25 iPhone tweaks to make your life easier

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Cover image for: 25 iPhone tweaks to make your life easier

Remember when phones had 6 ringtones? A phone would ring in a restaurant and 30 people would check their phones. Fortunately, these days of default devices have passed and we can now personalize iPhones for a better experience.

We're not talking about improving the appearance with cases and covers; we're talking about improving the iPhone experience with 25 of the best tweaks and tips. With these tips, you can be an iPhone maestro in minutes.

Some people buy a product and use it only with the default settings. iPhones can and should be personalised for a better experience. Here are 25 tips on how to personalise your iPhone settings to improve the overall experience.

1. How to access recently closed tabs in the browser

Closed a tab too fast? You can easily access your recently closed tabs by clicking the tabs icon on the bottom right. Then simply click and hold the middle + icon to see the recently closed tabs.

Recently closed tabs
Recently closed tabs

Here's the list!
Here's the list!

2. May the force touch be with you

Force touch on the keyboard and you can move your cursor around like a touchpad. Do it again to highlight a word, twice to highlight, and 3 times to a paragraph.

Force touch / 3D touch to move your cursor
Force touch / 3D touch to move your cursor

Selecting text on iOS with Force touch
Selecting text on iOS with Force touch

3. Vibrations for notifications

You can create your own vibration patterns for notifications, by going to SettingsSoundsRingtoneVibrationCreate new vibration, and tapping one out.

Create new vibration
Create new vibration

4. Type numbers and words faster

Hold your finger down over the bottom left 123 option and then slide to the number or character you want to add. When you lift your finger, the character will be inserted, and the normal keyboard will reappear.

Sliding for numbers on the iPhone keypad
Sliding for numbers on the iPhone keypad

5. Go directly to drafts

When clicking on the bottom right compose icon hold your finger down and this section will load.

Hold your finger down!
Hold your finger down!

Here we are in drafts...
Here we are in drafts...

6. Listen to YouTube in the background

Open Youtube in Safari, Chrome, or Firefox and start playing a video before exiting to your home screen. Usually, the video stops, right? Well, swipe up from the bottom of the screen and open Control Center. Then tap play to restart the YouTube video in the background.

Swipe for Control Center
Swipe for Control Center

Tap to play
Tap to play

7. Delete multiple photos at once

iPhone full? Need to free up space quickly? You can delete hundreds of photos in seconds. Just tap “Select” on the top right, tap in the first photo and swipe until the last photo on the screen.

It will highlight them with a checkmark (simply tap any photos you’d like to keep and they will be removed from the firing line). Hit the delete button and the photos will be deleted.

Selecting multiple photos in the Photos app on iOS
Selecting multiple photos in the Photos app on iOS

8. Delete single digits on the calculator

Use your finger to swipe left to right in the black space and you will be able to delete single digits.

Swipe right to lose a number
Swipe right to lose a number

Scientific mode
Scientific mode

9. Close multiple apps

In the app switcher, you can close up to 3 apps at a time. Just use multiple fingers at the same time and swipe up to close.

Closing multiple iOS apps simultaneously
Closing multiple iOS apps simultaneously

10. Rest finger to open

Do you find it annoying pressing the home button to unlock your iPhone? Change the behaviour of your Home Button to unlock your iPhone after pressing and resting your finger on it: more casually, intuitively. Go to SettingsGeneralAccessibilityHome ButtonRest finger to Open.

"Rest Finger to Open" settings on iOS
"Rest Finger to Open" settings on iOS

11. Shortcut for typos / corrections

If you type "were" meant "we’re", you can duplicate the last letter and iOS will show you the correction of the word.

Bringing back autocorrect
Bringing back autocorrect

12. If you made a mistake while typing just shake it off

If you don’t want to wait for your iPhone to slowly delete the contents of a text message with mistakes, shake your phone to start fresh. Doing so will completely erase the contents of your message.

You can also shake off some deletions; the undo delete function is baked right into some apps. Accidentally deleted an email? Immediately give it a quick shake. Trashed that brilliant, insightful tweet? Immediately give a hard but firm shake to get the Undo Delete option. It works for notes, emails, tweets.

However, it needs to be immediately after the deletion, and it only goes back one step. If you delete, shake and then shake again you will recover the deleted content only to re-delete with the second shake. Immediately shake once to recover deleted data.

Let's do the shake-away... (via klzzwxh:0029Most epic stuffklzzwxh:0030)
Let's do the shake-away... (via Most epic stuff)

13. Timer to stop playing any audio content.

If you are listening to audiobooks or songs before sleep, you may want an option to turn off the audio after a while. This timer can be found inside the Clock app on the lower right. You can set the timer for any duration you want your audio to play. Set the timer and select “When Timer Ends”, scroll all the way to the bottom and tap on "Stop Playing". The iPhone should stop playing any audio on the device when the timer runs out.

