If you’re looking to reduce the amount of time you spend doing 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 much 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 operating system.
1. Quick change from numbers to letters
Switching between on-screen keyboards when you need to type a number or symbol is something that happens far too often on the iPhone, so here’s a tip to make the transition super fast.
Instead of tapping the “123” key to switch to the number/symbol keyboard, hold it down and slide your finger over the key you want, then release. This single action types the number/symbol and automatically changes it to the alphabetic 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 a wrong number in the Calculator app, you have to start the whole addition all over again. Fortunately, that’s not the case: just swipe right or left across the numbers screen to delete the last number you typed, and repeat the action if necessary to delete multiple numbers.
3. Assign a back touch function
Back Tap is an accessibility feature that allows you to assign an action to trigger when you double 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 or off, activate Zoom, show the camera, or even activate a shortcut.
To assign an action to a double or triple tap, go to Settings -> Accessibilitythen under “Physical and Motor,” tap Play. Scroll down and tap touch backplay Double touch either 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 the volume on your iPhone, 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 faster way to increase or decrease the volume, but it also gives you much more granular control to help you find your sweet spot, similar to a long press on the volume bar in Control Center.
5. Use the hidden trackpad
Did you know that the virtual keyboard has a hidden trackpad? Just hold down the space bar and the keyboard will go blank and transform into a trackpad, allowing you to quickly move the cursor on the screen through the text you’ve typed.
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 and review prompts
If you tend to download a lot of apps, you’ll be all too familiar with the annoying ‘please rate this app’ prompts that periodically throw you out of your stream.
Fortunately, you can easily turn them off. To go Settings -> App Store and turn off the switch next to In-app ratings and reviews.
7. Long press on Back buttons
If you have multiple menus in a system app like Settings, you don’t have to tap the top left back button multiple times to return to the top menu. Just hold it down to get a previous screens popup that you can tap to go back directly.
8. Quick Shot Video
On iPhone 11 and later models, you can record video without even changing the default photo mode. To capture a quick video in the Camera app, simply press and hold the shutter button, then release to stop recording.
To continue recording video without holding down the button, slide the shutter button all the way to the right. The shutter will stretch elastically under your finger as you do so, and a target lock icon will appear. When attached to the lock, the shutter button will stay there while you record video. You can also tap the shutter to take a still photo while recording. When you’re ready to stop recording videos, simply tap the record button below the viewfinder.
9. Set a faster timer
To set a quick timer, bring up 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 press Hold down the Timer button. Slide up the slider to set a timer duration, then tap Start.
Note that each tile on the slider increases the duration of the timer in the following steps: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 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 regularly call the same people, why not create a speed dial button to call them right from your home screen?
Open the shortcuts application and press the button + button in the upper right corner. Play add action, then select one of the suggested contacts from the Call row. Then tap the Share button at the bottom and select Add to the home screen from the action 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 a photo that you want to replicate to other photos, use the new copy and paste editing tools in iOS 16.
In the Photos app, first open an image, then tap Edit and make the adjustments you want. When you’re done, tap Doneand then tap on the Ellipse (three dots) in the upper right corner of the interface.
From there, touch copy editions in the dropdown menu to copy everything you did to the image to the clipboard. Then open another photo or select multiple photos in your library, tap the button Ellipse icon again, then touch paste edits to get exactly the same settings.
12. Scroll to the top with a tap
This is old advice, but one of the best and one that is 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 screen to return to the top.
If you have an iPhone 14 Pro and Dynamic Island isn’t in use, tapping it does the same thing. Do you have a favorite time-saving tip that isn’t listed here? Let us know in the comments.