“Intuitive” seems to be a bit of a dirty word among, shall we say, more mature computer users

IntuitionMany, many times I have listened with sympathy as an IT Support client has told me that a younger family member has insisted that the computer struggles they are suffering are “weird” because the iPhone/tablet/computer is “so intuitive”. The implication is that you should understand it without any conscious effort or specific prior knowledge.

Well, I have a number of thoughts about this, including:

1) Said younger family member probably spends hours and hours a day playing with his/her device and probably tries several things to make a function work without even realising that they are trying different things (eg swipe something left, right, up, down, press on something, hit the back button and try a different route). This is not intuition – it’s trial and error based upon hours and hours and hours of experience (often spent while walking down the street, with head down instead of looking where they are going).

2) Added to the “trial and error” approach mentioned above, we all know that younger people are less fearful in trying things out than older ones. “Will it get me stuck somewhere I can’t get out of”, “Will I get locked out?”, “Will I delete everything”, “Will I break the internet?” are questions that don’t seem to occur to youngsters as they learn to handle IT.

3) Young children teach and show each other. If someone discovers a new app/trick/website then isn’t it quite natural that they’ll show it to their mates?

So, I don’t think it’s “intuition” at all. I’ll offer just two examples to support this “theory” (alright, “contention” might be a better word):

Example 1 – Fitbit

Fitbit pull to sync

Fitbit’s “Pull to sync” hint is only revealed after you’ve started “pulling”

For the last three years or so I have been using Fitbit fitness trackers. They have some great points and some pretty bad ones. Some of the bad ones are really irritating. Here’s just one of them:

Data from the big black clunky “watch” has to be “synchronised” with the smartphone. This will happen automatically, but you can force it to synchronise. Now, instead of just tapping a “button” on the screen of the smartphone marked “Synchronise”, you have to press on the screen and drag downwards. Once you start doing the “dragging”, a helpful hint is displayed which says “Pull to sync” (ie drag downwards) When you have pulled far enough another message appears that says “Release to sync”.

In other words, the hint doesn’t even appear until you have started to perform the action that the hint will tell you to perform. In what way could this possibly be called “intuitive”? It is stupid. You need to know what you are doing before you are given a hint about how to do it! And how can “pulling” and “releasing” be easier or more “intuitive” than a simple tap? I know not.

Example 2 – iPhone Files

ios Files - 01

No sign of how to change file order until……

The latest version of Apple’s IOS operating system (for iPhones and iPads) includes a very welcome app called “Files” which lists certain types of data files stored on the device (eg pdf files, Word docs) and gives access to those files by just tapping on them. However, the files are listed in alphabetic order and there appears to be no way of changing this order (eg to Date order). So, I’ve been using this app and quietly cursing its lack of flexibility.

Then, today, it occurred to me to try to “drag down” in the same way that forces a “synch” in Fitbit. Surprise, surprise. A dropdown menu appeared that allows for sorting by different parameters (including Date order).

ios Files - 02

… you drag downwards and reveal the dropdown menu

Now, it could just be argued that my attempting to drag downwards was “intuition”. I would say that that is just nonsense. It occurred to me to try and pull downwards because I’ve spent hours and hours and hours tinkering with computers, applications, apps, devices and so forth and been irritated on a daily basis by Fitbit’s “Pull to synch” feature. Intuition has nothing whatever to do with it. It is experience. It is also experience that led me to try tapping on “date” again in the “Files” example to see if it would sort in the opposite direction. It did.

So, the next time someone under 40 tells you how intuitive it all is, just be grateful that you haven’t spent as big a proportion of your life wrestling with the technology as they (and I) obviously have.

Do you just delete spam and junk on your iPhone because you can’t see how to consign its sender to email oblivion?

IOS Mail IconFilters used by email providers are very good these days at stopping most of the world’s email rubbish from getting into your inbox. Nevertheless, the occasional rogue message will still get through and it’s a bit annoying when you see the same villains getting through to your iPhone over and over again just because it’s not obvious how you send them to a junk folder (ie delete them and, at the same time, make sure that any future emails from that sender automatically meet the same fate).

