22 Hidden iPhone Hacks You Need to Start Using

From charging the battery faster to taking a hands-free photo, these are the secret iPhone hacks you'll wish you knew sooner.

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Person using Apple iPhone 11 Pro.
grinvalds/Getty Images

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.

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iphone trick - tag contacts in group messages
via iPhone

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.

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iphone trick - Change your default web browser
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Change Your Default Web Browser

So long, Safari. Since iOS 14, you can make Google Chrome, Firefox, or any other web browser your iPhone’s default browser. The 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.

Psst—Check out the PopSockets PopGrip SOG Multi-Tool. This collapsible two-inch-diameter disk with a multi-tool embedded is sure to come in handy!

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iphone trick - Add captions to photos and videos
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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.

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iphone trick - respond to single messages
via iPhone

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.

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iphone tricks - hide unused apps
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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.”

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iphone tricks - Add widgets to your home screen
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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.

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iphone tricks - Launch apps faster
via iPhone

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.

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iphone tricks - Search the web without Safari
via iPhone

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.

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iphone tricks - Get a faster charge
via iPhone

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.

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iphone tricks - Quickly launch a website
via iPhone

Quickly Launch a Website

To pull up a website in a hurry, here’s a shortcut: enter 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).

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iphone tricks - get more storage space
via iPhone

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.

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iphone tricks - Make the screen smaller
via iPhone

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.

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iphone tricks - Find out what your phone knows about you

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.

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iphone tricks - Set a timer for your music

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.

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iphone tricks - Use the Measure app as a household tool

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.

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iphone tricks - Take a hands-free photo

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.

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iphone tricks - Backspace on the calculator app

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.

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iphone tricks - Erase text with a shake of your hand

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.

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iphone tricks - lock the camera's focus and exposure

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.

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iphone tricks - Press one button to make a call

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.

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iphone tricks - Record a video and take a picture at the same time

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. If you’re someone who enjoys taking photos and videos, consider if you might need a ring light. Also, you need to know these smartphone repairs you should never pay someone to fix.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest