Hey friends, Andrew here – hope you’re well!
I’ve been tinkering with my iPhone settings and home screen for years. I’ve come up with the first 12 things you must do to set up your iPhone.
These changes will help you use your iPhone more efficiently, protect its battery life, and just get the most out of your iPhone every day.
1. iOS Update
The very thing you’ll want to do is to check your iOS version and turn on automatic updates.
Go into Settings > General > Software Update. It’s worth updating to the latest software if there’s a significant update available – especially if you bought your iPhone second-hand from someone.
Then, turn on Automatic Updates for both iOS and Security Responses and System Files. This will get your iPhone up to date with the latest bugs and security fixes that Apple pushes out automatically without thinking about it.
2. Widgets & Smart Stacks
Now that your iPhone is up to date, start building the home screen!
Start with setting up widgets and smart stacks, these are super useful in getting the most out of your iPhones daily.
Let’s use a random widget, you’re probably wondering – what’s the best widget to use? Well, that’s where Smart Stacks come in.
Tap and hold the new widget and click edit stack.
From there, turn on Smart Rotate, and this will supercharge the widget. What it does is, it detects your app usage. Using these patterns will show you the app you use most at certain times of the day. If you check the weather every morning, the Weather widget will appear automatically every morning. It’s really awesome.
I’d also turn on Widget Suggestions if you want your iPhone to shuffle to new widgets you might not use but are worth trying so you can test out new widgets throughout the day.
That’s the main Smart Widget, I like to have two smaller widgets for easy access to things that are important to me, like Google Calendar and the Apple Reminders app.
3. Home Screen & Dock
As for the rest of the home screen, I recommend placing daily apps underneath the widget. For me, it’s things like my mail apps, Spotify, and the Settings app in the first slot.
By the way, a pro tip – you can move multiple apps at once by holding one down and then tapping the others instead of doing it one by one. It’s a big time saver.
Moving onto the Dock, I’ll usually place my most used 3 apps, which are the Phone app, Safari, and Messages
I’ve only placed 3 because I find it more visually appealing than having 4 in the dock.
4. Filing System
The next thing to set up is a filing system for other apps.
I like to hide most of my apps because I don’t use most of them every day. To do this, hold an app and wiggle it around, tap the subtract button, and tap “Remove from Home Screen”.
When I want to use that app, all I’ll do is pull down on the home screen and type out the first few letters of that app, which I find is faster than swiping through a load of screens or folders.
I recommend using the second page for a folder system for apps you use regularly.
An easy filing system to use is a verb-based folder system.
The default folder names like Productivity, Utilities, and things like that are way too vague, labeling them with verbs like Drive, Listen, Read, and Learn makes it so much easier to access frequent apps.
5. Today View
The next is setting up the page to the left of the home screen, which is called the Today View.
This page is great for quick access to the other common widgets you use and want to glance at.
Holding onto a widget and clicking Edit Home Screen again, tap the Plus button on the top left, and I’d recommend adding some essential widgets like Batteries to check all your connected devices, Clock if you want to monitor other timezones and Screen Time.
The home screen has been set up, on the right is our folder filing system, and on the left is our Today View all setup.
6. Control Center
Moving on, one of the most overlooked areas to set up on an iPhone is the control center.
It’s a useful area to set up additional shortcuts, there’s less reason to fumble around deep in the settings. Plus, I’d suggest maximizing all the spare space.
To set it up, go to Settings, then scroll down to the Control Center. Scroll down to More Controls and add in the controls you think you’ll use often.
My favorite ones are Dark Mode, Low Power Mode, Torch, Shazam, and Quick Notes. Then I’ll sort it to my top 4 right on the top row.
When I drag down, I’ve filled up the entire control center with shortcuts and I can do things like add a quick note, record my screen, or switch to low battery mode really quickly.
7. Focus Modes
One of the most useful features that came out of iOS16 was Focus Modes and I still use them every day.
