40 iPhone Tricks That Will Make Things So Much Easier

Whether you have the latest iPhone or an older model, your device is chock-full of features and services you may not know about

Chances are, you’re not even scratching the surface of all the amazing and totally unexpected things your iPhone can do to make your life easier. These iPhone hacks go far beyond the obvious—and soon, you won’t know how you ever lived without them. After you discover new things about your favorite personal-tech device with this list of iPhone tricks, you may also want to learn how to retrieve deleted text messages, how to delete apps from your iPhone or how to screen-record on your iPhone.

Use your iPhone’s Measure app as a spirit level

Use your iPhone's Measure app as a spirit levelrd.com, Getty Images

The Measure app isn’t just for measuring things. It also has a leveling feature that will come in handy for DIY projects at home. Since a spirit level (also known as a bubble level) measures how parallel or perpendicular something is to the ground, it can help you hang shelves or place works of art evenly over your mantel. Simply open the app and choose the Level option on the lower right to activate it. If you’re using the app to hang pictures, be sure to avoid these common mistakes.

Make your iPhone keyboard function as a trackpad

Make your iPhone keyboard function as a trackpadrd.com, Getty Images

If you’ve ever tried to move your cursor in a text only to find yourself stabbing at your phone’s screen with your finger, you need a trackpad on your phone. Here’s an iPhone trick that will come as a surprise to most people: You can turn your iPhone into a trackpad, as long as it has iOS 12 or a more recent update. Just start typing in an email or text message, then press and hold a finger on the space bar on your iPhone’s keyboard. When you do this, the other keys will fade to gray, and you can use the area as a trackpad. Learn more about your iPhone’s hidden mouse.

Turn your iPhone into an activity tracker

Turn your iPhone into an activity trackerrd.com, Getty Images

If you always have your phone with you, you don’t really need to buy a separate fitness tracker. The Health app on your iPhone automatically tracks your steps and how far you’ve walked or run each day, just like a Fitbit does. Open the Health app that came installed on your iPhone to look at how many steps you’ve taken with your phone each day since you got it. If you have an Apple Watch or iPad, the app will send the data to those connected devices too. When you think about it, iPhone tricks like this give you even more bang for your buck, since they decrease the need for other pricey devices. For more high-tech fitness essentials, check out these smart water bottles.

Flip a coin

Flip a coinrd.com, Getty Images

Flipping a coin to make a decision can help you wade through your pros and cons to get to the decision you truly want to make. “When we see the result of the coin toss and react with either pleasure or disappointment, we realize that we actually did have a preference for one option over another, whether we knew it or not,” writes Hal McDonald, PhD, for Psychology Today. However, not everyone carries around cash and coins these days. Your iPhone can be a convenient substitute. Simply talk to your Apple virtual assistant, saying, “Hey, Siri, flip a coin!” She will then give you the result of the virtual coin toss. Learn more and find out how to add widgets to your iPhone.

Use your iPhone as a tape measure

Use your iPhone as a tape measurerd.com, Getty Images

As long as you have an iPhone that’s at least as recent as the 6s, you can use your device as a tape measure. Go to the Measure app, which will give you instructions to move your device. Hold up the iPhone and move it around, and a circle will appear; a dot will be in the middle of the circle. Now frame your iPhone’s screen so that the dot is pointed directly at the point where your measurement should start. Tap the “Add a point” (plus symbol) option. Now, slowly move your iPhone until the dot within the circle is over the point where you want the measurement to end. Tap the plus symbol once again. Your measurement should now appear. Just be warned that while this is a pretty handy iPhone trick, it isn’t quite as accurate as a manual tape measure.

Access a magnifying glass

Access a magnifying glassrd.com, Getty ImagesHave you ever been reading a magazine only to find that certain passages were teeny-tiny and impossible to read? If that happens to you again, you don’t have to rummage through junk drawers to find an old magnifying glass. Your iPhone will act as a magnifying glass with a few clicks on the screen. To access this iPhone trick, open the Control Center by swiping down from the top right of your screen. Within the Control Center, simply click on the Magnifier to open and use it. To adjust the magnification, move the slider that should then appear on the screen. (If it’s not already in your Control Center, go to Settings, click on Control Center and tap on the plus sign next to Magnifier to move it to the list of your included controls.)

