How To: 7 Tips And Tricks to Get You Started With iOS 7

After months of waiting, you can finally get iOS 7 on your iPhone and iPad beginning today. You might have some trouble with the installer — lots of people on Twitter seem to be — but once you get everything installed, it’s a whole new world of iOS. Most of it will seem familiar to you, albeit different colors and icons. However, there are a few features that are new and/or improved that aren’t so obvious, so this post spells them out for you to get you rocking iOS 7 in no time.

1. How to Block Calls and Texts in iOS 7

If you’re tired of getting calls and texts from your ex, or if that same telemarketer always calls during dinner, it’s easy to block them from contacting you in iOS 7. To block a number, go to Settings > Phone > Blocked and add their contact information. Alternatively, you can access the same settings in Settings > Messages > Blocked and Settings > FaceTime > Blocked. Adding a contact to one list universally blocks them from the other three automatically.

2. How to Private Browse in Safari

In iOS 6, you had to go to Settings > Safari to enable Private Browsing mode. Now, you can access the same thing in Safari itself just by viewing the tabs screen. Click the button in the bottom left corner labeled “Private”.

3. View SMS and iMessage Timestamps for Each Message

It’s not always important, but sometimes we’d like the ability to see the exact time one specific text was sent/received. With previous versions of iOS, you got the time the series of messages started, and then sporadic timestamps throughout the conversation, but not by individual message. Now, with iOS 7, you can view them. To see them, just tap and hold any individual message bubble in your thread and swipe your finger left.  Easy.

4. How to Access Spotlight Search

On every version of iOS since the beginning, the search page was located left of the main home screen. Now, the home screen is the furthest left  you can swipe, but search is accessible from any page. To access the Spotlight search bar, just swipe your finger down from anywhere on the screen (except the notification bar) and it will appear at the top. Spotlight works just as you’re familiar with already. Search  your contacts, apps, music, and more (but not the web — you’ll need Siri for that).

5. How to Access Control Center in iOS 7

A new feature of iOS 7: Control Center. It’s long been one of the most requested features, despite being part of Android for years. I’m a fan of the implementation, too. It gives you quick access to settings you’re likely to change and toggle the most, like WiFi, Bluetooth, Airplane Mode, Orientation Lock, and Do Not Disturb. You can also toggle the flashlight on and off, forward, back, play and pause music tracks, open the calculator and access the camera — from any screen. It even works on the lock screen. Last but certainly not least, you can quickly change the screen brightness from Control Center. To access it, just swipe your finger up from the bottom of the screen.

6. Quickly Close Safari Tabs // Close Running Apps

In previous versions of Safari, you closed a browser tab by [attempting] to tap the little red ‘X’ in the corner of each window. With iOS 7, that process has been made easier, enabling you to just swipe the tab left to close.

The same swiping gesture also works to close apps you have running in the background. No more trying to tap that ‘X’ from the multitasking tray; just swipe them away. You access the multitasking / app switching screen the same: a quick double tap on the Home button.

7. How to Use iPhone as a Level

Oh look – another instance of Apple stepping on the toes of its developers. Instead of downloading one of a multitude of different bubble level apps, it’s built right into the Compass app now. I point this out because, from time to time, it comes in super handy and the level isn’t in a place you’d likely look. When you’re in the Compass app, just swipe your finger to the left to access the second page, which is where the Level lives.

Have any other tips or tricks to add to this list that you’ve discovered? Let me know on Twitter: @mbchp.


You should follow Mike on Twitter for more great tech insights and good conversation. Be sure to say hello! You can also keep up with Mike on his personal blog:, on Facebook, or on Google+.

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  • Spencer


    • BallsOnYa

      Just go to settings>Kitchen>Toast mode (Enable)

  • klockheed

    how do i change that big ugly grey bar at the bottom of my screen

    • Jennifer A. Harroun

      Get some wallpaper behind it, because it is actually ‘frosted grey’ and translucent.

  • GTVert02 on YouTube

    Will it blend?

  • Allan Miller

    FYI, since this is a iOS 7 post, the Lock key on Zagg keyboards (I have 2 different versions) will no longer wake up an iPad. It will “lock” it (i.e. sleep). Hoping for a fix.

    • Karen Schinabeck

      Does this mean my Zagg keyboard is now disabled in version 7

      • Nancy Henderson

        Maybe your Zagg keyboard needs re charging. Mine acts funny when it’s needing a charge. I have ipad 3 and 4 and they both work great with the zagg keyboard.

        • Nancy Henderson

          Try turning off bluetooth and then re connecting your Zagg, I think it will then work again for you.

    • triniti

      What kind of ipad do you have? I have an ipad 3 and the lock key on my keyboard (profolio +) works just fine. Its the spotlight search button that doesnt work anymore for me.

