for years as well! Save for the last one. Plug: play, unplug pause (instead of both as play/pause).

  • micro

    Use this guys if you want to keep control center activated in app and have the functionality of the home button with activator gestures:
    1. to activate App Switcher in app and in springboard use:
    – Slide along screen bottom – Drag left to right (Drag along
    screen edge from left to right) – and select ” Activate Switcher “,

    2. to simulate a push of the Home Button use:
    – Slide along screen bottom – Drag right to left – and select ” Home Button “.

    This are in my opinion the best possible combinations to use with activator to simulate the Home Button. Hope it helps :D

  • Ted Forbes

    Big help, thanks a lot.

  • walter088

    Thanks!! I tried before but with other activation method which i didn’t like, excellent tip!!!!

  • forsakename

    I miss Zephyr. Honestly, the only reason I jailbreak. :(

  • walter088

    I recommend you try cctoggles, works faster and its more neat instead than flipcontrolcenter( which is laggy and doesnt useoriginal toggles. In my opinion. Great day!!

  • iPhoneLover

    I have it setup as Slide in Gesture > From Screen Bottom-Left-> Home Button
    And this works for me. Not sure why it is not working for the author (Sébastien)

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

      Strange. I’m using an iPhone 5s. Maybe it makes a difference. Not sure

  • Diniesh

    three finger pinch for home button, 3 finger spread for app switcher. 4 finger pinch for callbar, 4 finger spread for record my screen. lastly sleeksleep for switch on and sleep using proximity sensor. Together with FlipControlCentre to control volume, ringer. Thus it’s a total button free phone.

  • James

    Anyone else’s device respringing itself multiple times a day? It never happened this much on iOS 6. It’s really annoying and there doesn’t seem to be any set pattern.

  • mav3rick

    Missing Zephyr, too. Replaced slide up from bottom in Zephyr with Slide out to bottom in Activator. It is feeling quite natural as when in a app slide out until just touching, not pressing, the home button it takes you to SpringBoard.

  • Nuno Costa

    The main issue is that we cannot add exceptions… For instance in a game app with lots of gestures you can accidently close the app :/
    Any solution?

    • dc7007

      You can do that, just entre in Activator/Black list and add any app you want.

      • Nuno Costa

        Awsome. I haven’t noticied that Activator option. Thanks

      • GzyOnline

        thanks for your post.. i was wondering what Black list was for~

  • Micheal Sasa

    Zephyr alternative

    Ccquick pro!

  • Sriram

    Thanks for this tutorial. I managed to get somewhat similar experience as that of Zephyr with the above tutorial. Here is what I did:
    Activator -> In Application -> Slide in Gesture -> From Screen Bottom Left -> First Springboard Page. This gesture will return to the homescreen from any app.

    Activator -> At Home Screen -> From Screen Bottom Left ->Activate Switcher. This gesture will enable the switcher from the homescreen.

    I find this pretty much close to the zephyr functionality.

  • Philip

    Best Config

    At Application: Slide in from screen bottom left (First page)

    At Home Screen: Slide in screen bottom left (Activate Switcher)

  • Achy

    I have actually done the exact same thing about a week ago- bottom left as home button (hit or miss, but not too shabby), and bottom right as app switcher. The app switcher works wonders, but the home button, as stated, is not as good. Still, works good enough, and it is sad that Zephyr might never be updated.

  • Inseltraeumer

    great tip with the first springboard page, I’d already given up on Activator because I couldn’t get the home button to work with exactly that swipe from bottom left gesture

  • Alex

    Has anybody ever installed the ‘Multitasktures’ add-on for ‘Activator’?
    It supposedly adds the iOS beta multitasking gestures to ‘Activator’.

  • Jeff Daggs

    Nice job!! I did it and love it. Thanks!!!!

  • Hugh Jassol

    LOL…read my comment a few up about QuickDo. It’s always performed better than activator at executing gestures.

    I mean come on, sliding along the bottom has been a staple of QuickDo since it’s inception and look how long it took activator to even offer this simple action!

    The current beta is a little laggy while scrolling for me though. I’m using it on my test device. 8-19 baba booey

  • http://tobibeer.tiddlyspace.com/ Tobias Beer

    With Activator, I prefer all-thumb-action on the status bar:

    swipe right: home button
    swipe left: LastApp
    hold middle: task switcher

    Additionally, swiping up from bottom left closes an app (home button).

    I have also set up three finger actions like this:
    pinch: close app
    spread: task switcher

  • Grover212

    Zephyr was/is my favorite tweak. Thanks you for this! Cheers

  • Joe Honse

    I was using this method, but have found a better one. CCQuick Pro with its gesture is perfect Zephyr replacement. I also use QuickActivator to customize the quick launch apps in control center. Then Activator/Anywhere/Slide In/tap on “i” next to all from screen bottom and change to Tight. Enjoy

  • Lucas dio

    Is it possible to make your own gesture? Like decide witch button and what order and how many times it must be pressed to open a spesific app? I have both volume buttons to turn on my 3g and cellular data, but i want to have a gesture where i can press both volume buttons 2 times for opening a spesific app or something…. But it isnt opsionable