Top 10 Settings to Change on Your iPhone 4S

The iPhone 4S is ready to go right out of the box, but if you want an optimal experience, there are a number of steps you should take shortly after getting your new iPhone.

I already showed you the First 5 Things to Do When you Get your iPhone 4S for Setup and Security, but now I want to share 10 iPhone 4S settings you should change right away.

If you change these settings will give you a better experience, and a few of them will keep you from annoying those around you as you use your iPhone 4S.

Read our iPhone 4S reviewfor everything else you need to know about your new phone.

iPhone 4S Settings - New Ringtone

Change your iPhone Ringtone

1. Change Your Default Ringtone

Do yourself and every other iPhone owner around you a favor and change your default ringtone as soon as possible. It’s not that the Marimba isn’t a beautiful ringtone, it’s just that you’ll think your phone is ringing more often than it really is.

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To change your ringtone, follow these steps.

  • Tap Settings
  • Choose Sounds
  • Tap on Ringtone
  • Choose a standard ringtone or tap on Buy More Tones to purchase a ringtone.

You can also add your own ringtones in iTunes, if you don’t want to pay for ringtones included with the iPhone 4S.

2. Turn on % in Battery Meter

iPhone 4S Settings - Battery Percentage

Turn Battery Percentage On.

Instead of guessing how much battery life is really left on your iPhone, you can turn on the percentage indicator. This small toggle will add the percent of battery life left to your iPhone 4S’ top bar.

I prefer this over the default battery information, because you get a more accurate reading. One downside is that you may think your battery is draining quicker, but that’s just your mind playing tricks on you.

To switch battery % on, follow these steps.

  • Tap Settings
  • Choose General
  • Tap Usage
  • Scroll down and flip the Battery Percentage toggle On.

From now on, you’ll know when your battery is getting low, without waiting for a popup notification or the icon to turn red.

3. Passcode Lock

iPhone 4S Settings - Passcode

Protect Your iPhone 4S

If you didn’t already do this, you should add a Passcode to your iPhone 4S. This will prevent others form accessing your data and using your iPhone without permission.

Setting up a 4 digit pass code takes a few seconds, and is worth doing. Just don’t pick an easy Passcode like ’1111′ or ’1234′.

To set up a Passcode, follow these steps.

  • Tap Settings
  • Choose General
  • Scroll down to Passcode Lock
  • Tap on Passcode Lock
  • Choose to Turn Passcode On at the top.
  • Enter a 4 digit code you can remember.

That’s it, now your iPhone 4S is password protected.

iPhone 4S Settings - Passcode Lockout

Choose a New Passcode Lockout

4. Change Passcode Lockout Time

If you use your iPhone often, you will want to adjust the Passcode lockout time so that you don’t have to enter the iPhone Passcode every time you pickup your iPhone 4S.

While you are in the Passcode lock settings, Tap on Require Passcode.

Choose a longer time frame. I would suggest moving it up to at least 5 minutes.

I settled on 15 minutes after finding out that I rarely go 15 minutes without picking up my iPhone 4S for the first few days of use.

You can change your lock settings at any time, but you will need to remember your Passcode to do so.

5. Auto Download Apps When Purchased on Computer

iPhone 4S Settings - Automatic App Downloads

Auto App Download Settings

WiFi sync is great and all, but if you want to have your apps arrive as you purchase them, instead of when you sync, you can enable app auto downloads.

This setting needs turned on in two places to make it work. You also need to be signed in with your Apple ID on the computer you are purchasing from and on your iPhone 4S.

To turn on App auto downloads on your iPhone, follow these steps.

  • Choose Settings
  • Tap on Store
  • Switch the Automatic Download toggles for Books, Apps and Music
  • If you have a limited data plan, make sure that Use Cellular Data is set to off

Ensure that you have the correct Apple ID listed at the bottom of the page.

