Tip: How to make a phone call from iPhone's Safari browser

Tip: How to make a phone call from iPhone's Safari browser

Ever wonder how to make a phone call right from within iPhone's Safari browser without having to switch to the phone application? Because iOS automatically detects certain data types and turns them into actions, it's easy. No need to copy and paste or write it down. We'll show you how after the break.

Anything Safari (and other applications like Mail) recognize as a phone number will be shown in blue, just like a web link. When you see a phone number like that:

  • Tap on it.
  • A popup will appear showing you the number and offering to let you cancel or call.
  • Hit call and you'll be taken to the phone app, and the number will dial.

Bonus: There are other data detectors too, for addresses, even tracking numbers for your packages. We'll cover them in a future tip.

Tips of the day will range from beginner-level 101 to advanced-level ninjary. If you already know this tip, keep the link handy as a quick way to help a friend. If you have a tip of your own you'd like to suggest, add them to the comments or send them in to dailytips@tipb.com. (If it's especially awesome and previously unknown to us, we'll even give ya a reward...)

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There are 55 comments. Add yours.

JT says:

While I'm sure that a few readers are learning from these columns, between silence/reject calls and now this, I have to wonder if you think your readers are total technology novices who miss even the most obvious of conveniences that the iPhone provides.

Brian Tufo says:

Tips will range from starter tips to more advanced tips. As we know a lot of readers are well versed in using their devices a lot of readers are new from other devices and haven't learned everything yet. We will get more in depth and we will also continue basics as well.

Jon says:

Seriously guys? This is starting to get a little embarrassing. Can you create a separate "iPhone for Toddlers" blog?

Rene Ritchie says:

14 million iPhones were sold last quarter. That's a lot of new users. Users who don't give a flip about Jailbreak or Google Instant or any of the other 9 posts we put up in a day and just want to get more out of their phones.
These tips are for them. For the mainstream. For the new users. They're also for me because we get asked these kinds of questions EVERY DAY via email or twitter. Now I can just point them at the tips section.
If you don't like it, we apologies and ask that you kindly go on to the story before or after, if they're more to your liking. Otherwise, we ask that you respect different readers might have different interests and respect those.
Thanks!

GrandmaBetty says:

What's next? "How to turn your iPhone on?"
Ok, I'm just kidding. I'll see if I can come up with a handy expert-level tip that you guys can share.

asdda says:

Seriously, I agree with what Farmdreads.

spook† says:

I love the idea that they WOULD NOT know how to do this tip, but WOULD know how to copy & paste a number, not to mention launch safari and actually browse to a webpage.

TotallyBrit says:

This is the problem with some of you users on here that think 'you know-it-all' or everybody 'should' know even the most basic things.
Like Rene already mentioned, you don't expect every single 'iDevice owner' to know everything right from the get go, theres most likely one new owner of an Apple product every single day perusing the net to find handy guides.
If you think you're an expert, please go start your own blog and provide 'Expert' advice!
Thanks tipb, continue what you're doing... its been 3 years since I adopted the iPhone - I was a Novice once.

Webvex says:

Please ignore the know-it-alls. I'm a fairly advanced user, and I think the tips are a great idea. The worst mistake blogs and tech sites make is ignoring the general public and making newbs feel uncomfortable. You can have depth and breadth at the same time.

Webvex says:

P.S. If they truly "knew-it-all" they'd know not to make fools of themselves with condescending comments.

OneOfDaKine says:

We all crawled before we walk. So to those that don't have anything nice to say. Here's a tip of the day for you. " If you have nothing nice to say keep it to yourself." That's a beginner lesson for you... LOL. Keep up the good work TIPB...

OneOfDaKine says:

Nextweeks lesson is going to be on How to shut the hell up...

spook† says:

LOL...I feel like some of the smart in a smartphone is taking a hit here...

49ers Fan! says:

This is a complete Joke Rene... No one is this stupid!

Coffeegrower says:

Thanks, Rene for this post - I'm sure that many new users found it helpful. Here's an intermediate trick for you, which I discovered after upgrading to iOS4. You'll have to install iSys (free in the app store) which is a scaled down task manager, allowing you to monitor memory usage. Start iSys and note free memory, then double tap home to get the app switcher. Make the icons in the switcher jiggle, and start killing them...and watch your free memory increase. You can determine which of your apps are big ol' memory hogs, and close them from the switcher if you're experiencing crashes

90 year old clueless woman says:

I even knew how to do this, and I use a bed pan!

