10 awesome things you didn’t know your phone can do

A man takes a photo of the U. S. Capitol, on the eve of a possible federal government shutdown, in Washington on 30 September 2013. As many as a million government employees were making urgent plans on Monday for a possible midnight shutdown, with their unions urging Congress to find a last-minute deal. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS) – RTR3FGGG

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

You’ve had your smartphone for a while, but let’s be honest: You’ve never read the manual. You will be proud that you know how to use it, and then it happens: You see someone do something extraordinary with his or her phone that you didn’t know that was possible.

Friends don’t let friends smartphone skill envy. Here are some of my favorite secrets buried in your phone settings that you probably don’t know, but now use.

1. Take a screenshot

Have you ever wanted to capture something on the screen of your phone? Maybe it’s a hilarious text from a friend, or an interesting Facebook post, or you want to send someone an image to show her how to do something.


Press and hold the Home button along with the Sleep/wake button. You hear a shutter click. The screenshot appears in your Camera Roll or Saved Photos section.


Press and hold the on / off and Volume Down keys at the same time. The photo is saved in the “Captured Images” folder in the Gallery. It only works on Android 4.0 and higher, though. For Android 3.0, 2.3 or earlier, use an app like AirDroid.

2. Block calls and texts

Have you ever had someone who just will not stop calling or texting you, even after you asked nicely? Here is how to block him.


To block calls on an iPhone with iOS 7 or later, open the Phone or FaceTime app. If the person is already a contact, tap his name, scroll to the bottom of the page and tap Block This Caller. Tap Block Contact.

If the person is not a contact, tap the Info button, then scroll to the bottom of the page and tap Block this Caller. Tap Block Contact.

If you want to block texts, open the Messages app and tap a message from the person you want to block. Tap the Contact in the upper right corner and then press the Info button. Scroll down and tap on Block this Caller. Tap Block Contact.

You can view your blocked contacts later at these locations:





On Android, go to Settings>>call settings>>Call block. Under “Incoming calls” tap “Call block” list, and then tap Create. You can enter a number or tap the picture icon to find the number in your Contacts list or in your call logs.

If you are not steps or want more blocking options, check out these call – and text-blocking apps.

3. Use a real password

the iPhone and Android both default to a 4-digit PIN code to unlock the phone. That is OK as long as you don’t use something simple like 0000 or 1234. However, I know that some people who want even more security.


A real password on an iPhone, go to Settings>>Passcode. From there, swipe off the option that says Simple Passcode. Here you can create your password with letters and special characters for better phone security.


Go to Settings>>Lock screen and tap screen lock. You can set which level of security you want, from a simple swipe with a password. Select Password and type the password that you want. It should be a mix of letters, numbers and special characters to be really safe.

4. See the text easier

Difficulty reading things on your phone with a small screen? Bump up the font size to something a little easier to see.


Go to Settings>>General>>Accessibility and turn Bold Text and Larger Text. You can choose one or both, depending on your preferences. You must restart your phone for Bold Text to take effect.


Go to Settings>>Accessibility. Under Vision, tap Font and size set Large. Some phones have an even larger Huge option.

5. Read things out loud

Do you want your eyes off your phone for a bit? ‘ve read, things that you out loud.


Go to Settings>>General>>Accessibility and turn on VoiceOver. You have the option to practice with VoiceOver, set the speaking rate and more.

You should do some playing to get used to it. For example, you can touch and drag your fingers to the home-screen to have it read what is. Double tap to activate an app, while one tap will give you more information about it.

VoiceOver will read directions to you in Maps, have your camera tell you how many people are in your shot, and get spoken photo descriptions. You can also handwrite notes and letters on the screen and have VoiceOver translate your messages into text for Mail and other apps.


Go to Settings>>Accessibility and tap TalkBack. If you don’t see it, you can download it from the Google Play store.

Save it and your phone to read, also if you touch the screen and incoming notifications. Hint: To perform a regular sweep, you must use two fingers instead of one.

To customize your TalkBack settings, go to Settings>>Accessibility and tap on Text-to-Speech options. You can be the voice of the engine and speed.

Then go to Settings and turn on Hands-free mode. This will tell you who is calling or messaging.

6. Customize alert vibration patterns

You have a custom ringtone for each of your contacts, but that does not help if you have your phone on vibrate. Fortunately, you can use custom vibration patterns.


Go to Settings>>Sound>>Ringtone>>Vibration. You can use patterns to include. Or, you can go into your contacts list, and press edit and select the Vibration option for each contact.


Go to Contacts and tap on the name of a contact. Under Vibration Pattern, tap Default and choose a preset pattern. Or tap the button tap the screen to make your own pattern.

If you don’t have this built, there are third-party apps like Vybe that can do this as well.

7. Flash Camera LED for notifications

A quiet alert about notifications and do not want to use vibrate? Notifications trigger your phone’s LED camera flash instead. Make sure you turn this off or keep your phone hidden when you go to the cinema.


Go to Settings>>General>> Accessibility and turn on “LED Flash for Alerts.” Now every time you get a notification on your phone’s rear camera flash.


Go to Settings>>Accessibility and turn on “Flash notification.”

8. Better ways to take photos

Tapping on the screen of your phone to take a picture sounds good in theory, but in practice it can make shots a little shaky. Here are some better options.


Point the camera and press the phone the Volume Up button.


Open the camera app and tap to see the settings. Scroll down to Voice control and turn it on. You can now take pictures with the commands “capture,” “Shoot,” “Smile” and “Cheese.”

9. Take multiple photos at the same time

If you take pictures of a moving object, squirming kid or people who tend to blink, you often want to have a lot of photos at the same time.

iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c

Open the Camera app. Tap and hold the shutter button on the screen, or press and hold the Volume Up button and the camera will start taking multiple photos. Release the button when you want to stop.

The iPhones can have up to 10 photos per second. It will group the photos for you automatically so you can quickly find the best.


Open the Camera app. Tap the gear icon to open the settings and turn Burst Shot on. Then tap and hold the shutter button and the phone will take multiple images until you release the button, or it hits the preset limit for your phone. The photos will be grouped in your gallery.

10. Turn off the music automatically

Many people use their phone to listen to music as they go to sleep, or as they are busy with a project. But you don’t want it running forever and draining your battery.


Go to the Clock app and click on “Timer” and then “When the Timer runs out.” From here, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the screen and select “Stop Playing.”


Open the music player and go to Settings. Look for “Music auto off” and set it to how long you want the music to play. There are also third-party apps, such as the Sleep-Timer is available.

On the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and provides advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, newsletters and more, visit her website at



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