30+ things I always do when setting up a new iPhone

setting up a new iPhone - iPhone X settings

Getting a new iPhone is always a satisfying moment for me because it is like a fresh start. Instead of setting up my new device from a previous backup, I like to start with a clean state and set up the device from scratch, which allows me to do some Spring cleaning of sort on my Home screen, and change things up a bit.

If my Home screen lay out changes a bit with every new device I set up, there are things however that remain unchanged from my old iPhone to the new one. These are all the granular preferences that truly make my iOS device fit my needs. These are settings that never, or at least rarely, change from one year to the other.

In this post, I want to share my process for setting up a new iPhone or iPad. While of little value to most readers, I’m hoping it will give some ideas or inspiration to a few of you. 

How I set up a new iPhone

This list is pretty much in the same order a do things after setting up my iPhone or iPad as new.

  1. Install 1Password.
  2. Turn off keyboard clicks in Settings > Sounds & Haptics > Keyboard Feedback. They drive me nuts so this is always a priority.
  3. Turn on haptic feedback in Settings > Sounds & Haptics > Keyboard Feedback.
  4. Turn off Lock sound.
  5. Change time to 24 hours format in Settings > General > Date & Time. I’m French and grew up on what the US calls military time.
  6. Delete stock apps I never use (Contacts, GarageBand, Keynote, Clips, iMovie, iTunes U, Tips). Doing so doesn’t only help keep things clean, but it also saves tons of storage space on my device.
  7. Create a “Crapple” folder with all Apple apps I seldom use.
  8. Add French keyboard in Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards.
  9. Add French dictionary, and French-English dictionary in Settings > General > Dictionary. Typing often in both English and French, these two steps are essential.
  10. Enable dictation in Settings > General > Keyboard. I am not entirely sure why but this isn’t on by default. It probably has something to do with privacy.
  11. Set up text message forwarding to my iPad and MacBook so I can also receive SMS (not just iMessages) on these devices. You can do so in Settings > Messages > Text Message Forwarding.
  12. Set my default iMessage email address at Settings > Messages > Send & Receive.
  13. Set iMessage history to one year. After one year, messages will automatically be deleted, which doesn’t really matter since I will have a new iPhone by then. This is done in Settings > Messages > Keep Messages.
  14. Enable Wi-Fi calling in Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calling. This is a great feature that most carriers now support.
  15. Turn off call forwarding to other devices to prevent having all my Apple devices ring when I get a phone call. This is taken care of in Settings > Phone > Calls on Other Devices.
  16. Change the FaceTime default email address in Settings > FaceTime. I make sure the default email address used to place FaceTime calls is the same as the one used as default iMessage email address. I do this for all my Apple devices to make sure all my iMessages and FaceTime calls come from the same email address.
  17. Set up my email accounts in Settings > Passwords & Accounts. I mostly use Gmail and I always make sure to tweak the mailbox settings so that discarded messages go to trash (not archive). I also rename each mailbox.
  18. Tweak email settings in Settings > Mail: add 3-line preview, change swipe gestures (right goes to Move to Folder, left goes to delete), and customize email signatures.
  19. Check Photos settings: make sure iCloud Photo Library is enabled and that Optimize iPhone Storage is enabled.
  20. Change Camera settings in Settings > Camera > Formats > Most Compatible.
  21. Enable Grid overlay for the Camera in Settings > Camera > Grid.
  22. Go to Purchased tab in the App Store app and download all my essential apps. This is a great time to only download what you really use, not what you think you might need one day.
  23. Log in to all downloaded apps to save time later and set up those I use most often. This is probably the most time-consuming part of my process, but this is one that I won’t have to deal with later.
  24. Sort all apps into folders as I log in and set them up.
  25. Organize Home screen layout and folders.
  26. Fine-tune my notifications (make sure iMessage repeat alert is off is a must, for example). To do so, I just go over each app in Settings > Notifications.
  27. Select widgets and organize them.
  28. Change display auto-lock to 1 minute. For some reason, it is now set to 30 seconds by default.
  29. Set my Do not Disturb schedule.
  30. Change the name of the device in Settings > General > About > Name. I always use the type of device for the name. For example, this year’s iPhone is named iPhone 13 Pro.
  31. Set up my Control Center toggles in Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls. I make sure the most-used ones are at the bottom for easy reach.
  32. Turn off Require Attention for Face ID and Attention Aware Features in Settings > Face ID & Passcode. Turning these off make Face ID more reliable to me. Yes, it’s slightly less secure too, but let’s face it, if someone manages to unlock my iPhone by putting it in front of my face while I’m sleeping, I have bigger problems than this person having my iPhone.
  33. Set up Apple Pay and select my default Credit Card in Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay.
  34. Change contacts sort order to First, Last in Settings > Contacts > Sort Order.
  35. Turn off requests to join Wi-Fi networks in Settings > Wi-Fi > Ask to Join Networks > Off.
  36. Go into Settings > General > About, and rename my device to the model name. For example, my 2022 device is called “iPhone 14 Pro”, not “Sebastien’s iPhone”.
  37. Run through the Settings app to see if I forgot anything.

There are always a couple things that I forget here and there during the process, but these are minor settings that I can change quickly later on.

Now that you know my entire process, tell me how you go about it. Do you set up your iOS devices as new like I do, or do you set them up from a backup? Do you have a set up process too? Any question about my set up?Share in the comments below.