      • Michelle

        How many kinds of ipads are there? I have the Ipad with retina display. Which number is that?

    • iPad4Zaggkey

      I have iPad4 and Zagg Portfolio+, the lock key both locks and unlocks on m9ne. Magnifying glass only brings up home screen, same with square box button. The Photos button does nothing.

    • Ashley Holbrook

      i have the ipad2 and the profolio+ and my lock key also locks and unlocks it.

    • Mike

      Have you found a cure? I have iPad4 and the lock/unlock worked on IOS6 but since upgrade to IOS7 I have had to wake up the iPad with the button and shut off with the power button.

  • Beachbum

    some function keys not working after upgrade ??

  • David

    A big miss is not being able to call up Control Center with the ipad mini key board (the magnetic connector does not allow you to swipe up from the bottom. This really needs a fix because some of the functions are no longer available in settingsl

  • Sam

    My keyboard doesn’t seem to be working at all since the update and I can’t seem to find any solution to the problem. Is this not a problem others are having?

  • Sue Burt

    I can’t get my zagg keyboard to work since I updated my ipad2 to ios7. How do I fix it?

    • SS

      Did you turn Bluetooth on? It turned off when I updated.

    • Sue Burt

      Bluetooth is on. I turned it off and back on and now it shows the zagg keyboard as a device but the little wheel just keeps going around without connecting. I hit the connect button on my keyboard and a red flashing light appears…

      • Chambet

        Go into Bluetooth & select the Zagg keyboard ‘i’ at far right then select to delete the keyboard. Then do the steps described above & turn keyboard off. Next, turn keyboard on, click the ‘connect’ button on the keyboard, go into Bluetooth & click to select the keyboard. It will say it is unpaired but will give you a 4-# code to enter on the keyboard to re-pair the device. Hope this works for you. I’m still having problems with mine too.

    • Cele Deemer

      I had to turn the Bluetooth off and on again, and turn the iPad off an on again before my Zagg keyboard would work after performing the update. That worked for me.

      • Sue Burt

        it finally worked. had to enter 2 different codes that were shown when i clicked on the zagg keyboard in bluetooth.
        Sent from my iPad

  • David

    The up/down arrow on my Zagg keyboard stopped working after I upgraded to iOS 7…I’m fairly certain it is an iOS issue since that’s the only thing that has changed, but I was wondering if anyone else is having the same issue.

    • Jackson

      I am experiencing the same problem. Have you found a solution?

  • TAR

    How do you make the wallpaper and screen lock pictures smaller? Everything seems so much bigger in iOS7. I can move it around but I cannot make the picture smaller-I can only make it bigger????? I did not have this problem before.

    • Jeremy

      I have not been able to find a simple solution to this issue, but I found one that works. I had an app from before, Pic Collage, that I used to add a background behind my pictures. This way the iPhone recognizes the background as part of the whole picture so when it automatically zoomed in, it only but the background color, then I was able to size my picture how I wanted to.

      • Chambet

        Double click the home button & your running apps will come up with icons at the bottom and the app above it. Scroll left to right by swiping to locate the app you want to turn off. Swipe the app (not the icon) upwards towards the top of the screen.

        • Chambet

          Sorry – this response was meant for the next posting & it won’t let me delete it.

    • RKM

      I had same problem and turned off ZOOM in Accessability. Also triple click home screen if set up for it.

      • kid

        My Zoom was already turned off….I still can’t make my wallpaper and screen lock pictures small enough to work.

  • David Costa

    how can I search emails by From/To/Subject?

    • Ismael Dabo

      Easy, in your emails list, scroll all the way up. The search bar will appear and type in “From: ” (without the quotations and add the email or contact name you wish). You should see the from boxed in grey within your emails list.

  • MEE

    Is there a way to change on the Appointment settings so the default of Alert is always at the”Time of event”?

  • Dex

    Change the Settings for the Control Center so that it won’t open when you’re using Apps!

  • kevin

    Why can my wife now read my NOTES using her ipad??? It makes me wonder what else is being shared. Yikes.

    • Jordan

      If you’re using the same Apple ID that would more than likely be the cause of that… Settings > iCloud> turn off the notes, do that on the iPad

  • iPad4Zaggkey

    Swiping down on my iPad v4 brings up the notifications screen. Can’t seem to find the spotlight search anymore. Search and other buttons on myZagg keyboard don’t work either. Only the play button works.

    • Policewife

      You can find spotlight search by swiping down on the screen. Just not from the top that will bring down notifications. Swipe down from any other part of the screen.

      • iPad4Zaggkey

        Thanks. Swiping down mid screen works. Zaggkey board special keys, only play and volume work.


        “Swipe down from any other part of the screen.”

