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10 Awesome iPhone Features You Probably Don’t Use


Apr 25, 2022
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Watch someone else use their iPhone for a few minutes, and you’ll soon discover that they do many things very differently from you. You may discover some interactions that you have never seen before, and you probably have many suggestions for them.

Unsurprisingly, the average iPhone user doesn’t use many of its best features. Modern smartphones have grown into hugely powerful and complex devices, and unless you pay close attention, you simply won’t be aware of all they can do. So let’s learn some new ones. Here are 10 iPhone tips and features that a surprisingly large percentage of users seem to be completely unaware of. These tips should work on most modern iPhones (those made in recent years) and assume you’re running at least iOS 15.

Silence unknown callers

The spam calls have gotten completely out of hand. If you’re anything like me, you get at least three or four a day, and they always look like they’re coming from a legit phone number.

Your iPhone can help! Open Settings > Phone and look for the Mute unknown callers option.

If you enable this, calls from unknown numbers will not be blocked but will come in silently. No ringing, no vibration, just straight to voicemail. You will receive a notification (also silent!) with the number of the disconnected call. But don’t worry, phone numbers in your contacts as well as recent outgoing calls and Siri Suggestions ring normally.

iPhone mutes outgoing calls


Move the text cursor freely

Whenever you enter text, hold down the spacebar until you see all the letters disappear from the keyboard.

Now keep holding your finger and drag it in any direction to move the text cursor wherever you want, as if you were using a small trackpad. It’s a much easier way to backup and correct typos or overzealous autocorrect.

iPhone move cursor


Back Tap Set Shortcuts

Open Settings > Accessibility > Touch and look for Tap back. This handy setting lets you set a shortcut to a particular app or feature when you double or triple tap the back of your iPhone. And yes, you can set separate double-tap and triple-tap shortcuts.

Back Tap is one of the most useful features on the iPhone, and it’s a shame it’s buried deep in the accessibility settings. An easy-to-use shortcut to any app you want (or useful features like Screenshot) that you can run with one hand, whatever app you’re using? That’s great for everyone!

iPhone Back Tap


Play background sounds

Do you find it easier to stay focused with a little background noise? Does it help you relax or fall asleep?

There are many apps for this sort of thing, but your iPhone has some nice options built in! Open Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Visual and look for the Background Sounds option. Here you can turn them on, adjust the volume and choose from six different sounds. You also get other options, such as the ability to mute the sound when your iPhone is locked, or play it (or not) when other media is playing.

It’s quite a grind to go deep into accessibility settings every time you want to turn this on or off, so this is a perfect candidate to set up on your Back Tap (see above).

iPhone background noises


Select text in Photos or Camera

Live Text is one of the best features of iOS 15, and it hasn’t been given nearly enough attention.

Once you’ve opened the Camera app, point the camera at something with text in it and you’ll see a yellow box in brackets appear around it, with a little yellow button at the bottom right. Tap that button and you’ll freeze the text area, then you can just tap and hold and swipe your finger over it to select it and copy it, translate it, look up a definition, whatever!

It also works in the Photos app. On any photo that has text in it, you’ll see the little “brackets with lines” icon in the lower right corner. Tap that and all the text in the image will be highlighted, after which you can select it to copy, translate, look up, share, whatever.

You can even drop text directly into Notes this way. Just open a note, tap the camera icon and select ‘scan text’.

ios 15 live text


Search everywhere for something

The search function on your iPhone is much more powerful than you think. It’s amazing how many people don’t even know it’s there, let alone take full advantage of it!

Just swipe down from a home screen, that is, touch anywhere in the center of the screen and drag it down a bit. Swiping down from the edge will open your notifications or Control Center.

Type anything into this search box and it will search for it everywhere. You get apps installed on your iPhone, search suggestions for websites, matches in your photos, relevant knowledge from Siri’s knowledge base, apps in the App Store, Apple Music matches, matches in your messages and much more.

At the bottom of the results is the option to search within apps, in case you want to find your search in Mail or Calendar or whatever.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen experienced iPhone users poke around 10 minutes to find that photo or message thread or whatever, when a five-second search is all they need.

Scan documents

Your iPhone has a surprisingly good built-in document scanner. Lay out the document you want to scan on a nice flat surface (the better lit, the better) and then decide whether to create a new PDF document or attach the scanned document to a note in the Notes app.

To create a new file, just open Files, open the folder where you want to save the scan and select the menu button in the top right (a circle with three dots in it). Select “Scan Document” and point the camera at the document you want to scan while holding the camera still.

Your iPhone automatically takes a photo (press the shutter button if it doesn’t), clears it up and minimizes it in the corner, ready to take the next photo. If you need to scan more pages, just repeat the process. When you’re done, tap Save and name the file.

In Notes, open the note to which you want to add a scanned document (or create a new note), tap the camera button, and then tap Scan documents.

You can even digitally sign documents! Open the scanned PDF in Files, tap the small format button in the top right corner (it looks like a pen tip), then tap the “+” sign on the formatting toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Tap Signature and you can add or remove signatures (sign directly on your iPhone screen), or choose a previous signature to place on the document.

iPhone document scanner


Send effects with your messages

Want to add a little impact to your text messages? You may have noticed that some messages (like Happy Birthday) automatically add special effects to them. Well, you may not have known that you can add these effects to a post.

This only works if you’re sending an iMessage (blue bubbles), not SMS (green bubbles). Type your message and then press and hold the send button. At the top, switch between bubble effects and screen effects.

Just select the effect you want and send, and boom!

iPhone message effects


Putting a call on hold

Everyone knows you can mute a call, but did you know you can also put a call on hold?

When on a call on your iPhone, press and hold the mute button for a few seconds until it changes to hold.

What is the difference? On mute, you can hear the person on the other end of the call, but they can’t hear you – you literally mute your microphone. On hold, neither side of the call can hear each other.

iphone mute waitPress and hold the mute button to put a call on hold.


Download the missing manual

Your iPhone may not have come with a manual in the box, but it does have one! Apple keeps an up-to-date iPhone user guide on the web. It has a nice search function, a nicely organized table of contents and the instructions are simple, clear and hyperlinked to each other. If you’d rather have something you can read offline at your leisure, grab the iPhone User Guide from Apple Books. It’s free of course.

You may think that after all these years you don’t need to read the manual anymore, but even if you are a seasoned iPhone veteran, you will be surprised by all the new things you can learn in it.

This post 10 Awesome iPhone Features You Probably Don’t Use

was original published at “https://www.macworld.com/article/633596/little-known-iphone-features-cursor-back-tap-messages-effects.html”

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