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iOS 7 secrets, tips and hidden features: master your iPhone and iPad

Andy Vandervell


iOS 7 secrets, tips and hidden features: master your iPhone and iPad

iOS 7 was introduced with the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C is now available to download for all iPhone's and iPads. It is the first major overhaul of the iOS since the original iPhone - And, while plenty of the features are similar, how things work has changed significantly in some places, there are lots of new features to get used to as well.

Our iOS 7 tips and tricks guide walks you through some of the new features, how to perform common tasks and some of secret iOS 7 tips and tricks that are harder to find.

We'll keep updating this guide all the time with new tips and ideas, but please share your own iOS 7 tips and tricks in the comments.

SEE ALSO: iOS 8 tips, tricks and secrets

How to make text larger and easier to read on iPhone and iPad

If your eyesight is on the wane you don't necessarily have to switch to a larger phone. That's because Apple has included a 'Dynamic Type' mode that makes text larger in supported apps.

To adjust the setting go to Settings > General > Text Size and adjust the slider as you see fit. Not all apps support it, but they should increase in number as apps are updated to support iOS 7.

How to use keyboard shortcuts for the iPad

There are some very good keyboards and keyboard cases for the iPad and you can even use an Apple Wireless Keyboard (or any wireless keyboard for that matter) with an iPad for writing longer documents. What's not so well advertised, however, is that there are a number of useful keyboard shortcuts you can use to get the most from your experience. Here are some of the most useful:

iPad keyboard shortcuts in Safari:

  • Command L selects the address bar so you enter a web address or search

  • Command W closes the tab you're looking at
  • Command T opens a new tab
  • Command R to refresh the current tab
  • Command W to close the current tab
Basic text editing shortcuts

  • Command C copies text
  • Command X to cut text
  • Command V to paste text
  • Command Z to undo changes
  • Command Shift Z to redo them
  • Option Delete will delete the word before the cursor
  • Ctrl K deletes the text to the end of the line
  • Command Delete deletes the text to the beginning to the line
  • Shift and any arrow key to select text

iPad navigation shortcuts

These aren't available by default, but can be enabling the Voice Over accessibility feature. To do so, go to Settings > General > Accessibility and then turn it on. Some dedicated iPad keyboards have these shortcuts as dedicated buttons, such as to go back home.

  • Ctrl Option H is like pressing the home button
  • Ctrl Option H H opens the multitasking window
  • Esc acts as a back button
  • Option and any arrow key lets you scroll

  • Command Shift Tab switches you to the previous app
  • Command Tab takes you back again

How to search your apps, emails, contacts, messages, music and more on iPhone and iPad

iOS has had universal search, known as Spotlight, for ages and it hasn't changed much for iOS 7. The only difference is how you access it. In previous versions it had its own 'screen' to the left of the main homescreen.

iOS 7 tips and tricks 9

In iOS 7, Spotlight search is accessed by swiping down on the icon grid on any homescreen - see graphic above. This shows the search box and on-screen keyboard, and it works the same whether you're using an iPhone or iPad.

By default it searches for a huge range of things: pretty much anything that has a native app. It even searches for podcasts. You can customise what it searches for by going to Settings > General > Spotlight Search and selecting what you want.

How to correct Siri's pronunciation on iPhone and iPad

We don't want to pick on Siri, but it sometimes makes a right hash of pronouncing names. You can fix this just by saying "Siri that's not how you pronounce that". It will then ask you to say it again to learn the name better.

How to block messages and calls from people you don't like on iPhone

While we're sure you get on with everyone just fine, sometimes it might be necessary to block certain people from calling you. iOS 7 finally allows this. It's easy to activate. All you have to do is goto their entry in the Contacts app and scroll down to the 'Block this contact' option

How to turn-off parallax wallpapers and movement on iPhone and iPad

Getting motion sickness, or just don't like 'parallax' effect in iOS 7? No problem, it can be turned off. It's tucked away in the Accessibility section, so head to Settings > General > Accessibility and find the Reduce Motion option. Done and done.

How to use the LED flash for notifications on iPhone

The Accessibility section of the Settings app has long been a source of useful tweaks, and it's still the case in iOS 7. This is an oldie but a goodie. Prefer a light to vibrations? You can make the LED flash... erm... flash when you have notifications. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility and scroll down to 'Hearing' where 'LED Flash for Alerts' resides.

