Getting Your Ways Around The Unobvious Settings in iOS

There is so much information and instruction packed into the General Settings in iOS that it’s really not so general. You already have your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch set up and are using it, but now you have additional questions and concerns.

If you’re looking for more minor general settings, such as how to update your software, how to find out your serial number, or how to set up the use of Emoji characters, this is the place to go.



The About section in the General tab of the Settings is more informational than anything else, but there are a few hidden gems. It includes:

  • network and carrier you use
  • number of songs, videos, photos, and apps you have loaded
  • memory capacity
  • memory you have available
  • version of iOS
  • model
  • serial number
  • WiFi address
  • Bluetooth address
  • IMEI
  • Modern firmware

It also includes the “name” of your phone. If you’re not happy with it, click on it to change it to something else. It also includes a tab called “Advertising”. Hidden behind this is a toggle switch for “Limit Ad Tracking”. You can also determine whether or not the device will send Diagnostics and Usage reports to Apple. The Legal tab holds the legal notices, license, warranty, etc.

Software Update and Usage


Underneath the About section is Software Update and Usage. If you tape on Software Update, it will tell you what version you are using and if an update is available. Tapping on Usage first shows a list of the apps you have loaded and how much memory they’re using. If you tap the arrow in the right next to the app, it will give you an option to delete that app. It’s surprising how much memory they use sometimes. It also shows your iCloud storage and options, how much time you have used since your last full charge, how much standby time is remaining, and information on your cellular usage as far as how much call time and data you have remaining. A toggle switch to show your battery remaining percentage in the top right is also in the Usage pane.



The Cellular section allows you to toggle between Cellular Data, LTE, and Data Roaming. You can choose to only use data if you’re under WiFi, and can choose whether the device will use LTE to load the data faster. You can turn off Data Roaming to avoid getting charged while traveling. There is also an option to Set Up a Personal Hotspot to share your device’s Internet connection with another device. Back to the General settings, you will also find a toggle for a VPN connection. If you choose not to use iCloud, you can sync your device with the “iTunes WiFi Sync” tab by connecting the device through a USB port on a computer.

Spotlight Search


The Spotlight Search tab allows you to choose which information will be used in your search. From the home screen, if you swipe to the right, it will give you a search field for locating apps and information on your device. Certain fields can prove to locate a lot of data, like Mail, so you can tap the Spotlight Search tab in General Settings and either turn these fields off and on, or tap and hold the three screened bars to reorganize the order of the list.



Your device will automatically lock after a certain amount of time. You can change the amount of time for it to auto-lock or choose Never to disable it. Passcode Lock requires you to enter a four-digit passcode to unlock the phone. From this Setting, you can turn this option off and on, choose which apps you’ll still be able to access when locked, and set the passcode. You can also use a longer alphanumeric code for the lockscreen. Additionally, you can set the device to erase all data after ten failed login attempts. Back in the General Settings, there is also a Restrictions tab just below the Lock options that allows you to turn certain functions off, which is helpful if a child is using the device.



In the Accessibility section, you can set the time zone and choose 12-hour or 24-hour. Under Keyboard and Accessibility, you can choose options for entering text, such as a spellcheck and auto-correct. You can add or delete keyboard options as well, such as a keyboard with an alternate language or Emoji. Shortcuts allow you to determine text shortcuts that will spell out the words for you after you type it, such as “omw” for “On my way!” International allows you to change the language of your device, the region format, and the regional calendar type. You can also set options for VoiceOver to speak the items on your screen, Zoom, Large Text, and Inverted Colors. Options for hearing disabled and learning and/or physically disabled are included as well.



The Reset option needs to be accessed with caution. It provides different forms of Reset. You can choose just to reset all your settings if something is giving you trouble, and you are having a hard time locating which setting it would be. You can Reset your Network Settings if you switch networks and can also reset your dictionary, the Home Screen Layout, and your Location and Privacy. The “Erase All Content and Settings” will do just that. It will completely wipe your device. If you have the device backing up regularly, it won’t be much of a problem, as when you restart after choosing this, you can restore your device as of the last backup, including all settings and storage, but make sure you have this backup before erasing.

This information will help you to have every setting exactly the way you want it in iOS to make sure your device is working the best for you. Siri and iCloud are also included in these settings, but this will be explained more in detail in later posts.

Laura Tucker
Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.

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