20 iPhone & iPad tips you won't believe you weren't already using

Keir Thomas offers, in this excerpt from his book iPad & iPhone Kung Fu, 20 tips, tricks, hints and hacks to help you get more out of your iOS device.

by


  • Hidden features
  • Clear notifications
  • FaceTime a specific device
  • Quick selecting
  • Take better HDR pictures
  • Variations of AutoPlay
  • View close Map pins
  • Two-step verification
  • Photos from Video
  • Move email addresses
  • Stop the ringing
  • Have directions repeated
  • Repeat calendar events
  • Activate Siri
  • View the remaining charge
  • Use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi
  • Shapes and images in iWork
  • How to use Panorama
  • Add words to dictionary
  • Help iOS type contractions
  • Apply EQ
  • Buy the book
  • More stories
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What you didn't know you can do on the iPhone & iPad

This feature was based on iOS 7, although many of the featrues are still available in iOS 8. Don't miss our top iOS 8 tips article here: 29 iOS 8 tips & tricks: Get to know iOS 8's best new features.

iPads and iPhones are easy to use. After all, that’s what Apple does better than anybody else in the world. But in recent releases of iOS they’ve started to pack-in hidden features – little gems to reward the truly dedicated explorer who wants the most functionality out of their device.

You could spend hours or days trying to find them all, of course, but the work’s been done for you in iPad and iPhone Kung Fu – a book containing over 300 tips, tricks, hints and hacks for iOS 7 (available as an eBook, or in print from all good bookshops).

You’ll be stunned at what you can do, and a selection of 20 tips from the book are provided here. Just click Next to get started.

Read next: Best iPhone tips | Best iPad tips | Best iOS 9 tips | Advanced iOS 9 tips

Next »

Next Prev slideshow image

This feature was based on iOS 7, although many of the featrues are still available in iOS 8. Don't miss our top iOS 8 tips article here: 29 iOS 8 tips & tricks: Get to know iOS 8's best new features.

iPads and iPhones are easy to use. After all, that’s what Apple does better than anybody else in the world. But in recent releases of iOS they’ve started to pack-in hidden features – little gems to reward the truly dedicated explorer who wants the most functionality out of their device.

You could spend hours or days trying to find them all, of course, but the work’s been done for you in iPad and iPhone Kung Fu – a book containing over 300 tips, tricks, hints and hacks for iOS 7 (available as an eBook, or in print from all good bookshops).

You’ll be stunned at what you can do, and a selection of 20 tips from the book are provided here. Just click Next to get started.

Read next: Best iPhone tips | Best iPad tips | Best iOS 9 tips | Advanced iOS 9 tips

 

Instantly clear lock-screen notifications

It can be embarrassing when your lock screen fills with a list of notifications, especially if your iPhone is mounted in a car holder, for example, where your passengers can easily view it. A quick way to instantly clear away all notifications on the lock screen - without the need to unlock the phone - is to drag down the notification center and then drag it back up.

The notifications will still be listed in Notification Centre in case you wish to view them later, but the lock screen will now be free of personal details.

 

Call a specific iPad, iPhone, or Mac

FaceTime works by letting you register cell-phone numbers and email addresses by which people can contact you.

For example, anybody wishing to call me via FaceTime can do so by specifying my cell-phone number, my iCloud email address, or my personal email address. When they call, I’m notified of the call on my iPad, iPhone, and Mac computer simultaneously, and it’s up to me which I use to take the call.

However, by selectively assigning just one email address or cell-phone number to a particular device, you can make it so that the caller can choose to FaceTime-call just your iPhone or your iPad or your Mac computer. In other words, the call won’t ring out on all your devices. Here’s how to set it up:

1. Choose the first of your Apple devices, then open the Settings app and tap the FaceTime heading.

2. Under the heading that reads You Can Be Reached by FaceTime At, remove the checks alongside all the entries except the cell-phone number or email address you wish to use for that particular device. Alternatively, you can tap the Add Another Email entry to add a new email address by which you want to be contacted for that device. Note that you will need to reply to a confirmation message at that email address to authorize its use.

3. Under the Caller ID heading, ensure the same address or cell-phone number as earlier is selected.

4. Repeat this step on the other Apple devices or Macs, assigning each a unique email address for use with assigning each a unique email address for use with FaceTime. Note that an iPhone must use its cell-phone number as identification, and it can’t be deselected within the list.

5. Ask anybody who wants to FaceTime-call a specific one of your devices to create a new contact for you in their Contacts app. For example, I might ask family members to create a new contact called Keir Thomas iPad, with the only entry being the email address I’ve assigned for FaceTime calls on my iPad (typed within the FaceTime field of the contact card). This step should be repeated, so people add a new contact for any other Apple devices or Macs, in which the only entry will be the email address or cell-phone number registered with FaceTime on that device. Following this, those family members can FaceTime-call me by switching to the FaceTime app, opening the contacts list, then tapping the new entry they created for my iPad, Mac, or iPhone. FaceTime will “ring” only on the device they select to call.

