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48 incredible iOS 8 iPad and iPhone tips & tricks

iPhone 5S Today Screen

Do things more quickly, more efficiently and easier with our tricks


Safari and web browsing

Web browsing is one of the biggest uses of tablets, so it’s no wonder that this is one area where there are lot of tips and tricks. We’re sticking with Safari, which is the default browser for iOS. Here all of our tips work on every platform.

Access app passwords in Safari

As part of its new Continuity features Apple now gathers passwords from throughout iOS 8 and makes them accessible in Safari. To check that the feature is turned on go to Settings, Safari, Passwords & Autofill. Here you will see a list of accounts which let Safari remember passwords. The feature has to be enabled by app developers, so you might not see all your app passwords. If the app is listed then when you login to the same account in Safari your username and password will be entered automatically.

Ditch Google and use a different search engine

Fed up with Google knowing your deepest, darkest secrets? While it is easy enough to avoid using Google search on your computer, avoiding its all-seeing eye on phones and tablets is trickier. In iOS 8 you can now set your default search engine to Yahoo, Bing or even DuckDuckGo.

Unlike other search engines DuckDuckGo doesn’t profit from its users and everyone sees the same search results for any given search term. Its slogan, ‘the search engine that doesn’t track you’, gives peace of mind and means that you stay a little bit more anonymous online when searching in iOS 8.

DuckDuckGo in iOS 8

Open in new page

If you’re reading a page and come across a link that you’d like to look at, but you don’t want to get taken away from the current content, you can open the link in a new tab and come back to it later. Just tap and hold the link and select Open in New Page. If you want to save it for offline reading, click Add to Reading List. To share the link, say via email, select Copy: you can then paste the link wherever you like it.

iPad Safari open in new window

Auto-complete domain names

When you’re typing in a web address into Safari, there’s no need to enter top-level domain (.com,, and so). When you get to the end, tap and hold the full-stop and you can select the common top-level domains from a handy list. It includes pretty much every one that you’re likely to need: .net, .eu, .uk, .edu, .ie,, .com and .org.

iPad Safari domain name auto-complete

Reader Mode

Sometimes web layouts don’t work very well on your phone or tablet, but with Reader Mode you can cut it down, so you can just view the text. This feature isn’t supported by all websites, and not all pages on websites, so you can’t use this trick everywhere; however, the vast majority of sites we visit do work with this mode. When you browse to an article look in the browser’s address bar for three horizontal lines stacked above each other. Tap this and you’ll move into a clean, text-only, reading mode.

iPhone Safari reading mode

Find on page

If you’ve ever found a website through a search, but then can’t find the search term on the page, iOS’ find-on-page feature will save you. Just tap the address bar and enter what you want to search for. Now scroll down the list until you see ‘On this page’. This will tell you how many matches there are on the site. Tap this and your search term will be highlighted on the page. Use the arrows at the bottom of Safari to navigate through all matches.

Secure passwords

If you’ve got to log on to yet another website and need a new password, why not let Siri generate it for you? Get Siri up and say, “Wolfram Alpha password.” Siri will go away and use the Wolfram Alpha site to generate a secure and random password for you, with no hassle. As well as giving you the password, the results tell you how long the password would take to break and how many possible combinations of password there are.

iPad Wolfram Alpha password

Email and messages

We all get a lot of email and text messages on our phones and tablets, but in their basic form the apps are rather simplistic. Fortunately, there are a few hidden little gems that make them easier to use, and can show you more information than you thought was available.

Unread email

Unread email seems to be one of the biggest things missing from the iOS email client. It will tell you how many unread emails you have, but there doesn’t appear to be a filter to view just those. Fortunately, there is, although it’s a little hidden. To get to it, go to Email and go to the view that shows you all of your accounts. Tap Edit and put a tick in the Unread box. Tap Done and now you can view just your unread email. Note that this feature pulls in all unread email from all accounts, and you can’t view mail for just one account.

iPad email unread messages

Preview more of an email

In its default view, the email client only shows you two lines of an email, which may not be enough, and may force you to open the message to find out what it’s about. Fortunately, you can change this easily. Tap Settings, Mail, Contacts, Calendars and tap Preview. Select how many lines you want to see, then click the back Mail button to apply the settings. You can even select no lines, if you’d rather just fit more emails on screen at once.

iPad email preview number of lines

View message time

Have you noticed how the Messaging app doesn’t always show you the date and time a message or iMessage was received? Annoying isn’t it. However, the data is there, but it’s just hidden. Just drag the messages to the left and the times appear on the right-hand side. Quite why Apple didn’t make this vital bit of information is beyond us, but at least you can get to it easily.



Notes is a great app for putting your thoughts and lists down, and then sharing them via iCloud to your other iOS and OS X devices. Here, we’re listing all of the top tips for that app.

