How do I clean my iPhone's caches?

12 May 2020, 11:57

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Computer users are used to periodically cleaning various caches—browser, system, fonts etc—in order to speed-up the system and to stop buggy behaviour.

You might be wondering if this is possible on an iPhone. Well, it is—but only in a limited way.

How to clean an iPhone’s cache: Browser
Generally speaking it’s not possible to clean the iPhone/iOS caches. It’s just not something Apple gives you control over. But there’s one exception. You can clean the Safari browser cache. This can be useful if websites are acting strangely.

To clean the iPhone cache, open the Settings app, then tap the Safari heading. Then tap the Clear History and Website Data heading. This will clear the whole lot, for all sites, in one fell swoop.

Alternatively, you can take a more forensic approach and remove the data of only one or two sites that are proving problematic. To do so, again open Settings, tap the Safari heading, but this time tap the Advanced heading at the bottom. Then tap the Website Data heading. Now you can find the site in the list. Tap, hold and slide left on that entry until the Delete option appears. Then tap it.

Repeat this with as many sites as you like.

How to clean an iPhone’s cache by removing the app
If a particular app is proving unreliable there’s one somewhat drastic option: Uninstall it, and then reinstall it again. This will wipe out your data and settings for that app, however (unless it’s a cloud-connected app and you are able to restore the data and settings when you reinstall it again).

To uninstall an app, just tap and hold its entry in the Home screen. Then select Delete App. To reinstall it, find its entry in the App Store by using the search tool, and tap the cloud icon that has a downward arrow in it.

Be careful uninstalling certain older apps, however, because they may have been withdrawn from the App Store. You should check to ensure they’re still available for installation before choosing to remove them.

Just try rebooting
One way of speeding up a weirdly slow or buggy iPhone is simply to reboot it. But there’s no actual menu option to reboot. You simply have to turn off the iPhone, then wait around 30 seconds while the screen is black, and then turn it back on again.

How to clean the iPhone cache: Using third-party apps
There are some apps, such as iMyFone, that claim to clean caches and free-up space on the iPhone in various clever ways. These run on a Mac or PC, and you must attach the iPhone via USB for the cleaning to happen.

To be blunt, it’s not clear how these work, and they probably use some kind of trick to do what they do. Our thoughts are that if Apple wanted you to do what these app claim to do, then they would have let you do so using their own app. So, we advise caution—not least because iMyFone will cost around $20/$30. There are also some worryingly negative reviews on TrustPilot for iMyFone, alongside some positive reviews. However, a one month free trial is available if you hand over your contact details. Just ensure you backup your iPhone before trying an app like this.

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How do I block a number on my iPhone?

12 May 2020, 11:17

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Being pestered by a particular caller? Assuming they aren’t hiding their phone number—in other words, you see their number rather than “Unknown Caller” when they ring—you can block them easily.

How to block callers on an iPhone: The basic method
This is best done just after you’ve been called, to avoid confusion and the risk of accidentally blocking the wrong number.

  1. After they’ve called, open the phone app if it isn’t already open and tap the Recents icon at the bottom.
  2. Their number should be the top in the list. Carefully tap the (i) icon at the right of their number’s entry in the list. If you tap too far to the left then you might find you accidentally call them! So take care.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the information that appears and tap Block This Caller. Then select Block Contact when prompted.

What the blocked caller sees
It should be noted that blocking a caller also blocks them from texting you, sending you iMessages, FaceTiming you and emailing you if they somehow email from their phone number (which is rare).

But it won’t block them from leaving you voicemails. To block them doing that you’ll need to speak to your cellular provider. Nor will it block them from contacting you in other apps like Skype, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. You’ll need to block them separately in those apps.

So, what do they experience when they try to call or message after you block them? Put simply, their attempts fall into a black hole. You will not be notified that they’re blocked. They simply hear the phone ring without being answered if they call, and then it will go through to voicemail. Any message they send to you appears to have been sent, but you won’t receive it.

