iTips and tricks

A few simple tricks for getting the most out of your iPhone....without wanting to throw it in a blender.
A few simple tricks for getting the most out of your iPhone....without wanting to throw it in a blender.

iProducts. You can shoot them. You can blend them. You can even melt them using a solar death ray.

But can you use them?

The past five years has witnessed an explosion of iPhones around the world, with 35 million sold in the January to March quarter alone.

And yet, so many people seem not to know how to use some of their basic functions.

Sure, they can make a phone call, access the net and take a photo, but there are so many other little features that can make life easier.

Like caps lock. Or quickly searching the web. Or locking the orientation so your screen doesn't keep rotating when you are lying down.

Below is a list of iTips we've collated from around the office, as well as browsing handy apps like iPad Secrets. We're sure there are plenty more – let us know your favourite iTrick below and share the love.

These tips might not set the world on fire, but hopefully they'll stop you from wanting to set your iDevice on fire. Or shoot it. Or put it in a blender.

(Most of these will work on both the iPhone and the iPad, but some are specific to the device. Just give them a go on your device to see if it applies to you. These should work for all devices with iOS 5 and higher.)

Need to use several apps at once but hate going to the home screen each time? Double tap the home button. It'll bring up all the apps you've used recently or regularly. Swipe left to bring up more. You can also achieve this by using four or five fingers to swipe up and 'pull' the screen up.

Has your iPad/iPhone started playing that one song you really hate but have forgotten is part of your iTunes collection, but don't want to quit playing Angry Birds? Again, double tap the home button but this time swipe right. It'll bring up hidden iTunes controls, allowing you to pause, skip or just see which app is playing the song.

Notification centre
This tool lets you check all your updates from apps like Instagram, Facebook and email in a pull down list. To access it, slide your finger down from the top of the screen. A little tab will appear – pull it down to reveal the list. If you don't need to know who prompted you in Draw Something 15 days ago, clear the list by tapping the small cross on the right.

Quickly return to the home screen
Get back to the home screen quickly by using all your fingers to 'pinch' the screen – it'll quickly shrink whatever app you have open.

Lock the screen orientation
The iPhone and iPad screen orientation is notoriously touchy – if lying down, or slumping, it doesn't take much for the screen to switch from portrait to landscape and back again. Lock it in your preferred setting by double tapping the home button and swiping right. Then tap the icon with the round arrow inside the box while holding the screen your preferred way.

If it's a tool you think you'll be using a lot, you can turn the switch on the side into a screen locker – go to Settings, choose General and look for the 'use side switch' option. You'll have a choice of mute or lock rotation.

If you choose to use the side switch as your screen lock option, mute will be available by double tapping the home button and swiping right – it'll be where the screen lock icon used to be.

Silence that phone quickly
Sitting in the movies when your phone rings? Or don't want to take that phone call from your mum/boss/partner, but don't want to hang up on them either? You've got two options – either hit the lock button on the top of your iPhone, or hit the volume keys on the side.

Save on battery life
Having a lot of apps open at once drains precious battery time – and if you are using your iDevice to take photos, use social media, surf the web and take and make phone calls, you will be cutting it fine anyway.

Save yourself a bar or two by shutting down the apps you won't be using – double tap the home button to bring up your regularly used and open apps and tap and hold your finger down on one until a little minus (-) appears. Tap it to close the app.

On charging and battery life tips
Using the charger that came with your iPad will charge it quicker than your iPhone charger – it's a tad more powerful.

And you'll charge your iPhone through a USB port quicker if you lock the screen. To charge the new iPad through a computer USB port, you have to lock the screen – there's not enough power to both charge and keep that high resolution screen running.

Turning off all 'Push' notifications in your settings will also help preserve battery power.

Using the internet
Swipe right to find your search feature and use it to look for a term – at the bottom of your search returns is “search web” or “search Wikipedia” – that will take you to a Google search/Wiki entry.

Apple knows the more technologically advanced we get, the lazier we are, so you don't need to throw in those three Ws or type an entire address – the website name is usually enough. (This works best for .coms as opposed to addresses)

Check to see where that photo link will take you, or just open another page without closing the one you are on, by tapping and holding a link – that little box that offers you options like 'open', 'open in new tab' and 'add to reading list' will also have the address to the link at the top of the pop-up box.

Add a website as an app on your home screen by hitting the icon on the top left hand side of the screen - the box with the arrow emerging from it - while browsing. That will offer you a range of options, including 'Add to home screen'. Tap it, name your icon and have quick access to your favourite websites.

Cut down on what you are looking for on a webpage by opening it up and hitting the search button next to the address – at the bottom of all your recent internet searches is the option to 'Find on Page' – which works just like Control + F. The word you are looking for will be highlighted on the page.

Take a screen shot
Hold down the lock/off button on the top of your iDevice and the round home button at the same time. The screen will flash and the camera will sound. The photo will be in your camera roll icon in photos.

Lock your screen
Save battery life by locking the screen when not in use – and also cut down on pocket dialling – just hit the small raised rectangle button at the top of your iDevice.

Organise your home screen
Group similar apps together by tapping and holding down an app until it starts shaking. Then drag it over to an app you want to group it with and hold it there until it appears to go inside the second app. That will open up a half screen where you can add up to 20 apps. Name it whatever you want.

To pull an app out
Tap the one you want from the folder and hold it until it starts to shake – then swipe it up and out of the box to settle back on the home screen.

Caps lock
Double tap the shift button on your keyboard.


Set your iTunes to a timer
Go to clock and open timer. Select how long you want iTunes to play. Open 'When timer ends' and scroll down – the bottom option is “Stop Playing”.

Quick reboot
iDevice freezing up or dropping out of apps? Hold down the round home button and the top lock/off button until you see the 'apple' symbol (can take anywhere between two and 10 seconds). Let go and let your device start back up. It should return to your home screen without you having to touch another button.

This story iTips and tricks first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.