 

Easily select paragraphs, sentences and lines

Selecting text for copying or cutting within iPad and iPhone apps is never easy, but can be straightforward if all you want to do is select a discrete line, sentence, or paragraph while editing text. Just tap the line, sentence, or paragraph with two fingers. This can be a difficult technique to get right, particularly when selecting single lines—the two fingers must be side-by-side and perhaps even pinched together. However, once mastered it’s a technique that can save a lot of time and effort.

If after selecting text in this way you then drag apart the two fingers, the selection will expand line by line to encompass your selection area (although not in apps like Pages, where that gesture is used to zoom in and out of the document).

 

Take better HDR pictures

High dynamic range (HDR) is a technology that aims to produce perfect pictures. If you find yourself unable to get a good snap even with HDR enabled, try this trick, which isn’t guaranteed to work each time but is certainly worth a try: when lining up the shot, tap and hold the darkest area of the picture for a few seconds. This will lock the focus and exposure. Then take the picture.

You may find the picture is better exposed, and it happens because you’re giving iOS’s HDR software a helping hand in learning about the exposure range of the image.

Of course, this will work only if the area you select isn’t too close to your iPad or iPhone, because you’re also locking focus and might therefore cause the main subject in the image to be blurred. But for a general shot of objects some distance away, or a landscape shot, what you focus on won’t make any difference to the overall quality of the shot.

 

Use Autoplay variations in GarageBand

Whenever the Autoplay dial appears as an option within GarageBand, such as with the Smart instruments, pressing a chord bar with two fingers will play a variation of the standard Autoplay riff. Tapping with three fingers will play another variation.

These variations are different from the choices offered by simply rotating the Autoplay dial. Instead, they modulate the basic riff or melody slightly, with three fingers often introducing slightly discordant notes. To return to the default riff or melody, just tap the note heading above each of the chord bars.

 

View Map pins that are close together

Sometimes two pins are close together on a map, and tapping each to view their pop-up information can be tricky. One way to do so is to zoom in so that the pins appear farther apart, but an easier way that works at any zoom level is to tap and hold one of the pins so its pop-up appears, and then, without lifting your finger, slide it toward the other pin.

That will switch the pop-up to show information about that pin. In fact, this will even work if the pins are far apart—sliding your finger around on the surface of the iPad or iPhone will cause pop-ups to appear above whatever pin is currently beneath your finger.

Incidentally, another way to view the search results is to tap the list button at the bottom of the screen. Selecting any entry in the list will switch back to the map view with the pin for that location selected.

 

Enable two-step verification for extra security

Anybody with knowledge of your Apple ID password has a huge amount of power. Assuming the device is registered with the Find My iPhone/iPad service a person can remotely wipe your device from the Apple website, for example, by reporting it as being stolen.

A sad fact of modern life is that passwords—even sophisticated ones—should no longer be considered safe on their own. Hackers not only show great ingenuity in cracking them, but the technology for doing so is getting better every day.

Because of this, Apple offers optional two-step verification. This means that managing your Apple account - performing tasks such as adding a new device, for example, or remotely wiping another - isn’t possible without both your Apple ID password and a PIN, which is sent to your iPad or iPhone, or which can be sent by SMS to any phone.

Other than for account administration, however, two-step verification is unobtrusive - it’s not used when purchasing apps, for example, or when viewing your iCloud email online.

Setting up two-step verification is easy. Here’s how - it’s best done on a desktop computer.

1. Log in at the Apple ID website and click Manage your Apple ID, then log in when prompted.

2. Click the Password and Security section at the left, then click the Get Started link under the Two-Step Verification heading.

3. After reading about the benefits of two-step verification, clicking Continue each time, you’ll be shown a list of Apple devices registered on your account. By clicking the Verify link alongside a device, you can set it up as a “trusted” device, meaning that in the future you’ll be able to choose to send a PIN to it as part of two-step verification.

4. Verification works by sending a PIN to the device, which you should then enter at the website when prompted, as the following figure shows.

5. When registering an iPhone, you’ll also be prompted to enter its phone number to act as a backup should there be a problem sending the verification code. You can skip this step if you wish, but it’s a good idea to type in your number. (Those living outside the United States with phone numbers beginning with zero should leave off any opening zero from the number.) To confirm the cell-phone number you’ll be sent a PIN by SMS, which you should confirm by typing into the website as prompted.

Alternatively, if you don’t have an iPhone you can click the Add an SMS-Capable Phone Number link to set up a different device. Again, you’ll need to enter the PIN on the website after it’s sent to the phone. If somebody you know well has a cell phone, it’s worth considering adding that phone’s number here as an insurance policy in case you lose your Apple devices—obviously that person will need to be available when you set up two-step verification because he’ll have to confirm the PIN he receives.

