26 essential iPod and iPhone timesavers

22nd Feb 2009 | 09:00

26 essential iPod and iPhone timesavers

Make your iPod and iPhone quicker, smarter and simpler to use

The whole ethos of Apple products is to get things done more quickly and elegantly and the iPod and iPhones are perfect examples of this ethos.

But you can always do things even more quickly and easily, making your iPod and iPhone quicker, smarter and simpler to use.

Here are our 26 handy timesavers for your iPod and iPhone.

Add your own timesaving tips in the comments.

1. Save time downloading your podcasts

With the latest iPhone software you are now able to download podcasts over the air as well as from a WiFi connection. This means no more impatient waiting, just get them whenever you want!

2. Save time when typing urgent messages
You'll find that auto correction is on by default on iPhones and the iPod touch. This means it will generally add apostrophes and capitals wherever necessary, saving you from dipping into the number menu then going back to the main keyboard. If you type in "im", for example, it will be corrected to "I'm", saving you time navigating different input menus.

3. Transfer files more quickly using your iPod
Older iPods will mount on the Desktop as portable hard drives when connected. Drag data on and off them just like you would with any other hard drive and you have saved connecting another device.

4. Save time checking for mail
On an iPhone with the latest software, turn on Push using the Settings > Fetch New Data option and set a schedule, for example, for every 15 minutes. Now the phone will access your mail servers every 15 minutes and download new mail to the phone, meaning you don't have to check manually. You can also choose to set it to run every 30 minutes, every hour, or set a longer time difference to suit you by selecting the Manually option.

5. Quickly find your location on an iPhone map
If you ever find yourself going round in circles, your iPhone 3G can help relieve the stress. Call up the Map function and hit the GPS button at the bottom-left of the screen. The phone will then triangulate your position based on nearby transmitters and show your precise location. This is much quicker and far less hassle than finding nearby street names and typing them in to find out where you are.

6. Save time making calls on your iPhone
On an iPhone, in Settings > General > Home Button you can set it up so that double-clicking the Home button takes you straight to your Favourites, meaning less time spent searching the address book and more time chatting to your family and friends.

7. Save time finding contacts on your iPhone
If you need to get your point across in a hurry, use the iPhone's Contacts menu. Tapping on a letter from the alphabetical list that sits on the right, means you will leap straight to contacts starting with that letter.

8. Access your locked iPod functions swiftly
Even when the screen is locked on an iPhone or iPod touch you can still access the iPod by double-clicking the Home button. This will reveal the play, skip and volume controls without you having to unlock or go to the main iPod screen.

9. Save time when buying from iTunes
Apple now allows the downloading of iTunes Store purchases over a cellular network, where previously it was necessary for you to be connected to a wireless network to do this. And apparently it even works over an EDGE connection – though of course it will be faster over 3G, so use that if your iPhone has it. This means you will no longer have to wait until you're in range of a wireless connection to buy music, you can do it anywhere.

10. Save time writing emails on your iPhone
Unfortunately, the landscape keyboard on the iPhone doesn't currently work for writing emails, but there is a solution. You can download EasyWriter for free from the App Store and it will let you write your emails using a much-less fiddly widescreen keyboard. Plus, it makes composing mails far quicker.

11. Save time syncing your stuff from itunes
A full sync can often take a long time so it's often better to use the iPod or iPhone section in iTunes to check the manually manage music and videos box. You can then drop any individual albums or films straight into your iPod. However, this will only work with the particular Mac that the device is paired up with.

12. Save time copying music and movies from your iPod to your new Mac
Sometimes you might just want to copy a single movie or a couple of playlists off an iPod onto a new Mac you've brought, but Apple prevents you from doing this by locking the iPod into the Mac it is synced with. There are third-party applications including iPod Access and PodView that let you copy specific files to any Mac, and this is much quicker than transferring the files over manually. It's also useful if your Mac crashes and you've lost the original digital files in your iTunes library. Be aware though that this trick only works on iPods with hard drives, such as the 5G or classic models rather than those with flash memory such as the shuffle.

13. Quickly jump to your favourite website
When viewing a page in Safari, click the plus sign at the bottom of the screen. Then choose Add to Home Screen and the page is added as an icon, which you can tap to jump straight to it from the Home Screen.

14. Sync data faster
If you prefer to have your iPod or iPhone sync as soon as its connected, you can enable this in iTunes > Devices > Summary > Options by checking 'automatically sync…' and it will be done.

15. Back up faster
Choose your iPod or iPhone in iTunes, right-click on its name and select Back Up. All purchases and applications are backed up to your Mac with a single click.

16. Scroll faster in Safari
If you are viewing a web page and have scrolled all the way to the bottom, simply tap the top bar containing the battery and WiFi indicators and you will leap back to the top of the page – it's way faster than manually scrolling.

17. Save time entering web addresses
When entering URLs in Safari, don't bother with the http://www. part, just type the name, for example macformat and press go. If you want to manually enter the suffix, press and hold the .com button to see a list of the other common suffixes such as .co.uk. These can then quickly be selected.

18. Quickly take a screen shot of your iPhone
Hold the Home button and click the sleep button. The screen will quickly flash white and a screeen shot will be placed in your camera roll!

19. Quickly grab photos off an iPhone
Rather than using iPhoto, fire up the Image Capture application located in your Applications folder. It's a faster and more lightweight way to copy images.

20. Make a phone call from your iPhone using Safari
If you're on a web page and see a phone number there's no need to copy it down and dial it – just click on it and the iPhone will dial it. The same goes for phone numbers in SMS messages.

21. Speed up syncing
Some people recommend connecting the USB cable directly to the Mac rather than using a USB hub for speeding up syncs. Also, it's handy to know that disabling the syncing of applications when not necessary is also believed to help speed things up.

22. Quickly delete movies
Rather than connecting to iTunes to delete your movies, just use your iPhone. When you have finished watching a film your iPhone will give you the option to delete it directly, in order to save space. Click and hold on a movie's name and swipe your finger to the right to reveal the Delete option.

23. Quickly delete applications from iPhone
Press and hold down on any third-party app and all app icons will start to wobble. You can then click the black X to delete an app. Press the Home button to return to normal use.

24. Quickly locate your nearest train station when out
If you're out and about with an iPhone, download MyRail Lite for free from the App Store. It will use your phone connection to identify your nearest railway stations and display the arrivals and departures. It will also display the same for any mainland UK rail station. It's far easier and much quicker than calling the station or running a web search to find out exactly the same information!

25. Save and send images from Safari easily
If you press and hold down on an image in Safari, you will be able to save the picture to the photo roll. From there, you can select Email Photo to send it on to someone.

26. Manage emails faster
In the inbox of a mail account on your iPhone, hit Edit and then press the circle to the left of each mail to mark it for deletion, pressing Delete at the end. In this way you can quickly multiple-delete mails.


First published in MacFormat, Issue 205

Now read 69 really useful OS X timesavers

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