50 iPhone tips and tricks

50 iPhone tips and tricks 

The iPhone 5 is one of the big daddies of the smartphone market. And part of the reason it’s so popular is that it is so easy to use. However, there are more features than most people know of tucked away in its little aluminium body. We’ve scraped away at the iPhone’s surface to find the top tricks and tips for this top phone.


50. A case is a good idea this time around
Apple completely changed the hardware design of the iPhone series with the iPhone 5. Where previous generations were made of glass and steel, most of the iPhone 5 is aluminium.

The positive effect of this is that the phone is very light and less prone to smashing. However, it is also much less scratch-resistant. Aluminium is a much less hard metal than steel, so the iPhone 5 will take much more of a beating in a pocket full of change than an iPhone 4S. Therefore, using some form of case is a very good idea.

49. The black/slate edition shows off damage more
The iPhone 5 comes in two shades, a white/silver one and the black/slate one. Although it looks nifty when in pristine condition, the slate rear of the black edition is particularly prone to damage. It’s not that it’s any weaker, but scratches on the stained metal rear expose the shiny aluminium underneath. You have to be doubly careful with a black edition.


48. You can tweet a photo directly from the camera roll
In the last few updates to the iOS system, Apple has upped social networking integration. You can now send a photo directly to Facebook or Twitter from the camera app’s gallery. Simply press the arrow button when viewing a photo and the Share menu will pop up, which includes Facebook and Twitter shortcuts. You’ll naturally need to have those accounts linked to your phone, though, by installing the respective social client apps.

47. Social apps can expand your address book

The Facebook and Twitter iPhone apps can be used to add information to your iPhone 5’s contacts book. They’ll add new contacts, use photos from people’s profiles and add extra information you may have missed if you added them manually. To allow the phone to do this, you’ll have to enable the feature from within the iPhone’s Settings menu, rather than the apps themselves.

Both Facebook and Twitter have entries a way down the Settings menu. Facebook has a pair of flick-switches that let it send info to your Calendar and Contacts book, and Twitter has an Update contacts button.

46. Post a Tweet or status update from the Notification bar
Twitter and Facebook are pretty deeply integrated into the iPhone 5’s interface. There’s a tweet box in the drop-down notifications bar, accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen, alongside a “Tap to Post” Facebook bar. These are probably the quickest ways to post on your social networks while out and about. 

45. Best social clients

Most people use the standard, official Facebook and Twitter clients, but there are plenty of third-party apps – for Twitter in particular. Favourites include HootSuite, Tweetbot, Twitbird and Twitterific. Some are free, but many come with a small charge of a couple of quid.

Emails, SMS and calls

44. How to add an email attachment
A basic feature that isn’t made nearly clear enough by iOS is how to add attachments to emails in the stock email app. To do so, hold a finger down on the body of the email for a second, let go and a menu will pop up. Scroll right in this “select/paste” menu and you’ll be given the option to add a photo or video to your email. It’s not quite as flexible as the attachments you can add on a proper computer, but it’s something.

43. How to add a new email account

One thing that has foxed many a new iPhone owner is how to add a second email account – because you don’t do so from within the email app itself. Instead, you have to head to the iPhone 5’s main Settings menu. Flick down to the Mail, Contacts, Calendars entry, within which you’ll find an “Add Account” button. It offers easy connections for popular email providers like Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail, among others.

42. You can set custom vibrate alerts If you want to be able to differentiate between the different types of iPhone notification without using noisy ringtones, you can do so with custom vibrate alerts. There are seven preset vibration alerts in total, from the simple “Alert” to the more musical “Symphony”. Alternatively, you can program your own by tapping a Morse code-like pattern using the touchscreen.

You’ll find these options within the Sounds menu in Settings. Each type of alert can have a vibration and sound attached to it. You’ll find the vibration option at the top of each alert type’s submenu. This is a cool feature that hardly anyone seems to use.


41. Quick top-of-page gesture
Often, you’ll need to get to the top of a page quickly. For example, to call someone from within the SMS app or to get to the address bar in the browser. To fire straight to the top in either part of iOS, just tap right up at the top of the screen, by the clock. This is a real time-saver.

40. MultitaskingHere’s one most of you probably know about already. Double-tap the Home button to bring up the multi-tasking drawer. This houses all your recently-used apps and is the quickest way to switch between apps or games. It’s also the best way to close down apps that are mis-behaving. Exit the app, call up the multitasking menu then hold a finger down on that app’s entry until a red icon appears in its corner. Tap the red icon to close the app down.

39. Do Not Disturb mode
A godsend to those who feel their smartphone is starting to take over their life, Do Not Disturb mode is there to give you some blessed peace. It stops notifications from getting through at certain times of the day, which is especially useful if you like the odd afternoon nap. You can set Do Not Disturb to let certain contacts through at all times, though. You’ll find the mode in the main Settings menu – tap on the Notifications entry below the Do Not Disturb switch to set the parameters of the mode.