Well, you can, indeed, send email messages to a junk folder in the IOS Mail program (ie the “normal” email program on your iPhone), but the method is different depending on where you are at the moment you decide to junk the email:

If the message is open at the time you decide to junk it:

  • Tap on the flag icon (bottom left of screen)
  • Tap on the “Move to Junk” option

If you are looking at a message list at the time you decide to junk one of the messages:

  • Swipe across the message from right to left until you see the “more” button (a row of three white dots on a grey background)
  • Tap on the “more” button
  • Tap on the “Mark…” button
  • Tap on the “Move to Junk” option

If you want to junk several messages at once:

Junk

  • Go to the message list
  • Tap on “Edit” (top right of screen)
  • Tap on all the messages that you want to mark as junk
  • Tap on the “Mark” option (bottom left of screen)
  • Tap on the “Move to Junk” option

If you check your email on other devices as well as your iPhone, then you will probably receive no more messages from that sender on any of your devices, but this depends on your connections to your email server being IMAP, and on your email server understanding the iPhone’s action in moving the mail to junk.

No SpamThe least successful outcome should be that you do not receive any more messages from the sender on your iPhone but that everything else stays the same as now.

If your mobile provider offers you a “free” upgrade to your mobile phone every 18 months or 2 years you may not be getting good value for money

Mobile phone repairThere was a time when mobile phone development was very rapid and an 18 month old phone was significantly less powerful, and/or less well featured, than a new one. This isn’t really the case any more. Both iPhone and Samsung are advertising their latest offerings (the iPhone X and the Galaxy S9, respectively) in terms of how great the camera is. To my mind, minor improvements such as this don’t justify getting a new phone. And I’m not alone. According to Dixons Carphone, the lack of new features and recent price rises have meant that whereas we used to replace our phones (on average) every 20 months in 2013, it’s now every 29 months (Source: The Guardian).

So, you may not be getting as good value from a mobile phone contract that offers you a new phone every 18-24 months as you used to. The perception that your provider is giving you a “free upgrade” is no more than that – a perception. The phone may not be significantly better than the one you already have and, as for it being free – I think not. More like £30 a month for the “free upgrade” element.

iPhone logoI kept my last phone for 3 years (and it was already secondhand when I bought it – see this blog post on updating an iPhone). I finally replaced it last summer (for another secondhand iPhone from CEX) because the battery was swelling up and forcing off the screen. It used to cost an arm and a leg to replace an iPhone battery (let alone a screen), but I think things must have changed since Apple dropped their battery prices. This happened following an uproar when they had to admit that they deliberately slowed down the operation of “old” iPhones. Their argument was that a battery whose performance was deteriorating could cause a phone to unexpectedly switch off and that they were slowing down the phone to save battery life to stop that from happening. Of course, we cynical members of the public harboured suspicions that they slowed down the phone so that we’d get a new, faster, one. Anyway, to help try and defuse the situation, Apple suddenly dropped the price of replacement batteries from a zillion quid to about £30.

Lovefone logoMy pensioned-off iPhone 5 (with the swollen battery and lifting screen) still has uses for me, so I took it into a place called Lovefone at 37 Tottenham Street, W1T 4RU, a few weeks ago to see if it was worth fixing. In short, they replaced both the screen and the battery for less than the price that a battery would have been a year or so ago. The phone has been working perfectly ever since.

The total bill for the repair was the equivalent of about two months worth of “contribution” that you are making to your mobile provider if they “give” you a “free” upgrade every 18 or 24 months. And, yes, it most certainly has occurred to me that I didn’t need to buy a new (secondhand) phone last summer. The repair to my iPhone 5 will pay for itself if the phone lasts just two months longer than it would otherwise have done.

One of the things that has always put me off getting mobile phones repaired previously is that I’ve never quite fancied leaving my phone with one of those tiny little “mobile repair” places you typically see crammed into shop premises shared with someone else. It’s not so much the value of the phone I’m worried about as the privacy of my data. Well, I had no such fears about Lovefone. They have clean, roomy premises where you can see the repairs taking place. The staff I encountered were very friendly and efficient. I left my phone with them (but could have waited) and picked it up 30 minutes later. Give them a try if you’d rather give your current phone a new lease of life than spend a fortune on a new one. And, just for the record, I didn’t tell them that I work in IT or that I would give them a testimonial.

