12 Time-Saving iPhone Tips to Make You a More Efficient User
If you're looking to cut down on the amount of time you spend performing certain actions on your iPhone, there's usually a solution hidden in Apple's mobile operating system. Here are 12 quick iOS tips that once you start using will make you a lot more time-efficient in the long run.
This article assumes you're using an iPhone running iOS 16, but some of these tips will work on iPad and earlier versions of Apple's mobile OS.
1. Quick-Switch From Numbers to Letters
Switching onscreen keyboards when you need to type a number or symbol is an all-too-often occurrence on iPhone, so here's a tip for making the transition super-swift.
Rather than tap the "123" key to switch to the number/symbol keyboard, hold down on it and slide your finger over to the key you want, then let go. This single action types the number/symbol and automatically switches you back to the alphabetical layout, avoiding the need to perform three separate taps to achieve the same result.
2. Remove Last Number in Calculations
It's a common misconception that if you type the wrong number into the Calculator app, you have to start the whole sum all over again. Happily, that isn't the case: Simply swipe right or left with a finger across the number display to remove the last number you typed, and repeat the action if necessary to remove several numbers.
3. Assign a Back Tap Function
Back Tap is an accessibility feature that lets you assign an action to be triggered when you double-tap or triple-tap the back of your iPhone. You can use it to launch a specific app or invoke Control Center, turn Rotation Lock on/off, activate Zoom, bring up the Camera, or even trigger a shortcut.
To assign an action to a double-tap or triple-tap, go to Settings -> Accessibility, then under "Physical and Motor," tap Touch. Scroll down and tap Back Tap, tap Double Tap or Triple Tap to set an action to trigger, then select the action from the list that you want to trigger.
4. Drag the Volume
When adjusting your iPhone's volume, why repeatedly press the volume buttons when you can press once and then control the onscreen volume bar with your finger.
Not only is this a quicker way to increase or lower the volume, it also gives you far more granular control to help you find your sweet spot, similar to a long press of the volume bar in Control Center.
5. Use the Hidden Trackpad
Did you know the virtual keyboard has a hidden trackpad? Simply long press the space bar and the keyboard will turn blank and morph into a trackpad, allowing you to quickly move the cursor on the screen through the text you've written.
Perhaps you already knew this tip. But did you know that if you tap the trackpad with another finger you can also select text?
6. Turn Off In-App Ratings & Review Prompts
If you tend to download a lot of apps, you'll be all too familiar with nag 'rate this app' prompts that periodically take you out of your flow.
Fortunately you can easily turn them off. Go to Settings -> App Store and toggle off the switch next to In-App Ratings & Reviews.
7. Long Press Back Buttons
If you're several menus deep in a system app such as Settings, you don't have to tap the top-left Back button multiple times to get back to the top menu. Simply long press it instead to get a popover of previous screens that you can tap to jump straight back to.
8. QuickTake Video
On iPhone 11 and later models, you can record videos without even switching out of the default photo mode. To capture a quick video in the Camera app, just press and hold the shutter button, then release it to stop recording.
To keep recording video without having to hold the button, slide the shutter button to the far right. The shutter will stretch elastically under your finger as you do so, and a target padlock icon will appear. When placed on the padlock, the shutter button will remain located there for as long as you shoot video. You can also tap the shutter to take a still photo during the recording. When you're ready to stop shooting video, simply tap the record button below the viewfinder.
9. Set a Timer Faster
To set a timer in quick-fast time, invoke Control Center by swiping down diagonally from the top-right of the screen (if your iPhone has a Home button, swipe up from the bottom of the screen), then long press the Timer button. Swipe up on the slider to set a timer duration, then hit Start.
Note that each tile in the slider increases the timer duration in the following steps: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, and 45 minutes, and 1 or 2 hours. If you need a longer or more specific duration, just ask Siri to set the timer.
10. Create a Speed Dial Button
If you're regularly calling the same people, why not create a speed dial button to call them directly from your Home Screen?
Open the Shortcuts app and press the + button in the top-right corner. Tap Add Action, then select one of the suggested contacts from the Call row. Next, tap the Share button at the bottom and select Add to Home Screen from the actions menu. Give your shortcut a name, and tap the icon to choose a photo of your contact if you have one, then tap Add to place it on your Home Screen.
11. Copy and Paste Photo Edits
If you have multiple photos that you want to edit in the same way, or if you've made changes to one photo that you want to replicate in other photos, use the new copy and paste edits tools in iOS 16.
In the Photos app, first open an image, then tap Edit and make the adjustments to it that you want. When you're finished, tap Done, and then tap on the ellipsis (three dots) icon in the upper right corner of the interface.
From there, tap Copy Edits in the dropdown menu to copy everything that you did to the image to the clipboard. Then open up another photo or select multiple photos in your library, tap on the ellipsis icon again, and then tap Paste Edits to get the exact same adjustments.
12. Scroll to the Top With a Tap
This is an old tip, but one of the best and easily forgotten. Whenever you're browsing in Safari or scrolling through a long app menu or feed, tap the status bar at the top of your iPhone's display to shoot back up to the top.
If you have an iPhone 14 Pro and the Dynamic Island isn't in use, tapping it performs the same action. Got a favorite time-saving tip not listed here? Let us know in the comments.
Top Rated Comments
2. This is what I hate in mobile UX - a lot of things have no UI elements, just guess where you have to swipe, long press, tap or whatever.
I miss the old action of hold shutter button down.