Put simply, they will have no idea.

How to block “Unknown Callers” on the iPhone
The iPhone also offers a tool to block any contact who doesn’t identify themselves – the dreaded “Unknown Caller”.

This can block spammers/cold callers/marketers, but it can also block genuine calls from organisations like authorities or healthcare providers whose phone systems aren’t setup to reveal the number each time. Therefore, you should use this feature only when you’ve thought through whether it’s right for you.

Once the feature is activated, the caller will be sent straight to voicemail. They will still appear in your recent calls list in the phone app, though. The call just won’t ring out, and you won’t be notified when it happens.

To activate this feature, open the Settings app, then tap the Phone heading. Scroll down and tap the switch alongside Silence Unknown Callers.

When NOT to block
The block tools discussed above are strong measures designed for genuinely annoying situations. They shouldn’t be used if you simply want to temporarily stop an annoying friend from phoning you for a few hours, as an example. For that you should use a tool like Do Not Disturb.

How to unblock a caller on an iPhone
If you block a number by accident, you can unblock it easily. Open the Settings app, then tap the Phone heading. Scroll down and tap the Blocked Contacts heading. Find the number or contact you want to unblock, then tap and hold while sliding to the left. Then select Unblock.

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How do I hide a number on my iPhone?

12 May 2020, 10:27

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There are two parts to this blog. If you want to hide your own phone number when making a call, keep reading. However, if you want to hide a contact number for somebody so nobody else on your phone can see it, then skip to the heading below.

How to hide your number when making a call on an iPhone
To hide your number when making a call, and assuming that your cellular provider allows this feature, do the following: Open the Settings app, tap the Phone heading, tap the Show My Caller ID heading, and then tap the switch alongside Show My Caller ID so it’s deactivated.

Alternatively, in the US you can usually dial *67 before the number to hide any number on an as-needed basis. For example, to hide your number when calling 202-456-1111, you would type

*672024561111

In the UK, you should find that dialling 141 before the number works in the same way – for example, for the number 0181 811 8181, you would dial 14101818118181.

How to hide a number on the iPhone
If you share a phone with friends or family, you might want to hide away certain telephone numbers.

The bad news is that the phone and Contacts apps have no feature that lets you do this. Anybody who uses your phone can, with just a little effort, view all the phone numbers you have stored. And you can’t simply install an alternative phone or contacts app to get around this limitation, because Apple doesn’t allow that.

But nonetheless there are a variety of ways to hide a phone number on the iPhone. Here’s just one. It uses the built-in Notes app to create a locked note containing the number, that can’t be opened without a password.

Here are the steps:

  1. Open the Notes app, and create a new note (tap the pencil icon at the bottom right).
  2. On the first line type something innocuous and boring, so that it won’t arouse suspicion. Maybe something like, “Shopping list”. Then on a new line beneath, type something else innocuous. You need to do this because these first two lines are used to create the note preview in the notes listing. In other words, if you were just to type the secret phone number immediately on the first line then it would be visible whenever anybody viewed all your notes.
  3. On the third line, type the phone number that you want to hide.
  4. Tap the Done button at the top right. You’ll instantly see that the number turns into a link and, when you tap it, you’ll be asked if you want to call that number. Clever! This happens because the iPhone can detect what looks like phone numbers.
  5. But we aren’t done yet, because anybody could view the note and therefore see the number. We now need to Lock the note. To do this, tap the back button at the top left of the screen (the one that reads “< Notes”).
  6. Tap and hold your new note in the notes list. A preview of it will appear, but you can ignore this. Instead, look at the menu that’s appeared at the bottom. Tap the Lock Note menu entry.
  7. Assuming you haven’t already created a locked note, you’ll be invited to create a password. This single password will apply to ALL locked notes that you create from now on! Therefore, you should not forget it!
  8. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see a switch that will let you also use FaceID/TouchID instead of the password. Obviously, if you’ve configured your iPhone so others besides yourself can unlock it using their face/fingerprint then you should not select this option – because they’ll also be able to unlock this note.
  9. But we’re not quite done yet. You need to ensure the note is locked each time you’ve finished using it to make the call (in other words, you’ll need to return to the note after the call and lock it). To do this, tap the small Lock Now link at the bottom of the screen. when you’re viewing the main notes list. Or open the note and then tap the lock icon at the top right. Whenever anybody selects the notes now, they will see a message saying: “This note is locked.”

