Part of the appeal of the iPhone is its simplicity—you can grab it right out of the box and starting setting it up without reading any instructions. However, behind that simple, intuitive interface, you’ll find dozens of lesser-known settings and options. Here are 24 you can use to customize your iOS experience.
1. See notifications at a glance
If you’re using an iPhone 6s or later, you can take advantage of the Raise to Wake feature. Once you enable it, simply lift your handset to view notifications. Although the lock screen will light up and display new alerts, the phone will remain locked and secure. To set it up, open Settings, tap Display & Brightness, and activate the Raise to Wake option.
2. Prioritize certain downloads
Updating a ton of apps at once? You can tell your iPhone which downloads it should complete first, a particularly useful ability when you’re setting up a new phone. On the home screen, find the app you want to put at the front of the line and apply a firm 3D Touch press. Then pick Prioritize Download from the list of options.
3. Change the flashlight intensity
While your iPhone’s built-in flashlight can be incredibly useful, not every situation calls for a powerful beam. Luckily, you can enable a slider that lets you change the brightness of the light. To bring up the Control Center, swipe up from the bottom of the screen (or on an iPhone X, swipe down from the top right corner). Then do a firm 3D Touch press on the flashlight icon.
4. Enable QR code scanning
If you like scanning QR codes—the black-and-white squares that look like tiny, jumbled chess boards—to launch websites or apps, you’re in luck: iOS lets you turn the iPhone camera into a QR scanner. From Settings, tap Camera and toggle the Scan QR Codes switch on. Now you can use the Camera app as normal, but when it pans over QR codes, it will automatically scan them.
5. Delete unused apps
You can free up space on your phone by getting rid of the apps that you rarely or never use. In fact, your iPhone can do this for you. In the Settings app, tap General, choose iPhone Storage, and then enable the Offload Unused Apps option. If you regret losing one of these apps, you can always reinstall it.
6. Jump to the correct camera mode
Nobody wants to miss an important shot because they were scrolling through various modes inside the camera app. Instead, when you catch sight of something you need to photograph or film in a hurry, apply a firm 3D Touch to the Camera icon rather than tapping it lightly. Then you’ll be able to choose a camera mode like Selfie or Slo-mo directly from the home screen. This will speed up your snapping, although Apple doesn’t make all the camera modes available as shortcuts.
7. Stop web trackers
Through embedded ads, advertisers can track you across multiple websites. But the latest version of Safari for iOS 11 lets you prevent this activity, limiting sites’ ability to monitor your browsing behavior. To enable this feature, open the Settings app, tap Safari, and turn on the Prevent Cross-Site Tracking option. While you’re in this Safari menu, you can also block pop-up ads.
8. Find emoji faster
Instead of sorting through rows and rows of emoji to find the perfect reaction, you can turn your words into images. Open Messages, type out a line of text, and tap the emoji button to the left of the spacebar. All of the words that can be replaced with emojis will then turn orange. To swap a word for its brighter pictorial representation, just tap on a highlighted word and the emoji will drop in. If that orange word can match multiple emojis, you get to choose your favorite one.
9. Search through Safari tabs
When you have a lot of open tabs but need to find one in particular, this feature comes in handy—but it isn’t available when your iPhone is in its usual portrait mode. To access this search option, you have to open Safari, rotate your phone to put it in landscape mode, and then hit the tabs button (it looks like two squares). Now you’ll see a Search Tabs box that isn’t normally visible.
10. Loop your Live Photos
By default, iPhones save little moments of animation from before and after a picture is actually taken, putting them together to create a Live Photo. To edit one of these Live Photos, open it in the iOS Photos app and swipe up on it. You’ll see a variety of different effects you can add—including Loop, an option that will instantly transform your Live Photo into a short, repeating video clip.
11. Identify contacts more easily
Set custom ringtones and vibration patterns for the most important people in your life, and you’ll always know who’s calling. To create these specialized alerts, open Contacts, tap any person on the list, and choose Edit. In addition to selecting an immediately identifiable ringtone, you can tap out a unique vibration pattern.
12. Change video resolution
Videos at the highest resolution and most detailed frame rate look great on a 4K screen—but they also take up a lot of storage space. When you’re filming short clips of your friends, you can still get high quality video, while saving a lot of memory, by recording at a lower resolution. Head to Settings, then Camera, then Record Video to reduce the default resolution.