Guide to iOS 11’s settings
Cliff Joseph’s guide will help you personalize your iOS device
As we saw last month, iOS allows you to adjust every aspect of your iPhone or iPad. In the second and final part of our guide to iOS, we look at iCloud, apps and downloads.
iCloud settings The iCloud Drive App, and how to hide it
iCloud Drive is a bit like Finder on the Mac, as it allows you to view all the files and folders that you have
stored within your free 5GB of iCloud storage. That’s great if – like me – you constantly need to transfer work files between multiple devices running different apps when you’re on the move. However, the iCloud Drive app might be a little confusing for people who aren’t familiar with cloud services such as iCloud or Dropbox. And if you ever let your kids or other people use your iPad or iPhone there’s also the possibility that they could use this app to view personal files, or even delete some important work files without your permission.
To prevent this, iOS allows you to hide the iCloud Drive app so that it’s no longer visible on your Home screen. Your iCloud account still works, and all your files and emails stored in iCloud can still be opened up within apps like Mail or Pages, but hiding the iCloud Drive app ensures that no files can be viewed, moved or deleted by mistake.
So, if we return to the main iCloud Settings panel once more, and tap on iCloud Drive, we’ll see the ‘Show On Home Screen’ switch, which allows us to show or hide the app as required. iCloud and third-party companies And, at long last, there are some third-party apps from companies other than Apple that are starting to use iCloud Drive as well. The latest version of Excel for iOS can now use your iCloud Drive to store files – as can the iOS versions of Word and PowerPoint too.
Each app that uses iCloud gets its own control switch that lets you turn the iCloud storage option on or off, so you can turn it on just for the main apps that you work with, and turn all the others off in order to avoid
using up extra space unnecessarily. Some files – such as PowerPoint or Keynote presentations – can be pretty large, so there’s also a switch that allows you to restrict file uploads to Wi-Fi connections, so that you don’t bust your mobile broadband data cap. iCloud settings on the iPhone The iCloud panel is a bit of a biggie. However, the essentials here are the ability to turn iCloud syncing on or off for a variety of different apps.
You can use iCloud to share photos, emails and contacts, as well as files created in apps such as Pages, Numbers and Keynote. One really useful iCloud option is Find My iPhone, which can be used to locate any device that’s logged into your iCloud account. I mislay my phone around the house all the time, so I often use this feature to find it again – but, more importantly, Find
My iPhone works with iPads and Macs too, and can be used to locate your devices if they get lost or stolen.
After iCloud and iTunes you’ll find settings for a variety of individual apps. These include the standard apps, such as Mail and Contacts that are built into your iPhone or iPad, but there are also settings for other apps that you buy and install yourself, so these will obviously vary from person to person. Cloud options for iPhones and iPads It may sit quite a long way down the list of options in the iOS Settings panel, but iCloud is now one of the key technologies at the heart of both iOS and macOS. When it was first launched back in 2011, iCloud was really just designed for syncing emails and photos between your iPhone and your Mac. However, it has now matured into a sophisticated cloud storage system that can share all sorts of personal information across multiple devices.
Family Sharing allows one person – known as the ‘organizer’ – to create a special ‘family group’, and to then invite up to five family members to join that group. Family Sharing works on iOS devices, Macs, and even PCs running Windows (though you’ll need to download the iCloud for Windows software from the Apple website).
The only restriction here is that the organizer has to be an adult, with a credit card linked to their Apple ID account. The organizer agrees to pay for any purchases made by members of the family group, and any purchases made by any member of the group are automatically made available to everyone else in the group. But don’t worry – there are options within Family
Sharing that can prevent your family going crazy with your credit card. iCloud storage: free 5GB When you create an Apple ID account you automatically get 5GB of free storage on iCloud, which you can use to store your photos, emails, and your device backups.
That’s not a huge amount, but the music, videos and apps that you buy from iTunes or the App Store don’t count towards the 5GB total, so most people can still get by with that basic amount of storage. I use my iPhone and iPad all the time, and I’ve still got about 4GB spare.
If you want to know how much storage you have left you can see it displayed near the top of the main iCloud settings panel.
