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How to Make iPhones Easier to Use for Older People



If you have a parent or even a grandparent who is thinking about getting an iPhone, here’s how you can make the device easier to use for them.

The iPhone is one of the easiest devices to use, as iOS comes with a simple user interface that has a shallow learning curve. However, not everyone can grasp all of the features of a smartphone, including the older generation that are essentially dealing with a technology beyond their time, to no fault of their own. Here’s how to make iPhones easier to use for the older crowd.

Smartphones and tablets are extremely popular amongst the younger crowd, and while the older generation is still a bit reluctant to welcome this kind of technology into their lives, more and more older people are starting to at least try it out.

However, one fear is that smartphones and tablets are simply just too confusing to operate, even if the user interface is simple to most users. This is why in order to make an iPhone easier to use, you have to make things as simple as possible. Apple has gotten really good with that in iOS, but there are still some things that the user can do in order to make the iPhone easier to use for older people who have a hard time grasping such a new technology.

Here’s how to make the iPhone easier to use so that your parents, grandparents, or even yourself can use it without feeling overwhelmed.

Enable Accessibly Options

The Accessibility menu in the Settings app is usually reserved for users with impairment or some kind of disability, but it has some great features that anyone can use, and these features can make the iPhone easier to use overall.

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Here are some that are worth taking a look at.

  • Larger Text: Older people’s eyesight usually is worse than their younger compatriots, and smartphone screens are still small, making text hard to read. This is where you can make text larger.
  • LED Flash for Alerts: One thing Android users love is LED notifications, and iPhone users can enable these in iOS 8. Plus, it’s a great feature to have for people who are hard of hearing, giving them a visual cue that they received a notification.
  • Phone Noise Cancellation: This feature reduces ambient noise while you’re on a phone call so that you can hear the other person more clearly.
  • Subtitles & Captioning: If you’re hard of hearing, you can enable subtitles and captioning here and have them show up in videos when available.
  • Home-click Speed: You can change the speed at which you double-click on the Home button to suit your needs, and this great for older folks who don’t quite have the finger muscle speed that they used to.

Turn On Alert Notifications Instead of Banners

When you receive notifications, there are two ways that you can receive them. There are Banner notifications where a sliver of the top portion of the screen is cut off and a notification appears. Tapping on it will bring up the associated app.

The other type is Alert notifications, which are larger pop-ups that appear on your screen and ask you to take action with a couple of buttons that you can tap on.

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Arguably, Alert notifications are the best, as its easier to take action and are easier to read, whereas banner notifications are extremely small and can be hard to tap on toward the top of the screen.

To change notifications to Alerts, open up the Settings app and tap on Notifications. Scroll down and click on an app. Where you see the iPhone illustrations, select Alerts.

Disable All Unnecessary Push Notifications

You know what’s really distracting? Receiving push notifications for every single app you have installed. And for older folks, receiving so many notifications can be intimidating and may force them to give up and throw the phone out the window.

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This is why it’s crucial to disable push notifications for all apps except for those that are absolutely necessary, like iMessage, Phone, and any other apps that the user might use on a daily basis.

To do this, open up the Settings app and tap on Notifications. Scrolling down will list your installed apps. Tap on Edit in the upper-right corner and then drag and drop any apps that you don’t want notifications from into the Do Not Include section.

Limit Distractions As Much As Possible

A big thing that makes the iPhone an intimidating device to use is all the distractions that it can bring. As already mentioned, notifications is a huge culprit, but other than that, there are a few more things you can do to make the iPhone easier to use and appear less intimidating to older users.

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For starters, hide all the apps that will never be used by placing them all in a folder and putting that folder on a second page. It’s also a good idea to keep all the apps that will be used on one page, and then use that second page to keep unused apps out of the way.

You can also clean up the dock a bit by only keeping crucial apps in it. So if your parent or grandparent really only uses the Phone and iMessage most of the time, keeping those two apps in the dock makes it easier for them to access without accidentally tapping open another app that’s placed in the dock.

Of course, jailbreaking the iPhone can really open up a whole world of tweaks to make the iPhone easier to use, but that’s something we wouldn’t recommend for the older crowd, especially if they don’t know what they’re doing anyway, as a jailbroken iPhone has more potential to crash and cause problems.



  1. Kevin Chen

    11/13/2014 at 3:21 pm

    Enable “Accessibly” Options, nice!! (need competent editor this article does)

  2. Eric

    11/07/2015 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks Kevin, this helped a lot. My Mom is in her 80’s and went and got an iPhone on her own not realizing what was involved. All she sees is a screen full of icons she has no idea what they do. I told her to show me how to make a phone call and it took her awhile to sort of stumble through and figure it out, the whole time I’m thinking “what if this was a 911 call and she were panicking?” So I’ve been trying to go over with her how the phone works and had done a few of the things you mentioned here, but hadn’t thought of some of the others. I’m trying to make it as fool proof as possible before we throw in the towel and go back to a more traditional cell phone for her.
    Thanks again

  3. Danielle (mom's email)

    01/24/2016 at 12:34 pm

    Dear Mr. Chen, I am attempting my Girl Scout Gold project. My idea is to try and make it easy for older people to use their smart phones. It seems that whenever I am around anyone over 40, they are always asking me for help. I have spent hours explaining everything from how to take pictures, to how to text, to how to get on Facebook. You could probably imagine! Anyway, my idea is to hold “classes” at our local Moose Lodge, Women’s Club, City Hall, and possible other places where I can “teach” a group how to use a specific phone. I can also help with many other phones. What I need to do is make an actual step-by-step manual or “cheat card” that each person can take home so they know how to do that things I’ve taught. Do you have any thoughts on this? As I was starting my research, I found you and your information, and can only imagine you have had the same experience as I have. Any advice you can give me would be great! Thank you so much! Danielle

  4. Does not want info shown

    09/29/2016 at 6:00 pm

    My grandmother is getting a phone this Monday, it’s her first smartphone.

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