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iOS 101: How to Navigate on Your iPhone or iPad

Written by iHospital. Posted in How To

Is the iPhone 4S your first iDevice? Did you wait in hours to get your beloved device? Do you need a quick primer before you teach Siri to Tweet? This post is designed for you!  Apple devices are designed to be simple to learn but we all need a primer on the basics once in awhile.  This article will cover major multitask gestures and navigation on your iPhone or iPad. We’ll also throw in a couple tips and tricks as the end!


  • Tap – the tap is one of the most common and basic gestures.  It is used to open apps, bring up controls, make choices from menus and more.  All iDevices use tapping.
  • Double tap – a double tap is used to zoom in or out on text.
  • Tap, hold and drag - this combination of gestures is used to highlight text, copy and paste, delete and/or move apps.  When you do this over a piece of text, it will highlight in blue and editing handles will appear on either side of the highlighted text – you can tap, hold and drag to increase or decrease the size of the selection.
  • Flick and swipe - swiping is also a very basic navigation tool on all iDevices.  A left or right swipe will move you through app pages on your home screen or images in the Photos app.  You can use an up or down swipe to read magazines, text in safari and/or iBooks.  iDevices support inertial scrolling which means the faster or slower you move your finger, the faster or slower the content will move.  For example if you want to reach the bottom of the page quicker you just flick faster.
  • Pinch - use the pinch gesture to zoom in or open something.  It’s exactly like pinching in real life – place your thumb and index finger, pinched together, on the home screen and spread them apart. To zoom out, do the reverse.
  • Rotate - you can rotate elements with two or more fingers using a clockwise or counter clockwise motion.

Navigation Basics

  • Home Screen - this is the first screen you’ll see when you turn your iDevice on.  All of your applications and programs are grouped into rows and several more are grouped on the silver dock along the bottom of your screen.  The home screen will hold 16 apps (20 on an iPad) so you can have multiple app pages to organize your apps (up to 11).
  • Search in Spotlight - you can easily search for email messages, webpages, Google or Wikipedia by swiping right on your home screen until you reach Spotlight.  Type in the search query in the text box.
  • Open and close Apps - tap an icon once to open an application.  Return to the navigation by hitting the home button.
  • Rearrange and delete Apps - tap and hold any icon on your home screen to rearrange the order of your icons.  After a few moments your icons will start to do a wiggle dance and a small black X will appear in each icon’s top left corner.  Now you can drag them into a different location or onto the dock.  You can also delete third party apps – you cannot delete the apps that came pre-installed on your device.
  • Use Folders - tap and hold any app icon to enable edit mode.  Drag an app on top of another app.  When you release the app, you’ll create a folder.  By default the folder is named based on the app store category for one of the first two apps in the folder.  You can customize the name by tapping inside the field (while still in edit mode) and enter in the desired name.
Tips and Tricks
  • Increase Text Size - Did you forget to put your contacts in? Don’t fear, you can increase the size of text on your iPhone or iPad.  Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Large Text.  From here you’ll be able to pick from a variety of sizes.  This will increase the size of text in Mail, Calendar, Contacts and Notes.
  • Recover Lost Voicemails - Did you delete an important voicemail from your mom or boss? Does your service provider support visual voicemail? If the answer is yes don’t worry you can retrieve your lost message.  Swipe down your row of messages until you see “Deleted Messages”.  As long as you haven’t tapped “Clear All” all of your deleted messages will be stored here.
  • Use iTunes or App Store without a Credit Card - This is a great idea for parents who don’t want to lose their life savings on the App store! You can’t create an account in the main iTuenes store without a credit card but you can from the App Store.  Simply Sign out of iTunes > Choose country > Navigate to App Store > Buy a Free App > Create New Account > Choose None for Payment Option. Check your email and verify your account after this.  Voila! You have iTunes store account without a credit card.  Your wallet is safe!

We hope this iPhone and iPad Navigation 101 class will help you fully enjoy your iDevice.  Do you have any tips to add? Let us know in the comments below.


Macworld – iOS Basics: Navigate on your iPhone or iPad

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