You can do a lot with the iPhone—surf the Web, send e-mail, listen to music, and (yes) make phone calls—with just a touch of a virtual button. But dig a little deeper, and you can do even more. Now that we’ve had some time to live with the iPhone, we’ve found a few tricks that help us get the most out of it.
Get a Bigger Keyboard As with any other iPhone function requiring data entry, tapping on Safari’s address bar summons an on-screen keyboard. If you rotate the iPhone horizontally before tapping on the address bar, the Safari window will switch to horizontal mode; then, when you tap on the address bar, the on-screen keyboard will also appear horizontally. More important, it will also be much larger than the standard, vertical keyboard, making data entry a little easier. Unfortunately, Safari is currently the only iPhone application in which this horizontal keyboard appears. (If you want to use the keyboard in its standard vertical orientation, summon it before rotating your iPhone.)
Create a Home Page When you’re using the regular version of Safari that runs on your Mac (or Windows-based PC), setting a particular site as your home page is as simple as going to the General tab in System Preferences and typing in a URL. You can’t do that on the iPhone, but you can use this workaround: Add your would-be home page to your bookmarks list, and then move it to the top of the list. Yes, it requires an extra tap—first on the bookmarks icon and then on the bookmark itself—but it will get you to your favorite Web page with a minimum of fuss.
Share URLs If you want to send a friend the URL of a Web page you’re viewing, tap on the address bar, and then tap on Share. A new e-mail message, containing the URL, will open in Mail; just choose one or more recipients, add your comments, and tap on Send.
Scroll in Boxes on a Web Page If you encounter a scrolling box or list while surfing on your iPhone in Safari— say you’re responding to a post at the Macworld.com forums—and you try to scroll with your finger, you’ll find that the entire page scrolls, instead of just the box. The trick is to scroll such areas with two fingers.
Make a Call from Safari If you find a phone number in Safari that you’d like to call—perhaps the phone number of a restaurant where you’d like to make reservations—you needn’t jump to the phone component. Just tap on the number, and the iPhone will dial it for you. (This also works with phone numbers and URLs embedded in e-mails and SMS chats; tapping on either one will place a call or open a Web page, respectively.)
Investigate Links In Safari, if you hold your fingertip down on a link instead of tapping, you’ll summon an information balloon that displays the underlying URL. The same thing happens in Mail when you hold on a link. Now when those “account update” e-mails arrive, you can press and hold on the link to find out if you’re really going to be taken to the site the e-mail indicates it’ll take you to.
Go Straight to the Top When viewing a long Web page, if you want to get back to the top, or access Safari’s address field, you don’t have to scroll all the way up; instead, just tap on the gray status bar at the top of the iPhone’s screen. You’ll be immediately transported to the top of the current Web page.
Avoid Mail Confusion Don’t give two e-mail accounts the same name, because Mail will get confused and copy the settings from one account to the other. And you can’t fix the situation by simply renaming one account; you’ll need to delete one of the accounts and then re-create it.
Mark Read Messages as Unread There doesn’t appear to be any way to mark read messages as unread on the iPhone—but there is. While viewing a message, tap on Details, which reveals a Mark As Unread option; tap on it, and the next time you view your inbox, the message will display a blue dot, which indicates that the message has not been read.
Recover “Lost” E-mails If you try to send an e-mail but the iPhone can’t get network access, you might think your message has disappeared completely. But don’t worry: a temporary Outgoing folder is created to hold the message. You can access this folder from the main screen of the sending account; the folder will disappear once network access is available and the message is sent.
Create E-mail Folders Well, actually, you can’t create e-mail folders on the iPhone. But what you can do with an IMAP e-mail account is create folders on the IMAP server—for example, if you have a .Mac account, using the .Mac Web-mail interface. Those folders will then appear on the iPhone, and their contents will—eventually—be synced between the iPhone and the server.
Save E-mail Drafts If you want to save a message you’re working on so you can come back to it later, tap on Cancel. Instead of deleting the message immediately, Mail pops up a dialog box with the options Save, Don’t Save, or Cancel. Tap on Save and the message will be placed in your Drafts folder. (If your account doesn’t currently have a Drafts folder, Mail will create one.) Don’t be alarmed if the message doesn’t appear in Drafts immediately, however; it sometimes takes several minutes for the draft message to show up.
