The iPhone has many hidden (or, at least, not so obvious) shortcuts that can make the iPhone much easier and faster to use. For example, as noted in my last post, the latest iPhone software update adds the feature to press the Home button to return to the first page of your Home screen. Here are some other shortcuts that I use all the time. [UPDATE 12/12/08: Click here for a more recent post with even more shortcuts.]
- Comma shortcut. When you are typing and want to quickly add a comma, press and hold the 123 button and then without lifting your finger, slide your finger over to the comma and then release. After doing so you will have a comma and will be back in the letter mode and can keep typing your sentence. You can also use this trick to get a period, although if you are at the end of a sentence the faster way to get a period is to tap the space bar twice. In fact, the hold 123 and slide method can be used for any symbol, such as the question mark or the parenthesis, although it is a little easier for those keys closer to the 123 key.
- Scroll to top. In Safari and many other applications, you can very quickly scroll back up to the top of the screen by taping on the status bar at the top of the screen (where the time is displayed). This is useful not only because you can start reading the top of a page, but also because many applications put useful fields at the top of the page, such as the address and search field in Safari or the search field in Contacts.
- Domain resolution. When you are typing an address in Safari, you don't need to type the "www." part or the ".com" part. For example, if you go to the URL field and just type iphonejd Safari will automatically change it to www.iphonejd.com and take you to this website.
- Reset. If something seems to be wrong with your iPhone, you can reset it to start fresh. To do so, hold down both the Home button and the sleep/wake button (the one at the top) for about 10 seconds. You can also force quit just a specific application that you are using by holding down the Home button for about 6 seconds or so.
- Hold on. When you are using the keyboard, you can often hold down a key for a few seconds to see more options. For example, when you are in Safari and typing a URL, the .com button at the bottom allows you to easily enter .com, but if you hold down the .com button for about two seconds you will see other options pop up (.org, .edu, .net, etc.). Or if you are typing an e-mail and you want to add an accent to a letter you can just hold down the letter for two seconds. Hold down the E key for a few seconds and you can enter an é. If you are typing an e-mail address in the TO field of an e-mail, you can hold down the period for two seconds to see a pop up menu that lets you quickly add .com, .org, .net, .edu, etc.
- Swipe to delete. The fastest way to delete a single e-mail when you are looking at a list of e-mails is to swipe your finger from left to right across the e-mail, as if you are crossing out an item on a list. That will cause a red Delete button to appear so that you can confirm that you want to delete. If you want to delete a bunch of messages, then the fastest way is to tap the Edit button and tap the circles next to the left of each e-mail you want to delete and then tap the Delete button.
- Tap the bottom corner. As noted above, you can now quickly get back to your first Home screen by pressing the Home button. Most people switch between screens by swiping across the screen to the left or the right. Another way to do it, one that sometimes feels faster, is to tap once near the corner, just to the left or the right of the row of dots that indicate which screen you are on.
- Contractions. When you are typing an e-mail, the iPhone suggests some contractions automatically. Type cant and the iPhone will suggest can't. (And of course, to accept a suggestion you just tap the space bar; to reject a suggestion you tap the x next to the suggested word.) But if you type well the iPhone normally won't suggest we'll because, well, well is a word. But for we'll and many other words, if you type the last letter an extra time, the iPhone will then suggest the contraction for you. Type welll and the iPhone will suggest we'll. Type weree and the iPhone will suggest we're. In the past, I used the trick with I'll and it's, but now I find that when I type ill and its the iPhone automatically suggests the contraction without needing to add an extra key. This happens because the iPhone learns your words as you type and adds them to the custom dictionary -- which, by the way, you can always reset if necessary by going to Settings --> General --> Reset --> Reset Keyboard Dictionary.
- Get a 3G signal. Sometimes I see that blue E at the top telling me that my iPhone is using the slow Edge network when I know that I am in an area that has 3G. A quick way to get your iPhone to lock in on a 3G signal is to turn on airplane mode for just a second and then turn airplane mode off. Airplane mode is the first option when you tap Settings.
- I'm sorry, your Honor! We all know to flip the switch and put your iPhone in vibrate mode when you are in court, a deposition, etc., right? But what if you forget and need to QUICKLY stop your iPhone from ringing before you get sanctioned? Press the sleep/hold button at the top of your iPhone once and it will silence the ringer. Press that button twice and it will both silence the ringer and send the call to voicemail -- and hopefully you already had the New Voicemail alert sound turned off. (Settings --> Sounds --> New Voicemail).
Hopefully some of these are new to you, and I would love to hear about your favorite tips and tricks.