Apple iPhone 13 mini

Todd Hasselton | CNBC

You use your iPhone every day, but maybe you’re only scratching the surface of what you can do with it.

For example, the iPhone has many “hidden” menus that help you do things like search apps, return to the last screen, find widgets that show snapshots of specific information, or quickly turn Wi-Fi off and on.

They are hidden because they require certain gestures from you that are not necessarily easy to guess. But once you know where they are, they are very useful.

Apple adds new features to the iPhone every year. On Wednesday, the company announced a fall event on September 7, which will almost certainly focus on the iPhone 14. We may also find out when the next iOS 16 update will be released to everyone. And it will bring even more features.

Here’s a quick overview to get you going.

How to perform quick actions

Many iPhone apps have hidden menus called quick actions. All you have to do is hold down the app icon for which you want to see the shortcut menu.

Apps that come preinstalled on your iPhone, such as Camera, Mail, Notes, Settings, Messages, and Phone, have these menus. Accessing them can help you quickly perform actions in apps. Each quick action menu has functions that make sense for that program. All you have to do is simply press and hold the icon on the home screen.

For example, holding down the Notes icon brings up a quick action menu that gives you shortcuts to draft a new note, create a new checklist, insert a new photo, or scan a document. Here’s what it looks like:

Quick action menu for the Notes app on iPhone 13 Pro.

Sophia Peet

When you hold down the Phone app icon, a quick action menu appears, giving you the option to view your last voicemail, create a new contact, find a contact, or view your last call. Here’s what the phone’s Quick Actions menu looks like:

Quick Actions menu for the Phone app on iPhone 13 Pro.

Sophia Peet

How to get to the top of the iPhone screen without dropping the phone

If you have small hands like mine, you may have noticed that it is difficult to access all the functions of your iPhone with one hand. You can quickly access the icons at the top of the phone without stretching your fingers with an option called Accessibility. This lowers the screen so you don’t have to fumble with two hands. Reachability is disabled by default, so do this to enable it:

  • Open Settings.
  • Click Accessibility.
  • Select touch.
  • Turn on the Accessibility option.

Now that it’s on, use it by swiping down from the bottom of the screen. The key word here is fast. Here’s what the screen will look like after enabling Reachability.

iPhone 13 Pro when Reachability is enabled.

Sophia Peet

I find myself using Reachability when I’m cooking with one hand and trying to use the iPhone with the other, and I can’t get my thumb to reach the top of the screen.

How to use the Control Center

iOS 11 Control Center

Nina Raja | CNBC

You probably already know how to swipe down from top middle of the home screen. This is what causes the latest notifications.

But if you’re switching from an iPhone with a Home button, you might not know that you can also swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen (or up from the bottom if your iPhone has a Home button.) Control Center will open , which gives you quick access items to common functions. You can use it to turn on the flashlight, to recognize a song with Shazam, control smart lights, turn Wi-Fi or Bluetooth on/off, run a calculator, and more. But you have to customize it so that it has the right items.

To manage what appears in Control Center, do the following:

  • Open Settings.
  • Click Control Center.
  • Scroll down and tap the green button next to any options you want to see when you swipe from the top-right corner of the screen.

How to use iPhone widgets

Chips on iPhone

Todd Hasselton | CNBC

You can place small mini-programs, called widgets, on your home screen. But there’s also a whole hidden section dedicated to widgets.

It’s on the left of your home screen, so you can access it by swiping right across the screen. You can customize it with any app that has widgets. I have a photo gallery and an icon that shows the battery life of my iPhone and Apple Watch. I also use it to quickly view my Apple Fitness rings, CNBC Trending news, and stock quotes.

There are two ways to get widgets on this screen. For Apple’s built-in widgets and a few custom-made ones, do the following:

  • Swipe right on the home screen until you see a widget panel with a search bar at the top.
  • Scroll down and click the oval “Edit” button at the bottom.
  • Click the + button in the upper left corner.
  • Select the widget you want to add.
  • Click Add Widget.

If you don’t see the widget you want to add, you may need to take an extra step. In this case:

  • After you click Edit, scroll to the bottom of the screen again and select Customize.
  • There, you’ll see widgets for other apps you’ve installed on your iPhone. Click the green + button to add them.

How to search everything on your iPhone at once

Search Apple iOS 15 Spotlight

an apple

You can search apps, the web, maps, dictionaries, files, and more with iPhone’s universal search menu.

You can invoke this by swiping down from the middle of the home screen. You’ll also see Siri suggestions for the most common actions.

(Reminder: swiping from the middle of the top corner will open notifications, and swiping from the top right corner will open Control Center.)

How to quickly switch programs

Switch apps on your iPhone

Todd Hasselton | CNBC

You can quickly switch apps or close them by swiping up from the bottom edge of the screen and holding until you feel a slight vibration. Swipe right to move through apps. Tap an app to switch to it, or swipe up to close it.

Here’s a little bonus trick: Did you know you can switch between apps just by swiping right or left across the bottom of the screen? Try it! Open the app and swipe right on the bottom. The last program you opened will open. Swipe left to go back, or keep swiping right to move between apps

Here’s a second bonus: You can go back to the last screen in an app, such as the previous web page, by swiping to the right from the edge of the screen. The best way to try this is to open a website, go to another site, and swipe right across the screen. You will be back where you started. If you swipe left from the right side of the phone, you’ll go forward again.

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