Useful iOS 13 tips and tricks to take your iPhone to the next level

Master your newly updated iPhone with the best iOS 13 tips and tricks

Apple’s latest iPhone operating system, iOS 13, is finally available to the public, and it offers a heap of new features. But using new software can be a little overwhelming, and getting stuck in fully can initially seem like a full time job. Don’t worry about doing the digging yourself, we’ve already done it. Here’s how to take advantage of some of iOS 13’s coolest new tricks, and a few older tips besides. And if you’re interested in having a go for yourself, here’s how you can download the iOS 13 public beta.

How to enable Dark Mode

Ever been blinded by a bright-white theme first thing in the morning? The new Dark mode in iOS 13 can save you from scorched corneas by changing your phone’s white areas to a much darker tone. This change applies across all system apps including iMessages and Safari, and Apple is encouraging all developers to add Dark mode-compatible themes to their apps.

To find Dark mode, open your Settings app and then hit Display & Brightness. Here you can toggle between the Light and Dark themes by tapping the tick box beneath them. Like the idea of having a brighter theme during the day and a darker one at night? Hit the Automatic toggle, then hit the Options button underneath to choose when you want the darker theme to kick in. You can either tie it to Sunset to Sunrise or set a Custom Schedule.

How to add Siri Shortcuts

Siri Shortcuts enables you to assign quick actions to Apple’s assistant, Siri. This feature arrived in iOS 12, but iOS 13 has seen Siri take a more prominent role, and you can now find Siri Shortcuts in its own app. Tap the Siri Shortcuts app to get started. Then tap the Create Shortcuts button to create the simplest sort of shortcut. The Automation tab allows your device to react intelligently to changing contexts, so it can play a specific song when you get home, or automatically share location to your other half when you’re coming home from work. Finally, the Gallery shows you a range of predefined Shortcuts so you can get going quickly or get inspiration for your own creations.

How to use Sign in With Apple

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Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Creating a new account for every app can be a chore, but at the same time, you don’t want to just sign in with your Facebook account to everything. Sign in With Apple allows you to use your Apple account to quickly sign into apps, and also shed the need to share personal information.

If an app supports Sign in With Apple you’ll see the option right there on the app’s opening splash screen. Tap it and you’ll be asked to sign into your Apple account and choose which information to share with the app developer. If you’re happy to share your personal email address then you can share it — but if you’re not, Apple will make you a randomized email address that forwards to your Apple iCloud email address, but also preserves your anonymity.

How to use Favorites in Apple Maps

Apple Maps may not be your go-to map app at the moment, but iOS 13 could change that. Apple Maps in iOS 13 has been improved to include more roads, beaches, buildings, and other details. But the really cool additions are the new features. You can add locations to a Favorites list, and organize those saved locations into your own customized collections. To add a Favorite, tap on or search for a location, then scroll down the card and tap Add to Favorites. Your Favorite will then appear in your Favorites list on your main page.

To add a location to a collection, drag up from your main Apple Maps page, then tap on My Places > Add a Place. From there, you can add a recently viewed location to your collection, or search for it from the search bar. To start a new collection, head back to your main Apple Maps page, drag up from the bottom of the screen, then tap New Collection to create a new list.

How to use Look Around in Apple Maps

Look Around is Apple’s answer to Google Streetview, and it allows you to “look around” a location before you visit. To use it, head to a location on Apple Maps and select it by long-pressing on the map. If Look Around is supported in this location you’ll see a Look Around image. Tap it to jump down to street level and drag to move around. While you’re here, you can also drag up from the bottom of the screen to see facts about the location, or add it to your Favorites.

Apple doesn’t yet have the same coverage as Google, but it has promised to have the entire U.S. covered by the end of 2019, with other countries following afterwards.

How to use the Find My app

Apple has combined Find My Friends and Find My iPhone into the imaginatively named app, Find My. This addition to iOS 13 allows you to share your location with friends and loved ones, and find your devices from the same app.

It’s simple to use. Launch the Find My app from your home page and it’ll show your current location in the People tab. To share with a contact, press the Start Sharing Location button and type in whichever contact you want to share your location with. To find a lost device, hit the Devices tab to change your map to show all the Apple devices registered with your account. Tap on an individual device to Play Sound, get Directions to your device, Mark As Lost, or remotely Erase This Device. If one of your devices is offline, you can ask Find My to alert you when it’s back online by hitting Notify Me.

How to use the new Reminders app

The Reminders app has been completely rebuilt from the ground up for iOS 13 to bring in many of the features we see in many of our favorite to-do apps.

