31 always useful Apple productivity tips

These should help you get more from your iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch.

Apple, iOS, macOS, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, Mac, tips

I’ve put together thousands of Apple-related tips over the years. I thought it might be useful to reprise 31 essential ones that will help you get more from your iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch.

6 Siri tips for everything

Change Settings

Use Siri to change Settings or System Preferences. Just trigger Siri and ask it to open the Setting or Preference you need – it can change some of them too…

Open an App

Open any app by triggering Siri and asking it to open the app.

Open a website

Ask Siri.

Siri the weather

On any Apple device that supports Siri you can get a weather report by just asking for it. Or sports scores, or get answers to sums, measurement conversions and more.

Create a meeting

Ask Siri to “Schedule a meeting with a person in your Contacts book. It will schedule the meeting in your Calendar and send invitation(s).

Set a reminder

Siri can set a reminder to let you know to pick something up when you reach a location, so long as the location is named in your Contacts book. You might say: “Hey Siri, remind me to pick up some milk when I leave the office”.

6 Mac Tips productivity tips


The easiest way to get around your Mac, bar none. Command-Space triggers Spotlight search on your Mac, use it to find and quickly get to almost anything.


While in an application tap Command-Comma to immediately open the programs preference files.


Quickly move through your active applications.

Sidebar folders

Are there folders you open frequently on your Mac? Drag them to the Finder Sidebar and you’ll be able to find them faster in future. (Or drag it to the Finder toolbar while pressing Command to stash it there).

Document icons

Those document icons at the top of every item you work on aren’t just for show – they are actually aliases for the document. This means you can drag and drop them into other documents, folders, email messages and more.

Text clippings

Got some text you use frequently? Select it and then drag it to the Desktop. You’ve created a text clipping. You’ll be able to place that text in other documents by dragging the snippet into the document.

Take a look at these tips for the Mac Dock.

6 iOS tips everyone should know

Open in the background

Tap any active link on a Safari page with two fingers and it will automatically open in the background in a second Safari window on iOS devices.

Get around in Maps

Checking for directions in Maps? Double tap the Map to zoom in and you can keep on double-tapping to reach Maximum Zoom.


Just swipe to the left or right in the calculator input screen to get rid of an incorrectly entered number.


Double-tap the Space bar to add a period. You’ll find lots more typing tips here.

Remind me when I get to..

Create Location-aware Reminders., Here’s how it’s done.

Remind me later

Siri will remind you of things you happen to be looking at in apps such as Mail, Notes or Safari

6 iPad tips you should learn

Swipe and spread

Put four fingers on your iPad’s display and swipe left or right to explore all your active apps, or pinch those four fingers together to close the current app and return to the Home screen.

Better cursor

Tap and hold the Space bar until the keyboard greys out and it becomes a cursor. 

App keyboard shortcuts

Using an app on an iPad with a keyboard? Press and hold Command to find a list of all the keyboard shortcuts the app understands.

Handle the Dock

iPad OS will always show you your most recently-used apps in the Dock, which makes it easy to multi-task, but you should always be sure to place your most-used apps in the Dock manually. Why?  Because then you will always be able to access them no matter what apps your recently used, making it much easier to open them in Slide Over or Split View when you need them.

Safari tab management

Another worthy Safari on iPad feature – better tab management. Apple lets you save a set of open tabs to Bookmarks in iPad OS.

Coming soon… new text handling tools

Keeping it topical, iPad OS when it ships in fall will introduce new text-handling gestures you’ll need to learn.

  • Double-tap: quickly select addresses, numbers, email addresses, etc.
  • Tap and swipe: Select text.
  • Triple tap and swipe: Select sentence.
  • Quadruple tap and swipe: Select paragraph.
  • Pinch up with three fingers: Copy.
  • Pinch up with three fingers twice: Cut.
  • Pinch down with three fingers: Paste.
  • Three finger swipe left: Undo.
  • Three finger swipe right: Redo.

More on iPad OS changes here.

6 iPhone-only tips for people on the move

Can’t take a call?

Tap Message on the incoming call screen and you can choose a text message to let the caller know you can’t pick up right now.

Fast speakerphone

Ask Siri to call a named contact “on speakerphone”.


Stop Siri and Notifications from distracting you while you are in a meeting by turning your iOS device display-side down on the table.

I’m late

While rushing to reach where you are going ask Siri to send an email, Message or What’s App note to a named contact if you are running late and want them to know.

Safari tip

While in the tabs browser carousel view turn your iPhone into landscape view to get to the tab search bar.

Get back faster

Received a message and want to send a response fast? Long press the message in the messages list to open its preview and then slide your finger up the screen to find three quick responses you can use. (Tap Custom to create new ones).

An essential Apple Watch tip

If you use Maps and Apple Watch you should memorize these commands and you’ll never need to look at your watch or iPhone when travelling ever again. The watch gives you taptic taps to remind you what to do:

  • Turn right: 12 steady taps
  • Turn left: Two taps delivered in pairs three times
  • Close to destination: A long vibration followed by another when you arrive.

(I have another 19+ Apple Watch tips here).

Want more tips?

Explore my work here at Computerworld and also my extensive tips collection here. And if you’re looking for AirPod tips, you’ll find them here.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

Bing’s AI chatbot came to work for me. I had to fire it.
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