The Easy Digital Hygiene Routine That Keeps Your iPhone Privacy Settings In Check

by Caroline Burke
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When you're living in 2020, your iPhone tends to be as important to your daily life as any of your limbs. That little technology box probably holds dozens of passwords, not to mention all the selfies you've taken over the past few years, the latest gossip in your college friends' group chat, and more. If you want to do more to improve your overall digital hygiene and make sure that info is as safe as possible, Apple has a few suggestions to help you take control of your iPhone data privacy.

According to Apple, the average person stores more data on their phone than they do in their entire home. Keeping this in mind, there are a number of ways your iPhone can function as a safeguard against data theft — and it only requires just a few minutes of your time and energy. These easy data privacy tips include settings you can use to protect your data from apps and private companies, as well as features you can enable to prevent a stranger from picking up your iPhone and gaining access just in case you ever lose it.

At the end of the day, understanding how these iPhone tools work is just as vital to your privacy as anything else, especially when you consider the average person spends over four hours per day on their phone. So, if you're interested in being better about your data privacy hygiene in 2020, here are some tips from Apple:

Enable Face ID

Caroline Burke

If you haven't already enabled Face ID on your iPhone, it's a great way to further protect your phone, and to ensure that only you can unlock it. To enable Face ID, go to "Settings," then "Face ID & Passcode," then "Add or Change Passcode." You'll only be able to enable Face ID if you have an iPhone X or a newer model.

Enable Fingerprint Touch ID

If you have an iPhone that doesn't offer facial recognition technology, you could always enable Touch ID, instead. This allows you to create a fingerprint passcode on your iPhone, which helps ensure that only you can unlock your phone. To enable Touch ID, you can go to "Settings," then "Touch ID & Passcode," then "Add a Fingerprint."

According to Apple, a mere 49% of users had passcodes for their iPhones before Face ID and Touch ID options were available. Now, Apple says 89% of users have passcodes.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is another privacy tool worth taking advantage of, but it isn't a privacy setting you'd necessarily use for unlocking your phone. Instead, it can come in handy whenever you log into iCloud, your email accounts, or social media accounts. If you turn it on, then every time you log into your iCloud account with your Apple ID info, you'll have to enter your Apple ID password, as well as the six-digit numerical code provided to you on one of your trusted devices.

To set up two-factor authentication, you can go to "Settings," then "[Your Name]," then "Password & Security," then "Turn on Two-Factor Authentication." There are also third party apps available like Google Authenticator.

Check On Which Apps Are Pulling Your Location Info

Caroline Burke

There are two main types of data privacy concerns when it comes to your iPhone. First, there's the concern that another person will physically steal your phone and access your data. Then, there's the concern that an app, or a corporation, is accessing your private data. Though apps don't have access to that data unless you explicitly grant it, you might not always remember what options you chose weeks or even months ago. To help remind you which apps you've given permission to always track your location, Apple uses background tracking notifications that show you where an app has tracked you on a map.

To check up on these settings yourself, go to "Privacy," then "Location Services." From there, you'll see a full list of the apps that can access your location info, as well as the stipulations they're currently under, regarding that access. You can choose whether an app has constant access to your location, no access to your location, or if it has access to your location only while you're actively using the app. It's worth remembering that if you leave an app without fully closing it, then it's still open. A fourth option lets you give an app access to your location “Just Once." If you select that one, you'll notice another prompt that asks whether you want to grant that app access to your location the next time around.

Apple also places different types of arrow icons next to the apps that have used your location. A gray arrow icon indicates an app has used your location in the last 24 hours, a purple arrow icon means an app has used your location "recently," and a hollow arrow icon shows up when an app has used your location under a "certain condition."

Review The Permissions You've Granted To Apps

Caroline Burke

Another way to safeguard your privacy is to review the various permissions you've given to apps, in terms of how they're allowed to access or process your data. To do this, you can go to "Settings," then "Privacy." From there, you'll see a list of all of the apps that have requested access to your data in the past.

If you click on the Bluetooth icon, for example, you'll see all of the apps that have requested Bluetooth access in the past, and you'll have the power to revoke that access if you want. For some photo apps, you might see the "read and write" permission granted, which means that the app has the power to "write" new photos into your photo album, and to "read" all of the photos on your device. What's more, if location services are enabled for the Camera app, then this also means that a given photo app can access information such as where you took a picture, too.

It's common for apps to request this access, especially if they involve photo-editing. But if you don't want them to be able to access your entire photo library, you can always switch the privacy setting to "Never."

Manage Your Personal Data With Apple

Caroline Burke

If you want to manage your data and privacy settings with Apple directly, you can go to, and log in with your Apple ID. From there, you'll be able to get more information about what information Apple is collecting from you, exactly. You can request a copy of your data from Apple apps and services, too, and you can even make a request to correct false data about your personal information.

Checking in on the privacy and data settings on your iPhone should be just one aspect of your overall digital hygiene routine. It's also crucial to stay up to date on how other platforms are accessing your data in general, especially those that you frequent from a computer as well as your phone. Fortunately, working in a quick digital hygiene routine that works for you is pretty simple thanks to all the tools at your disposal.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the location options available on apps and how Bluetooth is accessed. It has been updated with the appropriate information.