Use your phone as a recording device

Use your phone as a recording devicerd.com, Getty Images

Turning your iPhone into a recording device is simple. Open the Voice Memos app and press the red Record button. It will then record the audio of what is going on, much like a tape recorder does. Tap the red button again to finish the recording, then title it and save it as desired. That said, here’s why iPhones don’t let you record calls.

Transform your iPhone into a white noise machine

Iphone Tricks White NoiseRD.com, Getty Images

Drift into dreamland easily, or focus on the task at hand anywhere you go, no matter how noisy it is. With a few taps on your touchscreen, your iPhone will become a white noise machine, blocking out annoying and distracting sounds with your own special brand of soothing, shushing background noise.

To activate this feature, go to Settings, tap Accessibility and select Audio/Visual. From there, search for Background Sounds, and toggle it on. Relaxation awaits!

Customize your flashlight to provide optimal brightness

Customize your flashlight to provide optimal brightnessrd.com, Getty Images

If you’ve ever accidentally pressed the flashlight button on a sleeping iPhone screen, you may well know the humiliation of sending its blinding light into a room as you try to turn it off. But you don’t have to worry about that kind of disruption being so severe in the future; now you can customize exactly how bright you want your flashlight to be when it turns on. Just swipe down from the top of the screen (or swipe up, depending on your model) to open the Control Center. Now press and hold down the Flashlight button on the screen. A slider will appear on your screen that you can move up and down to adjust your flashlight to the exact level of brightness you want.

Use your iPhone playlist as a sleep aid

Use your iPhone playlist as a sleep aidrd.com, Getty Images

Have you ever wanted to fall asleep to your favorite playlist but didn’t want to burn through your battery or wake up with the music still playing? The iPhone now has a sleep timer that lets you turn off your music at a specific time. Simply go to the Clock app, tap on the Timer option on the bottom-right corner of your screen and choose the specific amount of time you want your music to play. Next, tap on the option for When Timer Ends. Now scroll all the way to the bottom and choose Stop Playing. Then all you have left to do is tap Set at the top right-hand corner of your screen. Voila! With this iPhone trick, you can enjoy your music without worrying about it playing all night long. Don’t miss these things you didn’t know your EarPods and AirPods could do.

Turn your phone into a high-tech medical ID bracelet

Turn your phone into a high-tech medical ID braceletrd.com, Getty Images

Your iPhone has the power to work as an advanced medical ID bracelet. With the Medical ID function, medical personnel can instantly access necessary information about your medical needs and history from the lock screen. To set this up, go to the Your Health app and click on the Summary tab. Tap on the profile photo of yourself in the upper right-hand corner. Tap Medical ID, then choose to edit it. Now input all the information someone may need to know to act and protect your health during an emergency.

Set your phone to answer itself

Set your phone to answer itselfrd.com, Getty Images

If you are often in a situation where you don’t have your hands free or can’t quickly grab your phone when it rings, you can set your iPhone to automatically pick up to ensure you don’t miss important calls. Go to Settings, open the Accessibility option, then select Touch. Next, select Call Audio Routing, then scroll down to Auto-Answer Calls and toggle it on. When you activate this feature, it will answer any incoming call and let you speak with the caller immediately. If you do miss a call, you can view (and delete) your iPhone call history.

Access the calculator’s hidden backspace button

Access the calculator's hidden backspace buttonrd.com, Getty Images

It’s no secret that the iPhone has a Calculator app, but many Apple customers don’t know about the hidden backspace button. Once you’ve entered a lot of numbers or started your calculations on the app, it seems like you have to press clear and start over if you accidentally press a wrong number. However, if you swipe to the left on the area where the numbers are displayed, the last number will be deleted without erasing the rest of your work.

Connect your computer to your iPhone’s hotspot

Connect your computer to your iPhone's hotspotrd.com, Getty Images

You can turn your phone into a mobile hotspot and router, providing Internet access for all the computers in your household. Since most data plans are limited, it’s best to use this option only in a pinch. For example, if your power goes out or your home’s Wi-Fi network goes down, the hotspot can provide a high-powered way to connect. Simply go to Settings, choose the Personal Hotspot option and make sure it’s set to “on.” As long as you have a hotspot option with your phone plan, you can use the password on the Personal Hotspot page to wirelessly connect your laptop, iPad and other devices to the internet. By the way, if you want to share files between your Apple devices, you should learn how to use AirDrop.

