Tweak some settings on your iPhone to get the most out of it. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Your iPhone ($699 at Apple) is great how it comes, but you can make it even better with just a few minutes of your time. Whether you just bought the new iPhone SE, a hand-me-down iPhone XR or have used the same iPhone for years, changing Apple’s default settings can have a big impact on your overall experience using the phone. 

For instance, Do Not Disturb is disabled right out of the box, which means that your iPhone will continue to beep at you throughout the night, causing light sleepers to wake up. Who wants that? Instead, a quick dip into settings can automatically silence your phone all night long, take advantage of dark mode to save battery life and put Control Center to work for you by changing your phone’s settings. 

Read on for all our tips! Note that we regularly update this article as Apple adds new features and settings. And now, take a few minutes to adjust these eight settings to save yourself from potential frustrations down the road. 

Do Not Disturb will help you sleep better. Trust me. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

1. Turn on Do Not Disturb

I often wonder how I got a full night of sleep before Do Not Disturb was added to iOS. When turned on, Do Not Disturb silences all alerts on your iPhone, either using a set schedule or on-demand. Your notifications will still be waiting for you when you wake up in the morning, but by turning on DND, your phone won’t make as much as a beep or a ping for Facebook updates and work emails.

Don’t worry, if someone needs to get ahold of you in case of an emergency, you can tell DND to allow repeat calls from the same number to make your phone ring. You can also decide if you want to always allow calls from contacts you’ve added to the favorites section in the Phone app.

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2. Make text easier to read

With a couple of taps on your iPhone’s screen you can adjust the font size to make it easier for you to read. Open the Settings app and go to Display & Brightness > Text Size and use the slider until you’re happy with the font size. 

For a little added oomph, you can turn on Bold Text (it’s just below the Text Size button). 

The more fingers you add to Touch ID, the better. 

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3. Add more fingers to Touch ID

The iPhone SE is Apple’s latest iPhone and it brings back the home button with Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor. During the initial setup process, iOS walks you through adding a fingerprint, but it doesn’t give you the option to add more than one. After your phone is set up, go in and register more fingerprints. 

Open Settings > Touch ID & Passcode > enter your PIN > Add a fingerprint and go through the enrollment process. 

Going forward, you won’t have to think about which finger unlocks or approves a purchase — it will just work. 

Face ID doesn’t always get it right. 

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

4. Or an alternate appearance to Face ID

Apple’s facial recognition feature, Face ID, constantly learns and relearns different aspects of your face with each scan. But if you’re struggling to get Face ID to consistently recognize you, use the alternate appearance option. 

Go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode > enter your PIN > Set Up An Alternate Appearance and go through the process of enrolling your face again. 

Keep your screen dim to save battery life. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

5. Disable auto brightness for longer battery life

Your iPhone’s screen brightness level can have a big impact on battery life. By default, iOS will automatically adjust the display’s brightness based on how much light the ambient sensor detects. But if you want to take complete control, you can disable auto brightness. Meaning whatever you set the brightness level to is what it will stay at until you adjust it again. 

Open Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size and at the bottom of the page, you’ll find a switch to turn off Auto-Brightness

Now, whenever you want to adjust your screen, you can do so by opening Control Center with a swipe up from the bottom of the screen on a device with a home button, or a swipe down from the top-right corner on newer iPhones. 

Dark Mode on the iPhone sure looks good. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

6. Dark mode is where it’s at

If you don’t want to have to manually adjust your screen’s brightness, you can use iOS 13’s dedicated dark mode that’s been proven to save on battery life. Dark mode converts all of the white backgrounds in apps to, more often than not, a black background. In turn, your phone is able to save battery power thanks to the darker colors. 

Turn it on by going to Settings > Display & Brightness and selecting the Dark option at the top of the screen. 

Not only will Apple’s own apps automatically switch to a dark color scheme, but most third-party apps have also adopted the feature

Apple has put all of its privacy controls in one place. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

7. Triage your privacy settings

The first time you set up a phone and all of your favorite apps, you’re bombarded with prompts asking for permission to access personal information ranging from tracking our location to your Apple Health information or your camera roll. It’s far too easy to get in the habit of approving everything just so you can use the app, but take a few minutes and go through your privacy settings and tailor what each app can and can’t see. We walk you through the process in two quick steps

Control Center has a lot of potential, you just have to customize it. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

8. Control Center puts everything a tap and swipe away

Control Center is a convenient spot to quickly change songs, turn on airplane mode, connect to Wi-Fi, or start a timer — but there’s so much more to it than that. You can quickly turn your Flashlight on, check on a timer or start recording your screen with a quick swipe and tap. 

Customize which apps and features are available in Control Center by opening the Settings app and selecting Control Center followed by Customize Controls. Remove an option with a tap on the red minus button, or add an option by selecting the green addition button. Drag features up or down using the three-line icon on the right side of the screen. 

Personally, I like having quick access to the Wallet app, turning on low power mode and toggling dark mode. 

As a reminder, if you have an iPhone with a home button — like the new iPhone SE — you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open Control Center. If you have an iPhone with Face ID, like an iPhone X ($900 at Sprint), XS or 11, you’ll need to swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen where the battery icon is. 

With your settings tweaked and your iPhone running better than ever, familiarize yourself with the best iOS 13 has to offer, along with some of the hidden features we’ve dug up.

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