38. Taking a screenshotSimple but brilliant, you can take a snap of what’s on your iPhone 5’s screen at any time. Just press the power button up top and the Home button at the same time. The image will then be saved to the phone’s camera gallery.

37. You don’t need to sync to update anymoreWith iOS 6, Apple removed the need to hook up to a computer to download software updated. You can now do it directly from the phone. To do so, go to the General sub-menu within Settings. Here you’ll find the Software update button, which will tell you whether there’s an update ready to download.

36. How to hard reset your iPhoneContrary to what some people say, iPhone 5s do crash from time to time. And sometimes they crash hard. The easiest fix for a frozen phone is a hard reset, which forces the whole system to start afresh. To do this, press down the top power button and Home button at the same time for several seconds. You will see the screen go black, then the Apple logo should appear showing that the system is starting up again.

35. How to factory reset your iPhoneThe other kind of reset is much more dangerous. A factory reset erases all your apps, removes any accounts linked to the phone, making it more-or-less as it was fresh out of the box. This is the reset to do if you choose to sell your iPhone 5, or if it keeps on playing up and other solutions do nothing to help. To perform a factory reset, go to the General sub-menu in Settings and scroll all the way down to the Reset option. Within this menu you’ll find several types of reset. The factory one is “Erase All Content and Settings.”

34. Changing your background and lock screen imageOne of the few ways to stamp your personality onto your iPhone 5 is to change the background and lock screen image. You can change these within Brightness & Wallpaper within Settings. Alternatively, select the image you want from within the Photo app, hit the arrow Share button and select Use as Wallpaper. You’re then given the option to use as either lock or home background, or both.

Maps and Navigation

33. Don’t use Apple Maps, use Google Maps
Apple Maps is not good. Apple ditched Google Maps as its mapping partner with the introduction of iOS 6 in September 2012, and it is seen as one of Apple’s biggest blunders in years. Full of hokey and out-of-date information, it’s much worse than the Google Maps solution it replaced. It’s so bad that Apple CEO Tim Cook made a public apology for the software. However, now you can download an app version of Google Maps, which is much, much better. So use that.

32.  If you’re going abroad, download an offline map before you leave homeGPS is free to use abroad, but the data you’ll need to download mapping information while you’re out and about generally is not. To avoid having to pay extortionate roaming charges, download an offline map app of the city you’re heading to. You’ll find such apps for just about any major European city on the App Store. They won’t be as good as Google Maps, but will do the job.

31. How to enter Street View in the Google Maps appThe Google Maps app makes is surprisingly tricky to use the Street View function, which gives you a first-person view of what a place looks like. To use it, search for a location within Google Maps or hold a finger down on a road to bring up its address. This will make a pop-up location menu appear at the bottom of the screen. Drag this up to see more information about the location. If there’s Street View info for the location, there’ll also be a Street View button here.


30. Entering Engineering modeThe iPhone 5 massages its signal bar, to make its reception look better than it really is. Want to know what your reception actually is? You need to use the Engineering mode.  Type *3001#12345#* into the dialler and hit the call button and you’ll enter Field Test mode. This changes the bar-based signal indicator to a “proper” numerical figure. There are also menus to tell you all sorts of other signal information, but most – including us – will be hopelessly lost here.

29. How to Jailbreak your iPhoneIn early February 2013, a comprehensive jailbreak for iPhones was released. It’s a program that’ll hack virtually any iOS device running iOS version 6.0-6.1.2. We’ve not tried it yet, but we’re informed it’s dead easy to do and relatively issue-free. To download the jailbreak, check out the evasi0n website. Evasi0n is the team of hackers that made the software.

28. Best Jailbreaking applicationsOne of the main reasons to jailbreak your phone is to install the Cydia app store, which gives you access to loads of apps that would never make it onto the App Store proper. These include apps that can make big changes to the way your phone works – the jailbreak gives apps much greater access to the iOS system’s roots. You’re given much greater control over how your phone looks and feels, and can install things like game emulators – which wouldn’t be allowed (in their pure form) on the App Store.

27. How to fix the “sticky Home button” problemOne of the most common problems with ageing iPhones is that their Home buttons start to play up. It’s unlikely that many iPhone 5s have started to suffer from this issue, but give it time and the Home button arthritis will probably kick in. If youe Home button starts becoming unresponsive, there are a few solutions. The most drastic is surgery. You can buy iPhone Home button replacement kits online (iPhone 5 ones don’t seem to be available yet), or you can try the software fix.

Start up any pre-installed app (as in an app that’s there fresh out of the box). Then press the power button until the power-off prompt appears. Next, press and hold the Home button to leave the app. This will recalibrate the Home button. Of course, it’ll only solve the issue if it’s a problem of software rather than hardware.