But, as iCloud adds more new features, such as iCloud Drive and iCloud Photo Library, it gets easier and easier to fill up that 5GB of storage. Fortunately, you’ve got a couple of options for managing your iCloud storage, which you can see just by tapping on Storage in the settings panel. Get more space in iCloud The Storage Panel shows you how much storage you’ve got left (above). If you take a lot of photos, or use iCloud Drive to store a lot of work files then you might need to pay for some extra storage. However, there’s another option that you can try first. Just tap on Manage Storage and you’ll see a detailed list of everything you have stored in iCloud. Your Photo Library comes first, followed by backups from all your iOS devices, and then
a detailed list of all the files created in other apps such as Keynote and Numbers.
I recently moved a load of holiday photos back onto my office Mac, so the Photo Library on my iPhone currently only takes up about 190MB. My iPad backup is bigger, though, taking up 200MB, and there’s a number of files that I created in Keynote on my Mac that take up another 190MB on their own. If you’re close to your 5GB limit you can see which apps and files are taking up the most space and you might be able to grab back quite a bit of space simply by deleting a few old files that you don’t need any more. Remove data from iCloud to make more space You actually have really fine control over the data that you store in iCloud.
Of course, you can delete individual photos and videos from Photos whenever you want, and it doesn’t hurt to clear out your email Inbox now and then either.
You can also delve into iCloud and delete files from other apps too. Just tap on the name of any app in the Manage Storage panel, and you will see a list of every single file created by that app, along with the size of each file.
I wrote an article on Keynote for iPad&iPhoneUser recently, and I’ve still got a number of large Keynote presentations files that are taking up space in my iCloud storage. But if I tap the Edit button at the top of the screen I can delete individual files that I no longer need, or just use the Delete All command to delete every file created by Keynote.
You can also control which files will be included in future backups. If I tap my iPhone in the Backups list I can see a list of every app that I have on my iPhone, and how much data each app will store when I back up my iPhone to iCloud. You can click the green button to turn off backups for individual apps, and as you do this you’ll see an updated count of how large the next backup will be. Removing backups to make more space After your Photo Library, one of the biggest items that most people upload to iCloud is the daily backup of their iPhone or iPad data. By default, iOS automatically backs up your iPhone or iPad to iCloud once a day (as long as the device is turned on, connected to power, and connected to a Wi-Fi network). But if those backups take up too much space on iCloud you can simply turn off the backup function altogether.
Tap on Delete Backup and you’ll see another little window pop up that asks if you want to ‘Turn off &
Delete’. If you go ahead and do this you will delete any backups from that device that are already stored in iCloud, and also turn off any future backups as well. You can still back up your iPhone or iPad by connecting it to your Mac or PC and using the automatic backup option in iTunes, but those backups are stored on your computer’s hard disk so they don’t take up any of your iCloud storage. Upgrading iCloud storage If these space-saving tricks still don’t stop you from hitting that 5GB limit then you might just have to bite the bullet and pay for some more storage. Apple’s pricing for iCloud storage used to be ridiculously expensive – which is why so many people still use rivals such as Dropbox or Microsoft’s OneDrive. However, Apple cut the prices of iCloud storage quite drastically last year, following the introduction of iCloud Drive.
Go back to the main Storage panel and tap Buy More Storage, and you’ll see a price list for the different iCloud storage options. You can upgrade to 50GB – and that’s 50GB total, not 50GB on top of the original 5GB – for just 79p a month. There are also plans for 200GB at £2.49 per month, and 1TB for £6.99.
Rivals such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft’s OneDrive are still cheaper – with Microsoft and Google both offering a really handy 15GB of storage for free – but the simplicity of iCloud and its ability to seamlessly share all your important files and data across multiple devices is really useful if you own a lot of Apple products. And, of course, you can use more than one cloud storage service if you want.
I mainly use iCloud for syncing photos and emails across my devices, but I also have a free Dropbox account that I use as an emergency backup for important work files on my office Mac. iCloud and Apps Keeping an eye on your iCloud Storage is even more important when using new features such as iCloud Drive and iCloud Photo Library.
