10 awesome iPhone tricks that will turn you into a power user

From photos to personalisation, these handy hidden features make any iPhone even better

Apple iPhone 13 Pro
(Image credit: Apple)

I love my iPhone and I like iOS a lot, but one of the things I find a little bit frustrating is that it isn’t always obvious where some of the most useful features live. If you don’t know to long-press on this or swipe on that, you might be completely unaware of some of the most useful things your iPhone can do.

So here are some of my favourite things that aren’t always obvious on your iPhone. I’m writing this about my iPhone 12 Pro but these features also work on the iPhone 13 and any other iPhones running the latest iOS.

1. Turn the Apple logo into a tappable shortcut

Go to Settings > Accessibility > Touch and then find Back Tap. You can set what will happen when you either double-tap or triple-tap the back of your phone. There are tons of options here, such as launching the Camera, taking a screenshot, replacing the 'shake-to-undo' gesture with this tap, or even launching something you've made in the Apple Shortcuts app, which means it can do effectively anything. You don’t need your iPhone to be uncased to use this feature unless your case is very, very thick.

2. Tap or tug the top

To quickly return to the top of an app page or website, tap the very top of the screen. And once you're at the top, in Safari and many third party apps, pull down the screen and let go to refresh the current page or screen.

3. Record a soundtrack when you shoot video

You can’t use this for uploads to the likes of YouTube – you don’t have the copyright ownership to use other people’s music – but if you want a musical soundtrack to your video you can play a song in your music app and then slide the Camera app shutter button to the right. This keeps the music playing while you shoot video so the microphone records it too.

4. Close all the tabs in Safari

If like us your Safari ends up with tons of tabs, simply tap on the tab view icon (at the bottom right) and then press and hold the X button that appears on the current tab. Now choose Close All Other Tabs. You can also use the same long press to bookmark all the current tabs or move them into a tab group.

5. Reopen closed tabs

In the same tab view, long-press the + button at the bottom left of the screen. This brings up your recently closed tabs; just tap on the one you want to bring back.

6. Use long-press for quick access

Long-press on the Camera app icon and you’ll see quick access links for taking a portrait selfie, taking a portrait, recording video or taking a selfie. And when you’re in the app you can use the volume control buttons as a shutter button.

7. Quickly clear the calculator

Made a mistake in the Calculator app? Swipe left on the number display, so for example if you swipe on 1234 it becomes 123, then 12, then 1.

8. Use the secret trackpad to move around

We use this one all the time: press and hold the space bar whenever you see the on-screen keyboard and it becomes a trackpad you can use to get precision control of the cursor, making it easier to edit text.

9. Get Siri to shine

Here’s a fun one: say “Hey Siri, play a sound on my phone” or “Hey Siri, turn on my torch” to locate your phone when you can’t remember where you put it. As long as you have "Hey Siri" turned on, and the phone can hear you, it'll respond.

10. Edit portraits after you shoot them

Your iPhone stores your Portrait shots and the distance data too, and that means you can change the lighting after the event – so if you were shooting with Natural Light enabled you can change it to studio lighting or remove the background in favour of solid white or black.

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).