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9 lesser-known iPhone tips that can change the way you use your phone

Published Jul 28th, 2021 9:20AM EDT
iPhone Tips

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Not too long ago, every smartphone release — whether it was a new iPhone or a flagship release from Samsung — was a momentous event. With each passing year, new smartphone models introduced incredible new features and wild leaps in camera performance.

These days, however, smartphone improvements are largely incremental. And while this isn’t to say that new smartphone releases aren’t exciting, they’re definitely not as momentous as they once were. That notwithstanding, there are still reasons to get amped about the smartphone user experience. To that end, we’ve put together a short and sweet list of iPhone tips and features you may have been wholly unaware of.

Unlock the trackpad on your iPhone

Instead of fussing around with the iOS cursor the traditional way, you can instead use your iPhone keyboard as a trackpad to move the cursor around more easily. To do this, all you have to do is long-press on the spacebar and drag your finger around.

An all-time great iPhone tip: Back Tap to take a screenshot

This was designed as an accessibility feature, but it’s definitely a tip everyone can enjoy. With iOS 14, users can double or triple tap the back of their iPhone and trigger a variety of functions. For instance, you can back tap your iPhone such that you can automatically take a screenshot or activate Siri. Other Back Tap features include muting your device, adjusting the volume, and viewing the Notification Center.

You can take advantage of this feature by going to Settings > Accessibility. Next, scroll down to the “Physical and Motor” heading and select “Touch.” Now scroll some more and select the “Back Tap” option.

You can now choose to activate Back Tap with either a double or triple tap. You can also pick which action you’d like to be triggered when you call the Back Tap feature into action.

Pin a text for quick access

If you want quick and easy texting access to a designated friend or family member, iOS 14 makes it easy. Simply open up Messages, and find the conversation you want to keep pinned at the top. If you long-press on the person’s name, you’ll see an option to pin it. Upon doing so, this conversation will always remain at the top of the Messages app.

Send unknown callers to voicemail

Are phone scammers interrupting your day far too often? Well, you can send any call from an unknown number right to voicemail. To do so, go to Settings > Phone. Now scroll down and toggle on the “Silence Unknown Callers” option.

Keep your iPhone battery healthy

To keep your iPhone battery running in tip-top shape, there’s a setting that can help reduce battery aging. Go to Settings > Battery > Battery Health. Once there, toggle on the “Optimized Battery Charging” option. When activated, Apple notes that your iPhone “learns from your daily charging routine so it can wait to finish charging past 80% until you need to use it.”

For example, if you plug in your iPhone before bed every night, it won’t charge to 100% until around the time when you typically wake up in the morning.

Secret volume control

You don’t need to constantly press the hardware buttons to increase or decrease the volume on your iPhone. Instead, if you press a volume button once, a volume slider will appear on the left-hand side of the display that you can drag up and down as you see fit.

Turn on Low Data mode

If you have a bad cellular connection or if you’re trying to reduce your data usage, you should be aware of this iPhone tip. By going to Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options, you can toggle on “Low Data Mode.”

As to what Low Data mode does, Apple notes:

  • Apps might stop using network data when you’re not actively using them.
  • Background App Refresh is turned off.
  • The quality of streaming content might be reduced.
  • Automatic downloads and backups are turned off.
  • Services such as iCloud Photos pause updates.

Take a screenshot of an entire webpage

If you want to take a screenshot of an entire webpage, as opposed to just the part viewable on the display, that can be done with iOS 14. Simply take a screenshot as you normally would. You’ll then see a preview of your screenshot in the bottom corner. Tap the preview image once and you’ll see an option that says “Full Page.” Tap that once and the entire webpage will be saved as a photo.

Get an alert when someone mentions your name in a group chat

If you want to stay abreast of when someone in a group chat mentions your name, iOS 14 makes that possible. All you have to do is go to Settings > Messages. Once there, select the “Notify Me” option and you won’t miss someone trying to grab your attention.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.