Skip to main content

25 iOS Tips, Tricks and Secrets You Need to Know

Phone, Contacts and Messaging Tips

Using Apple's mobile operating system is generally pretty straightforward, but that doesn't mean it's without its share of tweaks, tricks and secrets. Dig into iOS and you'll find plenty of hidden capabilities that let you get the most out of your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

MORE: 11 Best Improvements in iOS 9

We’ve dug deep into the newly released iOS 9 to produce a collection of tips and tricks that can help you super-charge your phone, master your mailbox, take control of notifications and alerts and bend mobile browsing to your will.

Enable Short Names to Distinguish Contacts

Ever received a text message from "John" and realized you weren't exactly sure which of the many Johns you know sent it? Fortunately, iOS lets you tweak how your contacts are identified with its Short Name feature, letting you see initials for first or last names, or first and last names only.

1. Open Settings.

2. Tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars.

3. Scroll down and tap Short Name under the Contacts section.

4. Enable the Short Names feature by tapping on the slider.

5. Choose the display name you'd like. You can also enable Prefer Nicknames to have the "Nickname" field from Contacts override whatever's specified here.

Make FaceTime Audio Calls

If you're watching your minutes, traveling abroad, or just want better voice quality, you can call any other user of an iOS device or Mac using FaceTime -- but without having to also have a video component to your chat. The resulting call looks much like a normal phone call, but instead happens over the device's data connection (via Wi-Fi or cellular if you've enabled it).

1. Open the FaceTime app. (You can also use Contacts or Phone.)

2. Tap Audio.

3. Tap any of your recent calls to immediately start a call, or enter a name, email, or phone number in the search box.

4. Tap the blue phone icon next to any of your contacts to start a call. (A grayed out icon means that you don't have a registered FaceTime number or email for the contact in question.)

Auto-dial PIN Codes

If you frequently call into an automated phone system -- say for a conference call -- you can set your iPhone to automatically dial the PIN code you use.

1. Open the Phone app.

2. Tap Keypad.

3. Enter the phone number you dial into.

4. Tap and hold the Pound key (#) until a semicolon appears in the number.

5. Enter the PIN code.

6. Tap the green phone icon to dial the number. After the call connects, there will be a pause and then the PIN code will be entered. (You can also create a contact that includes the whole phone number and PIN as a single entry, to enable one-tap dialing.) 

MORE: 12 Best iOS Apps You're Not Using (But Should Be)

Paste phone numbers

While iOS is usually pretty good at recognizing phone numbers and letting you tap them to make a call, sometimes it doesn't pick up on them. Fortunately, there's an easier way to call those numbers then having to retype them: copy and paste!

1. Select the phone number.

2. Tap Copy.

3. Launch the Phone app.

4. Tap Keypad.

5. Tap and hold on the blank space above the keypad until the pop-up menu appears.

6. Tap Paste.

Create Text Replacement Shortcuts

Typing on iOS's onscreen keyboard whether in Message or any other app can sometimes be tricky, so it can be handy to have a quick way to type frequently-used phrases. That's where iOS's built-in Text Replacement feature comes in.

1. Open Settings.

2. Tap General.

3. Tap Keyboard.

4. Tap Text Replacement.

5. Tap the New button(+) in the top right.

6. Enter a phrase and a shortcut, for example "Be right there!" and "brt".

7. Tap Save.

8. In any text field, type your shortcut ("brt") to have it automatically expand ("Be right there!)

Type Hidden Symbols, Accents

Speaking of typing, if you often find yourself typing phrases in languages other than English, or you're simply a stickler for correct accents and the like, you'll find you can type many variations on letters and symbols without having to switch to another language keyboard.

Simply tap and hold many letters to see the variations available: i.e., tap and hold "e" to see "e" with various accents applied, tap and hold the $ to see other currency symbols, and tap and hold the hyphen to get en-dash, em-dash, and bullet options. Tap and hold other keys to see what they're hiding!