10 incredibly useful iPhone and Android tricks to make your life easier


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Do you remember the time when we only used phones for calls? Today, our smartphones hold our entire digital lives.

Of course, this includes your valuable photos and videos. Tap or click for nine photos to keep on handlike your health and dental insurance cards.

Speaking of photos, how often do you spend way too much time looking for a photo to know is hidden somewhere in your gallery? Stop scrolling and use this clever trick to find a photo quickly.

Your iPhone or Android has a lot of hidden goodies. Here are 10 tricks that will keep you coming back for more.

1. Start typing back

Instead of fumbling through pages of apps, you can instantly do a specific task with your phone. I take a lot of screenshots with my phone, and I do this by double tapping the back of my phone. Tap three times and my gate will open. A friend of mine turns on his rear patio lights the same way.

In this photo illustration an Android logo viewed on a smartphone.
(Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

On an iPhone 8 or later, you can double or triple tap your finger on the back of your phone to trigger a custom action. Go to settings > Accessibility > Touch > Tap Back. Choose double tap or Triple tap.

Select a specific action there. While this is handy, I warn you that from time to time you might accidentally trigger an action.

More Apple Smarts: 10 iPhone tricks I use every day and you will too

2. Set up shortcuts for your most used apps

Want to add a shortcut to a specific app to your home screen? Not all apps have shortcuts, but you can find out by pressing and holding the app.

How to do it on Android:

  • Press an app, and then lift your finger. If the app has shortcuts, they will appear.
  • Touch and hold the shortcut.
  • Move the shortcut to where you want it and lift your finger.

On your iPhone, this is a super handy shortcut. Press the Messages app icon and you’ll see some of your conversations. Choose and hold one of your most messaged contacts. Drag it to your home screen. Now tap this button to have a chat.

Trick in a trick: If you’re trying to find an app on your phone, stop going from page to page. On your iPhone, swipe right until you see a search bar at the top. Then enter the name of the app you want to use. On Android, swipe up from the middle of the screen. From the app drawer, tap Search.

3. Stop missing out on great action shots

If you’ve ever tried to get a good picture of your children’s play, you know how difficult it is to capture movement. Burst mode allows your camera to capture images faster than possible. You get multiple photos for every second and then you can choose your favorites to keep.

Touch and hold the shutter button if you have an iPhone X or earlier. Swipe the shutter button left if you have an iPhone Xs or newer.

Either way, lift your finger to stop burst mode. Then select the images you want to keep by tapping Burst > Choose > Did.

Woman using smartphone on a wooden desk.

Woman using smartphone on a wooden desk.

On Android phones, press and hold your camera’s shutter button to activate burst mode.

Tired of taking bad photos? Take better photos with these genius tips.

4. Get rid of the clutter

When was the last time you closed all browser tabs on your phone? Don’t waste time going through them one by one. On Android, open Chrome. Tap the number next to the URL bar to see a grid of all your tabs. Tap the Three point menuthen select Close all windows.

On an iPhone, you can do the same in Safari. Tap the icon with two overlapping boxes in the lower right corner. A menu will appear. Choose Close all windows.

Speaking of browsers, it’s worth deleting cookies. Tap or click here for the steps to do this on your favorite mobile browser.

5. Use your iPhone as a magnifying glass

The last time I needed to read a tiny serial number, I remembered how helpful it is to use the iPhone’s built-in magnifying glass. No more squinting or running for your readers.

Go to settings > Accessibility > magnifying glass and turn it on. Now your magnifying glass is an accessibility shortcut. This also works on iPads.

For quick access when you need it, add it to your Control Center. Go to settings > control center > Customize controls. Tap the + button next to magnifying glass. You can see the magnifying glass icon in your control center if you swipe down from the top of the screen.

A customer tries out an iPhone.

A customer tries out an iPhone.

6. Fix Google Assistant

Does your smart assistant always get names wrong? It might seem silly to teach your phone how to pronounce a name. Make a change so that Google will understand you on the first call in the future.

  • Say, “Hey Google, open Assistant settings.”
  • Select you and then tap your people > add person.
  • Choose a Contact.
  • Select under “Pronunciation of the name”. Record your own > vinyl record.
  • Choose game to listen to it again, then tap Save on computer to end.

You can do the same with Siri on an iPhone. Tap or click here and scroll to number 7 for the steps.

Get more out of your Android: 5 hidden Google Assistant tricks you can try right now.

7. Sign documents in no time

If someone emails you a document that they need you to sign, you don’t have to print, sign, and scan it. Just use your iPhone. Download the PDF first, click the pen icon top right and sign with your touchscreen. click Did top left of the screen.

You can reply to the email with the newly signed attachment.

If you use AirDrop, you can share the documents you have signed with your other Apple devices. Tap or click here to see why AirDrop is a helpful iPhone feature to use.

8. Tell them to forget it

Siri and Google Assistant both make distinctive sounds so you’ll know if you’ve accidentally activated them. To stop the Google Assistant from recording the rest of your conversation, say, “That wasn’t for you.” This will erase whatever just started recording.

You can tell Siri the same thing, but know that Apple hasn’t officially said if that phrase will delete your previous recording from its storage. Tap or click here to prevent all your smart devices from listening to you and recording what you say.

9. Measure or level something

Want to see if something is level? Pull out your iPhone and open the Measure app. This helpful app uses augmented reality to turn your device into an amazing measuring tool.

It’s easy to use. Suppose you want to measure a frame. Open the app, then tap the screen on either side of the frame. Scan your phone over the frame and tap the other end. The measurement appears on the screen.

You may need to move your device to allow your camera to capture an object’s dimensions. Save your measurement by tapping copy, which will add the numbers to your clipboard.

10. Get subtitles when playing a video or audio

If you’re having trouble understanding something or you’re in a noisy place, try Android’s Live Caption. Use them for podcasts, YouTube videos, or even phone calls. This feature is available on Pixel 2 and newer and select other Android phones.

  • Press the volume control.
  • Below the volume controls, tap live subtitles Symbol.
  • Live subtitles are now enabled for all media on your device.
  • To turn off live subtitles, press the volume button and tap live subtitles icon again.

Bonus tip: WLAN on the moon, Russian cyber attacks and a Google tip for saving fuel

Did you know Wi-Fi is coming to the moon? Yes, really. In this episode of Kim Komando Explains, I show you how to find an airport with the most legroom, save on gas costs, and some other tech tips you’ll use again and again. I also have an action plan you can use to protect yourself from Russian cyber attacks.

Check out my podcast Kim Komando Explains Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotifyor your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name “Komando”.

What questions do you have about the digital lifestyle? Call Kim’s national radio show and Tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, TV or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

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Find out more about the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and shares advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletter and more, visit her website at Komando.com.


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