iOS 9 was released yesterday, and it brings with it a whole range of new features and settings. Here’s a collection of a wide range of tips and tricks, including some originally introduced in iOS 7 and iOS 8 that you may not have been aware of.
Open Desktop Site
While many websites use a responsive design to automatically adapt the content to fit the device its being viewed on, some sites use mobile-specific pages instead. Some of these mobile-only pages can have limited functionality, so Safari provides a way to override this behaviour and allow you reload the page as though you’re using a desktop computer.
When viewing a mobile-specific website, tap the Share icon and then select Request Desktop Site. Safari will then reload the page and load the desktop version, as though you were viewing the website on a desktop computer.
Alternatively, you can tap and hold the Refresh button in the address bar to bring up a menu that includes the option to request the desktop version of the site you’re viewing.
Find in Page
The Find in Page function will tell you how many matches are found and you can update the search criteria and navigate between them using the search bar that appears at the bottom of the page.
- In Safari, tap the Share button and then tap Find in Page.
- In the field that appears, enter your search query and then tap Search.
Bookmarks on Home Screen
We all have our favorite websites that we visit many times a day. Rather than type the address or go through your bookmarks folder to access it, you can add a special bookmark directly to your iOS device’s home screen that looks just like an app.
Certain websites, such as Forecast.io, even run fullscreen when using this method to provide a more app-like experience.
- Tap the Share button and select Add to Home Screen.
- If necessary, change the title, and then tap Add.
- To visit the website, use the icon that’s now available on your home screen.
When using Private Browsing, Safari won’t remember the pages you visit or what you’ve been searching for. Private Browsing is a self-contained way to browse the web so if you try to visit a website that you’re normally logged into, you’ll need to log in again.
- Tap the Tabs button in the Safari toolbar.
- Tap Private to enable Private Browsing.
- With Private Browsing enabled, Safari will take on a darker look as a way of visually reminding you the function is currently enabled.
Enable the Favourites Bar
Just like its Mac counterpart, Safari for iPad can display a favorites bar for quick access to bookmarks and bookmarklets without needing to navigate through the Bookmarks menu.
- Go to Settings > Safari.
- Enable Show Favorites Bar.
By default, iOS will use the Favourites folder in your Safari bookmarks, but you can select another folder to use for the toolbar by changing it in the Safari Settings.
Restore a Recently Closed Tab
Accidentally closing a Safari tab is a frustration that we’ve all endured at least once. Thankfully, we can undo this mistake and even restore the previous browsing history that the tab contained.
- Tap and hold the New Tab button.
- After a brief delay, a list of recently closed tabs will appear for you to select the tab you wish to restore.
If your Bookmarks folder has become cluttered, you can organise your collection into different folders and subfolders, keeping them all neat and tidy.
Safari’s doesn’t have its own section to view your browsing history, instead it’s stored within the Bookmarks menu.
For those making use of bookmarks regularly with lots of folders, it can be quite tricky to remember exactly where the history is found.
- Tap the Bookmarks button.
- Tap the back button until you’re at the very top level.
- You’ll find History just below the Favorites folder. While you can’t remove individual websites from the history, you can clear it by tapping the Clear button.
If you’re trying to read a lengthy article published on a website, it isn’t uncommon to find the surrounding ads, images and sidebar content a bit distracting.
To bring greater focus to the content and offer a great distraction-free way of reading, you can use the Reader mode within Safari.
- Tap the Reader icon within Safari’s address bar on the web page you want to view in Reader mode.
- You can adjust the text size, font and background of the article using the Font button that appears in the address bar.
There’s no argument that the iPad is redefining how we read content from the web and it has meant we can break away from the confines of our desk and read from the comfort of our favorite armchair.
For times where internet connectivity isn’t available, such as a flight or subway commute, Safari includes an offline reading service called Reading List.
Any webpages added will be cached by Safari for offline availability. Reading List also syncs with iCloud and will be made available and downloaded onto each of your devices automatically.
If you’re one of the many Twitter users who often read, or at least glance at, links shared by those you follow then this feature is for you.
Instead of using your preferred Twitter client to access webpages that have been shared, Shared Links lists all of the tweets that include a link to a webpage.