How to save money by using FaceTime Audio calls

Those of you lucky enough to have unlimited data plans but limited minutes will like this one. iOS 7 adds the ability to have audio only calls using FaceTime. Just go to the desired contact and press on the phone symbol next to FaceTime. Alternatively, you can search for your contact in the FaceTime app itself.

How to get a quick view of your day on iPhone and iPad

Apple has revamped the Notification Center for iOS 7 to include what it calls Today View. Today View can show you a number of different things, but by default it shows you the date, a summary of the weather where you are, and the appointments you have on any given day.

iOS 7 tips and tricks 7

Scroll further down and you can see your calendar for the day, up-to-date stocks and shares info and a short summary of your schedule for the next day.

As with Notification Center before, it's accessed by swiping down from the top edge of the screen and it's accessible from the lockscreen, homescreen and from within any app.

How to stop people seeing your messages and notifications in iOS 7

The new Notification Center is a nice addition iOS 7, but it does throw up one obvious problem: as it's accessible from the lock screen, anyone could view your appointments and excerpts of your messages without your pass code.

Luckily Apple has thought of this and it is possible to customise the Notification Center available from the lock screen, or even turn it off entirely.

To do so, go to Settings > Notification Center and under 'Access on Lock Screen' disable the features you want to limit or turn off both 'Today View' and 'Notifications View' to turn off the Notification Center from the lock screen entirely.

How to customise the Today View in iOS 7

You can also customise the Today View to a limited extent, something we hope Apple expands on to allow third-party apps to appear here.

iOS 7 tips and tricks 3

Head to Settings > Notification Center again and scroll down to the Today View section highlighted above. The options are quite limited at present, but unless you really need it we recommend getting rid of the Stocks updates. Not only do few people genuinely need, it drains battery as it has to be kept up-to-date.

To change the order of what appears, select 'Edit' and drag the available items up and down.

How to create your own 'parallax' wallpapers for iPhone and iPad

There are a few ways to make your wallpaper's more interesting in iOS 7. One is a dynamic, animated background: a nice idea, albeit one that uses a little extra juice.

More straightforward are the so-called 'parallax' wallpapers where the background moves in conjunction with the way you tilt your phone/tablet using the motion sensors. This is the default for all 'still' backgrounds, but those not optimised for it can appear a little blurred due to scaling.

To avoid this you can create your own simply by adjusting the resolution of the wallpaper you use. You need to have 200 pixels on each side of the image to create the perfect parallax wallpaper. The correct resolutions are follows:

iPad 2 and iPad mini: 1,424 x 1,424

iPad 3, iPad 4 and iPad Air: 2,448 x 2,448

iPhone 4S: 1,360 x 1,040

iPhone 5: 1,536 x 1,040

The iPhone 4 doesn't support parallax wallpapers.

How to switch and close apps on iPhone and iPad

One of the more noticeable, and very welcome, changes in iOS 7 is the new way to switch to and close apps running in the background.

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Instead of a poky app tray of icons, double clicking the home button reveals scrollable previews of each app open in the background. Just tap to open, or swipe up to close the app. Simples.

If you own an iPad and have Multitasking Gestures enabled (head to the Settings > General) then you can bring this up by swiping up with four fingers.

How to check your shelves are level using the Compass app

The actual Compass app has always been oddity as it's more useful in actual apps than on its own. But Apple has added somethig a little extra for iOS 7: a spirit level. It's not the stuff of legend, but it's bound to come in useful some time, surely?

How to set the default direction type in Apple Maps on iOS 7

Setting aside the merits of Apple's Maps for the moment, one neat new addition is the ability to set the default directions type: driving or walking. To do so, head to Settings > Maps then scrolls down to the 'Preferred Directions' section.

How to enable 'Do Not Track' in Safari on iOS 7

The new version of Safari adds support for the, still voluntary, Do Not Track protocol. Websites that respect Do Not Track won't use cookies and so forth when this is enabled. To do so, go to Settings > Safari and toggle the option under 'Privacy & Security'

How to quickly toggle Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Brightness and more on iOS 7

This is arguably the most requested feature of iOS 7. It's taken Apple long enough to act on it, but Control Center in iOS 7 finally delivers. Moreover, all the above features (and more) are accessible from the lock screen.

iOS 7 tips and tricks

Control Center is accessed by swiping up from the bottom edge of the phone, the opposite from the Notifications Center.