Does your iPhone randomly capitalise words?

iPhone rageSeveral of my IT clients have mentioned this problem to me recently, and there doesn’t seem to be one single cause or one single fix. To add to the annoyance, the capital letter often doesn’t pop up until you have moved on several words in what you are typing. You then have to go back to it and try – sometimes several times – to persuade it that a lower case letter is what you wanted.

To begin with, I thought that this problem cropped up with the release of IOS version 11, but a bit of googling shows that some people have been having problems with this as far back as version 9 (a couple of years or so ago).

Apple themselves are not exactly helpful on the subject. Their support page mentions just one suggestion – re-setting your personal dictionary. This is achieved by going to:

Settings > General > Reset > Reset keyboard dictionary

The problem with this option is that it deletes any personalisation that you have created in your dictionary and, moreover, isn’t guaranteed to solve the problem. So, if you have personalised your dictionary at all, I would suggest that you try the possibilities listed below first as they are much easier to reverse if they don’t work.

IOS Keyboard Settings

The first thing to try is turning off auto-capitalisation. This, of course, means that the first character after a full stop will no longer be a capital unless you hit the shift key yourself, but you could at least try this first to see if it works and to see if you really would miss auto-capitalisation. Having to intentionally create an upper case letter when you want one is probably less annoying than removing a spurious one. Turn auto-capitalisation off as follows:

Settings > General > Keyboard > Auto-Capitalisation – and then slide the switch to the left (off)

Another possible reason for random capitalisation is that you are typing a word (in a different context) that is included in your Contacts as if it were a name. So, for example, if you’ve put “Acme Cabs” as the NAME of a contact, then you may get the word “cabs” capitalised if you use it in other contexts. If this is the case then the solution is simply to move “Acme Cabs” away from the Name field in your Contacts and into the “Company” field.

Another thing you can try is to disable auto-correction as follows:

Settings > General > Keyboard > Auto-Correction – and then slide the switch to the left (off)

Steve Jobs with iPhoneIf your rogue capitalisation is completely predictable – ie the same peculiar thing happens every time you type a particular word – then you could try employing what we techies might call a “dirty fix”. You could go into the “text replacement” setting and tell it to always replace what it got wrong with what is correct. To access this feature, go to:

Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement

This is all a bit of a mess, and we mere mortals are left to wonder how this glitch can be so difficult to cure that it has been around for a long time now.

Sometimes, you can’t help getting the impression that some of the gloss has gone from Apple since Steve Jobs died. On the other hand, maybe the rot set in right at the beginning when Apple decided to spell “iPhone” with a capital “P”. If that isn’t “random capitalisation”, I don’t know what is!

Some of your iPhone call history could end up on your partner’s device and you can’t stop it if you use iCloud

iPhone Passcode

A passcode isn’t needed to access an iPhone’s call history

Without telling its users – let alone offering a way to stop it happening – it appears that Apple have been storing your iPhone’s call logs in your iCloud account (if you have iCloud turned on). Potentially, this offers security services a way of accessing a phone’s call history without having to know or hack the passcode for the device and without having to “persuade” the phone’s carrier to reveal the information (source: The Intercept).

Information stored includes:

  • list of calls made and received (over the previous four months)
  • dates and times
  • duration
  • missed and bypassed calls
  • regular calls and FaceTime calls are both included

Apple have no way of accessing the data on a recent iPhone whose passcode they don’t know. This caused a bit of a rumpus last year when the US authorities wanted Apple to help them access the phone of a suspected bomber (for a detailed description of the circumstances of this case see, for instance this “Wired” article). No such arguments exists here as Apple does have access to iCloud logs and could be forced by a court order to reveal them.

As well as the fundamental principle of privacy (yes, I do think we’re fighting a losing battle on that front – a lost cause even), this can also have unforeseen consequences in the very real world – far away from the world of spies and terrorism.

Looking at Mobiles

Are you unknowingly revealing your call history?