Access the one-handed keyboard

Access the one-handed keyboardrd.com, Getty Images

Your iPhone has a one-handed keyboard that’s convenient when you’re multitasking and have only one hand free. Simply go to Settings, tap on General, choose the Keyboard and toggle on One Handed Keyboard. Once there, you can choose Left if you’re left-handed or Right if you’re right-handed. You can also come back to this screen to turn it off and return your keyboard to normal.

Track your menstrual cycle and other health data

Track your menstrual cycle and other health datard.com, Getty Images

Need to track your menstrual cycle in a way you can easily access at the doctor’s office without a lot of effort? Your iPhone can help you track your monthly symptoms (including PMS), basal body temperature, episodes of spotting and more. Go to the Health app, click on Browse and select Cycle Tracking. Now swipe the correct day for when your last period started and tap the oval option to log the date. Do this each month. If you want to add more data, scroll down and choose the category where you want to provide more information about your menstrual cycle to have it readily available.

Sign documents

Sign documentsrd.com, Getty Images

Electronic signatures are becoming an acceptable norm for business contracts, new-hire employee forms and many other kinds of documents. You don’t have to buy expensive software to sign something electronically—you can do so easily within the Mail app using the markup option on your iPhone. Open the document from the Mail app on your iPhone. If it wasn’t sent to you via email, forward it so that you can easily access it from the Mail app.

Now, go to the email and tap on the attached document you want to sign. If you haven’t downloaded it already, click to download it. Next, scroll through the document until you pull up the lines where you need to provide text. Tap on the lines and fill them out as directed. For the line with your signature, tap the mark-up symbol. (If you are unfamiliar with the mark-up option, it’s the small icon in the upper-right corner that looks like a pen.) An assortment of pen options will appear, along with a plus sign. Select the plus sign and then the signature option will appear. A screen will open that allows you to use your finger to sign your name. When you finish writing your signature, click done. You can then place your signature precisely where you want it on the document. While we’re on the subject, find out how to sign a document on your computer too.

Harness your iPhone’s travel-planning tools

Harness your iPhone's travel-planning toolsrd.com, Getty Images

If you’re a frequent traveler, your iPhone can function as your personal travel planner and also act as a buddy that warns you of potential trouble. With the Maps app, you can get cycling directions, be alerted to potential red-light and speed-trap cameras on driving routes, even find guides to nearby restaurants, stores and attractions when you’re on the go. And don’t forget about the Weather app, which can help you pack appropriately, and the Notes app, where you can jot down helpful tips from friends about your destination. Trust us: These iPhone tricks will make your next vacation even more relaxing.

Find a photo based on who or what is in it

Find a photo based on who or what's in itrd.com, Getty Images

Have you ever been daydreaming about a time you went somewhere special, like the Eiffel Tower? Or wished you could sort through all the photos you have of you and your best friend? If you want to find that special moment to post a Throwback Thursday or a Flashback Friday online, it’s possible to search for a photo on your iPhone based simply on what’s in the picture. Go to your Photos app, then click on the search bar. Your phone will offer you suggestions of people, places and things. Choose the right one or type in exactly what you’re searching for. A group of photos matching your description should appear, so you can pick the ones you want to look at, send or post online. Then learn how to take a postcard-perfect picture on your phone.

Use different (good) vibrations for each contact

Use different (good) vibrations for each contactrd.com, Getty Images

Many people know about custom ringtones, but you can also choose a different vibration notification for each friend in your contact list. That way, when you’re out with friends or in a meeting, you don’t have to check your phone every time you get a text. You’ll know just from the specific vibes when a text comes from someone you really need to respond to.

To set the vibrations for certain contacts, go to your Contacts. Select a Contact, then click Edit on the upper right corner of the screen. Scroll down and tap Ringtone or Text Tone. Next, choose Vibration, and select a specific vibration pattern for that contact when they call and text. You may choose the same vibration for their calls and texts, or specify different vibrations for their calls and texts. You can also choose Create New Vibration to customize a whole new vibration for each contact.

Locate your vehicle

Locate your vehiclerd.com, Getty Images

Who hasn’t found themselves in the humiliating situation of not being able to find their car in a big parking lot? Happily, the next time that happens, you can rely on your iPhone to immediately locate your vehicle and get on with your day. Before you leave the house, be sure you still have the Maps app installed on your iPhone, then check to see that your phone is connected to CarPlay or Bluetooth while in your car.