To make use of Shared Links, you will need to add your Twitter account to the Settings app. If you do not know how to do this please refer to the section on Social Networks in the chapter on Sharing to find out how.
- Tap the Bookmarks icon in Safari and select the last tab, represented by the @ symbol.
- Only tweets containing a link will be displayed, along with the name of the Twitter user who shared it.
Hide the Compose Sheet to Reference Another Email
If you’ve ever been in the middle of writing an email, only to realise you need to refer to a previous message you received, a useful feature of Mail is the ability to tuck away the email you’re writing so you can go and find what you need. No more saving a draft and moving back and forth between folders!
To do this, swipe down in the new message’s title bar and it’ll tuck itself away at the bottom of the screen. You can then look through your email, and simply tap the message to return to it.
If you have a busy inbox, it can be all too easy to miss an email from someone important to you, whether it’s a family member or your boss.
Mail’s VIP list highlights emails from contacts you specify and is a great way to prevent missing those all-important emails.
- Tap the sender’s name to bring up their contact details and select Add to VIP.
- To remove a person from the VIP list, simply repeat the above step, replacing Add to VIP with Remove from VIP.
Navigating to messages within subfolders in an email account, especially with multiple accounts set up, can be a lengthy process on iOS. To provide quick access to your commonly used folders, you to add any folder within your mail account to the list of default mailboxes you see.
There are even a few built-in smart folders that provide quick access to messages meeting certain criteria, such as being unread or flagged.
- Tap the Edit button at the top of the folder list. Tap Add Mailbox… and navigate to the folder you wish to include.
- You can also rearrange the order that folders are display in, as well as toggle their visibility, by tapping it’s corresponding checkbox.
Quick Access to Drafts
If you’re writing an email that you’d like to finish at a later time, it can be saved as a draft. Accessing a draft message is usually done by navigating to your mail account’s Drafts folder.
If you have multiple mail accounts then you might find yourself switching back and forth between draft folders just to find the message you want.
To save you the trouble, Mail provides an option to view any drafts across all mail accounts as a single mailbox or contextual menu.
- Tap and hold the Compose button.
- After a brief delay, a pop-up menu will appear with the option to either create a New Message or select one from Previous Drafts.
- Tap the draft you would like to use to resume editing.
Before the days of Gmail, most email providers offered measly amounts of storage space to their users. Nowadays, multi-gigabyte quotas for mail accounts are the norm and deleting messages to save space has become a thing of the past.
So rather than deleting old messages, why not simply archive them instead? Since most of us have more email storage space than we could ever possibly use, keeping every email we receive archived away means never having to worry about accidentally deleting a message that we might need.
- Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts & Calendars.
- Tap on an email account that you would like to enable archiving, then tap Accounts.
- Tap Advanced Settings and change the option for Move Discarded Messages Into: to Archive Mailbox.
Customise iCloud Backups
iCloud Backup provides an easy way of backing up an iOS device without the need for a computer. These backups can take up quite a large amount of space and with iCloud’s rather meager 5GB of free storage, those of you with two or more devices may often have to purchase additional storage.
Luckily, you can specify which apps will have their data backed up so you could potentially save not only space, but money too.
- Go to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage.
- Tap on your iOS device in the Backups list.
- Disable any apps containing data you don’t want to have backed up.
Change the Side Switch Function
Apple has been slowly phasing out the side switch on the iPad, but there are still plenty of people using an iPad that has one.
When the side switch is set to Mute, the option to lock rotation is found within Control Center. If you change the option so that the side switch is set to Lock Rotation, this Control Center option changes so you can mute the iPad.
If you use the side switch for rotation lock but would like a quick way of muting the iPad, simply press and hold the volume down button and the iPad will jump straight to mute.
- Go to Settings > General.
- Change the option Use Side Switch To: from Mute to Lock Rotation.
Quickly Find a Setting
There are many different settings that you can change in iOS within the Settings app, from Bluetooth connectivity and VPN configurations to Notifications and iCloud. Many 3rd-party apps also keep some of their options within the Settings app too, so it’s become a busy place of switches, buttons and inputs.
Finding a particular setting is made much easier by using the Settings app’s built-in search field. As you type, it’ll filter the list of changeable settings until you get to the one you need, even letting you changes the setting within the search results.