Apps and Games

26. Download AppShopper for bargainsOne of the best ways to track price drops and popular new apps is AppShopper. It’s an App Store tracker app that monitors activity and displays it in a much more dynamic way than the App Store itself. You can look for apps that have recently dropped in price, look at the brand-new apps that are attracting attention and setup a list of favourites, tracking when they go down in price.

25. Auto downloadsiOS 6 lets you leave it to automatically download apps you already own to a new phone. It’s handy if you upgrade your iPhone every year, you lucky thing. You’ll find this option in the iTunes & App Stores menu of Settings. Here you’ll see auto download sliders for apps, books and music.

24. How to delete appsAn easy essential, this one. To delete apps on your iPhone 5, simply hold a finger down on an app icon until it starts to jiggle. This will also make a little red icon appear at the corner of your apps. Tap the red icon to delete the app.

23. Essential appsThere are hundreds of thousands of iPhone apps available on the App Store, and if you’re an iPhone veteran you’ll already have a bunch of favourites that you rely on daily. Some of our top recommendations include note-taking app Evernote, pretty newsreader Flipboard, Facebook, Twitter, BBC iPlayer, eBay and YouTube. Let us know your favourites in the comments.

22. Best free gamesThere are thousands and thousands of free games on the App Store, and many of them are downright awful. Freebies worth checking out include Hill Climb Racing, Real Racing 3, the original Angry Birds, Tap Defense, JellyCar, Jetpack Joyride, TapTap Revenge Tour, Triple Town, Dropship and Drop7.


21. Private browsingLike your desktop browser, the iPhone 5’s Safari browser can be set to Private Browsing mode, which won’t save any of the places you’ve visited for other people to check up on. You’ll find the Private Browsing switch in the Safari sub-menu within Settings.

20. Select Your Search EngineFrom this Safari sub-menu you can also select the search engine the iPhone 5 will use for its Internet searches. Your choices are Google, Yahoo! and Bing. We honestly can’t think of a reason why anyone would pick anything but Google, though, short of an irrational hatred for the big G.

19. How to save web images to the galleryAnother neat half-hidden feature of the iPhone 5 Safari browser is that you can save images easily from within the browser. Just hold a finger down on an image until a menu pops-up. One of the options in the menu is “save image”, which will save the pic to your phone’s gallery.

18. Install a data monitor if you have a mobile data limitUnlike the latest version of Android, iOS does not currently offer a particularly good way to track how much mobile data you have used. There’s just a global data counter within the Usage part of the iPhone 5’s Settings menu. There are apps that will do this for you, though, and let you know when you’re approaching your data limit. One to try is the freebie Data Monitor.

17. Saving pages for offline readingIf you want to save some of your data allowance, you can save pages for offline reading in the iPhone 5’s Reading List. To do this, just press down on a page until a menu pops-up. In this menu, one of the options will be “Add to Reading List”. You can access you Reading List by tapping the book icon in the Safari nav bar. Reading List will be the top option.

Battery Life

16. Turn off mobile dataThe best way to conserve battery is to turn off mobile data. 3G is one of the most serious battery leeches in the mobile world. Of course, turning off data will also mean you can’t browse the web unless you’re in a Wi-Fi zone, so it has its disadvantages.

15. Turn off… Everything elseIf your battery is low, turning of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi will help eke out those extra few minutes before conking out. The other big contributor to battery life zapping is the screen’s backlight. You’ll find the wireless connectivity switched in the Settings menu, and the screen brightness slider in the Brightness & Wallpaper section within Settings.

Security and Money-saving

14. Increase security with a passcodeThe most basic security measure to make with an iPhone 5 is to add a passcode to the lock screen, making any users input a four-number code once the phone has become locked. To setup a password, you need to go to the General section of the Settings menu and select the Passcode Lock menu item. Here you can choose your four-number code and select how often you want the passcode to be required – from every time the phone goes into standby to once every four hours.

13. Turn off RoamingAlthough EU leglislation has limited how much carriers can charge for data while you’re abroad in Europe, you’ll still pay a pretty penny to check your emails. And don’t even think about trying to stream video. Head out of the EU and you’ll pay crazy rates to boot. You’re best off turning off roaming altogether, and relying on Wi-Fi while you’re abroad. You’ll find the Data Roaming switch down the bottom of the Settings > General > Mobile Data menu.

12. Find My iPhone Apple’s ultimate weapon against iPhone theft is Find My Phone. This is something you’re asked if you want to enable when you first start-up your iPhone. Should your iPhone be stolen, it allows you to track the device on a web browser using the iPhone 5’s GPS transmitter. It’s dead clever. Unlike many iPhone core features, it has a separate Fine My iPhone app, available from the App Store. You’ll need a MobileMe account to get it working, though.

