How Many Important and Useful IOS Settings Have You Not Noticed?

How Many Important and Useful IOS Settings Have You Not Noticed?

And do you know which ones you have changed?

Showing a search for Privacy in iPadOS Settings
All screenshots by Author

Are you intimately familiar with the Settings app on your IOS devices or System Preferences on your Mac? I wish I could say that I am, but I’m not, and most who read this probably are equally unaware of everything that can be found therein.

Do you know which settings you have changed from their defaults? When you look at a particular setting, do you know if it has changed from its original setting? I can’t answer yes to either of these questions, can you?

When there is an update, do you know what settings have been changed by that, what new settings have appeared, what older settings have been moved or even have disappeared entirely? Again, I don’t know.

I get reminded of these knowledge gaps every time I notice or hear about a setting I didn’t know and when I tell someone else about a setting they didn’t know.

These things might not bother me if the settings were not so often very useful or quite important! By the way, everything here applies equally to the Apple Watch app, which has its own, separate settings!

If only we could export

I do not know of any tool that allows you to export these settings to a text file. If you do know of such a thing, please do leave a comment!

There is a way to do this, but it would be extremely painful. You’d need to take a screenshot of every settings screen and every deeper screen from a brand new device and then do the same thing after restoring from a backup.

With IOS 15’s new ability to scrape text from a photo, you could construct text files from all those photos and then use a tool like Unix “diff” (available in the macOS Terminal) but that would take even more time than taking the screenshots. Comparing un-configured and configured screenshots might be feasible, but I would guess that would be difficult as well.

I wish Apple would do this. There already is a Reset Settings ability in IOS; expanding that to show you what it would suggest putting back to default and letting you decide would be a major step forward. Adding an ability to review new settings after upgrades would be another. Best of all would be an ability to export to key-value pairs*.

*Key-value is just a text file that has things like “Phone: Silence Unknown Callers=On” and so on. Apple probably has Settings stored this way somewhere already.

Recommended settings

You could google “recommended iPhone settings” and get thousands of results but they would be incomplete and often out of date.

Apple could provide the best list by IOS/MacOS version. Being able to search that list would be a big help, especially as the search Apple provides in Settings/System Preferences is often not well indexed and sometimes not indexed at all. Part of that must be laziness from both Apple and developers who provide settings pages for their apps.

I would think such a document would be to Apple’s advantage. I often have conversations with people who complain about something on their phone and are surprised when I tell them they can change the behavior right in Settings. From time to time, I have been the one complaining and have been equally surprised!

Did I miss something?

Again, if there is a tool that I am unaware of outside of jailbreaking, please let me know. I’ve looked at Apple Configurator 2 and some similar third-party tools, but it is possible that I missed something and that those tools could provide part of what is needed. That would be wonderful! 


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