If you’re reading this, you will probably agree that the iPhone is one of the most useful devices currently on the market. But there’s a lot more functionality than initially meets the eye. The iPhone is simple on the surface, but packed with hidden features.
Here are over thirty iPhone tips and tricks that aren’t widely publicised – I’m sure you’ll have encountered a few before, but some are bound to be brand new to you. Read on to join the ranks of an iPhone ninja!
If you like this, be sure to check out our more recent roundup of 40 Secret iPhone Features and Shortcuts!
Tap the Status Bar to Scroll to the Top
Maybe you haven’t checked your tweets for a few hours or you’ve just read a lengthy article. In many cases, you’ll want to scroll back to the top of the page. By tapping the status bar at the top of your screen, you’ll by whisked straight back up to the top. This nice tip can turn annoying quite easily, though. Be careful not to hit the status bar accidentally.
The latest version of Instapaper lets you return to where you were if you didn’t mean to tap the status bar. This should be part of every app that scrolls!
Press the Home and Sleep Buttons Simultaneously to Take a Screenshot
Ever wonder how software reviewers take pictures of the apps without screen glare? I’ll let you in on the secret: none. Just press the Home and Sleep buttons at the same time. You’ll hear a camera shutter (or, rather, the sound of a camera shutter), and your current screen is saved automatically in your camera roll.
Customize the Home button
Take this quick quiz: Where can you go when you double-press the home button?
- iPod, to the currently playing track
- First Home screen, if you aren’t there.
The correct answer is: d. Any of the above. Within Settings > General > Home, you can choose which of these three behaviours you want to use.
Press Home Once to Go to First Home Screen or Search
But what happens if you only press Home once? If you’re at your first home screen, you’ll be taken to Search. If you’re in Search or at another home screen, you’ll be taken to your first home screen. No customization here.
Hold Home and Sleep to Reboot
It doesn’t happen often, but it is possible that your iPhone will freeze up. When that happens, hold the Home and Sleep buttons until the screen goes black, and subsequently shows the Apple logo. This will probably take about eight seconds.
Hold Home for Five Seconds to Quit the Current App
What happens to an app when you close it? It might look like it’s sucked down a black hole, but that’s certainly not the case. When you close an app, much of it remains in memory, so it can be opened again quickly.
To “force quit” an application in iPhone OS 3.0, press and hold the sleep/wake button until the slide to power off screen appears. Then proceed to press and hold the home button until the application quits (usually takes around six seconds).
If you’re on iPhone OS 1 or 2, it’s just a case of holding the home button for about five seconds. Process exterminated!
Double Tap Shift for Caps Lock
Many people don’t like caps lock, but it’s still available on your iPhone if you so wish. You will have to enable it, though. “Settings > General > Keyboard > Enable Caps Lock” should do the trick. Then, just double-tap the shift key to type away in capitals.
Tap Shift and Drag
It’s hard to explain, but once your learn this trick, it’s pretty fun to use. Instead of simply tapping Shift and then tapping your letter when you want the capital format, do this: tap Shift, drag your finger to the letter you want to capitalize, and release. It’s a bit odd at first, but I think it’s probably slightly faster.
This trick is even better when you’re going for punctuation: just substitute Shift with the keyboard switcher key (123/ABC). The beautiful thing here is that after inserting your punctuation, you’re back at the alphabet keyboard: definitely a time-saver.
Tap and Hold for Extra Characters
How would you type the British Pound symbol on your iPhone? Or an inverted question mark? And what about letters with cedillas? To get these, and other special characters, tap and hold on the letter or symbol that closest represents the one you want.
You’ll get a hidden menu that offers the extra characters. This also works with the .com button, offering a few other top-level domains.
Double Tap Space for a Period and Space
Without a doubt, a period is the most often used piece of punctuation. But the period is on the alternative keyboard, and it’s a bit of a pain to switch back and forth between keyboards continually.
The shift-swipe trick is nice, but there’s an even faster move to master: double tap the space bar to get a period and space. This is an optional trick, turned on by default. You can get to it via Settings > General > Keyboard.
Enable International Keyboards for International TLDs
The .com button is pretty handy; it’s even handier that you can add a few extra TLDs with the tap-and-hold trick. If you find yourself typing a specific international TLD often, you can add it to that pop-up by enabling the appropriate international keyboard.
Go to Setting > General > Keyboard > International Keyboards. Then, once you turn on the ones you want, they’ll show up inside the .com button.
Enabling international, keyboards will add an extra ‘globe’ button to the keyboard.
Leave Off www and .com for Faster Browsing
If you just need to access a regular .com website, you don’t even have to hit that button. Just type the domain name of the site, san http://www. and .com. Do you realize that this tip can save about five seconds every time?
Add Sites to Your Home Screen for Quick Access and More
We all have our favourites sites, our preferred places for daily doses of news or inspiration. You can make these super-easy to access by adding them to your home screen. Simply tap the “+” button in Safari and choose “Add to Homescreen.”
Then, you can give it the desired label and save it. Web developers can give you an extra perk or two here: they can add a special icon that your iPhone will use on the home screen. Additionally, they can make the website run in fullscreen view. Check out AppleInsider or Glyphboard as a home screen app for an example.
Tap and Hold a Link for Options
You’ve been in the scenario: you’re reading in Safari, minding your own business, when a link jumps out in front of you, tempting you to follow it. If you’ve got misgivings, you can tap and hold that link.
You’ll get a pop-up showing you the URL hiding inside that link. That pop-up also gives you options to copy the link, open it, or open it in a new page.
Scroll Inside Frames and Text Areas With Two Fingers
Occasionally you’ll find that you need to scroll within a frame or textarea within a page. Scroll with just one finger and you’ll move the whole page. To solve the problem, use two fingers. Now you can move around inside your little box.
