Your first chance is to simply turn the iPhone (or iPad) off– completely off– and then back on again. You’d be surprised at how many problems go away with the old off-on routine.
(In case you’ve forgotten how to turn your iPhone or iPad off, here’s what to do: press the Power button– Apple calls it the “Sleep/Wake” button but that’s not a very good name– at the top right edge of your device, and keep it pressed until you see a message about swiping to turn off. Do that, and wait a bit, and your device will turn completely off. This is what you’re supposed to do during takeoff and landing on commercial flights. Putting the phone to sleep, or into “airplane mode,” or turning it face-down so the flight attendant can’t see the screen is not the same as turning it off, and yes I am talking to you over there in Seat 24C.)
Your second chance to fix things is to do a reset. Try this when turning your iPhone/iPad off and back on again doesn’t solve the problem, or when the iPhone/iPad simply won’t turn off for some reason. A reset is a two-handed job: press and hold the Power button, and at the same time press and hold the Home button (the one in the middle of the bottom of the iPhone/iPad bezel). Keep those two buttons pressed until you see an Apple logo. Let go, and let your device start up. It might take a little longer than normal so be patient. With a little luck everything will be back to normal, and no you will not lose any data. Your pictures will still be there, your settings will still be there, your contacts will still be there, etc. In fact, everything will be just as it was before you did the reset– except that everything will work properly. At least most everything, and at least most of the time.
Next time your iPhone or iPad isn’t behaving properly just turn it off and then back on and see how it goes. If that doesn’t work, try the Power-Home reset. Odds are your problems will disappear.
Note: there is another kind of reset, performed in the General section of the Settings app. That’s not what we’re interested in here. Use the reset-from-the-Settings-app method when you’re looking to completely wipe your old device out so you can give it to your friend/kid/dog.
Veronika K. wins the Coffee Cup for inspiring this blog post. Congratulations, Veronika.