The point of iCloud (in case you were wondering) is that it enables data to be shared between the different devices relating to a specific Apple ID. With the latest version of IOS (iPhone’s operating system), this extends to sharing phone call histories between the different devices of a single Apple ID. This happens by syncing the call history to the iCloud account and back down to other devices using the same Apple ID. So, all of your call history can now magically appear on the iPhone of your partner! If you have any aspect of your life that you would rather your partner not know about then it is no longer enough to think that they can’t get at that information because they don’t have your iPhone’s passcode.

iCloud - Setting Up

Don’t use iCloud if you want your call history to remain private

I’m not remotely interested, here, in the morality of doing things behind your partner’s back. It’s none of my business. However, I think it’s appalling that Apple can be so cavalier with its customers’ privacy that it neither informs them of this situation, nor offers any user-defined options to deal with it. There are, of course, two simple ways of dealing with it and they are not to use iCloud at all or, even more sensibly, don’t share an Apple ID with anyone else. Whether that conjures up words like babies and bathwater depends upon your own situation but, at present, these are the only ways of dealing with this sharing of call history.

Of course, you might well say that anyone who’s playing away is unlikely to be so close to their partner as to share an Apple ID. I wouldn’t know about that, but, irrespective of individual users’ behaviour, Apple are – at the most generous interpretation – a little careless with their customers’ privacy.

You can learn more about this situation at threatpost.com.

Yes, this is me whingeing about error messages again

See, for instance, “Oh dear – error!“.

I’m not just letting off steam again for the sake of it. This is a situation that I’m sure other people come across and fail to solve (and I challenge you to find the solution among Apple help pages).

Apple ID - password wrongBack in the mists of time (about four years ago), a new computer support client contacted me with a typical list of problems. Included in the list was problems with her Apple ID(s). Specifically, she had two different Apple IDs and some apps had been bought with one ID and some with another. She couldn’t update apps bought or downloaded under the older ID. At that time, we didn’t manage to get to the bottom of her Apple ID problems (mired, as we were, in AOL problems as well).

Anyway, last week I was visiting her for some reasonably routine stuff and she wanted a bit of help setting up a brand new iPhone SE. Not realising I’d stepped into a man trap (“fools rush in..”), I got stuck in and – you guessed – the problem of multiple Apple IDs cropped up again. Now, my client is pretty compos mentis and she has a pretty good idea of the possible passwords that she might have assigned to these Apple IDs, so why on earth were we still having problems? Why were we being told that the password was incorrect?

Apple ID - password entryThis time, it occurred to me that the first thing to do in cases like this is to establish unequivocally what the password is for a given account. So, instead of vainly shouting at her brand new iPhone (albeit viscerally satisfying for me and entertaining for her), we went to a browser (on a proper computer) and tried to log into the Apple ID. We reported that we’d forgotten the password and she demonstrated her clear-headedness by knowing the answers to the security questions it asked. So we were able to re-set the password without drama. We then logged in and out of the account a couple of times so as to be entirely confident of the password.

Now, the Apple ID whose password we had just re-set and clarified belonged to the old account that she’d used yonks ago. The ID that she uses currently causes no problems and we’d restored the software from the previous phone, updated all the apps that go with that ID and everything was fine.

Apple ID - password wrongHere’s the crunch. The phone informed us that it could not update the apps acquired under the older Apple ID without us entering the password. No problem. We now knew for certain what that password is because we’d just re-set it and logged in and out a few times. So, we entered the password and – guess what – it told us that it was wrong. “BUT IT CAN’T BE WRONG, YOU STUPID PHONE”. I don’t have perfect recall of even getting up this morning, let alone what happened four years ago, but both the client and I remember that this scenario was what had us almost in tears the last time.

This time, however, I had a brief moment of clarity – we’re still signed in to the other Apple ID. So, I signed out of the other ID, into the correct one (whose password is most assuredly what we think it is) and, hey presto, the apps updated without problem.

The point of this blog is twofold:

  • Why – especially after all the years that iPhones and IOS have been around – are we STILL presented with a totally misleading error message when entering an Apple ID password? Surely it can’t be beyond the wit of the geniuses working for Apple to trap this error properly and come up with a decent message, such as “You are signed in with a different Apple ID. Sign out of that Apple ID first and then sign into this one”.
  • If, perchance, you yourself have used several different Apple IDS in the past, now you know how to keep all your apps updated without having a hissy-fit.

iPhone 5c - blueBy the by, do you happen to be in the market for an unused, unlocked, 32gb, blue, iPhone 5C? If so, the same client has one (no, it’s not either of the phones discussed above. This one is unused). Just let me know if you are and, preferably, an idea of what you’d like to pay for it, and I’ll pass the message on. It’s still got the original box and my client would despatch it by registered mail.

