14 Hidden iPhone Features – You Probably Didn’t Know About

By Kevin Hollington - Staff Writer
5 Min Read

In this article, you’ll be excited to learn that there are several new hidden features that could completely change how you use your iPhone.

Now running the 16th major release of iOS, the iPhone is packed with so many features that mastering them all is no less complicated than learning all the nuances in Windows or MacOS. If you want to get the most out of your iPhone and learn the best tips and tricks for using your phone, here are 14 of the best lesser-known features in Apple’s mobile pocket-sized computer.

If you want to take a closer look at some of the hidden iPhone features, like password-protected photo albums and easily accessible Wi-Fi passwords, here’s what you need to know.

1. Hide apps you don’t use without deleting them

It doesn’t take long to accumulate so many apps that they become hard to manage and organize. If you have apps you rarely use but don’t want to delete them entirely, you can hide them from the Home screen. They’ll still show up in Siri search and you can find them in the App Library (that last page on your iPhone when you keep swiping left). This also comes in handy for hiding built-in apps that Apple doesn’t let you delete.

Just tap and hold the app icon until the pop-up menu appears, then tap Remove App. Instead of tapping Delete App, tap Remove from Home Screen.

2. Automatically close old Safari tabs

If you’re like most people, you may have countless Safari tabs open. But it’s surprisingly easy to tame Safari using this hidden iPhone feature. Start the Settings app and then tap Safari. In the Tabs section, tap Close Tabs. Here you can specify when your iPhone should automatically clean house by closing old tabs — you can choose After One Day, After One Week, After One Month, or Manually, which leaves them open until you close them yourself.

3. Change the iPhone’s default browser

Not a fan of Safari? Perhaps you are a dedicated Chrome or Firefox fan on your desktop computer, and would rather use one of those browsers on your iPhone as well. With this iPhone hidden feature,changing your default browser is easily done. Start the Settings app and then tap Safari. Tap Default Browser App and choose whichever installed browser app you prefer.

4. Lock your camera’s focus and exposure

Digital SLR and mirrorless camera photographers know how easy it is to lock the focus and exposure settings — usually just by pressing a button near the shutter release — so they can reframe and recompose the photo. Thanks to this hidden iPhone feature, you can do the same thing on your phone. Start the Camera app and then tap and hold the screen where you want to lock the focus and exposure. After a moment, you’ll see the AE/AF Lock message at the top of the screen; as you recompose the shot, the focus point and exposure setting will stay fixed until you take the picture. You can drag your finger up or down to manually adjust the exposure. To cancel the lock, tap anywhere on the screen.

5. Set a sleep timer for any media

Want to play music or a show at bedtime so the phone shuts off after a set time? You can easily enable a sleep timer using this hidden iPhone feature. Start the Clock app and tap Timer at the bottom. Set the amount of time you want the music to play and then tap When Timer Ends. In the pop-up menu, choose Stop Playing, then Set. Now you can start your timer and the Music app will stop playing automatically.

6. Reply to a specific message in Messages

Did someone send you a long string of messages, and you want to respond to something from a particular message way up in the conversation? Simply use this hidden iPhone feature. In the Message app, tap and hold the message you want to respond to, then tap Reply. Now you can write a message and it’ll appear in the Message app attached to the original message so it’s clear what you are referring to.

7. Tag contacts in group messages

If you’ve been in a group chat you probably know that it’s sometimes hard to get a specific person’s attention, especially if not everyone is closely following the conversation. If you are group chatting in the Messages app, you can use this hidden iPhone feature to tag a specific contact so they get a notification when you send the message. In the Messages app, open a group message and type the @ symbol followed by someone in the chat’s name, like @dave. When you press Space or add punctuation, the @ symbol will disappear and you’ll see a subtle animation effect on the name. When you send the message, that person will get a notification.

8. View and share saved Wi-Fi passwords

In Settings, go to Wi-Fi and tap the tiny information icon to the right of the network you want the password for. To view the network password, tap the Password section and then use Face ID or enter your passcode to view it. You can then tap Copy to copy the password into your clipboard and share it.

9. Use the Space bar as a mouse

It can be infuriatingly difficult to position the cursor at a specific place on the screen when correcting a typo or moving the cursor somewhere else in a document. Thankfully, Apple has given you a sort-of-secret way to easily move the cursor as if your phone had a built-in mouse or touchpad. Simply tap and hold the keyboard’s Space bar. After a moment, the keyboard will turn blank. Now the entire keyboard area is a large touchpad — just move your finger around to reposition the cursor.

10. Compress the keyboard for one-handed typing

The iPhone keyboard has more secrets hiding in plain sight. If you frequently type one-handed, you can compress the keyboard and slide it to the left or right, depending upon which hand you prefer to type with. To do this, tap and hold the Globe or emoji icon at the bottom left until the pop-up menu appears. In the menu, tap the right- or left-justified keyboard icon. To cancel the compressed keyboard and go back to the ordinary one, tap the arrow to the left or right of the keyboard.

11. Find and remove duplicate photos and videos

Maybe you’ve saved the same photo multiple times or downloaded a video more than once, resulting in duplicates littering up your photo album. It may not be a problem if you’ve got storage to spare, but you’re running out of space, you can now remove every single duplicate easily with this hidden iPhone feature.

In Photos > Albums, you should see a new Duplicates album under Utilities. Apple scans through all of your photos and shows you any photo or video you’ve saved more than once in that album. From there, you can either delete any duplicates, or simply press Merge, which will keep the photo with the highest quality (and relevant data) and then move the others to the trash.

12. Bring haptic feedback to your keyboard

With this hidden iPhone feature, you can enable a slight vibration for every single key you type in. Go to Settings > Sounds & Haptics > Keyboard Feedback and toggle on Haptic. The sound option you see is the loud and annoying clacking sound you might hear when you type in something and your phone isn’t on silent mode, so you can keep that disabled.

13. Hidden and Recently Deleted albums are now password protected

Thanks to this hidden iPhone feature, you can now lock the Hidden album. You don’t actually need to do anything to toggle this feature on. If you want to check it out, launch the Photos app and go to the Albums tab at the bottom of the screen. If you scroll down, you’ll see a tiny lock next to the Hidden and Recently Deleted albums. To view the contents of those albums, you’ll need to use Face ID or your passcode.

14. Pin your favorite tabs in Safari

Safari caps your open tabs at 500, and if you’re nearing that limit, it might be pretty darn hard to find the exact tab you’re looking for. You could scroll endlessly, but with this hidden iPhone feature, you can easily find the exact tab you’re looking for.

In Safari, if you press down on an open tab, you will see an option to hit Pin Tab. This will move that tab to the top of Safari, where it will exist as a tiny tab preview, permanently pinned there, which you can then tap to view.

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By Kevin Hollington Staff Writer
Kevin Hollington is a seasoned tech journalist based in Los Angeles with a penchant for all things Apple. He started writing about Apple products in 2007 and it’s been a love affair ever since. He has spent over a decade testing and writing about iPhones, iPads, Macs, and other Apple products. In his spare time, he likes nothing more than catching up with the latest news and sports podcasts on the beach.
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