Apple iPhone 13 mini
Todd Haselton | CNBC
You use your iPhone every day, but you may just be scratching the surface of what you can do with it.
For example, the iPhone has some “hidden” menus that let you do things like search apps, go back to the last screen, find widgets that show snapshots of certain information, or quickly turn your Wi-Fi on and off.
They are hidden because you have to make specific gestures that are not necessarily easy to guess. But once you know where they are, they are quite useful.
Apple adds more features to the iPhone every year. The company announced Wednesday that it is hosting a fall event on September 7 that will almost certainly be for the iPhone 14. We’ll probably also hear when the next update, iOS 16, will be released to everyone. And that brings even more features with it.
Here’s a quick overview to get you started.
Perform quick actions
Many apps on the iPhone have hidden menus called Quick Actions. All you have to do is press and hold the icon of the app you want to see the Quick Action menu for.
Apps that come preinstalled on your iPhone, such as the Camera, Mail, Notes, Settings, Messaging, and Phone apps, have these menus. Opening them allows you to quickly perform actions on apps. Each Quick Actions menu has features that make sense for that app. All you have to do is press and hold the icon on your home screen.
For example, holding down the Notes icon brings up a Quick Actions menu that gives you shortcuts to compose a new note, create a new checklist, insert a new photo, or scan a document. Here’s what it looks like:
Quick Actions menu for Notes app on iPhone 13 Pro.
Pressing and holding the Phone app icon brings up a Quick Actions menu that allows you to view your most recent voicemail, create a new contact, search for a contact, or view your most recent call. This is what the phone’s Quick Actions menu looks like:
Quick Actions menu for Phone app on iPhone 13 Pro.
How to reach the top of your iPhone screen without dropping your phone
If you have small hands like me, you may have noticed that it is difficult to access all your iPhone functions with one hand. You can quickly access the icons on the top of the phone without stretching your fingers with an option called ‘Reachability’. This lowers the screen so that you don’t have to fiddle with both hands. Reachability is disabled by default, so do this to enable it:
- Open Settings.
- Tap Accessibility.
- Choose Touch.
- Turn on the Reachability option.
Now that it’s enabled, you can use it by swiping down quickly at the bottom of the screen. The keyword here is fast. This is what the screen looks like if you have enabled reachability.
iPhone 13 Pro when Reachability is turned on.
I find myself using reachability when cooking with one hand and trying to use my iPhone with the other and can’t extend my thumb all the way to the top of my screen.
Using the Control Center
iOS 11 Control Center
Nina Raja | CNBC
You probably already know how to swipe down from the top center of your home screen. That’s what your recent notifications bring up.
But if you’re coming from an iPhone with a Home button, you may not know that you can also swipe down from the top right corner of your screen (or up from the bottom if your iPhone has a Home button). This opens Control Center, which gives you quick access to common functions. You can use it to turn on your flashlight, recognize a song with Shazam, control your smart lights, turn on/off WiFi or Bluetooth, start the calculator and more. But you have to set it up so that it contains the correct items.
To manage what appears in the Control Center, do the following:
- Open Settings.
- Tap Control Center.
- Scroll down and tap the green button next to the options you want to see when you swipe from the top right corner of your screen.
How to use iPhone widgets
Widgets on the iPhone
Todd Haselton | CNBC
You can place small mini-apps called widgets on your home screen. But there is also a whole hidden section dedicated to widgets.
It’s to the left of your home screen, so you open it by swiping right on your screen. You can customize it with any app that has widgets. I have a photo gallery in mine and an icon that shows the remaining battery life on my iPhone and Apple Watch. I also use it for a quick look at my Apple Fitness rings, CNBC Trending news stories, and stock quotes.
There are two ways to get widgets on this screen. Do this for the built-in Apple widgets and a handful of others that are custom made:
- Swipe right on your home screen until you see the widget panel with a search bar at the top.
- Scroll down and tap the oval “Edit” button at the bottom.
- Press the + button in the top left corner.
- Choose the widget you want to add.
- Tap Add widget.
If you don’t see the widget you want to add, you may need to take an extra step. In this case:
- After pressing ‘Edit’, scroll down to the bottom of the screen again and select ‘Edit’.
- There you will see widgets for other apps you have installed on your iPhone. Press the green + button to add them.
How to search everything in one go on your iPhone
Apple iOS 15 Spotlight Search
You can search apps, the web, maps, dictionary, files, and more, all using the iPhone’s universal search menu.
You can bring this up by swiping down from the center of your home screen. You’ll also see Siri suggestions for your most common actions.
(Reminder: Swiping from the middle top brings up notifications, and swiping from the top right brings Control Center down.)
Switch apps quickly
Switch between apps on your iPhone
Todd Haselton | CNBC
You can quickly switch apps or close them by swiping up from the bottom of the screen and then holding until you feel a gentle vibration. Swipe right to browse apps. Tap an app to switch to it or swipe up to close it.
Here’s a little bonus trick: did you know you can switch between apps by simply swiping right or left across the bottom of the screen as well? Try it! Open an app, then swipe right on the bottom. It will go to the last app you had open. Swipe left to go back or keep swiping right to switch apps
Here’s a second bonus: you can go back to the last screen in an app, like the previous webpage, by swiping right from the edge of the screen. The best way to try this is to open a website, navigate to another site, then swipe right across the screen. You come back where you started. Swiping left from the right side of your phone will move you forward again.