However, the iCloud Settings panel also includes a number of options that determine how iCloud works with individual apps on your iPhone or iPad. If you want to share your Mail messages, Contacts info and Calendar events across all your devices then you need to make sure that you turn on iCloud for each of these apps here.
You can also use iCloud to share information from other apps too, such as Reminders and Notes, bookmarks that you have stored in Safari, and the Passbook app that stores information about airline tickets and for now is your link to Apple Pay.
It’s worth being selective here, as not all apps really need to share data and info across your devices. I have lots of web pages bookmarked on the iMac in my office,
but I don’t want to mix them up with other web pages that I view on my iPhone, so I tend to turn off iCloud sharing for Safari most of the time. Mail options Although there’s a simple switch that allows you to turn iCloud On or Off for Mail there’s also another set of Mail options that are hidden further down in the iCloud Settings panel.
Scroll right down to the ‘Advanced’ section and tap on the entry for Mail. That opens up a page that contains options for managing multiple email accounts. Scroll down again, and tap on ‘Advanced’ again, and you’ll now see a window that allows you to control how Mail handles different mailboxes. You can actually change which mailboxes are used to store emails that you send and receive. If you’re an email obsessive – or Hillary Clinton – you could specify that emails that you
discard are archived for future retrieval, rather than going straight into the Trash and being deleted.
You can also specify how long deleted messages stay in the Trash before they are completely removed. You can keep them for one day, one week or one month, or select the ‘Never’ option which leaves messages in the Trash until you decide to delete them yourself.
Important apps like Mail and Safari get their own individual controls for iCloud, but there’s another option in here, simply called Backup, that allows you to store data from a number of additional apps too.
The Backup option is a little confusing, as it overlaps with the iCloud Photo Library to some extent. Turning on iCloud Photo Library stores your entire Photo Library in iCloud and updates it continuously whenever you shoot any new photos and videos. The Backup option works slightly differently – in fact, it’s a bit more like doing a Time Machine backup on your Mac.
When you activate Backup in iCloud Settings your iPhone or iPad will automatically perform one complete backup every day – but only when the device is locked and not in use, and is being charged and connected to a Wi-Fi network at the same time. That daily backup includes photos and videos, just like the iCloud Photo Library, but it also includes data from other apps too, such as text messages, health data that is stored in HealthKit apps, and even details of how you’ve organized all your apps on your Home Screens.
Turning off the iCloud Backup option doesn’t affect important apps, such as Mail and Contacts, so your most important data is still protected even if this option is turned off. It’s still worth using Backup every now and then, though, just in case anything goes wrong with your iPhone or iPad. If you don’t want to use Backup via Wi-Fi, you can also perform a manual backup by using a USB cable to connect your iPhone or iPad to iTunes on your Mac. That’s a good option too, as it allows you to store the backup on your Mac’s hard disk, rather than taking up the limited space in iCloud.
iCloud Security Code
There’s one other important type of data that can be stored on iCloud. The iCloud Keychain stores private
personal data, such as passwords for email accounts and web sites, and even credit card numbers that you use on sites such as Amazon or eBay. This is very important information, obviously, so you can keep this information extra safe by creating an iCloud Security Code. If someone gets hold of any of your Macs or iOS devices without your permission they would need to know both your normal iCloud password and the extra iCloud Security Code before they could access your Keychain.
I tend to keep Keychain turned off on my iPhone, so that some important passwords that I have on my office iMac aren’t shared with the iPhone when I’m away from the office. But if you want to turn Keychain on then you can simply tap Keychain in the iCloud Settings panel and then click the On/Off button that appears. Underneath that button you’ll also see the ‘Advanced’ option, which allows you to set up the additional iCloud Security Code.
There are two options here. You could choose to use your normal iPhone Passcode as the Security Code too. But, of course, if someone manages to get hold of your passcode then your iPhone is completely defenceless. It’s better to create a separate Security Code that has no connection with your normal passcode. You can either opt for a simple four-digit security code or let your device generate a longer, random code number for you.
Apps and downloads Control Background App Refresh
One option that it’s useful to know about is the Background Refresh panel. Many apps, such as
newspapers and magazines, or weather and stock prices, can automatically update themselves with new information even when you’re not actually using them.
