iPhone Tips and Tricks

iphone-book-peachpitBy E. Brown

Okay, I admit it, I have become an iPhone fan-boy. I wasn’t always this way (see You May Not Want An iPhone, and Your Virtual iPhone). I have used Palm OS,Windows CE, and Blackberry phones yet the sheer expandability of the iPhone blows the others away. And, iPhone OS 3.0 is yet to come. I cannot wait.

However, there are still lots of little tips and tricks to be learned no matter how long you have had an iPhone. With this in mind, I borrowed a friends book the other day, The iPhone Book, by Scott Kelby and Terry White. Even though I have had my iPhone for several months now, there are still some nice little tips and tricks I am learning and thought I’d share – so here it goes (all credit goes to Scott and Terry, of course).

Address Book Search
I used to have a Blackberry and before that a Palm phone. One of the thing I liked was the ability to quickly find contacts in your address book. If you’re like me finding one contact amongst 2,400+ can be daunting if you have to scroll through many of them. While the iPhone does have an A-Z sorter and search field, a new trick I learned was using initials. Simply enter into the Search field the first initial of your contact then a space followed by the first couple letters of the contacts last name and – bingo – you have your contact pop up. 

For example, if you are trying to pull up the contact information for Joseph Mahma you type “j mah” and Joseph’s contact info will pop to the top. Try it. 

Erasing Email
I know this may seem easy at first, all you need to do is tap the Edit button when looking over your list of incoming emails, right? But what if you’re scanning through emails during a break in a meeting and want to erase those one or two spam messages? Just scrub your finger across across the message and a Delete button will appear. Tap Delete and the unwanted email goes away. Nice. 

WiFi  Finder
My first reaction was to go to the App Store and grab a free application for finding WiFi in my surrounding area. Did, you know the iPhone can do that out of the box using the built in Maps application? Simply type in “wifi, [city name], [state]” and you’re off and running.

Convert Home Movies In iTunes
Did you know you could convert your very own movies for the iPod and iPhone? I didn’t. All you need to do is add your movie to iTunes and then choose “Create iPhone (or iPod) version” from the Advanced Menu. Yes, it is that simple. Isn’t that cool?

Control Music Playback From Other Apps
Here’s another trick that I was not aware of.  If you’re playing music you can switch to another application and continue to listen to your music. But, what if you wan to control the music? Do you have to go back to the iPod app? No! Simply double click the Home button. This will bring up your iPod controls. Make whatever adjustments you want and then tap the Close button. That’s it. Oh, and if all you want to do is adjust the volume, don’t worry about the iPod controls…you know what to do — use the volume buttons on the side of your iPhone. 

iPhone Sleep Machine
Do you have trouble sleeping at night? You can use the Timer feature to help you drift off to sleep  while listening to your favorite tunes. First go to the iPod app and choose the album or playlist you want to listen to as you go to sleep. Next, press the Home button, go to the Clock app, and tap Timer. Here you can set the minutes or hours you want your music to play. Finally, tap When Timer Ends and choose Sleep iPod from the top of the list. Tap Set and you are done. The neat thing that Apple built in is that the music will fade as it shuts down. Nighty-night.

Play Movies Through The iPhone On Your TV
OK, maybe I’m slow here, but I  never thought about the ability to play back movies and TV shows from my iPhone…and  in widescreen too! You will need to make sure you have either Apple Component or Composite AV Cables depending on your television connections. Next tap the Settings then tap iPod from the list. At the bottom of the screen is an option for TV Out. You can choose Widescreen (if you have a TV that supports that format) and/or the TV Signal NTSC or PAL (depending on what country you are in). Navigate back to your Home screen and then choose your iPod and select a movie or television show to start playing. By the way, make sure your TV is turned on and tuned to a proper channel for the cable inputs. Enjoy!

Quick Typing Email Addresses
Find yourself emailing a lot with your iPhone? Ever get frustrated about entering all those new addresses? Did you know you can speed up the process with a simple little trick? When you are in Mail on your iPhone and typing in an address you can see the period button. Did you know if you tap and hold down on it there will be displayed .com, .net, .org, and .edu? No more having to type that suffix.

