The iPhone is a fine phone, but, like all fine phones, it’s not flawless.
Many of the default settings of the iPhone can be worrisome, imperfect, or downright annoying. Here are eight settings that I would change first thing to make your iPhone experience a bit more pleasant:
1. Stop telling people your email is “Sent from my iPhone.”
By default, any email you send from Apple’s Mail app will come with the signature “Sent from my iPhone” below your message. Maybe you want to signal your phone of choice in every email you send; if not, you can wipe this setting out.
Go into Settings, then Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and then scroll down until you see Signature. Tap that, tap the white box, and then delete those words until the box is blank.
Or you can write your own signature here! Here’s mine!
Impress friends, strangers, and colleagues with an ironic email signature!
2. Give yourself a distinctive ringtone.
In a perfect world, Apple would assign a random ringtone and new text message tone to each phone. Instead, everyone has the exact same notification sounds, which means that whenever you hear that Apple “Ding!” anywhere within a 40-foot radius, you go rummaging through your purse and pockets as though you just won the lottery and want to share the good news.
If you’re like me, however, the message is never for you. It was someone else’s phone. Boo.
Give yourself a distinctive notification sound so that you know when you, and not the hunky dude next to you on the bus, is receiving a message. Go to Settings, then Sounds, and then open up each important sound under Sounds and Vibration Patterns and choose something that is not “Opening” or “Note” for your sound effects.
3. Put all your Apple apps into their own folder.
There are certain apps on your iPhone that you can’t delete. Don’t invest in the market? Well, there’s nothing you can do about the Stocks app. Don’t play games? You’re stuck with Game Center. More of an Amazon Kindle person? Sorry; iBooks is here to stay.
While you can’t make these apps disappear, you can stash them away in a folder to reduce clutter on your home screen. Hold your finger down on one of the apps you want to hide until it starts shaking. Then drag it on top of another app you want to hide. This will form a folder, which you can name whatever you want. Drag all the apps you don’t care for, but can’t delete, into that folder.
Now you have even more room for your mandatory Facebook Messenger app!
They’ll still be taking up space in your storage, but at least you’ve removed them from your immediate line of vision, making it easier to find the apps you really need.
4. Make sure those apps don’t eat your data.
Another side effect of these permanent apps: They can eat up some of your precious monthly data.
Now, none of these are MB hogs. But why take the chance? You can choose to disable data usage over cellular networks for certain apps, meaning that they’ll connect to the Internet only over WiFi, where they won’t use your data.
Go into Settings → Cellular, and then flick the green switch off for any app you don’t want to use over your 3G or 4G. That could mean Passbook, Tips, Weather, or Music — or it could mean data-hungry Spotify, Foursquare, or even Facebook, if you’re trying to kick the habit.
You can also further tailor which of your apps automatically update on the background of your phone by going to Settings → General → Background App Refresh.
5. Cancel your credit cards.
iOS comes with an option to save usernames and passwords for websites you’ve visited, as well as credit card information.
By default, this is turned on; you’ll get a pop-up notification whenever you fill out an order form or a log-in field asking if you want to save that information.
This can save time, but it also might make you a little uneasy. And with good reason, some would say!
Good news: You can make the iPhone stop asking. Go to Settings, and then scroll down and find Safari (that’s your Web browser). Head into Passwords & Autofill and flick the green switches off for Names and Passwords and Credit Cards.
And voilà! Your little one will never purchase a race car on eBay again.
6. Do Not Track.
Websites, as you probably know, can track you around the Internet with cookies, even after you bounce off their page. They do this mostly to learn your habits and to serve more targeted advertisements.
Safari, your default browser, supports a privacy feature called Do Not Track, which stops this snooping behavior. (The Do Not Track setting is actually part of a mini privacy movement, which you can read about here.) By default, however, Do Not Track is turned off, which means that websites, well, Do Track. To stop them from tracking, go to Settings → Safari, and then turn on Do Not Track.
Farewell, prying eyes!
You can also go ahead and block cookies while you’re there, if you’re feeling extra privacy-conscious.
7. Protect your texts.
When you receive a text on your lock screen, the first few lines of the message are displayed under the recipient’s name. Sometimes texts are private and shouldn’t be displayed for anyone who glances at your phone to see. To change this, go to Settings → Notifications → Messages. Scroll down to Messages Options and toggle the Show Previews option off. Now, when you get a push notification, just the name of the person texting you will show up, along with the note “New message.”
8. Keep your battery juiced.
One of the major battery drainers in iOS 8 is the software’s parallax feature, which creates a foreground and background motion as you move the phone around. It’s pretty, but not worth losing your phone over while you’re out on the town. Turn it off by going to Settings → General → Accessibility. Scroll down until you see Reduce Motion, and turn it on.
That’s about it! For more on how to set up that iPhone the right way, make sure you read my colleague Alyssa Bereznak’s authoritative guide, as well as Yahoo Tech’s list of the 25 best apps for the iPhone.