iTunes never seems to backup all the data I need on my iPhone. So what I wanted was a way to access the root level of the device, and be able to copy everything, even all system and invisible files, to a backup on my computer's hard drive. The way to do this is to use a combination of the great iOS mount utility, PhoneDisk, and Rsync run from the Terminal.
[crarko adds: Note that to access the root level of the device, it must be jailbroken. Otherwise you can get more detailed (and perhaps quite useful) access to the sand-boxed area of the filesystem without jailbreaking, but ultimately it's not a different area than what iTunes backs up unless you jailbreak. This was not clear in the original text of the hint.]
First download and install PhoneDisk.
Make sure your iOS device is connected via USB to your computer. Run PhoneDisk to mount the device.
Under the PhoneDisk menu, goto Preferences, and rename your device to a single simple word (i.e., no spaces or other extended characters), under Use this name as mount disk name:. In my case, I just used 'iPhone' for the name.
Make sure that you have the latest version of rsync. Once installed, use the following command in Terminal, replacing the specifics of your home folder, your device name, and your backup location:
cd /volumes;/usr/local/bin/rsync -avv --protect-args 'iPhone'/ 'Macintosh HD'/Users/Home/Downloads/iphone_backup
This will create a full backup of all files on you iOS device.
[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one. As noted, you'll need to edit the paths in the Terminal command to match your arrangement.
Note: As has been pointed out in the comments; this requires jailbreaking the iOS device to actually get to the root level of the filesystem.
PhoneDisk (like PhoneView) exposes parts of the filesystem not visible in iTunes, but it is still inside the sandbox and the procedure given here wouldn't really backup anything more than iTunes does without jailbreaking. This doesn't diminish the value of these utilities, of course. You can access things individually you'd have to really hunt for in the iTunes backup folder hierarchy.
Yesterday I found some shortcuts to text selection while using the notes application in the iPhone (iOS 4.2.1).
If you make a two fingers swipe on a paragraph, it is selected (the easiest way I've found is to make a swipe down just on the paragraph).
In the same way, if you pinch out (like when zooming in a photo) a wider selection is automatically started and you have 'control' over both the beginning and the end of the selection.
[crarko adds: I still find text editing in iOS to be something of a black art. It's the main reason I have not attempted to edit this site using my iPad. It's still just too inefficient compared to doing it on the Mac, even if that means bringing the Mac along when I travel.]
A recent hint showed a great tip for quickly pulling up a blank Safari tab on iOS devices. The author's instructions, though, indicated another tip many might not know when entering a URL into mobile Safari.
When viewing a web page, we all know to tap on the address field so we can enter a new URL. In mobile Safari, however, there's no need to first tap the X to clear the existing URL in the address field. Instead, just tap the address field and begin typing when the keyboard appears. Mobile Safari will automatically overwrite the existing address.
[crarko adds: I tested this, and it works as described. It's a good followup to the other hint. Anything that speeds up Mobile Safari is a good thing in my book.]
The process of loading a URL in a new tab on iPad can be rather cumbersome and slow. First, one launches Safari from the home screen, waits for the app to open and the old webpage to re-render, then one hits the tab switch button, presses the new tab space, waits for that tab to open, waits for it to switch to the search panel (this is the most irritating part of the process, since it seems to take even longer when what one really wants is the URL bar), and finally, one clicks on the URL bar to enter in a new URL.
To simplify this process considerably, just add a new icon to your Springboard that goes directly to about:blank. Details after the jump.
To add the new icon to your home screen, first open a new tab in Safari according to the usual method, and direct it to the url, about:blank. Then tap the more options icon (iOS 4.2) or the + icon (iOS 3.2) and select, 'Add to home'. Give your icon a name like 'New tab' or whatever you like then tap add.
In the future when you want to switch to Safari and open a URL in a new tab, just tap the 'New tab' icon, then tap the URL and X out the existing about:blank before entering in your own URL.
[crarko adds: I tested this, and it works as described. I found this even more valuable on my old, slow, iPhone 3G; and it's a good idea anytime you're using the cell connection instead of Wi-Fi.]
