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Sharing on the iPhone and iPad Is an Essential Skill—and There Are Hidden Features

by Sarah Dobson on December 16, 2019

Even toddlers know that it’s nice to share, but the iPhone and iPad take sharing to a new level with the Share button. You may not have realized that the icon that looks like a box with an arrow coming out of it is called “Share,” but you probably have figured out that you tap it if you want to send someone a selected photo or the address of the current Web page.

Tapping the Share button causes a Share sheet to appear. Many of the options offered here make sense for what you would think of as sharing, and you should see choices like sending the selection to another Apple device using AirDrop or another person with Messages or Mail.

Most of the buttons in the first row are aimed at helping you “share” data with another app, like Reminders or Notes, so it’s important to keep the Share sheet in mind as a conduit for transferring data between apps, whether or not you’re sharing with another person. You can transfer a voice memo from your iPhone to a cloud storage app, for example, or copy a PDF downloaded in Safari to iBooks. The rows on a Share sheet scroll horizontally, so drag left on them to see all the possibilities.

Even more interesting, however, are the buttons in the second row, some of which have little to do with sharing. Here is a sampling of helpful features available in this row, which vary by app and with the type of data selected:

  • Play a slideshow in Photos: You can play a selection of images in Photos as an ad hoc slideshow. To do this with an album, open it, tap Select (upper right), tap Select All (upper left), tap the Share button, and then tap the Slideshow button.
  • Put a Photos photo on your Lock screen: While viewing your photos, if you see an image that would look fabulous on your Lock screen, select the photo, tap the Share button, and then tap the Use as Wallpaper button.


  • Create a Web page shortcut in Safari: Do you visit a particular page regularly? You can add an icon for it to the Home screen and then tap that icon to view the page. View the page in Safari, tap Share, and tap Add to Home Screen.
  • Search within in Safari or Notes: Want to find some text on a Web page in Safari or within a note in Notes? Open the Share sheet, tap Find on Page, and enter your search term.
  • Line a note in Notes: To jazz up a note with a lined or gridded background, tap Share, tap Lines & Grids, and pick a background.

Apple hides the Share button in Maps. To use it, tap and hold to insert a pin on the location that you want to share. Then tap the pin to open the Marked Location panel. A Share button appears in this panel; on the iPhone, scroll down to see it.

To share a selection of text from most apps, such as Mail or Notes, follow this procedure to bring up the Share sheet:

  1. Touch and hold on the text you want to share until a magnifier appears.
  2. Release your finger, and if needed, drag the starting or ending handle to select the text you want to share.
  3. Let up on the handle, and a white-on-black popover appears.
  4. Tap Share inside the popover.

As you can see below, the standard Share button in Notes is for sharing an entire note; you have to use the white-on-black popover to share just a text selection within a note.

Share sheets are easy to customize, so you can put your most frequently used buttons at the left for easy access—just drag them into the desired position. You can also remove buttons you never use and add buttons provided by third-party apps, if they don’t appear automatically. That requires a few more steps.

You customize each row independently. To begin, tap the More button at the far right of the row. Apps that can be added or removed appear with switches, so you can turn any switch on or off—if you’ve installed a non-Apple app that can appear in this row, you’ll see it listed here. You can also rearrange the buttons by dragging the grab handle at the right of any item. The top item will appear at the left of the row. (You cannot move buttons between rows.) When you finish, tap Done. You must cancel and then re-open the sheet to see your changes.

To get the most out of Share sheets, remember that they’re helpful when you want to move something from one app to another. Also, be sure to explore the Share sheet in any new app you start using because you never know what features the developer might have squirreled away in that second row.

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