        Unless you’re in the texting app or the phone app. Personally I think it would be useful in the phone app, just swipe down and type the name of the contact you want. Currently you have to select the contacts “tab” to search for a contact. I usually leave my phone app on the favorites screen because 80-90% of my calls are to people in my favorites list, but I’d like to be able to search for another contact from there without going through a multi-step process.

  • Sherrie

    How do I take the passcode requirement off my first screen to unlock?

    • MG

      Settings — General — Passcode Lock. Swipe it “off” here. To complete the change, you’ll have to enter the passcode one more time.

    • Ryan Alexander

      If you have work email on your phone, it’s very likely that you won’t be able to turn off the pass code requirement. Most Exchange clients require the pass code for security reasons.

  • BigSexyFL

    Did anyone else notice that when you tilt your phone the background image shifts to give the icons a floating effect?

    • Kameron Burton

      It’s called the parallax effect. And it’s a hellacious battery drain

  • Melissa Dawn

    how to have my personal music as a ringer? the way I had it before the update

  • mondaymaggie

    Is there a way to get the half hour reading on my calendar back?

  • DOUG


    • Pissed off in Pittsburgh

      I have NOT been able to swipe to close in any direction and this is really becoming annoying! I thought I just hadn’t stumbled on the trick yet. Now I’m reading it and can’t get it to work. I just want to close out apps in background and can’t. Would like the hold it till it jiggles options back. That was easy enough. Why fix what isn’t broken?

      • Chambet

        Softy- I first replied to the wrong person in an attempt to answer your problem. Double click the home button & your running apps will come up with icons at the bottom and the app above it. Scroll left to right by swiping to locate the app you want to turn off. Swipe the app (not the icon) upwards towards the top of the screen.

  • DOUG


  • Prudence

    can I get my original notepad back

  • hseymour86

    If I am listening to my music and get a phone call while plugged in using the USB, the music continues to play in the background of my phone call. I Hate IT!

  • Buerg

    Since the download, my portfolio+ no longer shuts down or wakes up my iPad upon closiing or opening the portfolio. The + button use to wake up my iPad while my iPad was open, but in sleep mode, and it no longer does that. Is there a fix for that, or do I now have to accept the inconvenience?

  • Abeita1

    Love the iPhones.

  • NancyL

    Can not close out apps like previously. So battery seems drain faster. Is there a way to close them out?

    • Megan

      Double click the home button like previously and flick the screenshot of the app you want to kill up. Took me a while to figure it out, but I like this way a LOT better. And I’m with you. I have a 4S, but I have to charge my battery twice a day now. Dies MUCH quicker. Still LOVE iOS 7 though.



    • Mike

      Look in the utilities app

  • Dawn Jenkins

    How do I change the white background without doing contrast? This too bright for me and too gray

  • Kirchman

    The part about picking a message, holding it and swiping left does not work. To see the time stamp

    • Ismael Dabo

      Yes it does!

      • Barb

        No need to swipe it away, simply hold your finger on the message and pull to the left while holding.

    • Chips ahoy

      Mine does not work either. I have an iPhone 4S.

      • Mrs Crispie

        You have to swipe on a message you’ve sent, not one received – that’s where I kept tripping up anyway! Hope that helps! :)

  • Smo

    Unable to search particular sms/word in New iOS7 spotlight, in iOS6 I use to just type any word & able to search within Everything viz, SMS, Mails, WhatsApp etc

  • Koneko

    Finally found lock screen SHORTCUT. Swipe up w/ one finger.

    The new shortcut tab for apps, similar to samsung tablet. Go to shortcut, grab an open app (below is the app), slide up = delete from shortcuts.

  • Sue Reid

    Is there a way to forward a message without copy/paste? I found how to forward an attachment, but not just a message

    • Jeff

      simply touch & hold until balloon comes up with copy more, touch more then touch the arrow at bottom right of the screen. Done just choose contact.

      • Sue Reid

        Hooray! Thanks!

  • Helen

    Compass? Level? where are they. I am new to IPhone but I have an IPad. Are they on it too.

    • yoadrienne

      The compass and level are in utilities.

  • farhmas

    I have an iphone 4. Since upgrade to ios7 my volume level has gone very low even though the level is full. How to get the volume to increase.


    I downloaded this update and my battery drains extremely fast is anyone else having this trouble? I have went so far as to buy a mophie case but it’s rediculous the way it runs down so fast

  • Cadeauxxe

    How to delete sections of texts without deleting entire conversation. iOS 6 allowed that. iOS 6 recognized my voice to text/email whatever, ios7 doesn’t!

  • Matty Ice

    After the phone updates an app, How do you delete the notification telling you it was updated in the App Store?

  • scb47

    how to use bluetooth keyboard with calc apps– the numbers won’t type in

  • ronald

    Is there any other to turn on keyboard than that little tiny button on the side? Which has totally disappeared on mine