Does your iPhone seem a little sluggish these days?

Snail and iPhoneIt may just be one of those psychological things, that once the thought has crossed your mind that your iPhone isn’t quite as fast as it used to be, then it seems to get slower and slower. My guess is that it’s just because you start looking out for signs of sluggishness after you’ve noticed it the first time. Whatever the reason, there are some things you can do to perk it up a bit.

iPhone polishing

You can also give its insides a bit of a clean

I’m not saying that each of these suggestions will have a noticeable effect on its own but, taken together, you might get a significant boost and feel happy with your iPhone for another year! Also, I’m not pretending that these suggestions are in any particular order of effectiveness. Indeed, some “authorities” contradict others – such as whether it is a good thing, a bad thing, or a pointless thing, to stop apps from running in the background. Nevertheless, the next time that Coronation Street isn’t quite as rivetting as you normally find it (!), you could multitask by giving your iPhone a bit of a springclean while you are watching it:

  • Restart the phone. This takes a minute or so, but you don’t have to engage brain. Just do it. It can make quite a difference. Press and hold the button on top of the phone. The “power off” slider appears. Slide it to the right or just keep your finger on the top button for a few more seconds. After everything has gone black, release the top button and then press it again until the Apple logo appears. Let go of the button and just wait for the phone to restart.
  • Remove apps you don’t use. Go to Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage > Manage Storage. The apps are listed in (approximate) order of the amount of space they use up. While it is obviously better to remove larger apps, even smaller apps have an overhead on the system. Tap on an individual app to get to the link to deleting it or (sometimes) the option to just delete its data while leaving the app installed.
  • Clear out Safari temporary data. Go to Settings > Safari > Clear History and Website Data.
  • Turn off Background App Refresh. Go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh. Either turn off all background refreshing by sliding the top slider to the left or choose apps individually.
  • Turn off Automatic Downloads. Go to Settings > iTunes & App Stores > and turn off automatic downloads as desired.
  • Turn off Motion. This is a bit of fanciness that “rocks” some aspects of the visual display if you shake the phone a bit. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduced Motion, and then slide the switch to the right (ie turn it on).
  • Reduce Display Transparency. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Increased Contrast and then slide the switch next to “Reduce Transparency” to the right.
  • Ensure that you have at the very least 1gb of free storage space on the phone. If you have cleared out unwanted apps (see above) then you’ve probably now got a minimum amount of free space for the phone to comfortable operate. If, however, you’ve only got 1gb or so of free space then it’s no surprise that your device is slow. If your phone is full of videos, music, podcasts, photos, then it should be easy enough to get rid of at least 1gb of such data. If you really can’t bear to be without any of your data then, assuming you don’t already have an iPhone 6 with 128gb storage, you can always go out and buy one – Carphone Warehouse are offering them for just £649 (or you could, of course, get a midrange laptop with 1tb or 2tb of storage space for that kind of price).

Go Faster iPhoneIt’s worth noting that some of these steps (such as reducing motion and turning off background app refresh) may make the battery last significantly longer between recharges as well as improving the phone’s responsiveness.

Lots of people, including Albert Einstein, have said variations on the theme of “the state exists for the benefit of its individuals. Individuals do not exist for the benefit of the state”

iPhone with Back DoorHas that view ever been more appropriate than in the current debate about whether Apple should be forced to build a “backdoor” to defeat its iPhone encryption in order to allow the US authorities to read the contents of a (dead) bomber’s iPhone? To put this “backdoor” business into simple terms, it means creating a “master key” so that the “keyholder” (in this case, the US authorities) can bypass any enryption without needing to know the password.

