hand holding iphone

5 Tips to Take Command of Your iPhone

Last month, Apple released an update to its operating system, iOS 14.5, which gives users more data control. But you also have options if you want to gain more control over the iPhone. Want to put your favorite apps within easy reach, tag friends in Messages, or set your preferred browser to open links? You can do all that and more. Here are a few quick tips for enhancing the iPhone experience. Next week’s Tech Tip column will share helpful hints for the Android faithful.

5 Tips to Take Command of Your iPhone

1. Customize Your Control Center

The Control Center — that handy panel of often-used settings summoned with a finger swipe — first appeared in 2013 and got more useful when Apple let users add their select buttons a few years later. If you haven’t tinkered with your Control Center to add the features and functions you use the most, open the Settings icon on the home screen, scroll down to Control Center, and tap it in the Settings screen on the left. You can choose the apps you want to see when you open the iPhone’s Control Center. Credit…Apple

From the list on the next screen, choose the icons for the apps and settings you want to live in your Control Center. While tools like the Flashlight are typically there by default, you can remove those you never use and add icons for apps you want, like the Magnifier, the QR Code scanner, or even the Shazam music recognition feature. To rearrange the order of the icons on the screen, drag them up and down the list before you close the Settings app.

2. Assign a Back Tap Action

Wouldn’t it be great if you had yet another way to interact with your device, along with screen swipes and voice commands? If you have at least an iPhone 8 running iOS 14 or later, you can use the Back Tap feature to have your iPhone perform a specific action when you give it quick taps on the back.

  • The Back Tap controls are at the bottom of the Accessibility/Touch settings screen, left. Once you enable the feature, you can choose an action for the iPhone to take when you tap the back of the device. Credit…Apple

To set it, You can assign two separate tasks to the Double Tap and Triple Tap functions — and Back Tap should work even if your iPhone is in a case. Open Settings, select Accessibility and Touch, and scroll down to Back Tap. Once you choose Back Tap, select Double or Triple Tap and choose an action on the next screen, like opening the Spotlight search app or the Control Center or running a Shortcut you’ve set up with Apple’s Shortcuts app. You can use our Mail and Browser Apps.

Are you tired of the iPhone always opening the Safari browser instead of your favored DuckDuckGo when you tap a link or firing up Apple’s Mail program instead of the Gmail app when you select an email address from your Contacts list? If your iPhone runs iOS 14 or later, you can choose the apps you want as your default programs.

  • To assign a new default app, go to the settings screen of the app you want to use, tap “Default Mail (or Browser) App,” and confirm your selection on the next screen. Credit…Apple

To make it happen, tell Siri to “open the settings for Gmail” or whichever app you want to use. You can tap the Default Browser App or Default Mail App-line and select your preferred program on the next screen. So open the Settings icon on the home screen, scroll to the app’s name, and set it to get to its settings. Tap the DYour Response in Messages

Want to respond to a specific post in a Messages chat or get someone’s attention in a group conversation, just as you can on some social media platforms? You can do both.

  • Press and hold a message in a conversation and select Reply from the menu to respond to that post. As shown on the right, you can also mention someone in a conversation to send them a notification. Credit…Apple

To reply to a certain message in either a one-on-one or group chat where everyone is using the Messages app, press your finger on that message until a menu appears. Select Reply, enter your response, and tap the blue Send arrow. To tag someone in a conversation so they get a notification, put the @ symbol in front of the name or type the name and select it when it pops up onscreen from your Contacts.

5. Get the Siri You Want

Apple’s Siri voice assistant, celebrating a decade on the iPhone this October, has recently lost ground in knowledge and usefulness to Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. To boost Siri’s powers, Apple added more skills in iOS 14. And iOS 14.5 now includes a more diverse set of voices.

  • In the iOS 14.5 update, Apple added a more diverse set of synthetic voices for Siri. In the settings, you can choose to display your conversations as captions. Credit…Apple

To change how and when Siri sounds, open the Settings icon on the home screen, select Siri & Search, and make your selections. You can also opt to display your conversations on the net by tapping Siri Responses and turning on “Always Show Siri Captions” and “Always Show Speech” to the last word.


I have always enjoyed writing and reading other people's blogs. I started writing a journal as a teenager and have since written numerous books and articles. My blog is a place where I can write freely about my personal interests and those of others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *