My partner had a very important question for me recently. “How do you turn off that annoying message on iPhone to update iOS?”
“What?” I said.
“Any time I’m trying to do something quick and urgent on my phone, this message pops up telling me to update the operating system.” He paused. “That doesn’t happen to you?”
“No. It’s probably a setting that I turned off,” I said. And so began a game of “does this happen to you?” about our iPhones.
I customize the hell out of my settings. Excessive badge notifications? I don’t have them. Can anyone see my incoming text messages on my lock screen? Nope. After a little brainstorming, here are five suggestions I came up with for making your iPhone less annoying.
1. Stop Getting Urgent ‘Update’ Requests
Do you frequently see pop-up messages to update your operating system? To stop them, you have to turn off automatic updates in the settings. Go to:
Settings > General > Software Update > Automatic Updates = Off
Pro: You won’t see the annoying notifications anymore. Con: You won’t necessarily know right away when an update to your operating system is available. In a perfect world, you would see a badge notification appear on your Settings icon when a new system is available to download and install. In reality, the badge usually only shows up days after the release (I’m not sure why this is the case). If you get wind that there’s a new update available, you’ll see it when you open Settings > General > Software Update.
2. Hide the Text of Incoming Messages
When someone sends you a text over Apple Messages, their message appears on your lock screen by default as part of the notification. You can change it so that you get the notification but the message itself is hidden. That’s way less annoying than worrying about who might be peeping on your incoming messages. To change it, go to:
Settings > Notifications > Messages > Show Previews and change to Never.
Now, no one can see the text of the incoming messages until the phone is unlocked. See the before and after images above.
3. Disable or Adjust Banners and Badges
I can’t stand clutter, and an unread badge count is—to me—utter clutter. If I have a badge count on an iphone app, it’s there to alert me of something important. So I should theoretically check those urgent notifications, clear the badge count, and be on my merry way. If there isn’t anything so important, why have the badge count at all? As a result, I disable the badge count and notifications for the majority of apps on my phone.
Here’s how you can turn off badge counts and notifications, too. Go to:
Settings > Notifications > and choose the app you want to adjust.
Notice that there are three options with images: Lock Screen, Notification Center, and Banners. Lock Screen refers to the messages that appear on your lock screen (like the full text of incoming Messages, unless you change the default setting). Notification Center is the screen you get when you drag your finger down from the top of the screen. Banners are the pop-up notifications you see while you’re using your phone.
Below those options are two more: Sounds and Badges. Sounds are the audio tone alerts. Badges are the red circles with numbers that show up on app icons, for example, the one on your email app showing how many unread messages you have.
If an app doesn’t have a legitimate reason to interrupt your day, I recommend disabling lock screen notifications and badges at the very least. You can turn them all off by toggling Allow Notifications at the top.
How can you decide which notifications to leave enabled? Simple. Is it something you need to know about when it happens? For example, you might want alerts of new emails if you have important business. It certainly helps to get flight update alerts from certain travel apps when you’re on the go. Your food delivery app and car service apps likely give you relevant real-time information, too. Anything else that’s just not important, however, shouldn’t annoy you with its presence.
4. Disable Live Photos (Those Annoying Tiny Videos)
Have you ever taken or received a picture that turned out to be a very short video? And you didn’t mean for it to be? A few years ago, Apple introduced Live Photos, a feature that lets you capture a quick snippet of motion and audio, like a really short video. The problem is almost no one but Apple enthusiasts know what this feature is and how it works. All they know is sometimes they try to take a photo and they end up with a tiny video clip instead.
If you can’t be bothered, just turn off the iPhone’s ability to take a Live Photo, and never worry about it again. Go to:
Settings > Camera > Preserve Settings > and disable Live Photo
5. Siri, Stop!
I know a lot of people whose jobs involve dealing with sensitive information. When they ask me about my job writing about technology and whether I have any tips for them, I always say, “Make sure you disable Siri on your iPhone.”
I get that Siri is instrumental in certain contexts. It’s an amazing assistant for some accessibility needs. It’s also really helpful in getting people to not look at their phones while driving. (Please don’t text and drive. You’re going to kill someone.) That said, if you don’t regularly have a need for Siri, it’s very much in your interest to turn it off. That way, it won’t automatically trigger at odd moments, and it won’t accidentally listen to something you’d rather not have anyone else hear. (For what it’s worth, Apple has a very good policy of anonymizing requests sent via Siri to its servers, but any time you digitize and send information, there’s a risk someone could intercept it.)
To disable Siri, go to:
Settings > Siri & Search > and disable all six options (see above).
For a bonus tip if you decide to keep her on, you can make her less annoying by reading how to make sure Siri pronounces your name correctly. The same piece also tells you how to teach her your nickname.