- Go to Settings.
- Scroll to the top of the settings list until you see the search box, then start typing the name of a setting.
Similar to the trackpad found on a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro or even Magic Trackpad, there are some multitouch gestures you can use on the iPad’s large display.
After switching on Gestures, you can use four or five finger gestures to access multitasking, swipe between apps or even pinch to the home screen, replacing the need to use the iPad’s home button in many cases.
Try swiping from right to left across the iPad’s display with four or five fingers to switch to the previous app you were in.
To enable Gestures:
- Go to Settings > General > Multitasking.
- Enable Gestures.
Slide Over and Split View
iPad power users have been longing for some form of multitasking, and iOS 9 exceeded everyone’s expectations of what Apple could do. Multitasking isn’t just a reality on the iPad, but the way it’s been implemented is both easy to use and very, very clever.
Available on all iPads when used in landscape, you can swipe from the right-side of the screen to overlay and interact with a second app that takes up about a third of the display. It’s a great way to look at some notes or quickly check your email, all without having to leave the app you’re working in.
Taking Slide Over one step further, owners of the iPad Air 2 and above can display two apps side by side and work in them concurrently. It’s much the same process as Slide Over, though you can then drag the app to the left again to activate Split View.
You have some control over how both apps are shown, and can move the divider left or right to give either app more or less room to work in.
To switch between apps in either Slide Over or Split View, dragging down on the tab at the top of the second app will bring up the app switcher, and you can select any compatible app from this list.
Originally created for Japanese mobile carriers in the late 90s, Emoji symbols have become a huge part of Internet communication, thanks in large part to iOS and it’s dedicated Emoji keyboard layout that provides quick and easy access to a variety of symbols.
Switching to the Emoji keyboard is super simple, using a dedicated button to switch between keyboard layouts.
Enable the Emoji Keyboard
If you don’t have the Emoji keyboard enabled, you can do so in the Settings app.
- Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards.
- Tap Add New Keyboard… and then select Emoji.
Using a Bluetooth Keyboard
Ever since the release of the iPad back in 2010, iOS has included support for Bluetooth keyboards. It’s been a fairly basic support, however, with the functionality limited to text input and a handful of shortcuts and controls for brightness and volume.
With the release of iOS 9, Apple introduced some welcome features when it comes to Bluetooth keyboards. Not only are there more shortcuts available, but app developers can create their own custom keyboard shortcuts which you can use when working in their apps.
Pairing a Bluetooth Keyboard
Depending on the age of your keyboard, the pairing process may differ slightly to what’s written here, but the overall process is the same.
- Go to Settings > Bluetooth.
- Place your keyboard in pairing mode and then tap its name in the list of discovered devices.
- Follow the steps displayed to complete the pairing process.
Common Keyboard Shortcuts
There are many common keyboard shortcuts that apps share, but whether they are supported often depend on if this has been implemented by the developer. Federico Viticci, the founder of MacStories, has compiled a comprehensive list of keyboard shortcuts that are available both within the built-in apps, as well as 3rd-party ones.
iOS Keyboard Shortcuts – MacStories
Many of these shortcuts often mimic their Mac counterparts. For example, you can open new tabs in Safari by pressing
Command+T, or close a tab by pressing
One standout keyboard shortcut that has made its way from OS X to iOS is the Task Switcher. Pressing
Command+Tab will bring up a task switcher, displaying a small strip of icons of the apps you’ve recently been working in.
This is an established feature of OS X, and it’s transference to iOS makes multitasking on the iPad so much easier.
If you often find yourself often typing the same words or phrases, you can make use of the Shortcuts function of iOS to make it much easier.
For example, instead of typing “MacBook Pro with Retina Display”, I can assign the phrase a shortcut of “rmbp” instead. Now whenever I want to type in the address, I simply type myurl which will then expand into the full web address.
Best of all, these shortcuts sync with iCloud across iOS and Mac OS X, providing the same functionality across all of your Apple devices.
- Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Shortcuts.
- Tap Add New Shortcut…
- Enter the full word or phrase and then give it a shortcut. Avoid using a real word to avoid accidental use.
