15 actually useful tips and tricks every iPhone owner should know about

If you liked iDB’s tutorial covering some of the most popular tips and tricks for Apple Watch, be sure to check out our collection of more than a dozen actually useful tips for your iPhone.

If you just got a brand spanking new iPhone XS, iPhone XR, iPhone X, iPhone 8 or older, do yourself a favor and memorize these handy tips and tricks that will save you time while making you more productive. These tips work on older iPhone models, too, as long as your device is running Apple’s latest iOS 12 software or last year’s iOS 11 update.

Video walkthrough: 15 useful iPhone tips

I suggest you first familiarize yourself with these handy tips by watching Harris’s hands-on video walkthrough which I’ve embedded right below. After that, you can read each tip’s description further below in order to learn precisely how it works.

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For those asking, Harris has published the wallpaper from the video on Twitter.

Detailed overview

The video covers the following iPhone tips and tricks:

1. Move multiple apps at once

If you ever find yourself wanting to organize apps on your Home screen, you surely realized that moving a bunch of icons around one by one gets old fast. New in iOS 11, you can move multiple icons at once: first, enter iOS’s jiggle mode by tapping and holding on an icon. Next, move the icon just ever so slightly so that the “x” in its top-left corner vanishes. You can now tap other app icons to add them to your selection before moving the bundle to a new position.

Android’s had this useful feature for years so it’s nice that Apple’s included it in iOS.

2. Make the screen significantly dimmer

If you find that the iPhone screen’s lowest possible brightness is still too bright for your eyes in a dark environment, you can dim the screen below its normal threshold. Go to Settings → Accessibility → Zoom → Zoom Filter → Low Light. Now with a simple triple-press of the Side/Power button, you can quickly switch between normal and dimmed appearance.

For quick triple-press access, don’t forget to include the Low Light filter in the accessibility shortcut menu under Settings → Accessibility → Accessibly Shortcut.

3. Memoji/Animoji reactions in Messages

Since iOS 10, you’ve been able to tap and hold a chat bubble in Messages to send a Tapback reaction. Now with iOS 12, you can spice up the conversation by using your own Memoji or Animoji as a reaction. Simply select an Animoji or Memoji in Messages, make a desired facial expression and then drag the character and drop it on a message bubble.

This is similar to how you can tap and hold a sticker in Messages to peel it Because you’re allowed to strike a pose before dropping your Animoji/Memoji on a bubble, you can perfectly personalize these reactions to the context of your conversation.

4. Swipe-to-delete in Calculator

If you use Apple’s Calculator app, you know how frustrating it can be when you accidentally hit that one wrong key and it throws off your whole calculation. To delete the last type digit, simply swipe from right to left over the results section. You can do this multiple times in a row to sort of undo your last steps.

5. Custom text alerts

You can create custom text tones and ring alters for people in your Contacts so that you can tell who’s ringing or texting you without even looking at the phone.

custom text tones for contacts

Setting custom vibrations allows you to know who’s texting or calling based off the vibrations you hear or feel, like when you’re at the movies, which is really cool and saves time.

6. Turn your iPhone into a loupe

If your eyesight isn’t as it used to be but you need to read small type like a prescriptions or product spec, use Magnifier. No, it’s not the same as zoom in the Camera app: Magnifier applies various optimizations so you can take a really closer look at things that can sometimes be too small to see.

You have a slider bar for adjusting the zoom and buttons to toggle the LED flash, lock the focus and access the filters (use them to improve visibility or enhance details). You can also adjust the exposure and saturation separately, plus invert the colors in the image.

To enable or disable this feature, go to General → Accessibility → Magnifier.

7. Location sharing via QuickType keyboard

In iOS 10 or later, a single tap on the QuickType keyboard in Messages lets you send your current location to a person you’re chatting with. It all “just works”: if Siri determines that the recipient is asking where you are and you start typing “I’m at”, it will put a handy Current Location button above the keyboard. Just tap it to send your exact location at that time.

