I recently restored my iPhone as new when installing iOS 9. When you go that route, it’s the software equivalent of a new iPhone. Everything goes back to the point when you first cracked open the plastic on your phone. In all honesty, this was a mistake. My intention was to backup to iTunes and restore my backup once I had upgraded to iOS 9. As someone who preaches backing up, I wasn’t setting a great example. Restoring an iPhone as new isn’t such a bad idea. It’s a fresh start and can clean out some of the goblins that can result in spotty performance and less than optimal battery life. It’s been a while since I had a factory fresh iOS install. I went through the standard things you do after getting a new phone. I paired it with my car’s Bluetooth connected, setup my call favorites, added my credit card to Apple Pay, entered passwords for all of my social media accounts and did a bit of app organization. I quickly noticed that while these were helpful, there were some changes I made in previous installs that helped personalize my iPhone in a way that can really impact how I use my iPhone. They all play a key role in taking a good experience and making it great. If you’ve got a new iPhone, restoring as new or trying to optimize your existing phone, here are 11 iPhone settings you should change right now.
- Swipe to delete action in Mail
- Setup App Store to use Touch ID
- Add multiple fingerprints for Touch ID convenience
- Limit groups to frequently called
- Clean out the today view
- Add my favorite notification widgets
- Messages: Turn off Repeat Alerts
- Schedule Do Not Disturb
- Turn off unwanted Notifications
- Customize Spotlight Search
- Share My Location: Find My Friends, Messages
1. Swipe to delete action in Mail
I get a ton of email, so it’s important that I stay on top of it. My iPhone plays a vital role in the process, as the primary email triage. I used multiple email accounts, including an iCloud (which I still refer to as my dot Mac) and Gmail. By default, iCloud email accounts let you swipe to Trash. Chances are that’s one of your primary actions when cleaning up your email.
Here’s how to setup the swipe to trash for your Gmail or other accounts.
- Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars
- Tap on the Account. In this example, we’re using Gmail.
- Tap on your account
- Tap on Advanced
- Under the heading “Move Discarded Messages Into:”, change Archive Mailbox to Deleted Mailbox
- Tap Account > Done
Now go back to the Mail app and enter your Gmail inbox. A long swipe from right to left will reveal an option to Trash, rather than archive.
2. Setup App Store to use Touch ID
If you followed my previous tip, then you’ll want to make the most of Touch ID. When you want to download an app, the App Store can be a killjoy. While most appreciate securing their accounts with a passcode, it can be a hassle. Touch ID fixes that problem. All the security, plus all the convenience of getting apps purchased quickly.
- Open Settings and Tap on Touch ID & Passcode
- Enter your four-digit passcode
- Toggle iTunes & App Store to on
- You’ll be prompted to enter your Apple ID passcode associated with your iTunes account
Now when you purchase an app from the App Store or movie, music or books for the iTunes Store, all you need is to verify using Touch ID.
3. Add multiple fingerprints for Touch ID convenience
If you have a newer iPhone, you’re lucky enough to have Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner. If you scanned only your thumbprint, you’re missing out. There’s added convenience when you have multiple fingers set-up. Ideally, you’ll want both index fingers and thumbs.
- Settings > Touch ID & Passcode
- Under Fingerprints, select Add a Fingerprint
- When completed, tap on the fingerprint you just created. Enter the proper name. For example, left thumb, right thumb, etc. This way, if you start to experience problems with the scan, you’ll know which fingerprint needs to be setup again.
4. Limit groups to frequently called
Have you accumulated a large number of contacts over the years? When you need to find a contact, you can slide your finger up or down to quickly move from A-Z. The trouble is it’s not terribly efficient when you have a lot of contacts. Think about who you call regularly. For me, it’s friends, family and a few local restaurants. Using Contacts on my Mac, I’ve got the following lists: Family, Christmas Card List and Restaurant. What we want to accomplish is to basically hide contacts that we don’t want see in the list.
- On your iPhone, open the Phone app
- Tap on the Groups link
- Uncheck boxes for those you don’t want to see in your contacts list.
The result of this quick change immediately pairs down your contact list in the phone app. It should result in less scrolling and make it easier to find the contacts you call most. But what about the rest of your contacts? They are still there and accessible. The quickest way is to use Spotlight search. It will search all of your contacts.
5. Clean out the today view
The Notification Center and namely, the Today screen is extremely useful. By default, it’s filled with widgets that you might be using. Ask yourself, how often do I use these widgets to check stocks, calendar events, traffic conditions, today/tomorrow summary and reminders.