If you're like me, you decided not to use a 'complex passcode' on your iPod touch (or iPhone) because you can see each letter of the passcode as you type it, making it easy for someone to learn your passcode. Well, recently I decided to try a complex passcode with only numbers. I discovered that if the passcode contains only numbers, the iPod will use an all-number keypad like the 4-digit passcode.
I know many people will complain that this is not a hint, but after I discontinued my MobileMe subscription, I never bothered trying to turn back on Find My [iDevice] because I assumed I couldn't use it anymore.
So this IS a hint for those users that don't keep up with Apple news and made the same assumption I did. For anyone who doesn't know, you can just go to add a MobileMe account on the iDevice and use your App Store username and password (i.e. your AppleID).
I know I would've been glad to see this before I found out about it.
[crarko adds: Once again, what may be common knowledge to some is news to other people, and we like to look out for everyone.]
If you're like me, you often need constant reminders. I have a sure-fire way to keep you abreast of your important notes. My tip gives you an easy way to put those important items front and center using the iPhone/iPad lock screen wallpaper.
To make your reminder, open the Notes app on the iPhone or iPad and write your notes. For me, these are usually little reminders or simple to do lists.
Next, take a screen shot by holding in the home button and pressing the iPhone lock button on the top of the phone or iPad. You should see a flash on your screen and a camera shutter.
Next, find the screen shot you took in your camera roll in the photos app. Press the arrow on the screen to set the photo as your wallpaper, resize and position your photo as needed, and assign it to your lock screen.
Now, next time you power up your iPhone or iPad, you'll see your note before you even unlock your phone.
This is also a great way to make a simple shopping list and refer to it while in a grocery store without having to unlock your phone each time.
[crarko adds: This is one of those simple sounding ideas I wish I had thought of before. They don't have to be complicated to be useful. I can think of several uses for this one off the top of my head.]
A lot of webpages automatically redirect an iPhone to a less than full featured mobile version of the site when viewed with the Safari app on the iPhone, limiting the usability of the site.
Many sites can be viewed in full on the Opera Mini Web browser app (free), including eBay. Under settings, you can change mobile view to off, unlike in Safari.
[crarko adds: There is a growing number of web browsers for iOS, many designed to overcome shortcomings in Mobile Safari. A number of them are Universal, unlike the Opera Mini app (currently). You can search for them all in the App Store.]
First of all, Cydia is awesome, no question about that. But if you have anything but a 3GS or 4G, it can be painfully slow to load and that can be a deterrent for keeping things updated. Let’s have a look at a much faster way.
You will need SSH enabled on your iPhone/iTouch to begin with. If you do not, you must install OpenSSH from Cydia and probably the SSH Toggle for SBSettings. Also you’ll need to install Apt from Cydia. Look for ‘Apt 0.7 Strict’.
Now go ahead and SSH into your device. Be aware that you cannot use the apt tools while Cydia is running. The commands you will use the most frequently are as follows:
Updates the repositories. Equivalent to refreshing in Cydia.
Installs any updates available.
Search the repositories
Install a package. If there are dependencies, you will be prompted to continue.
Uninstall a package
Lists all installed packages
Respring your device from the command line
A couple of things to note is that for install and remove, you can list multiple packages separated by a space. When searching, the beginning of each line is the package name. Sometimes it will be a single word, though usually it will follow the pattern: com.companyname.appname.
Even if you only ever plan on using Cydia for managing your packages, I would highly recommend installing Apt (along with syslog). Ever installed something that really screwed your phone or been stuck in a reboot or respring loop? I know I have, and it’s no fun. If you’ve got Apt at your disposal you can connect via SSH and remove the offending package if you know what it is.
Otherwise you can do the old tail –f /var/log/syslog and watch for clues as to the which app is responsible. The source for this hint is iPhone World; it's been extremely helpful.
[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one. I don't jailbreak so I don't test these.]
Do you like to carry your collection with you but don't want anyone rummaging through it?
Go to: Settings » General » Restrictions » Movies » None
When you open the Videos.app, all the videos will have disappeared and be inaccessible. When you wish to view your videos again, turn off the restriction.
This doesn't stop anyone from seeing whats on your iPhone if they connect it to a computer though.
[crarko adds: Obviously for this to be actually secure you need to have a passcode set so others can't go in and change the setting. Still this is useful against the casual browser; I think it's more useful on the iPad where you might actually loan it to somebody temporarily.]