Stop playing when the timer ends
Stop playing when the timer ends

The countdown begins... (via klzzwxh:0033iDownloadklzzwxh:0034)
The countdown begins... (via iDownload)

14. Use the volume buttons to take photos

An older trick that still doesn’t get its due is brilliant: turn your iPhone to the right into landscape mode; frame the perfect shot and take the photo with the "volume up" button. You can also use the "volume up" buttons on the corded headphones.

Earpod volume controls
Earpod volume controls

15. Toggle "airplane mode" on

Swipe Control Center and toggle airplane mode on. It blocks all cell signals and it can help you charge the phone faster.

Enabling airplane mode
Enabling airplane mode

16. Greyscale

SettingsGeneralAccessibilityToggle Greyscale. This feature is available from the iPhone 5 and up. For people that are colour blind, some colours are harder to pick out than for other people. The greyscale mode can help with reading menus -- and stretch out battery life improvement.

Your phone -- but grey
Your phone -- but grey

17. Speed up your display

When you click on an icon on your iPhone or iPad, it will expand to fill the screen. If you want to see your apps open faster, you can disable these transition effects. Go to SettingsGeneral AccessibilityReduce motion, and turn it on.

Reducing motion on iOS
Reducing motion on iOS

18. Low power mode

This mode will disable background app refresh, automatic downloads and visual effects. This prompts when the battery is below 20% but you can use at any time if you want to increase battery life.

Low power mode settings on iOS
Low power mode settings on iOS

19. Find the battery killers

To find apps that drain your battery the most you need to access "Battery usage" by tapping SettingsBattery. On the "Battery usage" screen you can sometimes see notes under each source. These notes can provide the reason details on the percentages for battery drain on right.

Top battery drainers over the last 24 hours
Top battery drainers over the last 24 hours

20. Turn off Photo Stream

If you have Photo Stream function on you'll see photos there you've taken on your iPhone or iPad. The images aren't full resolution, but they may still take us space on your iPhone. If you could really do with that extra space then turn off Photo Stream.

Go to SettingsPhotos & Camera and deselect My Photo Stream. This will delete your Photo Stream from your iPhone.

Don't upload to Photo Stream
Don't upload to Photo Stream

21. Clear your cache

First, check your storage at SettingsGeneralAboutAvailable. Go to the App Store and choose a larger app like Need for Speed No limits (it's a whopping 1.67 GB!). Make an attempt to download and you'll get a message that you don’t have enough storage. This action will clear the cache. If it does download, you can always delete the game after. Check the storage after doing this to see how much space it was cleared.

"Cannot download" -- not enough storage on iOS?
"Cannot download" -- not enough storage on iOS?

22. Turn on "Auto-brightness" or reduce it manually

Your phone has an ambient light sensor that changes the brightness of the screen based on the light around it to save battery and make it easier to see. If you turn Auto-Brightness on and you’ll save energy because your screen will need to use less power in dark places. Adjust that setting by tapping: SettingsDisplay & Brightness (it's called Brightness & Wallpaper in iOS 7) and then turning on Auto-Brightness.

Adjusting brightness
Adjusting brightness

23. Clean your open apps

Unlock your iPhone, then double press the Home Button. A list of all open apps will appear, and you can easily browse through these apps, and slide up on each one to close it. This can help with battery life.

Zap many apps (via klzzwxh:0066iMoreklzzwxh:0067)
Zap many apps (via iMore)

24. Make to-do lists with Notes

Make a list of chores or tasks in Notes, and then select them all (the old fashioned way or by using Force touch as above). Click the small + sign and then the tick in a circle to transform a boring list of chores into a gratifying list of accomplishments. Woo!

A to-do list in Notes
A to-do list in Notes

25. Use 3D touch to find the mini-menus

Many apps have their own 3D touch mini-menu. You can start the stopwatch from the home screen; open the camera into selfie mode; update all of your apps; create new contacts; make a call to popular contacts. You can open most apps into its preferred mode with the mini-menus.

Revealing 3D touch app menu shortcuts
Revealing 3D touch app menu shortcuts

About the author

Catalina Butnaru is an Innovation & Entrepreneurship graduate of Stanford University Graduate School of Business. She sits on the IEEE Committee for Wellbeing and AI Ethics and serves as an ambassador for the City AI London programme.

Reincubate's CEO at Buckingham Palace

Pictured above are members of Reincubate’s team meeting HM Queen Elizabeth Ⅱ at Buckingham Palace, after being awarded the UK’s highest business award for our work with Apple technology. Read our position on privacy, safety and security.

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