It seems to be the FBI who are currently shouting loudest for the need to force Apple to create the means to read the contents of encrypted phones. They are warning that strong encryption (ie encryption that they can’t break) will take us to a “dark place” where criminals and terrorists will be beyond the law. They are seeming to suggest that the only way of catching these people is by reading the content of their phones. Apart from anything else, they are ignoring the fact that if the authorities were known to have a key to the contents of the phone then the criminals would be more careful in using the phone (Gee, Ollie, I never thought of that).

There are plenty of reasons why all of this does not seem to me to be a good idea:

Tim Cook - CEO of Apple

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

  • You can not create a backdoor that just breaks open criminals’ phones. If the security services have their way in this then every single smartphone in the US (and, by extension, the world) would be an open book to the authorities. Why not take this just one step further and require every single person to wear a bodycam all of their waking lives, and to send all of the data off to the authorities? Why not? And while we’re at it, why not require everyone to register their fingerprints and DNA with the authorities?
  • You would be trusting that the backdoor (the master key) only ever remains in the hands of the right, trusted person(s). How could anyone ever guarantee that that would work? Forever. Never ever slipping up once. The key only has to escape once and that’s it. Everyone’s security and privacy has been compromised as no-one knows where that lost/stolen/copied key is going to get to.
  • Even before the genie gets out of the bottle (ie while the key remains in the right hands), how do you know that the key is only being used for legal and legitimate purposes?
  • Strong encryption already exists and criminals/terrorists are hardly likely to eschew its use just because some new law mandates that they must use smartphones that include a backdoor.
  • Just suppose that a backdoor is created and a terrorist is put on trial as a result of the evidence revealed using it. The defence may ask the prosecution to prove that the evidence is genuine and valid. This might involve giving away information regarding the backdoor (highly undesirable in terms of the security of everyone else’s iPhone), or of being so technical and difficult to understand that a jury wouldn’t be able to judge the validity of the “evidence” revealed by it (thereby defeating the object).
  • And I’m not listening to the argument that says that you could create a backdoor just for this one purpose (ie to crack the San Bernadino bomber’s iPhone). Having done it once, then the ability exists: the key can be copied – either by the authorities or by others. The principle will also have been established. You might just as well say “Give us permission to torture a particular terrorist. We’ll only do it once (we promise), but it’s necessary because we’re pretty sure we’ll get some information that we couldn’t get by other means. We really won’t ever ask to do it to anyone else. Honestly. We just need to torture this one person”.

Throwing the Baby out with the BathwaterBut why bother with what I think? For a far more informed view, see what Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, has said about the encryption debate in an open letter published online to its customers.

No right-minded person wants to see terrorists flourish, but let’s just be careful that we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let’s not create a society in which the interests of the state are paramount and to hell with individual rights and privacy.

I like the iPhone, but it can still send me into a hissy fit

Steve Jobs and iPhoneTo my mind, the iPhone is a lot slicker and nicer to use than any Android phone. But there’s one aspect of it that’s just dreadful and I don’t know why it hasn’t been addressed yet. This is the fact that trying to move an app’s icon from one screen to another causes a trail of mayhem as lots of other icons get moved around completely needlessly in the process. If you want to use a smartphone efficiently – or any other type of computer for that matter – you don’t want to have to search for the means of launching an app (or program) just because everything’s been moved around as a by-product of moving a single icon. It’s insane. It’s one of the many examples of computer idiocies that make me wonder if the people who make and sell us this stuff actually use it themselves or have ever listened to any feedback from anyone who does.

Rubiks Cube

Re-positioning iPhone icons can seem as frustrating as trying to solve Rubik’s Cube

Yes, I do know that it’s possible to re-arrange icons a bit more easily via iTunes, but that is definitely a case of a sledgehammer to crack a walnut when all you want to do is move one or two icons about. Besides, you want to move an icon when it occurs to you. You hardly want to send yourself some kind of a reminder to move one icon the next time you happen to be in front of computer and can connect your iPhone to your iTunes.

I’ve looked online for a better way of doing this but haven’t found one. I have, however, worked out a partial solution to the problem. I say “partial” because it might still mess up the icons on the screen(s) where the icon started and/or finished, but at least it will leave icons on the intermediate screens untouched.

