Widgets are a quick and easy way to add extra functionality to your iPhone or iPad - bringing you the information you need at a glance. They are small programs that provide shortcuts to features normally found inside your apps but you can access them quickly just by swiping on the Home screen. We explain what they do, how to set them up and a few you should add to your device to get started.

What are widgets?

When you install an app on your iPhone or iPad, the chances are it will have an accompanying widget that you're able to add to the widget page. This software acts as a mini version of the app, giving you fast access to the information it provides - such as the weather, upcoming appointments in your calendar, recent notes, and other similar data.

Widgets act as shortcuts, so tapping one will immediately take you to the matching place on the app itself.

Where are my iPhone widgets?

All iPhone widgets are located on a single screen that's very easy to access. If you're on the home screen then swiping right will take you to the widget page. The same can be done from the lock screen.

You can also get to them via the notifications centre. This is achieved by swiping down to open Notifications then swiping right.

How to use widgets on iPhone & iPad: Today View

How to edit iPhone widgets

When you download a new app, the widget doesn't automatically get added to your widget page. This is presumably to stop it getting flooded with a variety of ones you don't want or for which you have no use.

You can add or remove widgets manually, and the process is an easy one. Open the widget page (or Today View as Apple calls it) through one of the methods outlined above, then scroll down to the bottom until you see the Edit button.

How to use widgets on iPhone and iPad: Edit widgets

Tap this and you'll see a list of all the current available widgets on your iPhone. The ones already on the widget page will have red circles with white horizontal lines through them (similar to a No Entry sign) displayed to the left of their names.

How to use widgets on iPhone and iPad: Adding widgets

To the right you'll also see three lines. Tapping and holding these allow you to move the widget up and down the list, so you can place it where you like.

Scrolling down to the More Widgets section will show you all the ones installed on your device but not currently available on your widget page. To add them, tap the green circle with a plus sign inside that is displayed to the left of the name. Then use the three lines to place the widget where you want it on the list.

Some widgets to get you started

Apple's own apps are all equipped with widgets, and we find Calendar, Notes, Podcasts, and Screen Time being some of our favourites. A few others you might want to add include Shazam, which allows you to quickly get the song-identifying app up and running so you don't miss which track is playing in the pub or while out shopping.

MyFitnessPal is a good alternative to Apple Health and the widget allows you to enter your calorie counts after each meal via its catalogue of meals. Wunderlist can be a great tool for organising your life and the widget instantly shows all of your tasks for today, taking you directly to them with one click.

Evernote is another popular organisational tool: an app that stores all your notes and uploaded images. The widget displays the most recent additions to your notebooks and lets you make edits on the fly.

How to use iPad widgets on the home screen

With iPadOS, Apple introduced the ability to have the Today View widget on the home screen. You can access this at any time by swiping in from the left, but for a more permanent fixture you can actually pin it to the Home screen.

How to use widgets on iPhone and iPad : iPadOS Today View

To do this, swipe in from the left to reveal the Today View widget, then scroll down to the bottom of the panel until you see the Edit option. Tap this and select the Keep on Home Screen option at the top of the page.

Now you'll have instant access to this feature when you open your iPad. To reorder the widgets or add new ones, use the same method described above for iPhone.

So, scroll to the bottom of the panel, tap Edit, then either tap the red circles next to apps to remove them or the green circles to add them. You can also reorder the widgets by tapping and holding the three lines to the right of each one's name and dragging it to your preferred position on the list.

To see what goodies Apple has in store for iPad and iPhone users, read iPadOS 14 release date and new feature rumours and iOS 14 release date and new feature rumours.