App Auto Downloads

Turn on App Auto Downloads in iTunes

To turn on app automatic downloads on your computer, follow these steps

  • Open iTunes
  • Open iTunes Preferences
  • Click on Store in the middle of the preference icons
  • Check the Automatic Downloads check boxes
  • Click OK

From now on, you can purchase and browse the App store from iTunes on your computer, and have what you buy automatically downloaded to your iPhone. This also works on the iPad and other iOS 5 devices.

6. Turn on WiFi Sync

While Automatic Downloads are a great way to send apps and music to your iPhone 4S, you will still want to turn on WiFi Sync to keep playlists and more in sync across all of your devices.

We have a full guide to Setting Up iTunes WiFi Sync, which should take just a minute to enable.

Keep in mind, you will need to be connected to the same network and your iPhone 4S needs power to perform a WiFi Sync. This will typically happen every night when you plug in to charge up.

iPhone 4S Settings - Email Notifications

Change Email Notifications

7. Email Notifications

Email notifications are a very personal thing, but if you get a lot of email I suggest turning off the email notification sound effect. You might even want to turn off email notifications all together, and just check your email when you want to know.

To change your email notification sound, or turn off the sound all together, follow these steps.

  •  Choose Settings
  • Tap on Sounds
  • Scroll down to New Email and tap it.
  • To turn it off, tap on Choose None
  • To pick a new tone, choose from the list below or click Buy More Tones
  • This is a good time to look at the rest of your notifications.

If you want to turn off the notification on your lock screen, or customize email notifications, learn how to use Notification Center in iOS 5.

8. Turn Home Sharing On

Home Sharing allows you to access your iTunes music while you are on the same network. Think of this as a local version of iCloud and iTunes Match that is free. Instead of paying $24.95 a year, you can have your entire catalog of music available when your iPhone and computer are on the same network.

iPhone 4S Settings - Home Sharing

Home Sharing Settings

You’ll need to turn on Home Sharing on your computer and on your iPhone 4S to make this work.

On your iPhone 4S, follow these instructions.

  • Tap on Settings
  • Choose Music
  • Enter your Apple ID and Password in the boxes at the bottom of the settings menu.

On your computer, follow these directions.

  • Open iTunes
  • Open iTunes Preferences
  • Click on the Sharing icon at the top of the Preferences.
  • Check, Share my library on my local network

If you are on a college campus or workplace, you may want to add a password so that others cannot see your music selection or access it.

9. Turn Off Keyboard Clicking

iPhone 4S Settings - Keyboard Clicks

Keyboard Click Settings

For the sanity of everyone you use your iPhone around, turn off keyboard clicking. At the very least, you should know where this setting is, so that you can disable it when you are in a crowd.

  • Head back into Settings
  • Tap on Sounds
  • Scroll to the bottom and toggle Keyboard Clicks to Off

If you need to turn off sounds like this when you enter a meeting, you can just flip the mute switch at the top right of your iPhone, but if you don’t need clicks all the time, this is a nice setting to change.

10. Turn Off Ping

iPhone 4S Settings - Keyboard Clicks

No Ping = Better Battery Life

If you don’t use Ping, and you want better battery life on your iPhone 4S, here’s how to turn Ping off.

Ping is Apple’s music social network, which hasn’t gained much traction and doesn’t do much on most iPhones other than eat away at battery life.

Turning off Ping reportedly helps battery life. Without scientific tests, I can’t tell you how much yet, but I do know that it does offer some improvement.

To Turn off Ping, follow these directions.

  • Tap on Settings
  • Choose General
  • Scroll down and pick Restrictions
  • You will need to Enable Restrictions
  • Create a 4 digit Passcode
  • Change Ping from On to Off
  • Exit the settings.

Enjoy better iPhone 4S battery life.

Learn More about iOS 5 and the iPhone 4S

For more on the iPhone 4S and iOS 5, check out the following How to Guides.

More iPhone 4S and iOS 5 information on the way.