Allowing apps to download data in the background can save time if you’re a real news junkie or if you want to make a killing on the stock market, but it can also drain your battery more quickly, so you might want to turn this option off for some of your less essential apps.
You can turn background refresh on or off for each individual app, but there’s also a master switch at the top of this panel that allows you to change the setting for all your apps at once.
The next two settings panels provide controls for iCloud and your iTunes account. The iTunes options are straightforward enough, although you might want to turn off the Use Mobile Data option that uses your mobile broadband to automatically download items purchased on other devices – downloading the full eight-hour version of Max Richter’s Sleep album could bust your mobile broadband data cap in no time flat.
Turning the Mobile Data option off does still allow you to download purchases using Wi-Fi. You can also turn the automatic download option on or
off for different types of content, such as music, apps and books. I tend to buy music using iTunes on my Mac, but I like to have all my music stored on my iPhone as well, so I keep Automatic Downloads turned on for my music purchases. I don’t really read books on the iPhone, though, so that one gets turned off.
Wi-Fi Sync options
When iTunes was first launched more than a decade ago, the idea was that you would buy music and video using iTunes on your Mac and then download your purchases onto ye olde iPod using a USB cable connection. Nowadays, though, many of us do everything on our iPhones and iPads, including buying apps, music and videos, and we often forget to back up our purchases on to our Macs.
But, just below the Keyboard settings you’ll see an option called iTunes Wi-Fi Sync. Somewhat ironically, you still have to use a USB cable to connect your iOS device to your Mac and then select the Wi-Fi Sync option within iTunes on your Mac in order to activate it on your iOS device. However, you only have to do that the first time, and after that you can sync all your purchases back to your Mac via Wi-Fi. However, Wi-Fi Sync only works if your iPhone or iPad is being charged at the time, is on the same Wi-Fi network as your Mac, and you have iTunes open on your Mac.
Downloads and Updates: Automatic Downloads
When the iPhone and iPad were first introduced they were initially very dependent on iTunes running on a Mac for making purchases and transferring files. You’d
use iTunes on the Mac to buy apps, music and video, and then download them on to your iOS devices using ye olde USB cable.
However, our mobile devices are now much more sophisticated and self-contained, which means people can end up making purchases on several different devices. I still tend to buy music on my iMac at home, but I download apps directly onto my iPhone all the time, and buy books and magazines on my iPad when I’m slumped on the sofa at home. To help keep track of all your purchases, iOS includes an option called Automatic Downloads, which is tucked inside the iTunes And App Store section of the main Settings panel.
There are four options here, for music, apps, books and software updates. Turning any of these options on ensures that items you purchase on one device are automatically downloaded on to other devices as well.
I recently bought a Muse album, Drones, using iTunes on my Mac. It’s not their best album, but it has its moments so I’ve turned on the Music option in Automatic Downloads, which ensures that the album is automatically downloaded on to my iPhone without me needing to plug it into my Mac.
There’s no option to automatically download video files, as the downloads take up too much time and storage space on your mobile devices. However, even smaller audio files and app downloads could still bust your phone’s monthly data cap, so this settings panel also includes an option to turn off ‘cellular data’ (mobile broadband) for automatic downloads. This ensures that you only download purchases when your device is connected to a Wi-Fi network.
There’s a corresponding option in iTunes on the Mac, hidden away in the Store tab of the iTunes preferences panel. This will automatically download any purchases that you make on your iOS devices onto your Mac – and your Mac can also download video purchases that may be too big to keep on your iPhone or iPad.
Downloads and Updates: Suggested Apps
Right at the bottom of the iTunes And App Store settings panel is a not-very-well-known option called Suggested Apps. If you’re out and about with your iPhone, this option can use GPS to keep track of your location and can suggest apps that might be useful in that location. If you turn on My Apps, your iPhone will just look at the apps you already have installed – such as a Starbucks app for ordering and paying for coffee – and display the icon for that app on your lock screen so that you can
launch it right away. The App Store option also allows your iPhone to check on the App Store to see if there are other apps available that might be useful, such as airline schedules when you arrive at an airport.