Open up the new Reminders and it will show you how many reminders you currently have, how many are due today, and how many can be found in each of your lists. To add a new task, tap All, then tap the “+” buttons under each of your categories to add a new task. If you want to change a task’s category, add a reminder date or time, or be reminded of a task in a specific location, tap the blue “i” after tapping on that specific task to see your options.

How to use Swipe Typing

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In iOS 13 Apple is also adding Swipe Typing to iOS’s default keyboard. Long loved by many Android users, this mode allows you to swipe your finger across your keyboard’s keys to type a word instead of tapping out each character. While it can take some getting used to, once figured out, it’s generally thought to be a faster way of typing than tapping.

There’s no need to switch this option on — it’s on by default, and you can use it by just dragging your finger across your keyboard.

How to use Cycle Tracking in Health

Apple’s Health app is a powerful tool, and it’s seeing some amazing additions in iOS 13 — the biggest of which is probably Cycle Tracking. This allows you to track your menstrual cycles, and includes tools to let you know when you’re due or at your most fertile.

To get started, open your Health app and select Search and then select Cycle Tracking from the list. Tap that and hit Get Started > Next. The app will then ask you a couple of questions, including when your last period began, and how long they usually last. You’ll also be given options on how you would like to track your period, and can choose to be given predictions and notifications on when your next period is likely to begin, whether you would like to log symptoms and spotting in your Cycle Log, and whether you want to be shown your windows of fertility.

Once you’ve answered the app’s questions, you’ll be sent back to the Cycle Tracking homepage. From here, you can tap Add Period to select days on which you’ve experienced your period, or you can go into more detail by tapping the Flow Level, Symptoms, and Spotting options to log those specifics.

How to edit photos and rotate videos

While there are third-party editing apps for iOS, the base iPhone software has always lacked its own editing tools. That is, until iOS 13. Now you can adjust various key parts of your photos and videos from your Photos app. To give it a go for yourself, head into your Photos app. From there, select a photo and then tap the Edit button. From there, try swiping between options and adjusting sliders to see how altering various options changes the look of your picture.

Many of these editing options are also available for videos, and you can now rotate videos with the Photos app.

Setting a profile picture in iMessage

Say goodbye to “new phone, who is this?” texts, as iMessage now allows you to set a profile image and screen name that’s shared with selected contacts. So now, when you text a fellow iPhone user, you can let them know exactly who’s texting without them needing to save your contact information.

It’s easy to set up. First, open Messages, tap the three dots (“…”) in the top-right corner, and hit Edit Name and Photo. From here, you can type in a preferred first and last name, and set a profile picture. You can select to use your personal Memoji as a profile picture, or you can select from a variety of Animojis instead. You can also change whether you want to share this information with Contacts Only, Anyone, or to Always Ask if the information is to be shared.

How to Customize Your Animoji and Memoji

Speaking of Memojis and Animojis, you no longer need an iPhone with TrueDepth technology (either the iPhone X, XS, XS Max, or XR) to create a Memoji in iOS 13. While you’ll still need a TrueDepth camera to have your Memoji or Animoji follow your movements, owners of the iPhone 6S or newer on iOS 13 will also be able to make their own Memoji. Just head into iMessage, open a conversation, and hit the Memoji icon, followed by the “+” button.

How to share music over AirPods

Apple AirPods
Riley Young/Digital Trends

One of the coolest new additions to iOS 13 is the option to have the same music stream across two pairs of AirPods. To get going, you’ll need to pair the second pair of AirPods with your iPhone. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to select the second pair of AirPods from your AirPlay settings in the same way you can select your own.

How to save your passwords

Much like iOS 12, you can save your passwords and logins to your iCloud Keychain in iOS 13. You will be asked if you want to save login information to the iCloud Keychain whenever you log into a service, but if you want to manually manage your details, you can do so by heading to Settings > Passwords & Accounts > Website & App Passwords. You may need to use Touch ID, Face ID, or your passcode to log into this screen.

Using Screen Time and setting app limits

If you’re an iOS 12 veteran, then it’s likely you’ve spent some time with Screen Time already. But if you haven’t, it’s simple to set up it up to help you keep an eye on how much you’re using your iPhone. To get started with Screen Time, just go to Settings > Screen Time.

If you really want to go ham on your usage, then you can set limits for how long you can use specific apps with Screen Time’s App Limits feature. To do this, head to Settings > Screen Time > App Limits, and then tap Add Limit. In a change from iOS 12, you can now specify apps within a category and group them together in the same limit. So you can limit yourself to a combined total of seven hours a day on Fortnite, Twitter, and Spotify if you want to. Once a limit is reached, a splash screen will let you know and give you the opportunity to ignore the limit for either the whole day, or just another 15 minutes.


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