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iPhone – Optimal Settings as Alternatives to Factory Default Settings

Effective Living > Technology > Apple > iPhone

Summary. The factory default settings for the iPhone may not be optimal for ease of use, convenience, personalization, and optimal battery life. Optimal configuration settings are suggested below. It may also be necessary to change these settings if the phone needed to be reset (such as when the camera stops working).

  • 24 Hour Time. The default time setting is 12-hour (AM/PM) time. Increasingly the standard around the world is 24-hour time. To set this, go to Settings > General > Date & Time > and set 24-Hour Time to on. 
  • Automatic Synchronization. In iTunes, the phone will have automatic synchronization configured by default. Turn this off for greater control of the phone synchronization.
  • Brightness. Having the iPhone display slightly dimmed can be easy on the eyes and save battery power. By default, the screen is quite bright. To change this, go to Settings > Brightness > and adjust it to the lowest setting that is comfortable to look at and clear to read.
  • Caps Lock Feature. By default this is off. To turn it on, go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Enable Caps Lock > turn on.
  • Contacts Button. The 2.0 version of the iPhone software includes a direct access button for contacts (rather than going to phone first). The button is on page two of the home menu. To bring it to page one, press and hold a home screen icon. The icons will shake. Slide your finger from right to left to reveal the second page of icons. Press and hold the Contacts button, then drag it to the left side of the screen to bring it to page one. Press the home button when done.
  • Contacts Sort Order. By default, all names in the contacts list are by last name. To have contacts sorted by first name, for the old version of the iPhone operating system, go to Settings > Phone > Contacts Sort Order > select First, Last. You may want to see the first name in bold. If so, make sure that Display Order is set to First, Last. For the 2.0 version of the iPhone software, go to Settings > Mail Contacts Calendars > Contacts Sort Order > select First, Last. You may want to see the first name in bold. If so, make sure that Display Order is set to First, Last. 
  • Mail Account Default. Your preferred default mail account may not be selected. To check this, go to Settings > Mail > and scroll to the bottom to see what the default account is.
  • Mail Account Synchronization. In the iTunes software, it is only necessary to synchronize the email account settings one time. Once this information is transferred to the iPhone, turn synchronization off to reduce synchronization time.
  • Mail Delete Confirmation. If you receive an important email message on your iPhone, you will probably want to scroll through it. If you accidentally touch the trash can icon at the bottom of the screen while scrolling, the message will be immediately and permanently deleted without giving you an opportunity to confirm deletion. The trash icon is also very close to the button that may appear at the bottom of a message for downloading the remaining content of a larger message. To avoid accidental deletion of messages, go to Settings > Mail > and scroll down to turn on the Ask Before Deleting option.
  • Mail Message Preview. By default, a two line preview of messages is shown in the inbox under the subject of the message. Since the lines of text are very short, switching preview to five lines makes it easier to get an idea of what a message is about without needing to open it. To change this go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Preview and set to 5 lines.
  • Mail Sent Messages Lost Unless BCC to Self. The iPhone does not synchronize sent messages. Their only location is in the iPhone they were sent from. Eventually these get removed from the phone over time or whenever the phone needs to be reset to factory default settings.
  • Mail Signature. The default mail signature says “Sent from my iPhone.” This can be personalized by going to Settings > Mail > and scrolling to the bottom to find Signature.
  • Push. The iPhone can be configured to receive new data such as emails and calendar changes automatically. This realtime synchronization or updating is called Push technology. Enabling this feature may use up the battery faster. Unless you need to be notified of emails rather than checking them at your convenience, it’s best to turn Push off by going to Settings > Fetch New Data > Push off.
  • Ringtones. The default ringtone for the phone is Marimba. To change this go to Settings > Sounds > Ringtone and select the preferred ringtone.
  • Sound Effects. By default, various sound effects are enabled. This can be annoying and also use up additional battery power and processing power. To turn these sound effects off, go to Settings > Sounds > and turn off Lock Sounds and Keyboard Clicks (found at the bottom of the list).
  • Vibrate. By default, vibrate is set to be on when the phone is in silent mode and even when the phone is not set to be in silent mode the phone will vibrate as an alert, such as when a new message has arrived. This uses up battery power. To turn it off, go to Settings > Sounds > and under Silent set Vibrate to off, also under Ring set Vibrate to off.
  • Wallpaper. The default wallpaper is the image seen when turning on the phone. This can be changed by going to Settings > Wallpaper > then browse to select the preferred wallpaper.
  • Wireless – Ask to Join Networks. The default setting is to have the iPhone continue to ask you if you want to join a wireless network when one is detected. If you’re in an area with many wireless networks, this can be annoying. This can be turned off by going to Settings > Wi-Fi > Ask to Join Networks and set to off.
Configuring Two iPhones. For users with two iPhones, it is possible to set both phones simultaneously by setting them next to each other and then using the forefinger and pinky to tap phones in the same locations.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com