You’re probably using your iPhone wrong.
Okay, maybe not wrong wrong, but there’s a very good chance you could be using your phone a lot more efficiently. When was the last time you took a moment and customized your settings beyond the default?
If the last time you really messed with your settings was when iPhones still had home buttons, then you’re probably missing out on some of the best new features from the last few iOS updates. Here are a few things worth changing.
1. Customize your Control Center
Apple started allowing users to customize Control Center in iOS 11, but it’s added more customization options since then. You can change the Control Center shortcuts around by going to Settings —> Control Center and then adding to your list. The exact shortcuts you want will vary based on what apps you use the most, but here’s a few of my must-haves:
Low power mode: If you’re constantly worried about battery life (who isn’t, really) low power mode is an absolute must. By keeping the shortcut just a quick swipe away in your Control Center you can remember to enable it before your battery gets dangerously low. I often enable it at the beginning of the day when ‘m still close to 100 percent if I know it’s going to be awhile before I’m near a charger again.
Alarm: This one’s pretty self explanatory. If your phone is your alarm clock, you might as well add the alarm shortcut.
Screen Recording: This one might not be something everyone needs, but screen recording is an incredibly handy way to make a quick video without using your phone’s camera. And a Control Center shortcut is the only way to start one without leaving the app you’re already using.
Dark Mode: This one isn’t yet available unless you’re using the iOS 13 beta, but soon you’ll be able to add the iPhone’s long-awaited dark mode to Control Center.
2. Create text shortcuts
Another often overlooked but incredibly useful feature is the ability to set quick text shortcuts for phrases you frequently use but are a pain to type out. You can set these up in Settings. A few of my go-to shortcuts:
My initials shortcut to my email address, so all I need to do is type ‘khb” to fill in my entire email address. This has proved to be a massive timesaver over the years considering how often you need to type out your email. If you use multiple emails, you might want to consider setting up a different shortcut for each email address.
I use “omw” as a shortcut for “on my way,” especially useful when you’re running late and don’t want to pause to look at your phone.
I also have a shortcut for my physical mailing address (I use my street name) for those moments when I need to type out my address and Safari’s auto-fill isn’t an option.
3. Automate everything
If you’re not using Apple’s Shortcuts app, then you’re missing out. The app, which came out last year with iOS 12, can be a bit confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, you can automate a ton of different actions you never knew were possible.
Shortcuts essentially takes the things you use your apps for every day and automates it with one Siri command. Have a favorite Pandora station? Instead of manually opening the app and selecting the station you want, you can create a one-word shortcut that will allow Siri to automatically open the app and start your music. You can also run shortcuts from a widget in the “today” view.
You can create your custom shortcuts, but there are a ton of useful templates in the app that are a bit easier to set up. A few you might want to consider:
Remind me at work: set your office address (or any other location you frequent) to automatically get a specific reminder when you get to that place (ie: water the plants, check the mail etc.)
Turn videos into GIFs: this converts the most recent video clip on your phone into an animated GIF.
Speed dials: I have shortcuts set up for contacts I frequently talk to on the phone, so I can make calls without opening the phone app.
Where next: this shortcut will automatically grab the location of the next event on your calendar and open up directions in Apple Maps.
4. Turn on 2FA
One of the most important settings you can change to automatically make your phone and your Apple ID more secure is to enable two-factor authentication. When 2FA is enabled, you’ll have to verify your account any time you try to sign in using your Apple ID on a new device. You can receive prompts on another Apple device, like a MacBook, or to your phone number.
To enable 2FA, go to Settings, tap on the menu with your name on it, then Password & Security.” Switch two-factor to “on,” and double check the “trusted phone number” (note that you can add more than one). You can also enable a recovery key, which further prevents unwanted password resets, for an added layer of protection.
5. Emergency contacts
Hopefully you’ll never need these, but for the sake of being prepared, it’s probably a good idea to set a few emergency contacts just in case. There are two ways to change emergency contacts in iOS, either via the Health app or in Settings -> Emergency SOS —> Edit Emergency Contacts. Once you’ve set these up, anyone who picks up your iPhone can view contact info for your emergency contacts, even if your phone is locked.
Additionally, your emergency contacts will be notified and will receive updates on your whereabouts should you use your iPhone’s emergency calling feature.