To ensure you can locate your vehicle, go to the Settings menu, and choose the Maps app. Next, scroll to the bottom of the list to the Your Car heading, and turn on Show Parked Location. The toggle button will be green to confirm that it’s on, and your phone will be all set to show your car’s location any time you park it. When you park your car, the Maps app will drop a parked-car marker so you can easily find your way back. To find your car when it seems lost, open the Maps app on your iPhone.

Use your iPhone as a scanner

Use your iPhone as a scannerrd.com, Getty Images

With the many changes that have occurred in the workplace since 2020, having a scanner readily available can come in handy. Whether you need to sign an onboarding document for a new job or send a personally signed note to a friend online, you can use the Notes app as a scanner. Open the Notes app and tap at the bottom to create a new Note. Tap the Camera button to select it, then tap the Scan Documents option. Place the document in front of the camera on your phone, making sure it’s centered. If your device is on Auto mode, it will immediately scan the document.

To manually capture the scan, tap the Shutter button. Next, adjust the scan to fit the page by dragging the corner, if needed. Tap Keep Scan, then select Save. If you find yourself scanning lots of documents, here’s how to free up space on your iPhone.

Translate words and phrases

Translate words and phrasesrd.com, Getty Images

Ever hear a phrase in another language you wish you understood? Your iPhone can translate a number of languages, including Spanish, French, Russian, Italian and German, making it one of the most useful iPhone tricks when you’re traveling abroad. First, make sure you have updated to at least iOS 14. Then, tap on your phone’s built-in Translate app; at the top of the screen, choose the language you’ll be translating from as well as your target language. Next, either type the word or phrase you want to translate into the open space or paste it there from your source document. Tap Go to confirm that you’re ready for the translation, and the translated word or phrase will appear. If you want to hear it spoken aloud, tap the Play button.

Hide screenshots and photos from prying eyes

Hide screenshots and photos from prying eyesrd.com, Getty Images

It’s easy to keep your private photos on your iPhone hidden from others who might use your phone. Simply go to your Photos app and click on the pictures and screenshots you want to hide. Then—and this may sound contradictory to your goals—select the Share option. From the list that appears, choose the Hide option. Go back to the Photo Library to make sure the photos are now private. Your iPhone will automatically place them in the Hidden folder. You can find this folder by clicking on your Photos app, then going to the Albums tab. Scroll down below all the albums and Media Types, to the Utilities heading. The Hidden folder is there, along with imports and recently deleted photos.

If you change your mind and want to “unhide” the photos, simply select the photo and choose to move it back to the primary album of the Photos app.

Enjoy your iPhone as an old-fashioned radio

Enjoy your iPhone as an old-fashioned radiord.com, Getty Images

If you get homesick when traveling and long to hear your local radio station, you’re just a couple of steps away from hearing the familiar voices of the DJs you know and love. Sure, you have options of endless podcasts, iTunes, and streaming films and television shows to keep you entertained, but stellar programming still exists on radio. Use Siri in iOS 13 and later to access more than 100,000 radio stations from across the country and around the world. Siri uses radio.com, iHeartRadio and TuneIn, so you can listen no matter where you are.

Move Safari’s address bar to the top of the screen

Iphone Tricks Safari Address BarRD.com, Getty Images

This is one of those iPhone tricks that seems incredibly simple, but so many people were annoyed when Apple moved the navigation bar on Safari to the bottom of the screen. Since most people have been using top-placed address bars since they first used the internet, it was difficult for many to adjust to seeing it on the bottom. So, with iOS 15, it’s now easy to correct this and move the address bar to the top of the screen again. Simply go to Settings and scroll until you see the Safari option. Tap on it and scroll again to select Tabs. Now tap “Single Tab” to change your view of Safari to the old style, with the navigation bar at the top of the screen.

Program your phone to self-destruct

Program your phone to self-destructrd.com, Getty Images

If you have sensitive information on your phone (and who doesn’t?), you may worry about what could happen if it gets into the wrong hands. Prevent that from happening by taking the rather dramatic step of setting your phone to essentially self-destruct if someone steals it and tries to use it. If you enact this feature and someone enters the wrong passcode more than 10 times, your phone will erase everything on it. (Of course, if you frequently forget your password or have a child who plays with your phone, you may want to think twice before opting for this security measure.)