Double Tap a Text Column or Image to Zoom to It
Here’s another great Safari tip that I use all the time: double tap a text column to zoom right into it. You’ll get the best possible reading experience without all the two-finger fiddling. This works with images as well. And speaking of images…
Tap and Hold to Save Images
When browsing the web, if you find an image you’d like to save, here’s how to do it: tap and hold; you’ll get the option to copy the image or save it to the photo gallery.
Voice Dial by Nickname
It’s great to be able to voice dial friends, especially while driving. But you don’t have to use only the callee’s name; you can use their nickname as well. You can set this up in the Contacts application.
Send a Call to Voicemail by Pressing the Sleep Button
Although you might not admit it, you’ve probably looked at the Caller ID on your ringing phone and groaned at least once. When this happens, you can easily send the call directly to your voicemail. Simply press the sleep button twice (once silences the ringer, the second cancels the call).
Redeem Promo Codes From Within the App Store
Yay! You’ve finally won a contest here on iPhone.AppStorm. You’re on the go when you find out, but you don’t want to wait until you get back to your desk to fire up iTunes.
Here’s what you do: open the App Store app, go to the Featured tab, scroll to the bottom, and tap “Redeem.” Now, tap in that promo code. This also works with iTunes gift cards.
Rearrange Icons Within iPod
Within the iPod app, in the bottom toolbar, you have four options and the “More button”; not new information. But did you know that if you tap the edit button in the top left corner of the More menu, you can decide which options are on the toolbar?
Just drag one down to replace those currently there, and tap Done when you’re finished. This tip works for most apps that use this type of toolbar.
Double Press Home to Bring Up Music Controls
We’ve already revealed the double-home-press tip. But, if you so desire, this can be overridden while your tunes are playing. If you’re listening to music, pressing home twice will bring up the music controls. This can be changed in Settings > General > Home
Tap and Hold next/prev Buttons to fast-forward/rewind
While listening to a song, you may want to jump ahead or back within that track. If you hold down the Next and Previous Song buttons, you can skip through the song a few seconds at a time. The longer you hold the button down, the more seconds you’ll skip.
Drag Your Finger Up and Down to Change the Scrub Speed
If you’re trying to find something specific within a track, maybe the previous tip won’t do exactly what you want. Try this: drag the location-in-song-indicator (what’s it really called?) to the spot you’d like. This works okay, but for really fine-grained control, drag your finger down. This will let you adjust the adjust the scrub speed – from Hi Speed to Fine.
Tap Instead of Swipe for Pagination
Safari, Weather, and the home screens: they all have the cute little pagination dots. You probably think of these as an invitation to swipe right or left for more content. You’re right, but you can also tap just to the right or left of said row of dots to do the same thing. If you get good at it, it’s probably faster than swiping.
Hide SMS Previews
By default, when receiving an incoming text message, your iPhone kindly displays a preview of the message. Needless to say, this is a great way to publicize privileged information (or embarrass you in front of your mates with a sentimental text from your mum!)
To avoid such situations, head to Settings > Messages and toggle off Show Preview.
Use the Timer to Turn Off Your Music
It’s great to fall asleep listening to your favourite music. However, you don’t your iPhone playing music all night. Apple has provided an easy solution.
Within the Clock app, set a timer for however long you want the music to play. Then, instead of choosing a ring, choose to Sleep iPod when the timer ends.
Turn Your iPhone Horizontally for a Wider Keyboard
Sometimes, bigger is better. All the built-in apps (and many third-party apps, too, now) offer a wider keyboard if you turn your iPhone sideways. If you practice, you can actually type with two thumbs on the wider keyboard.
Turn Your iPhone Horizontally for a Scientific Calculator
But the keyboard isn’t the only thing that gets wider when you go horizontal. The completely unassuming built-in calculator unleashes it’s scientific power when tilted 90 degrees. It’s great for those moments of impromptu trig or exponents…!
Save Battery Power by Turning Features Off
It’s no fun when your iPhone runs out of juice. If you notice it’s getting low, and you aren’t going to have a chance to plug in any time soon, here’s what you can do: turn off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or 3G. If you aren’t using one or two of these, they’re just wasting power. Also, turn the LCD brightness down a notch or two. You’d be surprised how much power it uses.
Send Photos at Full Resolution
It’s great to be able to take photos with your iPhone and then instantly email them to friends and family. But be aware that there are things going on beneath the surface when you choose “Email Photo.”
Your iPhone actually reduces the quality of the image it sends, which gives the recipient faster downloading. If you want to send the full resolution image, tap and hold the image in the gallery to copy it. Then, you can paste it into an email at full res.
Customize Search Results
Most people probably agree that Spotlight search on the iPhone is useful. But what we all use it for most definitely varies. I use it mainly for launching apps; you might use it for finding emails.
To customize what order things show up in, check out Settings > General > Home > Search Results. From here, you can rearrange the order of your results, as well as turn off the ones you don’t want.
Cover the Light Sensor to Dim the Screen
This is probably my favourite tip. You may not have realized it, but there’s an ambient light sensor somewhere in the area above the LCD screen. This sensor adjusts the brightness of your screen when you unlock your iPhone depending on the brightness around you.
By covering the top part of your iPhone as you wake it, you can dim the screen to save a little juice. It appears to re-sense the light around every few seconds, so you’d have to continue holding the top of your iPhone to keep the screen dim.
I know, not the most practical tip; but the light sensor is really a built-in automatic trick.
Well, that’s all I’ve got! If you have an iPhone tip that I didn’t mention, let’s hear it in the comments. It would be great to build up a collection of other unusual features that don’t come explained in the manual!
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