My father-in-law’s iPhone recently died. More specifically, the screen died while the rest of the phone remained functional. After a few service attempts, Apple finally replaced his phone. Unfortunately though, the representative at the Best Buy (Apple service center) chose to set his replacement phone up as a new phone instead of restoring from backup. That means all of my father-in-law’s settings that we had carefully set up to meet his needs have been lost.

iPhone doesn’t offer any features for restoring just your settings. You can either reset the phone and restore from a backup, or you can use the defaults. Making this worse, restoring from a cloud backup has been unreliable in my experience, with the phone often hanging during restore, and several attempts being needed to get a successful restore. I live 2,000 miles away from my father-in-law, which makes the persistent attempts at a restore daunting to attempt. We’ll bite the bullet and just get all of his settings back to what they need to be.

The good news though is that I’ve found many of the settings that benefit him also benefit me. Accessibility features, for instance, often have value to everyone. With that, getting his phone to the best settings for him really just means enumerating all of the settings on the phone and sharing with him what settings I recommend. That’s what this post will serve as: my list of recommended iPhone settings–both for myself and others.


Opening up the Settings app is where we start. From here, we’ll just go through all of the categories and settings within them.

Apple ID, iCloud+, Media & Purchases

You access this category by tapping on your own name at the top of Settings.

Name, Phone Numbers, Email

It’s worthwhile to tap into this section to review the information and make any updates or corrections needed.

Within this category, there are also a few settings that can be updated to improve the experience on your phone:

  • Announcements: OFF
  • Apps, Music, TV, and More: OFF
  • Apple News Newsletter: OFF

Go back to Apple ID

Password & Security

It’s worthwhile reviewing this category. You can configure settings related to account security and recovery. And you can also choose a “Legacy Contact” as someone who can recover and take over your account in case of your death.

At the bottom of this screen, there’s a setting for Automatic Verification which can be On.

Go back to Apple ID


This category has some important settings for backing up your data so that it can be recovered to a new phone.

  • Sync this iPhone: ON
  • Optimize iPhone Storage: ON

Go back to iCloud

iCloud Drive
  • Sync this iPhone: ON

Go back to iCloud

iCloud Passwords & Keychain
  • Sync this iPhone: ON

Go back to iCloud

Show All (Apps Using iCloud)

Within here, you can turn on/off which apps will save their data to iCloud. I recommend turning everything ON as that will allow that app’s data to get recovered onto a new phone as needed.

Go back to iCloud

iCloud Backup
  • Back Up This iPhone: ON
  • Back Up Over Cellular: OFF

Go back to iCloud

Scroll to the bottom

  • Access iCloud Data on the Web: ON

Go back to Apple ID

Find My

Find My iPhone
  • Find My iPhone: ON
  • Find my network: ON
  • Send Last Location: ON

Go back to Find My

Go back to Apple ID

Go back to Settings


  • This should be ON and it should show a check mark next to your home Wi-Fi network

Scroll to the bottom

  • Ask to Join Networks: OFF
  • Auto-Join Hotspot: Never

Go back to Settings


  • This should be ON
  • Devices you’ve previously connected to should be listed
  • While connected to a device, you can rename a device by tapping the (ℹ) icon and then the name

Go back to Settings


  • Cellular Data: ON
  • Wi-Fi Calling: OFF

Scroll to the bottom

  • Wi-Fi Assist: OFF
  • iCloud Drive: OFF
  • iCloud Backup: OFF

Go back to Settings

Personal Hotspot

  • This should be OFF except when you are intentionally using your phone to provide internet connectivity to another device

Go back to Settings


  • Display As: List

I have notifications enabled for the following apps; everything else is Off

  • Authenticator: Banners, Badges
  • DoorDash: Banners, Sounds, Badges, Announce
  • Exposure Notifications: Banners, Sounds, Announce
  • FaceTime: Banners, Sounds, Badges, Announce
  • Find My: Banners, Sounds, Badges, Announce
  • Fitness: Banners, Sounds, Badges
  • Gmail: Banners
  • Google Maps: Banners, Announce
  • Maps: Banners, Sounds, Announce
  • Messages: Banners, Sounds, Badges, Announce
  • Pandora: Banners, Sounds
  • Phone: Banners, Sounds, Badges
  • Screen Time: Banners, Sounds, Badges, Announce
  • Watch: Banners, Sounds, Badges, Announce

Under the list of apps:

  • AMBER Alerts: OFF
  • Emergency Alerts: Off
  • Public Safety Alerts: ON
  • Test Alerts: Off

Go back to Settings

Sounds & Haptics

  • Ringtone and Alert Volume: All the way up
  • Change with Buttons: OFF

This combination of settings will ensure the ringer can be heard, even when the phone is in your pocket or bag. The volume buttons on the side of the phone will only control media volume and not ringer volume, which prevents accidentally turning the ringer down too much. In my experience (even with good hearing), when the ringer volume is below 50% it cannot reliably be heard when the phone is in my pocket.

I almost always have my phone on silent mode (with the toggle button on the side), but I’ll turn silent mode off via that toggle when I am expect a call I can’t miss. In those situations, it’s quite irritating to have the ringer volume be too low to hear. So for me, it’s either 100% volume or silent mode. These settings give me that experience.

  • Keyboard Feedback: ON
  • Lock Sound: ON
  • Play Haptics in Ring Mode: ON
  • Play Haptics in Silent Mode: ON
  • System Haptics: ON

Go back to Settings


I play it extra safe with this category. I do not want to advertise my focus status to anyone–for sake of privacy. In order to force the settings I like to have here, a specific sequence of steps is required.