The Shortcut Bar
The iOS keyboard features a set of tools along the top of the keyboard called the Shortcut Bar. There are a few great options here that make working with text more efficient.
Undo and Redo
On the left-side of the Shortcut Bar are the Undo and Redo buttons, so you can finally ditch the infuriating “Shake to Undo”!
Cut, Copy and Paste
iOS has long provided options for these options in the popup selection menu, which appears when you tap on a selected piece of text. This was often a little finnicky and could result in deselecting the text you wanted to work with.
The Shortcut Bar includes options to cut, copy and paste without needing to live dangerously with selected text. Depending on the layout of the Shortcut Bar, you may find these options take the place of the Undo and Redo buttons, or are available in a popup menu that appears.
As you’re typing, iOS will not only try to guess what word you’re typing, but it’ll even try and guess what word you may want to use next. It sounds like a gimmick at first, but it’s so good that you’ll find you’re writing entire messages with ease.
Starting in iOS 9, developers can add their own shortcuts to the Shortcut Bar, providing quick access to certain settings or features. For example, the Notes app has options to insert a photo or drawing, while Mail has quick shortcuts to text formatting.
Hiding the Shortcut Bar
If you’d prefer not to make use of the Shortcut a Bar, or need some extra screen real estate, you can hide it by swiping down on it.
Use the Keyboard like a Trackpad
If you’ve just typed something and needed to insert text somewhere, or needed to select a piece of text, you’d tap and hold on the screen until the loupe appears, then carefully move your finger across the screen.
With iOS 9, you can now use the keyboard as a trackpad, giving you much more control and making it quicker and easier to position the text cursor.
- Tap and hold two fingers on the keyboard until they keyboard fades out, then move your fingers around the keyboard, like a trackpad on a laptop, until you position the text cursor to where it needs to be.
- If you’d like to select some text once you’ve move the cursor, simply tap and hold with two fingers again, but hold for slightly longer until the text selection appears. This will lock the start of the selection to where your cursor was, letting you freely select the text by moving the cursor around the screen.
Split the Keyboard
While using an iPad in portrait arguably makes for a better reading experience, it isn’t the best for writing a lengthy email or document. The keyboard is a little too small to touch type, which forces you to peck your way through words, but then is slightly too big if you hold the iPad in two hands and try to use your thumbs to type.
To make portrait typing an easier experience, the iPad keyboard can be split into two, making thumb typing a much better, and faster, experience.
- Tap and hold the Show/Hide Keyboard button on the bottom right of the keyboard, then tap Split.
- You can reposition the keyboard to a more comfortable position by tap and holding the same button, and then dragging it up or down the screen.
Certain apps support additional actions that can be performed with notifications, both within Notification Center and as they are received, without needing to launch the app.
For example, you can mark notifications of new messages within Mail as read or even delete/archive them by swiping left and tapping the appropriate button.
Another example is the Messages app. When you receive a message and it appears as a banner notification, you can slide it down and respond directly from the notification.
You can dismiss all notifications for a particular app, or one by one, all within Notification Center.
To dismiss all notifications for a particular app, tap the X icon next to the app’s name in Notification Center.
Individual notifications from any app can be removed from Notification Center by swiping left and then tapping the X button that appears.
Disable Animation Effects
The new animation effects within iOS 7 aren’t to everyone’s liking, and features such as Parallax and Motion effects have even left some users feeling nauseous.
iOS 7.1 introduced quicker animation effects that reduce the effect this might have for some users, though these effects can be disabled completely.
With Reduce Motion enabled, motion effects are replaced with fading, and all parallax functionality is disabled.
- Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion.
- Enable Reduce Motion.
Enable Text to Speech
iOS contains some of the best Accessibility options of any platform to date, mobile or desktop. One such feature that can prove useful to many is Speak Selection.
Once enabled, an additional option to Speak is displayed in the popup menu when any text is selected. This will allow you to select entire paragraphs or even pages of text and have Siri read them out to you.
- Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech
- Enable Speak Selection.
To use, highlight a portion of text in an app, such as Mail. You will now see an option to Speak in the contextual menu, along with the usual Copy and Paste commands.
You can specify the voice used as well as the rate at which Siri speaks, as well as highlighting words as they are spoken.