Here’s how to remove them:
- Unlock your iPhone and swipe down from any screen to access your widgets
- Tap on the Edit button
- To remove a widget, tap on the red circle with the minus sign. Repeat this process for every widget you’d like to remove.
By cleaning out the Today screen, it’ll enable you to focus on content and widgets that matter most to you.
6. Add my favorite notification widgets
Naturally, in the previous tip I suggested removing all of those unwanted widgets. Now it’s time to selectively add widgets that will work for you. Think about how you use your iPhone and what control or information is helpful with a quick swipe down. Not all apps have widgets. If you’re in need of a few, we’ve listed the best iOS 9 widgets. My personal favorite is the Philips Hue widget. This allows me to set lighting scenes or turn off my lights. This has become my go-to lighting controller, next to my Apple Watch.
7. Messages: Turn off Repeat Alerts
Ding, a new message! My eyes light up and I immediately glance at my iPhone. A few seconds later, a second ding. Hey, I must have a new message, I’m popular! No, it’s just the default setting that sends a repeat message alert. Let’s change this setting, so that a message tone will sound once for each new message.
- Open Settings and tap on Notifications
- Tap on Messages
- Scroll down and where it says Repeat Alerts, change to ‘Never’
8. Schedule Do Not Disturb
Do Not Disturb one of the absolute gems hidden in iOS. This allows you to set a window where your phone will only ring if the call is from a favorite caller or if they call more than once within a 3 minute timeframe. This should cover most emergency situations.
To enable Do Not Disturb, follow these easy steps:
- Navigate to Settings
- Scroll down and tap on Do Not Disturb
- Toggle the Scheduled option.
- Set the timeframe where you’d like to silence calls
If someone is calling you during your prescribed hours, chances are that it is important or heck, maybe it’s a wrong number. If someone is calling from your family or friends, it probably falls in the important call designation. The default setting is to Allow Calls From > Everyone. If you tap on that row, you can select a group from your Contacts or your Favorites.
9. Turn off unwanted Notifications
When GameCenter was first introduced, I signed up. I don’t actively seek out friends on GameCenter. It seems others do and I’ll get the random alert that someone wants to be my friend in GameCenter. I’m also getting alerts regarding iOS tips. If you’re a novice, those might not be that terrible. The suggestion here is to review the current state of your notifications. By default, Apple conveniently turns these on for all of their apps. As a reminder, there are various ways you can customize your notification alerts. So if you still want some level of notification, you can customize notifications to your heart’s content.
To turn off alerts:
- Open Settings and tap on Notifications
- Under Include, select the app that you’d like to remove
- Toggle Allow Notifications to Off
All of the options will go dark. Should you ever want to add them back, just scroll down to ‘Do Not Include’ and reverse the process. Turning off unwanted alerts can certainly have a positive effect on the number of interruptions during your day. If you are an Apple Watch owner, your experience should also improve. Less is more, people.
10. Customize Spotlight Search
I use the hell out of search on my iPhone. Now that iOS 9 offers a new and improved search with Siri suggestions, it should prove to be even more useful. What’s not useful are the unwanted results within search. Do I really need to be searching for audiobooks or podcasts? I enjoy podcasts, but I know what I like and where to find them. Like most of you, I want search to be focused on finding specific content. I personally use Spotlight Search for Applications, Spotlight Suggestions and Contacts. That’s it, game over. This provides me with a highly focused search results page.
Here’s how to customize Spotlight Search to your liking:
- Open Settings and tap on General
- Tap on Spotlight Search
- Tap on each category to remove a checkmark and remove from search results
Think of this as a thinning out of your search results and remove the clutter.
11. Share My Location: Find My Friends, Messages
There are a number of reasons why you might want to share your location and Apple offers two fantastic options. My wife and I both enable location sharing. To me, it provides a sense of security, knowing that we can track each others iPhones. Then there are instances where we both might be out with our kids and need to meet at a soccer field. First step is enabling location sharing.
- Open Settings and tap on Privacy
- Tap on Location Services
- Tap on Share My Location and toggle to on
How to share your location using iMessage
- Open Settings > iCloud > Advanced > Share My Location.
- Open the Messages app and find the contact for which you’d like to share your every move (more on that in a bit) and tap on Details at the top right. If they are sharing their location, you’ll see a map.
- Under Location, you select the second option ‘Share My Location‘.
Out of the box, a new iPhone is by far, the best mobile platform. More often than not, many settings are left untouched. When you take the time to dig deeper in annals of the various settings options, you’ll find that make just a few changes can completely transform your iOS experience from good to great. When I restore as new or upgrade, I make numerous changes to get my phone right where I want it. These are the most important changes I make to each and every new iPhone. Make the changes today and reap the benefits.