Add photos to Notes

You can now include photos when making notes, to-do lists and reminders in Apple’s iOS 8 Notes app. Open the Notes app and start typing to create a note. When you want to add a photo long press on the screen and tap ‘Insert Photo’. You can then chose and scale the photo you want to add and put it into your note. This is especially handy if you need to include a photo of some details you’ve scribbled down or an article from a paper or magazine. It’ll also save you from having to type out notes if all you need to remind yourself is a picture.

Insert photos in Notes on iOS 8


If you’re anything like us you’ll use your camera a lot on your both your tablet and iPhone. While all of the controls are pretty much up-front, thanks to the great app, there are some secrets there. Some tips depend on the type of device you have, and there are even varients between iPhone versions, as well as between iPhone and iPad. We’ve got an article on how to shoot better video on your iPad and iPhone, but that’s focussed on quality; here, we’re looking at ease of use and hidden features.

Take a selfie on a timer

A simple addition but a welcome one for all good narcissists – there’s now a timer for when you take selfies. Rather than have to awkwardly jab at the phone with your thumb or finger while holding it at arm’s length you can set a timer to take the picture in either three or ten seconds. Open the iOS 8 Camera app, tap the clock icon in the menu and select either 3s or 10s and tap the shutter. A countdown will appear so you know exactly when the photo will be taken. No more goofy selfies.

Selfie timer in iOS 8

Recover deleted photos

Privacy and security concerns around iCloud have raised the issue of just how safe photos taken on an iPhone or iPad can ever be, but a new feature in iOS 8 does at least give you control of photos you delete. When you delete a photo from the Photos app it will go into the Recently Deleted album. Open this album and each image will show how many days it has until it is permanently deleted. Once it goes from there it is technically gone forever. If you want to recover any photos before they’re deleted just select them and tap on Recover.

Recover deleted photos in iOS 8

Hide embarrasing or secret photos

We’ve all done it – handed our iPhone or iPad to a friend to let them flick through our holiday pictures only for them to stumble upon something we’d rather they didn’t see. Whatever your reasons are for wanting to keep some photos more private, there’s no an option to do just that in iOS 8. Long press the photo you’ll see two options – Copy and Hide. Tap Hide and the photo will go dark confirming it has been hidden. All hidden photos are stored, somewhat uninventively, in a seperate album labelled Hidden. You can unhide photos too, long press again and select Unhide and they’ll be moved back to Moments, Collections and Years and out of the Hidden album.

Hide photos in iOS 8

Take photos with a headphone remote

Just as you can use the volume up or down buttons on your phone and tablet to take photos, you can do the same when you’ve got a pair of headphones plugged in with a remote. This can be handy for taking a selfie, or if you have your phone or tablet carefully balanced and need a remote shutter. In video mode the buttons also start and stop recording.

Soundmagic E10

iPhone only: Change panorma direction

The panorama mode on the iPhone (not currently available for the iPad) is brilliant for taking a really wide shot, but the default makes you turn left to right. If you’d rather go the other way, you can. Just tap the arrow before you start and it will zip to the other side of the screen, letting you take your image the way you want to. Tap again to switch things back to the original direction.

iPhone Panorama change direction

Phone and FaceTime

We shouldn’t forget that one of the main reasons for having an iPhone is to make and receive calls. After all, it’s still a phone first and foremost. As handsets have evolved over time, so have the features of the Phone app. Let’s not forget the iPad, which has FaceTime built-in, letting make and receive calls from other Apple users. Here are our favourite tips.

Block callers

If you’re getting phone calls from someone that you don’t want to talk to, why not just block them? To do this, you have to have the phone number (or email address for FaceTime) of the caller associated with a contact, so you may need to create a fresh address book entry.

Once you’ve done this go to Settings, Phone and then tap Blocked. Tap Add New…, select the nuisance caller rom the list and you’re done. This will create one entry per phone number you’ve got stored, plus it adds email addresses to block iMessages and Facetime calls. To remove an entry swipe from right to left on it and tap Unlock. There’s a similar setting for iPad users to prevent iMessages and FaceTime calls coming through. It’s the same as above, only in Settings tap the Facetime option instead.

iPhone Block Callers

iPad and iPhone Do Not Disturb

Do Not Disturb (DND) is one of our favourite features. It stops your phone or tablet from making any noises if people call, FaceTime or message you. While a silent mode can do that, Do Not Disturb is a little more advanced. Go to Settings, Do Not Disturb to configure it.

Here you can tap Allow Calls From, and choose if you want to allow Everyone, No One, Favourites or a specific group of Contacts. We use Favourites. To add someone to Favourites go to Contacts, search for their name, tap to open the contact and select Add to Favourites.

You can turn DND on manually by swiping up from the bottom of the screen and tapping the moon icon. You can also set a schedule in Settings. Finally, the default action for DND is to turn on the ringer if someone calls twice within three minutes, as it assumes that this is an emergency. It’s probably worth leaving this option alone, but you can disable it if you really don’t want anything coming through.

iPad Do Not Disturb settings

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