6. When you click Continue you’ll see a recovery key. If you lose your Apple devices, you can use this key to reset all the security details. For this reason, you should keep the key in a very secure place. My favorite way of recording details like this is to write them on the back page of a favorite book that lives on my bookcase. Only I know which book, and burglars have very little interest in books!

7. When you click Continue you’ll be asked to confirm the code by typing it, so do so.

8. After checking the box to confirm that you understand the implications of two-step verification, and how it works, click the Enable Two-Step Verification link to activate it.

To deactivate two-step verification at a later date, repeat the preceding steps to log into the Password and Security section of the Apple ID website and click the Turn Off Two-Step Verification link.

 

Take photos while shooting video

If you’re shooting a video on an iPhone 5, 5c, or 5s, you can tap the white button at the bottom left to take a snapshot (top left if the phone is being held in landscape mode). This won’t affect the video, which will continue to be recorded as if nothing had happened.

It’s important to note that all you’re really doing is saving a still from the movie, rather than taking a photo. The resulting snapshots will be at 1080p resolution (1920×1080, or 2.1 megapixels), and far short of the 8 megapixel capability of the iPhone’s camera when taking photos ordinarily.

Read: How to avoid running out of data on your iPhone

 

Move email addresses in Mail

Ever entered an email address in the CC: field of an email but then decided it’d be better to use BCC:? Tap the address so it’s highlighted, then drag it down to the BCC: field.

In fact, this trick lets you switch around email addresses between any of the To:, CC:, and BCC: fields!

 

Stop the phone’s ringing, but still take the call

There’s nothing worse than finishing a real-life conversation with somebody while your phone is ringing. You’re going to answer it, but you just need a few more words with the other person. Yet the phone’s ringing is impossible to ignore!

The solution with an iPhone is to press the Lock/Sleep button once (the button on top of the phone). This silences the ringer but doesn’t reject the call, so you can answer it as usual as soon as you’re able to.

This works for FaceTime calls too, on both an iPhone and an iPad.

 

Have directions repeated

If you’re driving or walking a route worked out by the Maps app and you want to hear the spoken instructions again for your next turn, just tap the top part of the screen where the instruction is listed.

Although of limited use when driving because it would involve taking your attention off the road, when on foot this can be a useful trick if you’re unable to study the map.

 

Repeat calendar events on the first or last day of the month

The Calendar app lets you create events that repeat periodically on particular days in the month, but it doesn’t let you repeat events on the first Friday of each month, for example, or the last Saturday—dates that can vary depending on which month it is.

For Windows PC users who use iCloud to synchronize and back up data, the solution is to visit the iCloud website using a Windows PC and use its browser interface to access your calendar, as follows:

1. Log in at the iCloud website using your Apple ID, then click the Calendar icon.

2. Click the plus sign (+) at the bottom right to add a new calendar event.

3. Fill in the calendar events as you would normally on an iPhone or iPad. In the Repeat drop-down list, select Custom.

4. In the new dialog box that appears, click the Monthly tab, then at the bottom click the radio button alongside “On the” and select on which day you’d like the event to repeat.

5. Click OK when done.

The same instructions work on a Mac too, but there’s also an easier way: if you have a Mac computer that’s logged into the same iCloud account as your device, start the Calendar app, switch to month view by clicking the tab at the top of the program window, then double-click on the first day you wish the event to happen to create a new event. This will open a dialog box where you can edit the event, after which you should follow the preceding list from step 2 onward (note that you should click the Frequency drop-down and select Month instead of clicking a tab option).

 

Activate Siri using your headphones

If your iPhone earbuds are plugged into either an iPhone or iPad, you can activate Siri by clicking and holding the middle of the in-line remote, just like you would click and hold the Home button.

 

Remotely view the remaining charge of your Apple devices

Ever wanted to know what battery charge is remaining in your iPad without finding it and checking? Or on your iPhone? If the device is registered with the Find My iPhone/iPad service, you can use the Find My iPhone app or visit the iCloud website on a Mac or Windows PC to see this detail. You’ll also see the battery life of any MacBook computers you’ve registered.

Start Find My iPhone or visit the webpage at https://icloud.com and click the Find My iPhone button, and wait for it to locate your equipment. Then do one of the following:

  • iCloud website: Click the All Devices heading at the top and select the device for which you want to view the battery life.
  • iPhone: Select the device from the list in the lower half of the screen.
  • iPad: Tap the My Devices heading at the top left, then tap the device for which you want to view the battery life.

In each case, the map will scroll to show the location, and at the top right of the screen will be a battery symbol showing how much charge is left or a symbol indicating that the device is attached to its charger.

