iPhone Life magazine

Top Tips

Hidden features that make the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad more powerful


Crop photos quickly!


Say you take a photo of a field of flowers and want to zoom in on one part of the photo and send it to a friend.


Crop a PhotoIf you're not too worried about the resolution, there's a quick and easy way to do it. Simply open the image you want to crop in the Photos app and use pinch and zoom to adjust the size and position of the photo. Then, hold down the Home button and press the power on/off button to take a screen shot. The new image will have a lower resolution than the original, but it will be saved in your camera roll immediately. You can open the cropped photo and attach it to an e-mail.


To crop photos on the fly, simply pinch and zoom on the image in Photos and use screen capture to save it.

Delete individual texts

Delete Individual Texts

There is a way to delete individual texts or MMS messages without having to lose your whole conversation. Simply open the conversation and tap Edit on the top right of the screen. Then, tap on the individual messages you want to get rid of. You can select several at a time if you need to erase many. When you're done selecting, tap on Delete on the bottom left of the screen. The messages will be deleted and the rest of the conversation will remain intact.

Instead of deleting entire conversations, you can delete specific texts.

If you do decide to get rid of the entire conversation, then simply go back to the list of conversations and swipe your finger from left to right over the one you want to get rid of. When the red Delete button appears, tap on it to finalize the deletion. (Alternatively, you can tap on Edit, Clear All, and then tap Delete. This allows you to clear the conversation but keep the person's name in your list. This is helpful if it's someone you text often but just want to clear the last conversation.)


Save a picture from the web

Save image from web

I was using my iPad to browse through a friend's website, when he asked me to save an image from his site on my iPad. Doing so is simple. Find the image you want to save and tap on it once to see if a larger (higher resolution) version of the image is available. Then, press down on the image with your finger until the menu pops up. Finally, select Save Picture (or Save Image on the iPhone) and the image is saved to your Camera Roll.


To save an image from the web, 
tap and hold it until the option shows up.


Undo typing errors and other mistakes easily

Shake to undo typing errors

I often need to "undo" things I'm writing to eliminate typing errors and other mistakes. The process is relatively painless on my desktop computer, but the feature isn't obvious on my iOS device.


Undo errors by shaking your device and bringing up the undo prompt.

Ever since iOS 3, there's been a feature called "Shake to Undo" that is automatically enabled on your device. If you make a mistake when you're typing, shake your device and a menu pops up with two options: Undo Typing or Cancel. Shake to Undo also works when you're coping, pasting, or deleting an image or text. If you want to redo something you've undone, shake again.

Take advantage of compass feature in Maps

Calibrate compass feature in Maps

Calibrate compass feature in Maps

The Maps app has a cool little feature that lets you see exactly which way you're facing, and it works with both 3G and Wi-Fi-only devices. Simply open the Maps app and double-tap on the location icon on the top of the screen (looks like a blue arrow, see screenshot). You will see the blue location dot switch to include an additional field of vision light that points in the direction the device is facing. If the device is having trouble figuring out the exact direction you're pointing, then it will ask you to wave the device around in a figure 8 motion to re-calibrate. Once calibrated, the compass will follow your turns and help you see which way you're facing on the map.

Calibrate the compass feature in the Maps (left) to see which way you're facing (right).


App compatibility listings: Does an app take advantage of the iPad's larger screen?

The iTunes App Store lists hundreds of thousands of apps developed for iOS devices. The majority have user interfaces optimized for the smaller screens on the iPhone/iPod touch. However, most of these will work on the iPad. Individual app listings have a Requirements note that describes the compatibility of each app. The note lists the devices the app works with and the version of iOS required (see screenshot).


It's important to note that, just because an app is listed as being compatible with the iPad, it doesn't mean that the interface has been designed to take advantage of the iPad's larger screen As mentioned, the majority of apps designed for the smaller screens will work on the iPad in 1X or 2X viewing mode. How do you tell if an app has been designed for the iPad? There are two ways:


  • Some apps are only available for the iPad and will not work on the other devices. In that case, the Requirements section will list "Compatible with iPad" and not mention the iPhone or iPod touch.

  • Some are "Universal" apps. That means that two versions of the app are bundled in the same listing. One is designed for the smaller screens and the other for the larger screen. When you download the app, the App Store senses the type of device and installs the appropriate version of the app. You can spot universal apps easily; the App Store listing will provide screenshots for both the iPhone and the iPad versions of the apps. The price is the same for either version of the app. There's also a grey "+" next to the price of the app that indicates it's universal.


A final note: Some developers have separate listings for the iPhone/iPod touch version and the iPad version of their app. The iPad version of the app may have a slightly different name and the price may be different, and it will be listed as "Compatible with the iPad" without reference to the iPhone or iPod touch.


Read the user guide

User Guide

Apple has a very strong focus on usability, design, and intuitiveness for all of their consumer products. This is why the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch do not come with traditional printed manuals. However, I find that even if I had all the intuition in the world, I still wouldn't magically know how to take advantage of some features in my device. Sometimes I need to go online to learn how to do something specific that I haven't figured out yet. Luckily, Apple does offer a comprehensive User Guide, and it is automatically bookmarked so you can access it straight from your device. Simply open up Safari, tap on the Bookmark icon (looks like an open book), and then tap on User Guide.

The User Guide includes everything from basic tips that help you get started, to more advanced productivity features. Even if you're a heavy user of the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, I recommend visiting the User Guide from time to time to learn new tricks and skills.