Downloads and Updates: App Settings
The next section in Settings is for the Passbook and Apple Pay, however we’ve already looked at Apple Pay in detail so we won’t repeat that info here. That leaves one final section within Settings, which consists of a long list of the individual apps that are installed on your iPhone or iPad.
These are divided into two categories – Apple’s own apps, and the third-party apps that you have bought and downloaded from the App Store. The third-party apps will obviously vary from person to person, but it’s worth taking a closer look at some
of Apple’s preinstalled apps as we sometimes take these for granted.
Some of the options here are pretty straightforward – for instance, the Maps app allows you to display distances in either in miles or kilometres, while Compass lets you switch between ‘true’ north and magnetic north. However, there are a number of key apps that many of us use every day, and which provide a number of useful options that you may not know about.
Downloads and Updates: Mail, Contacts, Calendars
The three key apps here are the Mail, Contacts and Calendars apps, which are grouped together within a single settings panel. That’s a little untidy, but they’re probably all put together like this because these are the three main apps that give you the choice to either ‘push’ or ‘fetch’ new data.
Most apps go to sleep when you’re not actually using them, and only ‘fetch’ new data when you launch the app once more. When I launch my BBC News app it will check to see if I have an Internet connection and then connect with the BBC servers to see if there are any new headlines that it can ‘fetch’ for me to read. However, some apps also have a ‘push’ option that allows new data to automatically be ‘pushed’ straight into them as soon as it becomes available.
What happens with an app like Mail is that your email server does all the work, and automatically pushes new email messages straight onto your iPhone or iPad without waiting for the app to wake up and fetch the messages for itself. When the app receives a new
email it wakes up – even if it’s not running on screen at that moment – and can pop a notification on screen to tell you that the message has arrived.
That’s obviously useful, but some people argue that using push technology continuously can drain your battery more quickly, so the Mail, Contacts, Calendars settings panel includes an option called Fetch New Data that lets you turn off the push option so these three apps will only fetch new data when you tell them to.
There’s actually a lot of debate on the internet about whether ‘push’ or ‘fetch’ drains your battery more quickly, but Apple’s own web site suggests using the Fetch option to maximise battery life, so that’s good enough for us. In any event, your Wi-Fi usage and screen brightness probably have far more effect on battery life than the push and fetch options, so this isn’t something that you need to worry about too much.
There are other apps that can use push technology too, although these apps may sometimes refer to it as ‘background refresh’ instead. The BBC News app has options for both background refresh and notifications, so that it can give you an on-screen notification if a major news story breaks.
Plenty of other apps provide similar options, covering everything from stock prices to special offers at your local supermarket, so you’ll need to decide how much of this information you really want to see when you’re choosing settings for all your apps.
Stop subscription auto-renewals on the iPhone
Millions of people signed up for the new Apple Music service when it was launched at the end of June – tempted, of course, by the offer of a free trial that lasted for a full three months. Many have now come
to the end of that trial period, and will need to decide if they want to cancel their subscription to Apple Music or to start paying for it.
We’ve looked at Apple Music in detail elsewhere so we won’t repeat that information here, but there are lots of other apps available for the iPhone and iPad that may also require monthly subscription fees. It’s worth knowing how iOS manages these subscriptions so that you don’t accidentally end up paying for services that you no longer want to use.
Scroll down the main Settings panel and tap on the item marked App and iTunes Stores. You’ll see your Apple ID shown at the top of this settings panel, and you can tap on that to view subscriptions and other settings associated with your personal Apple ID account.
Your Account page includes details such as the payment method you have chosen for all your purchases, and there’s also a section labelled Subscriptions. Tap the ‘Manage’ button and you’ll see a list of every app you own that may require a subscription payment. Needless to say, Apple Music sits right at the top of the list (here’s how to switch off the Apple Music auto-renewal), but I have also taken out subscriptions to Eurosport and a few magazines and newspapers in the past – most of which I no longer use.
The status of all these services is listed, so you can see which ones are active and which ones have expired. You can tap on each service individually to see the dates when each subscription expires, and then decide whether you want to renew again or simply cancel your subscription.