Going back into settings, I recommend setting all these up to activate at certain times for maximum productivity.
For example, click the Plus icon and create a “Work Mode”. Name it and add a custom icon. Scroll down to set a schedule – I like to manually add the schedule. I stick to 9 am to 5 pm for work mode to run.
Going back up, I added only close friends and family notifications to come through, and for apps, I allow notifications from my work apps like Gmail, Calendar, and things like that. I also highly recommend turning on adding a Focus Filter and activating Low Power Mode to save battery since you’ll be using your phone a lot less at work, I hope.
Go ahead and set up a bunch of those, it is such a useful feature if you use a single phone for everything you do.
8. Battery Life & Privacy
Speaking about battery life, some big setting changes will squeeze a lot more out of your iPhone. Here’s what they are:
Go into Battery > Battery Health and Charging > Charging Optimization > make sure the optimized setting is on, especially if you have a new phone. This will prevent unnecessary overcharging, which shortens the lifespan of your battery.
If you use iCloud, go into your Backups and make sure the Mobile Data Backup option is toggled off because this will drain the battery fast in the background if switched on, and unless you’re on an unlimited mobile data plan, you’ll want this off anyway.
The next few settings are important not only for battery life but for privacy too. We’re going to switch off some optional location services.
Go into Privacy Security > Location Services > and review all your apps. My recommendation is to have them all set to “While Using.
Scroll all the way down to System Services, and unless you specifically use these, I’d highly recommend turning off Apple Pay Merchant ID, Call Network Search Suggestions and Search, Significant Locations, and if you don’t have any accessories, then HomeKit too.
Going back a page, do the same for the Tracking page and also the Apple Advertising Page to turn off personalized ads.
Next is Shortcuts, which I don’t see enough people using – it’s a really easy way to supercharge your iPhone.
You can create almost any chain of actions that happens automatically.
To give an example, I’ve set up a Fast Charge shortcut. Whenever I need to charge my iPhone as fast as possible, this shortcut will auto-turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, turn off the screen, and activate airplane and low power mode all at once.
I also set up an Ultra Low Power Mode; if the battery hits 25%, it’ll auto switch to Low Power Mode, and a custom Ultra Low Power Mode if it goes to 5%, where I can only make phone calls.
It’d take a while to set these up manually to make life easier. Below is the link for a bunch of Shortcuts you can import to your phone automatically.
10. Haptic Keyboard
The next feature to turn on is the haptic keyboard, making the typing experience much more enjoyable and tactile.
It’s usually off by default. To turn this on, click Settings > Sound and Haptics > Keyboard Feedback> Turn on Haptic.
Having this feature on does drain some battery, but not by a significant amount.
Next is to set up Messages to save some iPhone storage.
Go into Settings > Messages scroll down to Message History and set Keep Messages to 1 Year. This will help a lot, especially if you have a smaller storage iPhone. If you want to keep your text messages Forever you can set it to Forever too.
Make sure the Low Quality Image Mode is toggled on at the bottom; otherwise, you’ll turn your messages into another Photo Album storage, and that’d be a total waste of space.
12. Lock Screen & Launcher
One of the last things to do is to set up your lock screen.
Go onto your lock screen and long press down. Then click Customize and set a wallpaper.
I used the Dunes wallpaper bundle.
Then it’s worth adding quick glance widgets to the top and bottom of the time, I like to have the weather at the top and health widgets underneath.
You can even add custom function widgets. Like if I tap the Safari icon, it’ll immediately bring up a Safari tab with one tap from the lock screen.
To do this, download an app called Launcher. Then, choose the app you want to launch, click the function, and click save. Go back to the Lock Screen, pick Launcher, tap it, and choose the widget you set up.
You’ve got instant access to that app or function without even needing to unlock your phone, and it saves you some precious seconds from your day.
If you want to do even more with your iPhone, check out the iOS settings you must change when you update to iOS17 and as always, thanks for reading through!