Comments

  1. Jdcs Mcgrath says

    Thanks for all this info. Being an iPhone newbee I had noidea about all this. Thanks!

  2. QED says

    Any way to set ringtones by time of day?  I downloaded a silent tone so that only my custom ringtone contacts will be heard off hours.  Problem is, every single night I have to change from default to the silent ringtone.

  3. Pajphd says

    These are great suggestions.  I made a mistake originally setting my password for the
    Games app on my iPhone 4s main screen.  Can this be corrected?

  4. Mrsvailguy says

    I downloaded some ringtones and put them in my tones folder in my itunes…but they won’t sync with my new 4S phone.  Can you tell me how?

  5. amber says

    unlock page orientation… double click home button… scroll all the way to the left… tap that button with circular arrow…

  6. Karen says

    Set up an exchange email as required by my work today, it made me put in a pass code, now I need to use it all the time and I can’t turn it off? Any advice?

  7. Michael Marciano says

    Is there any way to make a phone call with out sounds? Setting the mute switch aside because that mutes incoming calls. I simply want to shut off the sound of the keyboard when making calls. Seems you can shut off clicks but not tones ?

  8. Will says

    But I won’t lie this IS my first iPhone. aand it’s a huge coincidence that my favorite number is 4 hah.

    I’m actually a dedicated linus user and a former android user so no I won’t deny that I’m new to all of this iphone/ipad stuff.

    I do however understand unix and apple a bit
    because linux came off of unix but all of these apple products are too much for me.

    with android i was so used to customizing everything to my preference just as i do on linux. but with apple everything is so overly simple that it’s complicated for me.

    it’s a type of paradox i guess.. but i’ll adapt.
    I definitely won’t bash apple anymore for being conservative or non-open source absolute. though they are I’m a user of their products by choice not by force.

    ANYWAY thanks for the great article Josh Smith :]

  9. Shabba says

    Hi, can you tell me how to set one number, when there are many for each perosn, in the phone book of an iPhone4S as a default – when I connect to my Merecedes Command System with Bluetooth I want the most likely number to be the one dialled via “hands free” – any advice?

    • sanjay says

      Shabba that is something that you need to step on your Mercedes command system not the iPhone. i did it in my Camry. i am sure you can add name and number manually on your Mercedes command system

  10. Lela Ashkarian says

    I am curious, is there anyway to advertise my business and be found while asking SIRI? I am a Realtor, Real Estate Agent in Marathon, Florida Keys. Need your help. Thank you

  11. Najib says

    I have my contact numbers on iPhone 4s when any of them call me I just see their number and city name not their names ,if some one help me how to fix that thank you.

    • JK says

      I had a similar problem. Solved it by prefixing the phone number with country and area code. For North America +1 & UK +44 I hope this helps.

  12. Valentinos says

    Gjelder dette iOS 6? Sliter veldig med å bytte ringetone til en egen sang som jeg har i iTunes på macen.. Har sett noen vids og alle sier bare at man skal dra det over til ringetoner og sånt men har ikke det på iTunes … Plis svar..

  13. Loretta says

    Thanks for this info. Just when you think you know everything there is to know. You learn something new everyday. Keep up the good work.

  14. Jack Smith says

    Well I was just curios about the name of the default ringtone as I changed mine long ago. I knew all the steps but other people you haven’t had an iphone for long time will find these steps useful.

  15. Conrad says

    Please help this iPhone is driving me nuts !!!! How do I change my contact setting do that I don’t have the first 3 digits of a number defaulting as the “area” code !!! I cannot send messages to services like DSTV BOXOFFICE because if I type 37569 it automatically enters as (375)69 and the message is not received on the other end !!!

  16. Larry Beaubouef says

    What I was trying to find is why my notes and my email show up twice. When I put a note in it will shown twice and when I get a email it shows up twice. Thought it must be a setting but cannot figure it out. Also a Week ago I have about half of my notes just disappear. Any Ideas and help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

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