You probably think you know your iPhone well. After all, these days we probably look at our phones more than our loved ones. But the truth is, even those of us who have stuck with the Apple handset since 2007 can still be amazed at the tips of each new version of iOS. The bigger ones are explained in the tutorials for the heavier fixes, but many more need to be coaxed out of the Settings app.
Below, you will find our favorites. If you also want to see the tricks that your iPad is capable of, we have created a guide for that as well.
Activate Smart Invert for impromptu iOS dark mode
iOS doesn’t have a true dark mode yet – although credible rumors suggest we’ll have one in iOS 13 – but you can approach one with an existing accessibility setting. It’s not the classic Invert Colors that make everything look like a psychedelic fever dream; instead, Smart Invert Colors changes things like the background to black, but keeps the colors of app icons, photos, and similar graphic elements. (However, this makes colorful graphics look duller.) The catch is that it still only works well with Apple’s own apps, so you’ll have a better time using it, for example, on Safari instead of Chrome.
To activate it, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Show accommodations > Invert colors. Tap on it and select Smart reverse. iOS will immediately paint it black. I wouldn’t keep it on all the time, but it’s a great temporary fix to make nighttime reading more enjoyable.
Quickly turn off Face ID in an emergency
I’m a big fan of Face ID, but unfortunately it makes it easy for someone to unlock your iPhone against your will by simply holding it in front of your face. If you know you’re about to find yourself in a situation where this could be a problem, you can turn off Face ID in about three seconds.
To do this, press and hold the side button (right) and either the volume up or down buttons on the left at the same time for about two seconds. Even if you don’t look at your phone, a high-pitched vibration will tell you that it has worked.
Anyone wishing to access your phone after that will be required to enter the access code. (This is also how you access Emergency SOS and your medical ID.) For detailed information, be sure to check out our user guide.
Customize what Face ID unlocks
You might think Face ID completely replaces the password when it’s active, but Apple actually grants a tremendous degree of control over what Face ID unlocks. If you’re concerned about a situation like the one described above, for example, you can set Face ID to work for things like Apple Pay and Safari passwords, but not unlock the iPhone itself. . Anyone who wants to unlock the phone will always need the password.
To change what Face ID unlocks, go to Settings > Facial identity and access code. At the top, you’ll see the “big picture” options that let you choose whether you want to use Face ID for things like unlocking iPhone, Apple Pay, and the App Store. Scroll down and you can decide if Face ID allows access to features like Control Center, Action Center, or even Siri when the phone is locked.
Hide photos from your main photo feed
Many of us have images in our photo feeds that we don’t want parents or coworkers to see when showing them pictures from our vacation (or whatever). Fortunately, iOS lets you hide these photos from the main stream by placing them in a special folder.
To hide a photo, go to the Photos app and open the offending photo. Then press the To share button — the box with the arrow pointing up — at the bottom left. Along the bottom bar that appears, scroll right until you see To hide. Press. The photo will disappear from the main stream and will only be visible from a new Hidden case.
Unfortunately, you cannot protect the Hidden folder with a password, so anyone who knows this feature will still be able to find the hidden photos.
Use accessibility to reach top screen items from the bottom
I love my giant iPhone XS Max, but even I admit that hitting options at the top of the screen gets boring when I’m holding the phone with one hand. This is where the accessibility feature comes in handy.
When you have an app open, drag down on the number bar (usually white) at the bottom of the screen, and the top of the app will move halfway up the screen so that you can more easily press the buttons.
To activate accessibility, go to General > Accessibility > Accessibility and hit the toggle over there.
Upgrade to a one-handed keyboard for easier typing on larger iPhones
Even if you have big paws, typing with one hand becomes difficult when you try to use one hand to type a message on the numeric keypad of iPhone XS Max or iPhone 8 Plus. Fortunately, Apple allows you to use a fully usable one-handed keyboard with just one thumb.
Whenever you can see the iOS Numeric Keyboard, press and hold the smiley button for emojis at the bottom left. (Do not press it.) A menu will appear showing options for the standard keyboard and a left or right handed one-handed keyboard. Select the one you want and type away.
Use the iOS search bar as a simple calculator
Apple’s built-in calculator app works great, but it’s not your only option if you need to do a quick math. You can also use the standard iOS search bar, which you can easily find by swiping down on the home screen.
Instead of entering standard text in the search bar, replace the numeric keypad with numbers, then you can perform simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division calculations with the +, -, * and / respectively.
Calculator app is better for more complex calculations, but it works well if you want to know a simple amount or calculate a tip.
Activate the grid for better framed photos
Good photography takes real skill, but you can instantly improve your photos by activating your iPhone’s camera grid and taking into account a few simple organizing tips. To light the grid, go Settings > Camera then switch Gate at the Green light. When you open your Camera app again, you will now see a low grid with nine squares.
Basically, this helps keep your subjects centered, but for real artistic stuff, you need to put the focus of your shot along one of the points where the lines intersect. I’m oversimplifying, but basically it’s the “rule of thirds”. For more information, check out this guide from our sister site which still stands.
Optimize your control center
If you only think of your iPhone’s control center as the place where you do things like adjust volume and brightness and turn on airplane mode, you’re not getting the most out of it.
Apple lets you add great shortcuts for Control Center that can greatly enhance your iOS experience, whether that’s turning your camera into a magnifying glass or turning on a low power mode, or quickly accessing notes or voice memos. I’ve compiled a selection of my favorite options here.
Create personalized phone vibrations for your friends and family
A lot of us just vibrate our phones these days, which means it’s now harder to tell who’s calling than at the height of custom ringtones. But hope is not lost: Apple lets you create and set specific vibrations for your friends and family to set them apart from other people’s calls.
To set up a custom vibration for a specific contact, open that person’s page in the People app. hurry Edit top right, then Alarm > Vibration > Create a personalized vibration. Once you’re happy with it, tap to safeguard at the top right and give the file a name. When you’re done, it will automatically be saved as the default ringtone for that contact. (Unfortunately, this also replaces all ringtones.)
Use text replacement to correct incorrectly corrected words automatically
There’s a popular word that AutoCorrect likes to change to “dodge,” even when that’s not what you meant. Many people mistakenly believe that there is nothing you can do about it.
Oh, but there is. The feature is called Text Replacement, and you can find it by going to Settings > General > Keyboard > Text replacement. Normally, the idea behind replacing text is to let iOS automatically expand abbreviations such as “omw” to “On the way!” And you can, of course.
But it also effectively allows you to add words to the dictionary, or at least it makes sure that autocorrect doesn’t change them. Take our word “ducking” which begins with an “F”. Press the + sign at the top right, then type the “F word” (or any other word) in both Phrasing and Shortcut entries. Tap Save.
From now on, every time you write this other word, iOS won’t fix it by “dodging”.