Add Shapes to Buttons
The crisp-white, minimal interface of iOS is a far cry from the rich, Corinthian leather and Aqua-like design of its predecessors, but sometimes it can be a little too clean. Buttons and labels can be indistinguishable, so knowing what to tap requires a little extra concentration.
If you’d like a helping hand, you can enable Button Shapes that will clearly identify buttons with a clear outline and darker background.
- Go to Settings > General > Accessibility.
- Enable Button Shapes.
Some apps may use custom design elements as buttons that don’t support adding shapes to them. Instead, these apps will make buttons and other tappable elements more noticeable by making underlining text.
You can share an iCloud reminders list so that you, and anyone it is shared with, can add and complete tasks. It’s a great way to maintain a shared shopping or errands list, as multiple people can add new tasks or mark them as complete, and any alerts set up will be shared with everyone.
- Within the list you’d like to share, tap Edit.
- Tap Sharing, then invite anyone you’d like to share the list with.
Adding Reminders with Context
Using the Share Sheet, you can add new reminders that will include some information from the app you’re in as context, as well as the icon of the app you were using.
For example, if you find an interesting website that you want to check out later, you may want to add a reminder. When you do, Reminders will display the Safari icon and include the web page name and link.
With an iCloud shared calendar, you can share any of your calendars with multiple people, and you can choose how much access they have, whether they can just view events or can modify them too. If you’re looking for a great way to manage a team or family schedule, this is it.
- Goto Calendars and tap Calendars in the toolbar.
- Tap the Info button on the calendar you’d like to share.
- Tap Add People… to share the calendar.
After accepting the invite, they will be able to view and add to the calendar. You can change who has access to the calendar, including who can make changes, within the same menu.
This is a fantastic feature that lets you make call other FaceTime users using just your data connection, but without needing to use the standard video feature of FaceTime. It’s completely free to use, works over both Wi-Fi and cellular, and calls can be even made between iOS and Mac OS X.
The quality far surpasses a traditional phone call, thanks to the HD audio quality it provides.
- Launch either the Contacts or Phone app.
- Locate a contact you wish to call and look for the FaceTime option.
- Two buttons will be displayed to make either a FaceTime or FaceTime Audio call. Tap the Phone button to make a FaceTime Audio call.
- Alternatively, simply ask Siri Make a FaceTime Audio Call to… and then the contact’s name.
Block Calls & Messages
If you’re constantly being annoyed by calls or messages from a pesky phone number, iOS offers a built-in block list that you can add contacts to.
Once a contact has been blocked, your iOS device will not display or alert you to any phone calls, messages or FaceTime calls that they make to you.
It’s important to remember that this blocking is being done by iOS only, so the person calling can still leave a voicemail. If you are being subject to nuisance calls and wish to have a number permanently blocked, you should report it to your carrier.
- Select a contact by tapping the Info button in either the Phone, FaceTime, or Messages app.
- At the bottom of the pop-up menu, tap Block this Caller.
You may want to unblock a caller at some point in the future. Fortunately, that’s just as easy:
- Go to Settings > Messages > Blocked
- You can add or remove callers from the block list by tapping Edit.
Viewing Message Timestamps
iOS includes the timestamp information for every message sent or received, but it’s hidden out of view – unless you know where to find it.
- Launch Messages and open an existing conversation to view the messages sent and received to a particular contact.
- Swipe left across the conversation and each message’s timestamp will appear along side.
Picture in Picture Overlay
If you’ve bought a TV in the last decade, chances are it’s had a feature called Picture in Picture (shortened to PiP on TV remotes), where your TV will be showing one thing while a small area of the screen plays another.
In much the same way, iOS features a Picture in Picture mode for videos, making it possible browse the web or catch up with Twitter while you’re watching your latest iTunes movie purchase.
Picture in Picture is available for any video that’s being viewed through the default iOS player, but that doesn’t mean every app will support it. Some 3rd-party apps for on-demand services use a custom video player that may not support it, though it is a feature that developers can include.
Sharing Photos with Photo Stream
If you’ve ever tried to send a large number of photos to someone via iMessage or email, you know how much of an inconvenience it can be. Sometimes the photos are too large, they’re never received or worse, flagged as junk mail.
iCloud’s Shared Photo Stream provides an excellent feature of sharing many photos from an iOS device to other people easily and automatically.
