Want to digitize a receipt, recipe, or public document to make it text-searchable? Your phone has everything you need to serve as a scanner—no third-party app required. The steps below turn photos of documents into sharp PDFs.
• On an Android phone: Open the Google Drive app. Tap the plus (+) sign > Scan > and take a photo of the document. You can also crop the image, change it from black and white to color, rotate it, and add pages if you’d like.
• On an iPhone: Open Apple’s Notes app. Tap the new note icon at the bottom > the Camera button > Scan Documents. If your phone is in Auto mode, it will scan the document straight away. If not, tap the shutter button or one of the volume buttons to take the photo. You can then drag the corners to fit the scan to the page, rotate the document, or add pages. To save it as a PDF, press the Share button on the scanned document and choose Create PDF.
Magnify Small Type
Need a little help reading that tiny type on the prescription label? Your phone’s camera can serve as a magnifying glass.
• On an Android phone: Go to Settings > Accessibility > Magnification > and turn on the Magnification shortcut. (Samsung phone owners will find this under Settings > Accessibility > Visibility enhancements > Magnification.) To activate, open the camera app, tap the accessibility button, and drag with two fingers to zoom.
• On an iPhone: Go to Settings > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut > Magnifier. To activate, click the Side button three times. Then drag the slider to zoom in or out.
Have Your Phone Read to You
Many phones can read the content on your screen out loud, whether that’s a text message, email, or newspaper article. This text-to-speak feature is great for hands-free “reading” or if you have difficulty seeing the screen.
• On an Android phone: Go to Settings > Accessibility > Select to Speak. Depending on your version of Android, a small icon of a person or a speech bubble will appear on the screen in any app; tap it and the phone begins reading. (For Samsung phones, there’s a similar featured called TalkBack, but it is always on and it reads everything you tap or select on the screen.)
• On an iPhone: Go to Settings > Accessibility > Spoken Content > Speak Selection. Once enabled, you can highlight text and click the Speak button to have the selection read. If you have Speak Screen enabled, you can hear the content of the whole screen by swiping down with two fingers. Alternatively, you can ask Siri to “speak screen.”
Turn your phone into a microphone that links to your headset or a hearing aid so you can better hear people from across the room. You can also use this feature to monitor for a baby’s cry in another room, listen to a TV or speaker at a higher volume than others around you might prefer, or any other remote microphone uses you can imagine.
• On an Android phone: This feature is built into Google Pixel phones, but other Android users can download Google’s Sound Amplifier app from Google Play. To use it, open Sound Amplifier, accept the permissions, connect your wired or Bluetooth headphones to your device, and either tap the accessibility button, which looks like a person or swipe up with two fingers.
• On an iPhone: Apple’s Live Listen is compatible with AirPods, Powerbeats Pro, and Beats Fit Pro. First, add Live Listen to Control Center by going to Settings > Control Center. Then tap the plus (+) sign next to the Hearing button. Then use, open Control Center, tap the Hearing button, and tap Live Listen.
Turn Your Phone Into a Toolbox
Taking measurements and making sure you hang photo frames straight has never been easier, since your phone can serve as a measuring tape and a carpenter’s level. The iPhone’s Measure app can even provide the height of a person fully in the camera frame.
• On an Android phone: Google retired its augmented reality Measure app in mid-2021 and it doesn’t offer a bubble level, either, so you need to use a third-party app for both features.
• On an iPhone: Open the Measure app and follow the directions to move your phone around. Move the dot over the starting point of the measurement and tap the plus (+) sign, then tap it again after you’ve moved the dot to the end point. The Level function lets you straighten pictures using a digital interface on the phone.
Create and Send a Screenshot
Need to send a shot of an error message to tech support? Share what’s on your screen in an instant with these shortcuts.
• On an Android phone: Press and hold the Power and Volume Down buttons at the same time. Tap on the image to edit or share it.
• On an iPhone: Press the Side and Volume Up buttons at the same time. Tap the thumbnail that appears at the bottom left-hand corner of the screen to open and share it.
Record a How-To Video
You can share any of these hidden tricks by creating a step-by-step video of what’s on your phone’s screen, along with your voice-over tutorial.
• On an Android phone: Swipe down from the top of the screen, then tap the Screen Recorder icon (you might need to swipe right to find it) > Start Recording and a countdown will begin. To pause, annotate, or stop recording, use the toolbar that appears on your screen. You’ll find the recording in Google Photos.
• On an iPhone: Go to Settings > Control Center > and tap the plus (+) sign next to Screen Recording. Then open Control Center and tap the circle recording icon. To stop recording, tap the red status bar at the top of the screen.