25 Hidden iPhone Hacks You Never Knew About
From charging the battery faster to taking a hands-free photo, these are the secret iPhone hacks you'll wish you knew sooner.
Chances are, you’ve only scratched the surface of the amazing things your iPhone can do. Your trusty companion boasts a bunch of hidden features you never knew about, and dozens of little tricks will make using your iPhone faster, easier, and more effective. With new features being added with each iOS release, it’s important to stay up-to-date—or you risk falling behind on the secrets Apple insiders know about iPhones that you don’t.
Tag contacts in group messages
The next time you want to get someone’s attention in a group chat, mention them directly by typing the @ symbol followed by their name. Then, hit the space bar or add punctuation to bold the person’s name and make the @ symbol disappear. After you send the message, the mentioned person will receive a notification. This way, your message won’t get lost in a long thread.
Change your default web browser
So long, Safari. Since iOS 14, you can make Google Chrome, Firefox, or any other web browser your default. Same goes for emails: Rather than automatically opening Apple Mail to write a new email, you can now select another app like Microsoft Outlook or Gmail to be your preferred account, instead.
Add captions to photos and videos
You can add captions or keywords to any photo or video you take. Just swipe up on an image or video to add your caption, and it will automatically save to your iCloud Photos. To quickly find the image later, type in the caption or keyword in your iPhone’s Search window.
Respond to single messages
Replying to specific messages is the new-and-improved way to clear up confusion on a chatty group thread. Tap and hold the message you want to respond to, select “Reply” in the menu of options, and then type and send your message. Now your reply has started a new thread inside the chat—and everyone is on the same page.
Hide unused apps
While iPhone apps offer plenty of bells and whistles to improve our lives, you probably don’t use most of them regularly. Thankfully, you can now move your unused apps to Apple’s “App Library” on iOS 14. Simply tap “Remove App” from the app’s quick actions, then select “Move to App Library.” How many of these home improvement apps do you have?
Add widgets to your home screen
Good news: It is now possible to see your favorite widgets, like Weather, Reminders, or Apple News, at a glance. Just drag and drop widgets from the Today View onto your home screen, or add widgets from the home screen’s edit menu.
Launch apps faster
The days of digging around for an app are over. As you search for apps through the App Library or default Search tool, your phone will predict the best match and put it at the top of the results. If that’s the app you want, you can open it immediately by tapping “Go” in the keyboard.
Search the web without Safari
There’s no need to open your Safari app to search for something online. Instead, swipe left to open your Search window, type in the search terms, and open the results directly from the page. If you have set your default web browser to Chrome or Firefox, you won’t need to use Safari at all.
Get a faster charge
Do you have a low battery, but you’re short on time? For a faster way to top up, turn on Airplane Mode. Doing so will temporarily pause your phone’s background noise (such as random notifications and GPS roaming), which tends to drain the battery as it charges. The extra juice won’t be much, but a little can go a long way. Here’s another way to check if you’re draining your battery.
Quickly launch a website
To pull up a website in a hurry, here’s a shortcut: Type the web address into Safari, and then hold down the period icon on your phone’s keyboard to bring up a list of URL endings. Options range from the standard suffixes (.com, .net) to the more uncommon ones (.edu, .ie).
Get more storage space
Storage space is a hot commodity for the average iPhone user. To make the most of yours, hold down the “power” button, wait until you see the option to slide and power off your phone, and then hold down the “home” button. Doing so will clean out your phone’s RAM, which reduces the amount of space your apps might be taking up.
Siri is no fool, but she’s not foolproof, either. If she says something wrong—such as a name or address—you can correct her. Respond with “That’s not how you pronounce…” and Siri will ask for the correct pronunciation. Once you give it to her, she will repeat it back to you to make sure she’s got it right. Siri isn’t a one-trick pony, though.
Make the screen smaller
If you are a one-hand texter, try moving the keyboard closer to your left or right palm by holding the emoji button and selecting one of the keyboards on either side. You can also tap the home button twice to shift the entire top of the iPhone screen down. Both tricks will make the entire screen much more accessible for the average-sized hand.
Find out what your phone knows about you
Users, beware: Your iPhone is following every single step you make. For proof, go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Frequent Locations. You will see the places you’ve been, as well as how much time you spent there. You can turn off the feature by tapping “Clear History,” and then swiping left on the Frequent Locations tab.
Though the days of customized ringtones are behind us, you can still customize the text notifications you receive. Start by selecting a person in your contacts list and tapping “Edit.” From there, go to “Vibration” and press the “Create New Vibration” button to select a custom vibration for that person. Now you can always know who texted you, from your boss to your children, without glancing at the screen.
Set a timer for your music
iPhone users who like to doze off to their favorite snoozing tunes are in luck because their phone will now turn off the music automatically. Go to Clock > Timer > When Timer Ends, tap the “Stop Playing” option, and select the amount of time you want the music to play. Your phone will stop playing the tunes (on both Apple Music and Spotify) when the timer runs out.
Use the Measure app as a household tool
No measuring device on hand? No problem! Opening your iPhone’s Measure app will activate two very practical tools: a digital spirit level and tape measure. The app uses augmented reality to gauge the size and dimensions of objects, show the angle at which a surface is crooked, and even take a photo of the measurement. In other words, you can finally straighten out that pesky picture frame in a pinch.
Take a hands-free photo
You don’t need an empty hand or two to snap a photo on your phone. Just turn on your iPhone’s voice command function under Settings > Accessibility > Voice Control. Then, ask Siri to open your camera and turn the volume down, and your iPhone will capture the moment. If you have an Apple Watch, you can also take a picture by opening its Camera Remote app and pressing the shutter button.
Backspace on the calculator app
Entering the wrong number on the calculator app can ruin anyone’s day—especially after inputting a long equation. But before you blow a gasket, just swipe left or right to delete what you just typed. The calculator will remember the rest of what you entered, so you don’t have to start over from scratch.
Erase text with a shake of your hand
Maybe you second-guessed that paragraphs-long text message. To quickly erase what you just typed, give your phone a good shake and tap “Undo Typing.” Want it back? You can always shake your phone again and select “Redo Typing” to make the text reappear. You can also swipe left with three fingers to erase text and swipe right to put it back.
Boost your texting pace
If you still shift back and forth between keyboards to type numbers and symbols, you’re wasting your time. All you need to do is hold your finger down on the “123” button, drag it over the number or symbol you want, and then let go—no screen-switching necessary. Once you get good at it, you can shave seconds off of each text message you write.
Lock the camera’s focus and exposure
You only need to tap your screen once to keep your phone’s camera focus sharp. Try holding your finger on the screen until the “AF/AE Locked” box appears at the top of the screen. Now the camera won’t lose its focus or exposure settings, no matter which way you twist and turn. Don’t leave this app open for too long, though. Also, make sure you have one of these high-end construction proof cases.
Press one button to make a call
These days, following up with the last person you chatted with on the phone doesn’t require dialing *69. Instead of digging around your contacts, simply open your keypad and tap the green phone icon. Your phone will instantly redial the last number you called.
Record a video and take a picture at the same time
To snap a photo while filming a video, just press the shutter icon next to the video button. One warning, though: Because the photo is taken by the video camera’s sensors, it won’t turn out quite as high-quality as your other images. Also, you need to know these smartphone repairs you should never pay someone to fix.
Take a photo when your storage is full
It’s never a convenient time for that dreaded “Storage Full” notification to pop up. Luckily, you can use the camera option in your Facebook or Twitter app, instead. By starting a new tweet or post, clicking the camera icon, and then snapping your photo, the resulting picture will be saved to your Camera Roll.