Along bottom edge are four icons: Flashlight, Timer, Calculator and Camera. All but the Flashlight one open the respective apps.

Above these are music controls, and above these is quick access to the screen brightness controls.

Finally there's the five icons at the top starting with Airplane Mode on the left, then Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb and Lock Oritentation.

How to toggle Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and open apps using Siri on iOS 7

And if the above isn't convenient enough, it's now possible to toggle these settings using Siri. So, for example, "Turn on Wi-Fi" will do exactly that. You can open first and third-party apps well using the obvious command, "Open Facebook app" or similar. "Take a photo" opens the camera app, too.

You can even go deeper into the Settings app, so saying "Open Mail settings" will take you to that section of the Settings app.

It's worth experiementing with what you can do, or you can tap the '?' symbol in the bottom left of the Siri screen.

We'll keep updating this guide all the time with new tips and ideas, but please share your own iOS 7 tips and tricks in the comments.


September 11, 2013, 4:57 pm

"Set the default direction type in Apple maps" - like from Lost to Totally Lost ?


September 12, 2013, 2:53 pm

Seriously airplane toggle what about the 3g/lte one 2 days of battery vs 1 by controlling that simple and easy concept.... once again SBSettings/NCSettings required :(


September 12, 2013, 4:29 pm

Anyone else think the swiping between and to close apps is very similar to Windows 8?


September 12, 2013, 6:15 pm

I could care less. I was just hoping they included a close all option.


September 12, 2013, 11:18 pm

I can't get push notifications (the little red dot) on my mail and also some apps. I've accepted the push notifications prompt to new apps and still are not receiving notifications. Please help.


September 13, 2013, 8:04 am

Go to Settings > Notification Center and then scroll down to the app you want and select. When there look for the 'Badge App Icon'. Turn them on and you should be all good.

Ziya Aktas

September 13, 2013, 10:49 am

anything significant actually?....


September 18, 2013, 9:27 am

This is accessible via Siri.


September 18, 2013, 10:54 am

Thanks. Still how often do you see people on trains and such using Siri to perform such tasks :) NCSettings had about 12 different toggles available...looks awesome and works great...Apple should learn a few things from the jailbreak community,

Bruce Jefferies

September 18, 2013, 1:29 pm

You COULDN'T care less.


September 18, 2013, 8:08 pm

Might be handy for people- In Settings > Mobile. Scroll down to the "Use Mobile Data For:" heading. You can turn it off for apps you never use (ie. Stocks).


September 19, 2013, 2:29 am

Still a long and annoying process to get to the Passcode Lock on & off...& turning location services on & off...
You would think instead of putting the lock screen on the swipe up, they would put either one of those above!


September 19, 2013, 3:35 am

I love the new iOS 7 and works just fine. One thing I noticed is that it's not possible to update "Facebook" and "Twitter" status from Notification Center.


September 19, 2013, 6:10 am

do you mean settings>cellular?


September 19, 2013, 8:20 am

Yes, I noticed that, too, though truth be told I never used that feature before anyway.


September 19, 2013, 1:00 pm

My spotlight search seems
To be only searching more recent items and not searching history. For example, I know I got a text and couldn't find the specific text using spotlight, but found the text manually by scrolling up (a lot)

Old guy...SOS

September 19, 2013, 1:17 pm

I can't figure out how to disable my passcode....sorry I'm 70 and retarded with this stuff


September 19, 2013, 1:27 pm

It's possible it's still indexing your content if you've only updated recently.

Stacey Flinn

September 19, 2013, 2:02 pm

How do you get your weather to show up in your notifacation center?


September 19, 2013, 2:42 pm

Same question here


September 19, 2013, 4:51 pm

How do I scale down my wallpaper picture? It keeps zooming in.

Luis Balderas

September 19, 2013, 4:56 pm

Settings -> General -> Passcode Lock -> (Enter passcode) and select "Turn Passcode Off


September 19, 2013, 5:18 pm

Everything I have searched indicates weather should be there but it is not.


September 19, 2013, 6:52 pm

Maybe, if you're in the US


September 19, 2013, 6:52 pm

Refresh the weather app.

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