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Smartphones & gadgets

Tools you didn’t know were built into your iPhone

The iPhone turns 16 this year and is constantly evolving. Here’s what may be coming with iOS 17 later this year.

Whether you’re new to the iPhone or have had one for years, there’s always something new to discover. Check out these tools you’ll use all the time.

Don’t download third-party QR code scanners

Quick Response (QR) codes are a barcode that can be read by a digital device and were first created to track automotive parts. Now you can scan a QR code to get information such as recipes, menus, website links, contact information, coupons and more.

There are many third-party QR scanning apps, but you don’t need one. Your phone’s camera can scan QR codes without additional software. Here’s how:

  • Open the Camera app and point it at a QR code to scan it.

But wait, there’s more! Your iPhone has a hidden Code Scanner app.

If you scan QR codes a few times a week, add Code Scanner to your phone’s Control Center. That’s the list of icons you can quickly access by swiping down from the top of your screen.

  • Open Settings, then scroll down and select Control Center.
  • Tap the plus icon next to Code Scanner if it’s not already in your Control Center.

RELATED: Don’t scan that QR code! Hackers are using them to steal your info and money

See tiny text better

Don’t have your reading glasses handy or need to see something small? The magnifier is there to help! If you don’t see it on your home screen, swipe to the left to get to the App Library and type “magnifier.” Tap and hold the app to move it to your home screen. Here’s how to use it.

  • Open the Magnifier app and tap, hold, and drag the slider to adjust the magnification.
  • There’s also a handy flashlight icon near the bottom of the Magnifier app. Having an extra splash of light truly helps you see better.

Is that picture frame level?

Your iPhone replaces some items you’d typically find in a tool belt. The level feature lets you check whether an object is level, straight or flat:

  • Open the pre-installed Measure app. If you don’t see it, open the App Store and search for Measure.
  • Tap Level, then hold your iPhone against an object like a picture frame or desk.

RELATED: Best hidden iPhone messaging tips and tricks you should be using

Edit your images

Markup lets you edit screenshots and photos, add signatures to PDFs or other documents, add text and draw on images.

To draw on photos:

  • Open the photo and tap Edit, then the Markup button. (Note: You’ll find the Markup button in the top right of your screen. It looks like a pencil inside a circle.)
  • Tap the Plus button to add Description, Text, Signature or Magnifier to zoom in.
  • Once you’ve made your selection, tap Done, then tap Done again.

To sign a PDF and other documents:

  • Open the document and tap Edit, then the Markup button. 
  • Tap the Add button to add Text or a Signature.
  • Tap Done twice.


The Notes app isn’t just a place to jot down your grocery list. It includes a powerful scanner. Here’s how to use it:

  • Open the Notes app. Click the icon that looks like a square with a pen in the bottom right corner of the screen to start a new note.
  • Tap the camera icon at the bottom and select Scan Documents.
  • Hold your phone over the document you want to scan. In Auto mode, the app will detect a document and scan it. In Manual mode, you need to snap the photo. Swap between modes at the top right of your screen.
  • Tap the photo shutter button at the bottom of the screen to finish.
  • Edit the image after you take it by dragging it around the page corners. When you’re finished, tap Save on the bottom right of your screen.

Your file is saved as a PDF that you can email or message from Notes.

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