8 Time-Saving iPhone Secrets You Need to Know

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01
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Communicate Faster with Common Contacts

time saving iphone tricks
image credit Tim Robberts/Stone/Getty Images

Last Updated: May 14, 2015

There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of iPhone features that most people never even discover, let alone use. That's to be expected with a device this powerful and complex, but some of those features can help you do things faster, unlock options you never knew you needed, and generally make you a better iPhone user. 

Lucky for you, this article details 8 of the best secret iPhone features for saving time and making you more efficient. 

The first of these tips makes it easier to communicate with the people you talk to most, and the most recently. 

  1. To access this feature, double-click the Home button
  2. At the top of the screen, a row of contacts appears. The first set is the people designated as Favorites in your Phone app. The second set is people you've called, texted, or FaceTimed recently. Swipe back and forth to see the two groups
  3. When you've found the person you want to contact, tap their circle
  4. This reveals all the ways you can contact them: phone (including multiple different phone numbers, if you have them in your address book), text, and FaceTime
  5. Tap the way you want to contact them and you'll be calling, FaceTiming, or texting them immediately
  6. To close their options and return to the full list, tap their circle again.

 

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02
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Delete Email In a Snap

delete iphone email with a swipe

In the Mail app that comes with all iPhone, swiping is a great way to manage the email in your inboxes. When you're in your email inbox—either an individual inbox or, if you've got multiple accounts set up on your phone, the unified inbox for all accounts—try these gestures.

Delete or Flag Emails With a Swipe

  1. Swipe right to left across an email (this is a tricky gesture; don't swipe too far. Just a little nudge)
  2. Three buttons are revealed: More, Flag, or Delete (or Archive, depending on the type of account)
  3. More reveals a menu with options like reply, forward, and move to junk
  4. Flag lets you add a flag to an email to indicate that it's important
  5. Delete/Archive is pretty obvious. But here's a bonus: a long swipe from the right side of the screen to the left will delete or archive a message right away.

Mark Emails as Unread With a Different Swipe 

Swiping left to right reveals its own hidden features, too:

  1. If you've read an email, this swipe reveals a button to let you mark the email as unread. A long swipe from side to side marks the email read without you needing to tap the button
  2. If the email is unread, the same swipe lets you mark it as​ read. Again, the long swipe marks the email without tapping a button.

 

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03
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Reveal Recently Closed Safari Tabs

open recently closed safari tabs non iphone

Ever closed a window in Safari by accident? How about wanted to get back a site that whose tab you closed recently? Well, you're in luck. Those sites may not be visible, but that doesn't mean they're gone for good.

Safari has a hidden feature that lets you view and re-open recently closed websites. Here's how you use it:

  1. Open the Safari app
  2. Tap the two squares icon in the bottom right to reveal all your open tabs
  3. Tap and hold the + button at the bottom center of the screen
  4. A list of Recently Closed Tabs appears
  5. Tap on the site you want to reopen

This list is cleared if you force-quite Safari, so you likely won't have a permanent record of your browsing. 

One important note: If there's someone in your life who likes to snoop through your phone, this is a way for them to see what sites you've visited. If you want to protect that info, use Private Browsing.

 

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04
of 08

Type Faster with Custom iPhone Keyboards

install new keyboard on iphone
Swype running in the Mail app.

Typing on the iPhone is a skill you really have to master. Going from the full-sized keyboard of a computer, or the physical keys of a BlackBerry, to the relatively small, virtual keys on the iPhone can be a tough adjustment (though not for everyone! The world's fastest iPhone typist can tap out almost 100 words a minute).

Luckily, there are some apps that can help you write faster.

Starting in iOS 8, Apple allows users to install their own, custom keyboard apps. There are dozens of options that provide different features, but if you want to write faster on your phone, you should check out the keyboards that don't require typing at all.

Apps like Swype and SwiftKey let you type if you want, but their more exciting feature is drawing lines between letters to create words. For instance, when you use them, you don't spell "cat" by tapping c-a-t; instead, draw a line connecting c-a-t and the app uses autocorrect and intelligent prediction to know what word you meant and to suggest other options.

Mastering these apps takes some practice, but once you've got the hang of them, your writing will go much faster. Just watch out for embarrassing autocorrect mistakes!

 

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05
of 08

Get New Contacts Into Address Book Quickly

add contacts to iphone address book fast

Adding people to your iPhone's address book isn't particularly difficult, but with so many pieces of information to include, adding them all can start to be a little annoying. But what if you could get people into your address book with just a couple of taps? 

This won't work for everyone who sends you an email, but for people who include their contact information in their emails—for instance, business associates who put their phone number, email address, or mailing address in their email signatures—it's a snap.

  1. You'll know you can use this feature when you see an email with the person's name and contact information, as well as two buttons, at the top of their email
  2. To add the person and their information to your address book, tap Add to Contacts
  3. Your iPhone will display a suggested contact with all of that person's contact information
  4. To add them to a new entry in your contacts, tap Create New Contact. If you tap this, skip to step 7
  5. To add them to an existing address book entry (to add additional details for someone already in your contacts), tap Add to Existing Contact
  6. If you tap this, your contact list will appear. Navigate through it until you find the entry you want to add the new information to. Tap it
  7. Review the proposed entry, either new or updating an existing one, and make any changes. When you're ready to save, tap Done.

 

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06
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Respond to a Call With a Text Message

respond to phone call with text message on iphone

We've all been in the situation in which someone calls us and we want to say something quick to them, but don't have time for a full conversation. Sometimes this leads to awkward chats and promises to call back later. Avoid this dubiously polite habit—or respond to a call without ever answering it—using the iPhone's Respond with Text feature.

With it, when someone calls and you can't or don't want to answer, just tap a couple of buttons and you can send them a text message. Here's how it works.

  1. When you get a call, the incoming call screen pops up. In the bottom right corner, tap the button called Message
  2. When you do, a menu appears from the bottom of the screen. Included there are three pre-configured options and Custom
  3. Tap one of the three pre-configured messages if they fit your need, or tap Custom to write your own, and the message will be sent to the person calling you (this won't work if they're calling from a desk phone, but if they're on a smartphone or cell phone, things will work out fine).

If you want to change the three pre-configured message, you can do so in Settings -> Phone -> Respond with text.

 

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07
of 08

Get Snippets of Info in Notification Center

Notification Center Widgets
Yahoo Weather and Evernote widgets running in Notification Center.

Apps are rich tools for organizing our lives, having fun, and getting information. But we don't always need the full app experience to get the information we need. Why open the full Weather app just to get the current temperature or open Calendar to find out who your next appointment is with?

If you use Notification Center Widgets, you don't have to. These widgets are mini versions of apps that provide small amounts of key information in Notification Center. Just swipe it down from the top of the screen and you'll get quick hits of knowledge from your apps.

Not every app supports widgets, and you need to configure those that do to display in Notification Center, but once you do, getting the information you need gets a lot faster.

 

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08
of 08

Easy Access to Turning On/Off Wireless Features

Accessing wireless features on the iPhone used to mean digging through screens in the Settings app. Performing common tasks like turning on or off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, or enabling Airplane Mode or Do Not Disturb, meant a lot of taps.

That's not true anymore, thanks to Control Center. Simply swipe a panel up from the bottom of the screen and with a single tap you can turn on or off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane Mode, Do Not Disturb, and the screen rotation lock. Other options in Control Center include controls for the Music app, AirDrop, AirPlay, and one-touch access to apps like Calculator and Camera.

Control Center probably won't transform your life, but it is the kind of small but meaningful optimization that you won't stop using once you start.

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