How to change app Preferences on an iPhone

How to change app Preferences on an iPhone
Mac Tip #437, 19 May 2010

Tired of your iPod touch or iPhone ‘flipping’ the screen if you tilt it too much? Sick of ‘Location’ requests? Do you want to change how long slides display in a slideshow? All those things and more can be changed in the Preferences.

Horizontal screen.

Horizontal screen.

Unfortunately I don’t yet have an iPad — they aren’t due in New Zealand until July 2010. I imagine the following applies equally well to the iPad, but can’t verify that.

The auto-rotate annoyance

For a while there I was finding auto-rotate simultaneously wonderful and extremely annoying. The problem was being able to control it.

You’ll have noticed that in many, or even most, apps flipping the iPhone from vertical to horizontal also flips the screen. That means you can easily read wider web pages, for example, or watch movies.

That’s great when you mean to flip the screen, but I’d often be lying in bed trying to read tweets or a book, and the screen would flip if I shifted my hand slightly.

The answer lay in the settings.

Preferences under General Settings

Settings on iPhone and iPod touch.

Settings on iPhone and iPod touch.

The first place to check for settings for any of the apps on your iPod is under general Settings. You may have moved the Settings icon to any page on your device, but on mine it’s on the first page.

Tap Settings and then scroll down. Below General in the list of settings are preferences for specific apps.

For example, tap Safari and you can select a search engine, whether to allow warnings for potentially fraudulent sites, how to handle cookies and so on.

You can also clear the History, Cookies and Cache from here. You might do that if Safari on your iPod has become unusually slow.

Or you may look into the settings for Photos. In here you can set the duration of each slide in a slideshow, what kind of transition to use and how to handle shuffle and repeat.

Listed below the settings for built-in apps are preferences for some apps you’ve chosen to install. For example, my list contains settings for the Daily Puppy, Facebook, NASA images, Skype and others.

Preferences within an app

App settings for Tweetie.

App settings for Tweetie.

Not all apps store their preferences in the Settings app though. Some give you access to the settings from within the app, and not always in a consistent place.

One place to look is for a button on an Accounts screen. For example, Tweetie allows me to choose how to display names, the font size, and other preferences.

Also check under More on the Menu Bar at the bottom of the screen. If you tap More you may see a screen that allows you access to additional categories of information. You amy also see an Edit link that allows you to add and remove items from the Menu Bar.

For example, in the WeatherNZ app the More button, followed by Edit allows you to add, remove, and change the sequence of buttons on the Menu Bar.

I like easy access to the Forecast, Tides and Charts, so I have them always available. I don’t care about Snow or Surf, so I leave them ‘hidden’ behind the More button.

Each app is different

The thing is, each app is different, and the iPhone operating system is still so new that things haven’t yet settled down into established patterns.

If you find an app’s behaviour annoying be sure to look under Settings, and be sure to check within the app itself for buttons such as More, Edit, Settings, Info, Customize, or Accounts.

Tell us in the Comments at the website the Preferences you’ve most wanted to change. And if you’ve used an iPad, was it just the same? What differences are there?

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  1. Miraz Jordan said:

    “had I known you would force these kind of changes I would not ever update the thing again”

    Hi Ken,

    I can appreciate you’re frustrated here, but I think you should address your frustration to Apple (the ‘you’ in your sentence above).

    I have no connections with Apple. They don’t listen to me. I doubt they even know I exist.

    I’m sorry your iPhone / iPod / iPad is giving you problems.

    And for the record, when I go to the Date & Time section of the general Prefs on my iOS4 iPhone it is currently displaying Thursday, 24 June 2010, just as I’d expect it to. I’ve selected the New Zealand region format under International settings.

  2. ken said:

    allow me to set the date to display how I choose. Stupid international setting now tells me it will have to display date as example: January 05, 2001 what the hell if I want to make the date display 05 January 2001 I should be able to make it do so. It used to be that way in prior release of iphone os and had I known you would force these kind of changes I would not ever update the thing again.
    Also to allow change font display size. If I need it to display med then it should do so through. need large same way, need extra large no problem. NOT to be divided into each and every stupid application. I should not have to waste my time for each thing every time it gets an update because some yoyo decides to change it yet again. Oh wait better yet, allow us to CHOOSE after all it is ours. we paid for it! And yet, get things like this forced onto us and make me start to resent it.

Comments are closed.