Shared Photo Streams are photo galleries that you can share with friends and family which can be continuously updated with new photos, all of which are automatically pushed to their iOS devices.
You’re not just limited to sharing with iCloud users as you have the option to also make the shared photo stream a website that anyone with the address to can access, allowing you to post it to Facebook or send it via email for anyone to access.
- Within the Photos app, select a few photos and then tap the Share button.
- Tap iCloud, create a new photo stream or select an existing one, then tap Post.
- To edit who is subscribed, or to create a web gallery for anyone to view, tap People within the Photo Stream.
Enable the Camera Grid
Many photographers will tell you that you don’t need the best camera or equipment to take the best pictures, it’s all about subject and composition.
One of the best composition methods used by photographers is the Rule of Thirds, which sees the image divided into a 3×3 grid. Beyond this composition technique, it’s really useful for making sure the horizon is level when taking a landscape photo, saving you having to make adjustments later.
Most digital cameras provide this functionality with a 3×3 grid that can be displayed, and iOS is no exception.
- Go to Settings > Photos & Camera.
- Enable Grid.
Using Burst Mode, iOS can take photos in quick succession by just holding the shutter button down.
It does this by only using the focus and exposure settings from the first shot, which is why you won’t see the camera try and refocus during burst mode. Try to keep the iOS device steady and you’ll have some great shots to choose from.
- Launch Camera.
- Tap and hold the Shutter button, or press and hold the Volume Up button on the side of the device.
- During burst mode, you’ll see the photos taken appear in the small preview icon.
Customise the Share Sheet
As you build up a sizeable collection of apps on your iPad, you may find that the Share Sheet is cluttered with apps and extensions that you may not use, making you swipe to use the apps you regularly want to share with.
Fortunately, you can pick and choose which apps and extensions are available as sharing options, as well as change the order that they’re displayed through the Share Sheet.
To show or hide an app or extension in the Share Sheet, simply tap and hold its icon until it pops out, and the “Hide” option appears. To move an app or extension tap and hold again, then drag it left or right to wherever you’d like it to be.
While the above is great when you’re wanting to move an app at a time, if you want to reorganise a busy Share Sheet, it can be a little tedious. Instead, swipe all the way to the right until you see the “More…” button and then tap it. In the menu that appears, you can show or hide apps and extensions, as well as rearrange them in a more convenient way.
The iCloud Drive app lets you browse all of the files you have stored on your iCloud account, without the need to use a particular app to have the corresponding app installed.
The app is actually hidden by default, but it’s simply a case of enabling it from the iCloud preferences in the Settings app.
- Go to Settings > iCloud > iCloud Drive.
- To enable to app, enable Show on Home Screen.
Correct Siri’s Pronunciation
Like many of us, Siri can sometimes have a hard time pronouncing a name. Fortunately, Siri is able to take criticism well and if it’s not pronouncing yours (or anyone’s) name correctly, Siri can offer some alternative suggestions.
- Ask Siri “Who owns this iPhone?”
- Siri will say “I believe this iPhone belongs to (your name)”
- Respond to Siri by saying “That’s not how you pronounce (your name)”
- Siri will ask you to pronounce your name and then provide three attempts at pronouncing your name Select the best response and Siri will use that from now on
Changing Siri’s Voice
Siri’s voice and gender had previously been region-specific. Changing Siri’s voice by selecting a different region usually meant losing the ability for geographical searches.
Apple has been consistently increasing the quality and variety of voices available for Siri, now providing the option to select a male or female voice as well as a different accent that doesn’t affect Siri’s search results.
- Go to Settings > General > Siri
- Tap Language to change Siri’s dialect or Voice Gender to select between Male or Female.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could ask Siri something without needing to press and hold the home button? Maybe you’re cooking and need to look up some ingredients, or you’re driving but want to keep your hands on the wheel.
With Hey Siri, you can do just this!
- Go to Settings > General > Siri.
- Enable ”Hey Siri”.
If you’re running iOS 9 or later, you’ll be asked to do a quick set up when enabling this option to make sure that Siri only responds to your voice. That way, none of your friends can secretly set an alarm for 4am!