If you decide that this is the right move for you, go to Settings, choose Face ID & Passcode. Your phone will ask you to enter your Passcode. After you do that, scroll to the bottom and activate the option to Erase Data. Then, if someone steals your phone and tries to repeatedly break into it, the data will be erased and inaccessible to the prying eyes of the thief. Read on to find out whether iPhones can get viruses.

Remove annoying, unnecessary notifications

Remove annoying, unnecessary notificationsrd.com, Getty Images

Any iPhone user has likely received unwanted notifications. The good news is that you are actually in control of how and when you receive these notifications. First of all, if you don’t want to see a screen full of notifications every time you pick up your phone, go into Settings and tap Notifications. If you’d like to get notifications but don’t want a steady stream of them, you can choose to get a Scheduled Summary. This sends a list of all your notifications to your phone at a time you select, so you can peruse them when it’s convenient for you.

If you want to get some notifications and not others, that’s easy too! While you’re in the Notifications setting, scroll down to Notification Style. You can customize your notifications on an app-by-app basis. Simply toggle the notification option on to get notifications for the apps you want, and turn off those you don’t. Select how you want notifications to appear. When you exit the screen, the new settings should be applied. Here’s how to get rid of annoying phone notifications.

Shoot bursts of photos

Shoot bursts of photosrd.com, Getty Images

Sure, you know you can use your iPhone to take relatively high-quality photos instead of lugging around a bulky camera. Many people don’t realize, however, that you can easily use the phone’s camera to shoot bursts of photos like you would with a DSLR camera. On iPhone X and earlier models, just hold down the camera app’s shutter button. On iPhone XS, iPhone XR and later models, swipe the shutter button to the left. In either scenario, simply lift your finger to stop shooting bursts. You should definitely also know how to recover deleted photos from your iPhone.

Record your screen for work projects

Record your screen for work projectsrd.com, Getty Images

If you’re attending work meetings on Zoom or other apps with your phone, you may want to record your screen so you can access the shared data or documents later on. It’s easy to do this on an iPhone. Go to your Settings, then choose the Control Center. Next, add the Screen Recording option. Then, when you want to record your screen, go to the Control Center and simply press the record button. One important note: This only captures the visual component of your screen; it doesn’t record the audio. This works best for things like slideshows, where you only need to access the visuals.

Back up photos in the Cloud

Back up photos on the Cloudrd.com, Getty Images

With just a few clicks, you can ensure that all the photos you take with your iPhone will be saved in iCloud. You can then access them from your computer, iPad and other devices. Go to your settings, then select iCloud. Next, choose Photos and switch on the iCloud Photos option. That way, your iPhone will automatically back up both videos and photos to the Cloud.

Use hashtags to streamline your Notes documents

Iphone Tricks Notes HashtagsRD.com, Getty Images

On social media, hashtags have made it much easier to find like-minded people and topics that interest you. Now you can use this convenient trick to sort and organize the documents you create in the Notes app. Whether you are writing a novel and want to organize all your book-related Notes under one hashtag or simply want to gather together related thoughts on a topic, you can create hashtags to easily categorize and organize everything in your Notes app.

Simply add a tag anywhere in the note, including the title. To add a tag to one of your notes, type # followed by the tag name. Alternately, select a tag from the suggestions menu above the keyboard. Once you do this, you’ll see the text change color to confirm that a tag has been added. Learn more about hashtags and other punctuation marks you see everywhere—and about how confusing life would be without punctuation.

Use your iPhone to help you remember things

Use your iPhone to help you remember thingsrd.com, Getty Images

Have you ever been on the go when you thought of something you wanted to remember later that day, only to find that it flew right out of your head? Your iPhone can serve as your assistant so you never have that frustration again. Just tell Siri, “Remind me of this …” and then tell her exactly when you want to be reminded. Your iPhone will automatically program the reminder based on your vocal command.

As an alternate way to get a little help in the memory department, snap a photo of something you want to reference later, whether it’s the menu of a restaurant or the names of your medications. Of course, it’s easy for these reminders to get lost in your primary album, so instead, create a special one just for reminders, or email the reminder to yourself. Check out these genius things highly organized people do on their smartphones.