Video and Music

11. How to add files to apps Many apps have their own stores of “associated” files. For example, a third-party video player might have a stash of videos, or an ebook reader a stash of ebooks. These are added to the apps as documents, sync’d over iTunes. You don’t add them to your iTunes library, though, but within the iTunes sync menu when your iPhone is plugged into your computer.

10. Third-party apps will stop you needing to transcode videosSome of the most useful third-party apps that use these documents are video players. The iPhone 5 can’t play many different video formats off-the-bat, but with a media player solution, the phone can play all sorts including MKVs, without needing to convert them to an iPhone-friendly type.

9. How to transcode videos to iPhone formatIf you want to watch downloaded videos using the native video player, you’ll most likely have to start transcoding files. Bits of software that can do this include Handbrake and Visual Hub. However, transcoding is a laborious process, so we recommend downloading a decent third-party video player if you have a big library of downloaded videos.


8. Location-based remindersSiri is the iPhone 5’s voice assistant. She takes an audio file of what you say over to Apple’s servers, which then decipher it and do their best to help with whatever you’re after. You can ask Siri to make Location-based reminders, which will pipe up when the iPhone 5’s GPS tracker has calculated that you’re in a certain place. To turn on Siri, check out the Siri sub-menu in Settings > General. To access Siri once enabled, you just need to hold down on the Home button.

7. You can Tweet through SiriAs well as grabbing you information from the web, Siri can write tweets for you. However, we strongly recommend checking what she’s made of your words before posting, especially if you have an accent that she might stumble over.


6. There are accessories to expand your storage
iPhones do not let you plug in memory cards to increase the phone’s storage. It’s not something Apple has ever allowed. However, there are Wi-Fi-based solutions that can give you more room to play with fairly effectively. The last we looked at was the Kingston WiDrive. Devices like these are Wi-Fi transmitters that connect directly to the iPhone, through the medium of an app. They either have their own internal storage or offer a card slot. Files on these data drives can then be imported using the iPhone.

5. What is iCloud and how to use itiCloud is Apple’s own cloud storage service. It doesn’t get all that much attention, but it’s a massively important part of the Apple infrastructure. By default, it’s used to back-up most of the data on your phone, including photos, contacts, emails and calendar entries. Apple gives you 5GB of storage for free, and should you need more you can pay a little extra for more. You’ll find iCloud info and storage options in Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup.

4. iTunes MatchA more immediately exciting use of Apple’s cloud services is seen in iTunes Match. This is a service that you pay £21.99 a year for, and it lets you stream your entire music collection from the cloud to your phone, freeing-up any internal storage you might otherwise have had to expend on music. You have to “sync” your music library with iTunes Match, and can have up to 25,000 songs.

Camera and Photography

3. Turn on HDRFor casual photographers, there’s little reason not to use the HDR mode of the iPhone 5’s camera app. HDR stands for high dynamic range, and is a mode that melds two different exposures in a single photo to create the most detail-filled shot possible. The iPhone 5 automatically captures a non-HDR shot with each HDR one too. What’s the downside? HDR mode is significantly slower than standard shooting, to make time for the processing of the HDR shot.

2. Use the volume key as a shutter buttonApple lets you use the iPhone 5’s “volume up” button to take photos, as well as the touchscreen. This button is in a near-perfect position to take on the role as a shutter button. This even works when using a three-button remote control, including Bluetooth headsets. So you can effectively use a wireless headset as a remote shutter control. How cool is that?

1. Get a quick look at the photo you just tookFor the first good old while using an iPhone 5, we always used to tap the Gallery shortcut at the bottom of the camera app’s screen to look at photos. However, it turns out this is completely unnecessary. Just swipe left-to-right from the camera preview screen and you’ll instantly be taken to the camera roll, which shows you your photos, starting with the most recently-taken one.

And a few extra for good luck….

Top camera tipsThe key to getting good basic shots is about focus and composition. Try and line-up the horizon with the edges of the screen to avoid wonky photos, or alternatively switch on the grid in the camera Options menu if you find this all a bit tricky. Getting photos in-focus is all about staying still, funnily enough. The iPhone 5 has a pretty quick focusing system thanks in part to its decent F/2.4 lens, but try your best to keep your hands still until the exposure has definitely finished to get the best shots.

Best camera apps
If the iPhone 5’s own camera app is just a bit too minimalist for your liking, there are oodles of third-party apps to try. One of the most popular is Camera , which adds a barrel-load of modes and feature, and lets you pick separate focusing and exposure points. Pro Camera gives you the control options that the basic camera app lacks, including ISO, software anti-shake and oodles of filters.

Have your own favourite iPhone tricks? Let us know yours in the comments. 

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