8+ useful iPhone tips for better productivity

Here is a handful of iPhone tips to take a little more friction out of your day.

Apple, iOS, iPhone, tips
Thinkstock / David Zydd

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably joined the mobile workforce, even if you're working remotely. This handful os iPhone tips should take a little friction out of your day and boost productivity.

You don’t need to scroll any more

Want to scroll through websites, documents, or anything else one-handed? Try using a feature called Back Tap introduced in iOS 14. It lets you set up commands that can be exercised by a double- or triple- tap on the back of your iPhone.

  • Open Settings>Accessibility>Touch
  • Scroll down the page to Back Tap and tap that

Now you get to choose an action to trigger when your Double Tap and Triple Tap the back of your iPhone. There are dozens of options you can choose, but I use double tap to scroll down the page and triple tap to scroll up again.

If you’re a little more adventurous, you can set the tap for specific Shortcuts routines, such as emailing what you are looking at to yourself or to Tweet a link and title.

Swipe two fingers at a busy in-box

This little tip has been around for a long time, but I still like to point to it from time to time. When you need to delete lots of emails you can tap the Edit button and delete them manually if you want, but this is easier:

  • Lightly press and hold two fingers on the first email you wish to delete.
  • Emails will move slightly to your right and edit boxes will appear – but keep your two fingers in place and swipe them down the in-box. You’ll see that each email you touch is automatically selected so you can then delete them.

This saves a little time and soon feels natural.

Undo an error with three fingers

I don’t think anyone really liked Apple’s Shake to undo gesture to undo errors. It felt silly and disturbed concentration. These days, if you make a mistake when typing a document or email you can either:

  • Swipe three fingers to the left and a small Undo option appears at the top of the display.
  • Single tap three fingers on the screen and a menu including Undo appears at the top of your display.

I find the three-finger swipe to be the most reliable.

Share screen shots fast

You’ve come across a webpage or section of a document you need to share with colleagues. The quickest way to do this is to take the screenshot and then tap, hold, and then release the preview at the lower left of your display. You should then be taken directly to the Share menu.

This way you no longer need to open the full annotation screen and then tap Share, as you are already in the sharing space.

Switch off Face ID or Touch ID

Business travelers with iPhones may sometimes need to disable biometric ID. Here is the fast way to do so:

  • Press and hold the side button and either volume button for two seconds.
  • The device should vibrate slightly, and three sliders will appear: Slide to power off, Medical ID, Emergency ID and a Cancel button.
  • Once the sliders appear just press the side button to immediately lock the iPhone.

You’ll need to enter your passcode to open the device and Face/Touch ID will be disabled until you do. Practice this a few times and you’ll be able to do it while your phone stays in your pocket.

Stuck in an ad?

I get really annoyed when I accidentally tap an advertisement on a webpage and once it opens, I can’t go back to the original page. Apple has you covered on this in the form of easy access to your browser history.

To get there fast just tap and hold the small arrow at the bottom left of your browser window. A contextual history browser will open, within which you can identify and tap to return to the page you wanted to read.

Several useful Siri tips

When it listens, Siri can be useful. Here are three tips I use quite often:

  • Screen too dark? Ask Siri to increase or decrease the brightness for you. It will also raise and lower volume. 
  • AirPlane mode? Siri can enable and disable this on request.
  • Share content swiftly: When you're on a webpage you want to share with someone, you can ask Siri to "Send this to [a named person from your Contacts book)" and Siri will create you a Message with that content. There’s even a handy comment field so you can add a short note.

Don’t forget that you don’t actually need to speak to Siri. You can enable Type to Siri in Settings>Accessibility>Siri. In future all you’ll need to do is press the side button to rouse Siri and then type your request. This is useful in public.

Oh, one more Siri tip: If you think it helpful to see a real-time transcription of what you say to Siri, open Settings>Siri & Search>Siri Responses. Now, turn on the Always Show Speech toggle and you’ll get to see that transcript. (And you can better figure out which words you say that Siri doesn’t understand.)

Bonus tip: Scrub through video and music

Watching a video on Safari, a movie on TV, or listening to music in the Music app? You’re probably familiar with the forward and back buttons there, but they are more capable than you thought. Tap and hold either and the content will scrub through, making it a little easier to get to the section of the movie or music you want to see or hear.

If you enjoyed this handful of tips, here are 10 more helpful tips for work and instructions on how to hold a conference call with iPhone.

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Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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