  1. Share Across Devices: ON
  2. Focus Status a. Share Focus Status: ON b. Do Not Disturb: OFF c. Share Focus Status: OFF d. Go back to “Focus”
  3. Share Across Devices: OFF

As you noticed, some settings cannot be turned off until others are turned on. Temporarily turning them on so that everything can be off will ensure nothing is saved as being on. When Apple introduces new features in this space, nothing will get turned back on my default this way.

Go back to Settings



Tap the Name and set this to a useful name. I have mine set to “Jeff’s iPhone 13” right now so that when I upgrade next, I’ll be able to differentiate between my new and old phones.

Go back to General

Software Update

Automatic Updates
  • Download iOS Updates: ON
  • Install iOS Updates: ON
  • Security Responses & System Files: ON

Go back to Software Update

Go back to General

Date & Time

  • Set Automatically: ON

Go back to General

Go back to Settings

Display & Brightness

  • Appearance: Choose whichever you prefer
    • Automatic: OFF

Text Size

  • Use the slider circle at the bottom of the screen to set to your desired size
  • I prefer the 2nd notch from the left

Go back to Display & Brightness

  • Bold Text: OFF (but this is worth trying)
  • True Tone: ON
  • Auto-Lock:
    • Either set this to 5 Minutes or Never
    • If set to Never, you have to always be careful to turn your screen off manually or else the screen will die on the phone within a couple years
  • Raise to Wake: ON
  • Display Zoom: Default

Go back to Settings

Home Screen

  • Newly Downloaded Apps: Add to Home Screen: ON
  • Notification Badges: Show in App Library: ON
  • Search: Show on Home Screen: ON

Go back to Settings


  • VoiceOver: OFF
  • Zoom: OFF

Display & Text Size

  • Bold Text: OFF (but this is worth trying)
  • Larger Text: OFF (but this is worth trying, especially on larger phone models)
  • Button Shapes: ON
  • On/Off Labels: ON
  • Reduce Transparency: OFF

  • Increase Contrast: ON (this has a notable effect in Messages, making texts easier to read)
  • Differentiate Without Color: ON (this adds outlines and backgrounds to many elements)

  • Smart Invert: OFF
  • Classic Invert: OFF

  • Reduce White Point: OFF
  • Auto-Brightness: OFF (this will prevent your screen from auto-dimming)

Go back to Accessibility


  • Tap to Wake: ON
  • Shake to Undo: OFF
  • Vibration: ON

Go back to Accessibility

Go back to Settings

Face ID & Passcode or Touch ID & Passcode

Set these settings to what works best for you. If you don’t like Face ID / Touch ID, then don’t use them.

If you have a Passcode, make sure you record it. If you lose your passcode, you can get locked out of your device permanently and you can even get locked out of your Apple ID account and it can take several weeks to regain access.

Go back to Settings

Emergency SOS

This category of settings is worth your time to understand. Knowing how this feature works can help you call 911 in an emergency and also help you avoid calling 911 by mistake.

Go back to Settings


  • Battery Percentage: ON
  • Low Power Mode: OFF

Battery Health & Charging

  • Optimized Battery Charging: ON
  • Clean Energy Charging: ON

Go back to Battery

Go back to Settings

Privacy & Security

Location Services

  • Location Services: ON
Location Alerts
  • Show Map in Location Alerts: ON

Go back to Location Services

Share My Location
Find My iPhone
  • Find My iPhone: ON
  • Find My network: ON
  • Send Last Location: ON

Go back to Find My

  • Share My Location: ON

Go back to Location Services

Go through the list of apps to control which apps have location access. I have all apps set to Never except the following:

  • Apple Watch Find Devices: While Using the App
  • Camera: While Using
  • Compass: While Using
  • Find My: While Using
  • Google Maps: While Using
  • Maps: While Using
  • Messages: While Using
  • Siri & Dictation: While Using
  • Weather: While Using

Scroll past the list of apps

System Services

I have most of these turned on, except for the following:

  • HomeKit: OFF
  • Networking & Wireless: OFF
  • iPhone Analytics: OFF
  • Improve Maps: OFF

I have Status Bar Icon turned ON

Go back to Location Services

Go back to Privacy & Security


  • Allow Apps to Request to Track: OFF

Go back to Privacy & Security


Choose which apps you want to have access to your Contacts. I recommend never allowing any app to ever have access to your contacts. When you give an app access to your contacts, you are giving away other people’s data to that app. Your friends and family likely won’t appreciate that.

Go back to Privacy & Security


A lot of apps will request access to your photos. The iPhone supports a setting here for Selected Photos, which is the best choice for apps you do want to have photos access. That ensures the app can only access photos you specifically choose for sharing. In general though, you should choose None unless you do use the app for sharing photos. Don’t ever choose All Photos.

Go back to Privacy & Security

If interested, tap through the rest of these settings, read the descriptions, and make modifications that suit your preferences.

Scroll to the bottom

Analytics & Improvements

Set these to your preferences. I have them all OFF.

Go back to Privacy & Security

Apple Advertising

  • Personalized Ads: OFF

Go back to Privacy & Security

Go back to Settings

Photos (first in the 7th group)

  • iCloud Photos: ON
  • Optimize iPhone Storage: ON

Go back to Settings

App-Specific Settings

Feel free to browse through the rest of the settings for apps, read their descriptions, and update settings as desired.