Actually, Siri goes beyond location queries. If a person is asking for your or someone else’s phone number or email address (naturally, they must be in your Contacts), Siri will put the right info above the QuickType keyboard for you to send with a tap.

8. Quiet notification delivery

New in iOS 12, Instant Tuning lets you manage notification delivery. Simply press the notification on the Lock screen or slide over and tap Manage. This will display a new menu on the Lock screen with relevant options, the most prominent being Deliver Quietly.

The next time you get nudged by a notification you don’t want to see, press it and select the option Deliver Quietly. From now on, all notifications from that app will be delivered silently (without making a sound or vibrating your device) to your Notification Center without putting up a banner or popping up on the Lock screen.

9. Notification settings shortcut

Press a notification banner, then tap the Settings button at the bottom to quickly jump to the corresponding notification screen for that app in Settings, saving yourself quite a few taps in the process.

10. Lyric search

If you know that lyric but don’t know that song, you can type in the lyric into the search field in the Music app or iTunes and it will pull up that song if it recognizes it.

11. Search shortcuts

You don’t need to go to the Contacts app in order to type in a person’s name in the search filed and find their card nor do you have to fire up Safari just to Google something. That’s because iOS’s Search feature (formerly known as Spotlight) can detect certain types of queries and offer to automatically run a relevant search in the right app.

Copy a link from Messages and you will see a shortcut at the bottom of the Search interface offering to open the link in Safari. Other shortcuts like Search Web, Search App Store and Search Maps appear depending on the context of your query.

12. Siri: flashlight, passwords & more

Aside from standard voice commands, Apple’s personal assistant with each iteration can adjust or access the ever-growing number of features in iOS. In iOS 12, for example, Siri can turn the flashlight on or off on your behalf, which is useful when wearing gloves.

AutoFill Passwords iPhone

Also new in iOS 12, Siri can show your passwords. “Hey Siri, show me my passwords” takes you to the Passwords & Accounts section of the Settings app, then authenticates you to reveal your saved passwords. More specific queries are supported, too, like “Hey Siri, show me my Facebook password”. With iOS 12, the ability to autofill passwords also works on Apple TV and even with third-party managers like 1Password and LastPass.

13. Multi-keyword search in Photos

Photos app takes advantage of computer vision to automatically recognizes objects, people and scenes on your photographs, allowing you to easily surface things such as all the beach images or only the shots with your Dad in them. But did you know that Photos lets you be really specific by chaining multiple keywords together?

Photos App Multiple Keyword Search

Begin by typing in your first search term—for example, the word “beach.”

Now select the term from the drop-down suggestions you see in Photos. Next, type in a second word, like “sunglasses,” and select it from the suggestions, too. You should now see both keywords in the search box and any relevant results below it.

14. DND at Bedtime

If you hate waking up to a deluge of missed notifications, use Do Not Disturb at Bedtime.

This handy new feature in iOS 12 does a few things on your behalf to minimize distractions that may disrupt your sleep. Not only does it silence all calls and texts but also dims the Lock screen and routes all the alerts to Notification Center until DND ends.

weather widget

When using the Bedtime feature with scheduled Do Not Disturb mode, you will wake up to a weather forecast on your Lock screen, which is totally cool. Once you unlock the phone, the weather widget won’t be seen again until the device enters another Do Not Disturb cycle.

15. Measure almost everything

A new app in iOS 12, Measure takes advantage of computer vision, artificial intelligence, machine learning, facial recognition and augmented reality to let you measure almost any object by pointing your iOS device’s camera at it.

How to use Measure app

It’s not perfect but should suffice for ball-park measurements.

And now, check out some cool Apple Watch tips or all the new features in iOS 12.

Your own tips?

Hopefully, you’ve learned a couple of new things about your iPhone that you didn’t know before. And even if you knew about all of the tips mentioned above, resurfacing them again might prompt you to memorize a handy feature or two that you might have forgotten about.

How do you like Harris’s tips, which one’s your favorite and why?

Let us know in the commenting section down below. Be sure to comment on any new ones you have learned. If you have any useful tips for us, share them with the iDB community in comments.