What you do is use the iPhone’s dock (the bottom row of icons on the screen) as a “holding area” for the icon you wish to move. It works if you do the following:

  • Begin by going to a screen that has space for at least one more icon.
  • Press and hold (thus beginning the “move” process) on any icon in the dock and slide it up to a spare slot on the current screen.
  • End the “move” process by clicking on the “home” button. Your dock now has a spare space on it.
  • Navigate to the screen that currently includes the icon you wish to move.
  • Press and hold on the icon you wish to move, and, when the wiggling begins, drag the icon to the dock.
  • End the “move” process by clicking on the “home” button.
  • Navigate to the screen where you wish to place the icon.
  • Click and hold on the relevant icon (that is now in the dock).
  • When the wiggling begins, slide the icon up to the desired location.
  • Click on the “home” button to end the “move” process.
  • Navigate to the screen where you placed the icon that you originally moved from the dock.
  • Click and hold on that icon until the wiggling begins.
  • Slide the icon back onto the dock.
  • Click on the “home” button to end the “move” process.

Yes, that really is a list of 14 instructions just to move an icon from one screen to another.

I’ve been looking at ways to make the iPhone’s email program work better for me, and would like to pass on some tips:


IOS Mail IconOnly want to receive new emails when it’s convenient for you?

I don’t like my phone to make a noise telling me there’s new mail, only to find that it’s spam. Also, I think it’s not very good to have a phone pinging away when I’m with a client: there’s always the temptation to be rude and look at the phone (see this earlier blog on the subject of “phubbing”). If you agree with me, then you can change your settings so that you only receive email when you want it:

  • Go to Settings
  • Mail, Contacts, Calendars
  • Fetch New Data
  • Tap on each email account in turn and tap on “Manual”
  • Scroll down to the heading “Fetch” and tap against “manually”

Now, when you open your email app and tap on the inbox (or “All Inboxes”), your iphone will fetch your email for you. It will stay calm and quiet when you are doing other things.

IOS Mail Inbox

You can see twice as many items in the inbox by turning the number of lines to “none”.


Want to see more inbox items per screen?

When you go to your email inbox(es), the app shows who a message is from, the subject, and two lines of the body of the email. This means that you can only see a few messages per screen. You can see more if you change the setting so that only the sender and subject are displayed:

  • Go to Settings
  • Mail, Contacts, Calendars
  • Scroll down to the “Mail” section and tap on “Preview”
  • Tap against “none”


Jump straight to “Drafts”

If you tend to write emails a bit at a time, such as when you’ve got a few tube stops to travel, you will probably often wish to go to email drafts. This is easily achieved with a long press on the icon for creating a new email. Instead of starting to create a new email, a long press takes you straight to Drafts.


Reply to a specific part of an email

If you wish to send an email reply, but are only addressing one part of the incoming email, it is easy to quote just that part in your reply:

  • Highlight the text you wish to quote in your reply
  • Press the “reply” button in the usual way

You will see that only the quoted part of the original email is included below your reply.

IOS Settings

There are loads of tweakables in “Settings”, “Mail, Contacts, Calendars”


Change your email signature

If you would like a more personalised signature at the bottom of your emails than “Sent from my iPhone”, here is how it is done:

  • Go to Settings
  • Mail, Contacts, Calendars
  • Scroll down and tap on “Signatures”
  • Choose whether to use one signature for all your email accounts or vary it by account
  • Replace the default text with your own signature(s)

When I first started using an iPhone, I was quick to replace the original email signature as I didn’t want to give Apple free advertising on the bottom of my emails. I later re-instated the default as it does indicate that the email came from a smartphone and might, therefore, be expected to be shorter than my normal longer, more considered message, would have been.


Always send a BCC to yourself

A “BCC” is a “blind carbon copy”. This means sending a copy (“carbon copy”) without the message’s recipient knowing you are doing it (“blind”). This is useful if your email account is a “POP” account as you wouldn’t otherwise have a copy of the message you sent from your iPhone in any other place (eg the email program on your main computer). It’s then easy enough to move that copy from the inbox of your “main” computer to the “sent” folder just as if you had sent it from there in the first place. To do this:

  • Go to Settings
  • Mail, Contacts, Calendars
  • Scroll down and slide the switch to the right that is next to “Always Bcc Myself”
© 2011-2018 David Leonard
Computer Support in London
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