Custom Ringtones
If you own a copy of GarageBand, creating a custom ringtone for your iPhone is nothing new to you. Create a 30 second diddy and make sure it is set to loop. Next, choose Send Ringtone to iTunes from the Send menu. From iTunes you can sync the ringtone with your iPhone. 

There is another little app I recently discovered, from Rogue Amoeba, called MakeiPhoneRingtone. For this free little application, all you need is 40 second .aiff files. Simply drag and drop them onto the app and your custom ringtone is placed within iTunes ready for you to sync. I found that by opening mp3 music files in QuickTime, I could trim them to the section of the song I liked and then Export it as a mp4. I could then drag the file onto MakeiPhoneRingtone and — tadaa! — instant ringtone. 

Back To Top
This may be a familiar link you have seen on some long Web pages, but did you know this feature is part of the iPhone as well? In many of the applications all you need to do is double tap the top of the screen and it will bring you back to the top. This is very handy for me since I have several thousand contacts in my address book. I can easily pop back to the top and use the Search field if needed. 

Spammers Beware
Have you ever been in an email on your iPhone and seen a link in the body of the text? Ever wonder where it goes? No more worries. Just tap on the link and hold your finger there while the Web address pops up for you to see. If you do not want to launch Safari, drag your finger off the link and you will not open your browser.

Formatted For iPhone
Many Web sites are not formatted for mobile display, yet many other Web sites are. Is your favorite site optimized for the iPhone? Type the word “mobile” or “m” in front of an address and see what you get. For instance, http://www.usatoday.com would be mobile.usatoday.com -or- m.usatoday.com. Now, you try it.

 ICE Nice
If you have not placed ICE (In Case of Emergency) on your mobile phone, what are you waiting for? We saw a friend today at lunch who did not know what ICE stood for and why it was important to add to your address list. It is always nice ti have quick access to an emergency contact. A nice free app from the iTunes App Store is Close Call. By installing this you can create a custom wallpaper for your iPhone with an emergency contact number. 

iPhone Screen Shots
Apple built in the ability to take screen shots of your iPhone screen. Just press and hold the Home button, then press the Sleep/Wake button on top of your phone. The screen flashes and saves a copy of the image to your Camera Roll.

Watcha Got?
These are just a few of the tips and tricks I found useful. How about you? What have you found out to be helpful? Share your tips and tricks here for our readers.

7 thoughts on “iPhone Tips and Tricks

  1. Katie Burke says:

    These are great tips, Eric! Address Book search and “Back to Top” are new to me. I like using Voice Search with the Google App.

  2. Thanks Katie, the Vlingo App is nice too for voice (better than Google in my opinion) and connects to Twitter for that “on the go micro-blogging!”

    Have fun,
    -eb

  3. John says:

    Is there a way to delete an unwanted email address from popping-up when I type in the first letter of the address? I have spoken to Apple and the ATT store where I bought the iPhone; no one seems to have an answer.

    Thanks in advance for any help you may be able to give.

    John P

  4. Hey John, thanks for the question. I may not be understanding exactly what you are interested in, so feel free to clarify if this does not answer your question:

    When you begin to type in an email address for a new email you intend to send from your iPhone, the iPhone attempts to help you find the address quickly and filters through your address book entries.

    If I type a “C” then my iPhone starts to pull up all related addresses beginning with “C” like Charles, Chuck, Carl, etc. If an unwanted email is part of the list I need only delete it from my address book and the problem is solved.

    Let me know how that works for you.

    Have fun!
    -eb

    • Ulises says:

      Not quite it. I have the same situation.

      Let’s say you’re writing an email to someone who isn’t in your address book. You mistakenly enter his email with a .met extension (instead of .net) or a .ydu instead of .edu. You hit send and a second later you receive a note on your inbox that the mail could not be delivered. You notice the mistake and proceed to write a new email with the correct email address. What you’ll discover is that, apart from your contacts, it looks like iphone has a buffer of addresses you’ve used because the incorrect address xxxx.met or xxxx.ydu will pop up as an option.

      I can’t find a way to erase this incorrect email. I’ve tried deliberately selecting it (it will then turn into a “button” on the To: list) and then tapping on it to see if something opens but nothing happens!

      Hope this helps clarify the situation. Remedies are welcome.

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