To call the secret number in future, just open the Notes app, select your secret note, unlock it, and tap the number. Then select to call the number when prompted.

Of course, this note could contain several secret phone numbers. Or you can create as many locked notes as you like.

Here’s some info from Apple about locking notes, including how to change the password if you need to. You should note that Apple doesn’t consider a locked note to be genuinely secure, and don’t advise people store genuinely secret info there like bank account details. But for hiding a phone number it’s a reasonable solution.

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How do I record my iPhone's screen?

12 May 2020, 05:29

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It’s often useful to create recordings of something happening on your iPhone, in order to share them with others or just to keep for posterity.

How to record the iPhone screen: Setting up Screen Recorder
Apple includes a screen recording tool within iOS on iPhones (and also iPads) that outputs video files. Unfortunately, this isn’t a dedicated app. It’s part of the Control Center, that appears when you swipe up from the bottom of the screen on older iPhones, or when you swipe down from the top right corner on newer iPhones without home buttons.

The Screen Recorder isn’t available in Control Center by default, however. You’ll need to add it. Here’s how.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad, and then tap the Control Center heading. Then tap the Customize Controls heading.
  2. Find the Screen Recording entry in the list that appears, and click the green plus icon alongside it.
  3. Close the Settings app.

How to record the iPhone screen: Using Screen Recorder
That’s the setup taken care of. From now on, to create a screen recording, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Open the Control Center, as mentioned earlier. Look for an icon that looks like a camera lens – a single circle inside a outer circle.
  2. If you want to quickly record something, just tap this button. You’ll see a three-second countdown timer. Use that time to close Control Center and open the app you want to make a screen recording of. You’ll know when the recording starts because the menu bar at the top of the iPhone screen will turn red.
  3. Alternatively, for more control over the recording, tap and hold the screen recorder icon in Control Center. A menu will appear asking where you want to save the video file to. The default is the Photos app camera roll, but you can send the video to a variety of other apps.
  4. You can select here whether to turn the microphone on too. This means that you can try to record sound with the video created by the app you’re recording. Notably, this doesn’t mean you record audio through the iPhone’s microphone, or if you’re wearing AirPods, for example. It just records audio from apps. And, even worse, not all apps will let you record their sound anyway.
  5. Tap the Start Recording button. You’ll see a three-second countdown timer, during which you can switch to the app you want to record. You’ll know when recording has started because the iPhone menu bar will turn red.
  6. To stop the recording regardless of how you started it, just tap the red menu bar, and tap Stop in the dialog box that appears.

Unless you changed the option earlier, you will find the videos you created in the Photos app.

How to record the iPhone screen: Some thing to know
Notably, it’s uncertain if you’ll be able to create illicit copies of music or videos this way. Often you can’t record the screen while using video or audio playback apps. Apple enforces this rule to protect copyright. All you’ll see is an error message telling you playback isn’t allowed, or the recording will simply stop. That said, I had luck recording YouTube videos via the YouTube app, and music in the Amazon Music app. In other words, just give it a try and see what you find in your favourite app (while respecting copyright laws, obviously!).

The videos created are standard MP4 files (H.264), which should be playable on most modern computing devices. File size will depend a lot on what you’re doing on-screen, but in my tests using an iPhone 8, the file size seemed to equate to 1 second video = 1Mb.

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