15 Tricks Every iPhone User Should Know How to Do

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: racorn)

Whether you’re new to iPhone or you’re on your third or fourth model, I’m willing to wager that there are still plenty of tricks you’ve yet to learn. It turns out those brains over at Apple have thought up and built a few simple tools and shortcuts to make the things you do every day on your phone a little easier.

1. How to type a number or special character even faster.

Most people hit the “123” button to bring up the numbers and characters keyboard, then press again for the character they want before clicking “ABC” to go to the standard keyboard. But there’s an easier way. From the regular keyboard, press and hold the “123” button, then drag your pressed finger to the character you want and let go. You’ll be back on the regular keyboard and ready to keep typing.

2. How to set shortcuts for things you type all the time.

Want a shortcut to type your phone number into an email? Or your email or mailing address into a text message? Open the Settings app, then click on General > Keyboards > Text Replacement. From here, you can click the plus sign in the upper right and add a phrase (that’s the long-ish thing you want to have show up) and a shortcut (the short, unique trigger you want to type to make the long phrase show up). I have it set so when I type “addr” anywhere in my phone, it changes (like autocorrect) to type my whole mailing address. Same for “eml” and my email address.

3. How to set caps lock.

Hit the shift button (that’s the one with the upward-pointing arrow) twice rapidly, like a double tap. You’ll know it’s set when the arrow icon on the key has a short line below it.

4. How to undo typing errors.

When you type something–or more likely, delete something–you didn’t mean to, you can shake your iPhone to undo.

5. How to set a sleep timer for a movie or fall asleep to music.

You can set your iPhone to stop playing music or video on a timer (just like the sleep timer on your TV). Go to the Timer tab in the Clock app and set a timer for whatever length you’d like. Then open the When Timer Ends menu and scroll all the way to the last option at the bottom of the menu: Stop Playing. When the timer is up, your media will pause or stop. Just remember to set the timer alert back to a ringtone before you use it as an egg timer in the morning (Your wake-up call in the Alarm tab will be fine.)

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

6. How to easily snooze your alarm clock.

You can hit either of the actual volume buttons on the side of your phone to snooze instead of hitting the touch command on the screen.

7. How to swipe away banner notifications.

Just swipe right to left (not left to right) to send away banners that block your screen.

8. How to reach the top of a screen on a very large phone.

If you’re finding it tough to use your iPhone 6 Plus one-handed, you can tap the home button twice on any screen (besides the lock screen) to bring the top half of the screen down to the bottom half of your display. Double-tap the home button again to return back to normal.

9. How to take a screen shot.

Just press the home and power buttons at the same time to take a shot of whatever is on your phone’s screen and save it to your camera roll.

10. How to see what’s zapping your phone’s battery life.

Open the Settings app and click on Battery. You’ll see a list there of which applications are using the most of your precious power.

11. How to charge your phone even faster.

If you’re running out the door and need to speed up the charging for your nearly-dead phone, put it on airplane mode. It essentially gives some of your phone’s power-using features a rest, so you’re using less battery and getting to “full” status faster.

12. How to use your iPhone earbuds as a remote for the camera.

Arms too short to fit everybody into the group selfie? With your earbuds plugged into the phone and the camera app open, you can use either the plus or minus volume button on the earbud cord to snap a photo. (And in case you din’t know, the volume buttons on the actual phone also trigger the camera shutter.)

13. How to clear your iPhone’s RAM (and close every open app).

To shut down all your open apps, you might know that you can double-click the iPhone’s home button and swipe up on each one in the app switcher. For a shortcut (and a way to clear your phone’s memory), try this: From your home screen, press and hold the power button until the “slide to power off” screen comes up. Then, let go of the power button and hold down the home button until your home screen pops back up. That’s it! If you look at your app switcher, all your open apps are still there, but when you open each one, it will re-launch that app from scratch.

14. Quickly see your unfinished email drafts.

Press and hold on the compose email button at the lower right of the Mail app.

15. Highlight a chunk of text all at once.

Just tap with two fingers. Huzzah!

And one more…

Did you know Siri can flip a coin for you? Just ask her, “Hey Siri, flip a coin,” and she’ll share the results. One less reason to carry pocket change.

Re-edited from a post originally published 3.18.16-NT