Extend your phone’s battery charge with Airplane Mode

Extend your phone's battery charge with Airplane Moderd.com, Getty ImagesThis is, hands down, one of our favorite iPhone tricks. When you want to extend your iPhone’s battery, switch your phone to Airplane Mode. This is an optimal solution when you don’t need to be connected to the internet. Bonus: Setting your phone to Airplane Mode can also help it charge faster. You should also know what low power mode is and what it does. (FYI, these things are killing your smartphone battery.)

Access the hidden Caps Lock key

Utilize the hidden Caps Lock keyrd.com, Getty Images

When you first look at the iPhone keyboard that pops up on your screen, it’s noticeably missing a Caps Lock key. However, all you have to do is double-tap the Shift key, and it will turn into a Caps Lock key. Use it any time you need to write in all capital letters, so you don’t have to press the Shift key for each letter. And while you’re typing, keep in mind that spell check won’t catch these common typos.

Set communication boundaries with iPhone’s Focus

Iphone Tricks FocusRD.com, Getty Images

With iOS 15 and later, Focus can help define how and when you interact with people using your phone. For example, you can set up a profile and away message for when you’re driving, so you don’t feel pressured to answer any calls or text messages when you need to focus on the road. If you want a week away from screen time—or just an hour to get work done—you can set your phone so it doesn’t send you notifications and other unwanted information during that time.

Simply go to Settings and choose Focus. Now, choose one of the Focus options: Do Not Disturb, Driving, Personal, Sleep or Work. Tap on the one that most closely meets your needs; then you can customize which people and apps you want to receive notifications from during your Focus period.

You can also turn on Focus from Control Center. Simply open Control Center on your iPhone, then touch and hold Focus. It will bring up the full menu for you to choose the Focus you want to adjust.

Change Siri’s voice

Change Siri's voicerd.com, Getty ImagesIf you don’t want Siri to have a female voice, it’s easy to change it to a male voice. If you have a thing for Australian or British accents, you can opt for those too. Simply open Settings, scroll down to Siri & Search and choose Siri Voice to make the changes. If you change your mind, it’s just as easy to switch it back. While you’re in Siri & Search, you can also play around with hearing Siri speak in other languages. If you’re trying to learn another language, you may learn a word or two by hearing Siri speak it. Also, here are some funny things you can ask Siri.

Help friends find their phones

Help friends find their phonesrd.com, Getty Images

If a family member or close friend loses their iPhone, you can help them find it with yours! According to Apple, the Family Sharing and Find My iPhone options help make this happen. Just be sure that you and your family and friends turn on the Find My iPhone option. This can also help you find your phone if you ever lose it. Under your iPhone’s Settings, go to Privacy, then Location Services. Turn on the “Find My iPhone” option. Also, under the same Location Services menu, go to Share My Location and select the name of all the friends and family members you trust to help you find your phone too. By the way—if you want to keep the conversations between you and your friends private, here’s how to hide text messages on an iPhone.

Connect your iPhone to your home wireless network

Connect your iPhone to your home wireless networkrd.com, Getty Images

If you have unlimited data through your phone’s service provider, connecting your iPhone to your home wireless network can seem like an unnecessary hassle. However, it’s worth it. Some downloads and updates don’t function unless you’re connected to your wireless network, so having your phone automatically connect to your home Wi-Fi when it’s available is a smart idea. Also, depending on where you live and how fast your cell phone provider’s network is, connecting to your home’s wireless network often makes surfing the web on your phone go faster.

Correct Siri for a smoother experience

Correct Siri for a smoother experiencerd.com, Getty Images

Ever get annoyed that Siri keeps getting a location wrong or telling you information you don’t need? You can correct Siri. Unlike some real-life friends we won’t mention by name, she actually listens and will change according to the information you give her. For example, if she mispronounces a word, speak up. She’ll then let you choose the correct pronunciation and will remember it for next time. All you have to do is tell her, and she’ll offer you verbal options to choose from; there’s no need to plug anything in manually. Just keep in mind that there are a few things you should never ask Siri.

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Robin Raven
Robin Raven is a travel, lifestyle, vegan food and entertainment writer. As a shopping expert, she carries expertise in spas, luxury travel and all things Disney. Robin is also the author of two books.