 

Use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi even in airplane mode

Airplane mode switches off all radio communications on your iPad or iPhone—cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. However, perhaps surprisingly, even when airplane mode is active, you can tap the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth switches within Control Center or the Settings app to reactivate those features.

This means you can work using a Bluetooth keyboard on an iPad during a flight, for example, or connect to the in-flight Wi-Fi. There is no way of reactivating cellular services, however, other than turning off airplane mode.

Another use for activating Wi-Fi during a flight is to make FaceTime audio or video calls—remember that FaceTime calls happen over the Internet, and not the cellular network!

 

Move shapes or images precisely in iWork

Although you can move shapes, text boxes, and images in the iWork apps by tapping and then dragging, moving them precisely can be a challenge - in part because our fingers can be a little too fat and uncoordinated.

The solution is to tap and hold the image with one finger, and with another finger (or perhaps a finger on your other hand) swipe left, right, up, or down to move the image 1 pixel in those directions.

 

Take long and tall shots in Panorama mode

A secret feature of the Panorama mode within the Camera app is that it works for more than panoramas! Hold the phone in landscape mode, and you can use the Panorama feature to photograph things that are tall, such as Big Ben, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or a tall friend!

Activate the Panorama mode by swiping down until PANO is highlighted, then point the camera at the top of the subject. Tap the shutter-release button in the usual way to start the photograph, and pan the camera downward until you’ve taken in the whole subject.

Alternatively, to start from the bottom and pan upward, tap the arrow to make Panorama mode switch directions.

 

Add words to the spelling dictionary

Like most computing devices, your iPad or iPhone will underline in red any words it thinks are misspelled. Unlike with most computers, however, you can’t tap a word that’s actually correct in order to have it added to the dictionary. iOS simply doesn’t allow this.

You may have noticed that iOS doesn’t underline the names of your contacts as being misspelled, no matter how strangely their names might be spelled. This is because it automatically adds the names on Contact cards to its spelling dictionary, and you can exploit this function to create a personal dictionary of odd words you use frequently that would otherwise confuse iOS.

Choose one of your contacts at random in the Contacts app and tap Edit at the top right. Scroll down and tap the Add Field box and, in the list that appears, tap Notes. Then, in the new Notes field, type all the words that you want your iPhone to learn. Simply close the contact when you’ve finished.

 

Help iOS type contractions (“we’ll,” “I’ll,” and so on)

iOS is keen to help when you’re typing and sometimes will automatically correct “well” to “we’ll,” for example, or “ill” to “I’ll.” If you actually meant to type “well” or “ill” this can be annoying. On the other hand, iOS has an uncanny knack for not autocorrecting “well” to “we’ll” when that’s what you actually want!

Forcing Contractions

Continuing with our example, should you find yourself typing “ill” with the hope of it being autocorrected to “I’ll,” and you find iOS doesn’t fix it for you, simply type an extra l at the end: “illl.” Then tap the ?Space? key. This gives iOS a sufficient clue that you want “I’ll.” The same applies for “we’ll” - typing “welll” followed by space will make iOS substitute “we’ll.”

Refusing Contractions

Again continuing the example, if you type “well” and find iOS wants to autocorrect it to “we’ll” against your wishes, you can simply tap the autocorrect pop-out. This will cancel the autocorrection. However, if you don’t want to move your fingers from the keyboard area, just type an extra l at the end - “welll” - then delete the last “l” and tap the? Space key. This is enough to tell iOS not to autocorrect the word.

 

Apply EQ to individual tracks or albums

Although you can set overall audio equalization (EQ) for music or audio tracks played through the iPad or iPhone (see the Music heading within the Settings app), you can’t set EQ for individual tracks. You might wish to do this if you play mixed playlists featuring heavy rap as well as folk acoustic, for example—one might benefit from bass boost, while the other won’t!

If you sync your iPad or iPhone with iTunes on a computer, however, you can individually set the EQ for either individual tracks or a selection of tracks, such as a complete album. When you sync, the settings will be carried across and will override the global EQ setting for the device (if one has been set).

To do this, right-click any track within iTunes on your computer, or use ?Cmd/Shift to select a handful before right-clicking one of them, then select Get Info. Ensure the Options tab is selected in the dialog box that appears, and select whichever EQ setting you want from the Equalizer Preset drop-down list.

Click OK to dismiss the dialog box, then sync your device as usual using iTunes.

To undo the EQ, repeat the preceding steps but select None from the Equalizer Preset drop-down list.

 

Buy iPad and iPhone Kung Fu

[Many thanks to Keir Thomas for letting us republish these useful tips from his iPad and iPhone Kung Fu book, you can read more Macworld articles by Keir Thomas here.]

Keir Thomas's iPad and iPhone Kung Fu containes over 300 tips, tricks, hints and hacks for iOS 7. It's available as an eBook, or in print from all good bookshops.

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