Re-create iPod Audio Controls If you listen to audiobooks on an iPod, you probably know that, since the fourth-generation iPod’s release, you’ve had the option to make the playback speed faster or slower, as you prefer. The iPhone shares that feature. Just tap on the Settings button and then on the iPod option; tap on the Audiobook Speed entry and, in the resulting screen, choose Slower, Normal, or Faster. Other iPod features also appear on the iPhone: You can use the Settings screen to turn on Sound Check (to make volume more consistent from one track to another) and to select any of 22 included equalization presets.
Change iPod Icons By default, the buttons at the bottom of the iPod screen are Playlists, Artists, Songs, Videos, and More. You can change those first four in the same way as you would the commands that appear on an iPod’s main screen. Simply tap on the More icon, and then tap on the Edit button in the upper left corner of the resulting screen. A Configure screen will appear with icons for Albums, Podcasts, Audiobooks, Genres, Composers, Compilations, Playlists, Artists, Songs, and Videos. To substitute one of these icons for one that appears at the bottom of the iPod screen, just tap and hold on the icon you prefer and drag it over the icon you want to replace. Tap on Done when you’re finished.
Delete Already-Viewed Videos Even 8GB can feel confining when it comes to storing videos; a single full-length movie can take up 1GB of storage. To ease the storage crunch, the iPhone offers to delete videos after you’ve finished watching them. Just tap on the Delete button, and Pirates of the Caribbean will disappear from your iPhone, freeing up more space.
Store Files One benefit of the iPod is that it can store files as well as play music. An out-of-the-box iPhone can’t—unless you have the help of a Mac and a $10 utility. The program, Ecamm Network’s
iPhoneDrive, lets you view files on your iPhone in a Finder-like interface. You can copy files to and from your iPhone via drag and drop, some simple buttons, or the program’s File menu.
Choose How You Listen to Voice Mail If you have a Bluetooth headset, incoming calls get routed there automatically. But that doesn’t happen when you call up Visual Voicemail. How-ever, an Audio button on the Visual Voicemail screen lets you specify how you listen to your message: via a handset, the built-in speaker, or a Bluetooth headset.
Scroll Through Contacts Another Way Everyone knows that you can scroll through the list of contacts on your iPhone two ways—either flick your finger on the list to scroll up or down, or tap on one of the letters in the alphabet running down the right side of the screen to jump to contacts beginning with that letter. But there is a third way: hold your finger on the alphabetical list, and then slide up and down—you’ll be able to scroll through your contacts in a more controlled manner than by flicking your finger.
Use Favorites and Recents for More Than Calls Favorites and Recents are part of the iPhone’s main Phone screen; Favorites is the iPhone’s version of frequently called numbers, and Recents is a list of the numbers of people you’ve called recently and calls you’ve missed. You can tap on any number in these lists to place a call quickly. But this is not just a phone feature: Assuming that a number or name in Favorites or Recents belongs to a mobile phone, you can also send it an SMS message. Just tap on the right angle bracket (>) icon next to the contact name or number, and then tap on the Text Message button at the bottom of the contact listing.
Get Driving Directions Fast One of the primary uses for the iPhone’s Maps application is to get driving directions. Both the starting and destination fields offer a Bookmarks icon, so you can quickly use a bookmark, a recent location, or a contact when searching for directions. The first thing you should do in Maps is find your own address and bookmark it—this will make finding directions to and from locations much easier.
Sync Notes One of the major limitations of the iPhone’s Notes application is that you can’t sync it with data from any program on your Mac. There’s a workaround, however. Each contact has a notes field. So you can create a fake contact and paste any info you like in the notes field for that contact in Address Book. One sync later, all that information will be at your fingertips.
Reboot Your Phone Pretend for a moment that your iPhone suddenly stops responding. Pushing the Home button does nothing. Pressing the sleep/wake button is equally ineffective. What do you do? Apple’s first reset tip is to press and hold the Home button for about six seconds to quit any application that might have locked up your iPhone. But if that doesn’t work, try pressing and holding both the Home and sleep/wake buttons; after about ten seconds the Apple logo will appear. (This reboot trick takes a little bit longer than the iPod equivalent—holding down the Select and Menu buttons usually restarts your music player after just four seconds.)
[ Macworld Senior Editors Christopher Breen, Dan Frakes, and Jonathan Seff; Macworld.com Executive Editor Philip Michaels; and Macworld.com News Director Jim Dalrymple contributed to this article. ]
Horizontal Keyboard: Rotate the iPhone and tap on the address bar, and you’ll get a wider keyboard.
File Storage: With the help of iPhoneDrive, you can use the iPhone to store and transfer files.