Webvex says:

Phone links are not always shown in blue, with an underline, like a web link--depending on the page style sheet. If you see a phone number you want to call, try tapping on it anyway. If it turns out to not be linked for some reason, you can then just copy it and paste it into the phone dialer--which is also a helpful technique for phone numbers in other places like documents. Once you have the phone number in the clipboard, just tap the box at the top of the dialer and select Paste.

usmc says:

How in the world do you launch an app on the iPhone, just kidding. Is that What's next?

HaPi76 says:

Some tips are useful, some totally obvious and some ninja-level worthy. There should be a ranking system to differentiate between Newborn/ Normal/ Ninja...
Just throwing it out there to make sure all levels of expertise are happy.

T-Mobile iPhone User says:

I wanted to share another tip. (I've been using the iPhone for three years now and just figured this out two weeks ago.)
To launch an app, make sure you're looking at the app you want to open and touch the screen momentarily with your finger. Voilà! (It actually works with other body parts, too, but it's much easier and won't get you thrown out of a coffee shop if you just use you finger.)
For years I just kept my finger down and then took the iPhone back to the Genius Bar to get them to make things stop wiggling.
Hope that helps somebody!

Ilovegeorgia says:

Come on man only an idiot would know how to do that

J1CA1 says:

GIZMODO.COM!!!!!!!
M-i !

santos says:

@JT - LOL!! i couldn't have said/typed it any better. i completely agree with your post.

Greginchina says:

This function, although useful, actually gets on my nerves. when the iphone recognises something as a phone number it gives you options to call, add to existing contact or create new contact. It doesn't offer the standard "select" and "copy" any more. When I'm making a long distance of international call I want to dial a specific code first. I'd love to be able to cut and paste a phone number from a website so that I could dial a prefix before pasting into the dialer app. My only option is to create a new contact and then edit the contact to cut the number, then open the dialer, then enter the prefix, then paste.

Christopher Cox says:

Seriously Rene, people who are using Safari to browse the Internet KNOW that clicking on blue underlined things take you to somewhere else. When your number turns blue and underlined just like every other link, how is it not obvious to a 2 year old that that too ... will take you somewhere? There is nothing wrong with writing an article for novices. But this kind of article is a howto for idiots. I actually feel kind of stupid reading your web site now a days with these kinds of articles. And by the way, you're the only one writing howto documents for blatantly obvious things like this.
It is equivalent to writing a howto on how to left click a mouse to activate something. REALLY? How did they get there if they didn't know how to left click?

just_me#IM says:

Calm down guys - there are different audiences for everything. While most of us already know these basics, there are a ton of people who have no clue. I know this because my mom got her first iphone when the 4 came out and is still asking me how to do basic things on it. She's just not a techy type person but I credit her for trying. Although I would have to imagine that anyone techy enough to actually be coming to this page, would already know these basic tips.

GinoDotCom says:

There is no defending this tip, I'm afraid this one is beyond reconcilable. When you're in safari, a phone number will appear in blue as a link. Anyone who has ever used a mouse or received an email or surfed the web knows this. Who in their right mind will not have the common sense to click on the phone number that's in the form of a link which will then get prompted to call directly from safari? Sorry, waste of Bandwidth here.
I can just imagine the PM Rene sent to this blogger.

ghostface147 says:

Ugh. These tips are lame. Did you know that pressing accept answers a call?

Sean says:

Here is an idea, if you don't like the tip, read it and move on, it doesn't take that much time to read the tip and move on, this is a free blog that tries to give something to everybody, it took myself and the other posters longer to write the comments than it took to read the tip.

Orangensaft says:

I think this article could be more helpful by providing a few ways data detectors provide additional convenience to the user. These are all over the iOS:

  • automatically scheduling appointments from date/time/place related text: e.g. tapping on "conference next Thursday at 5:30 pm in Room 205" will launch Calendar.
  • launching Maps app when tapping on an address, e.g. "1025 Worthington Place" is detected as location data and tapping it will show you the location in Google Maps and provide further options.

These are effective not just in Safari. They work in Mail, Notes, and most text fields throughout the OS.
I agree with many of the other commentators above who feel the information conveyed in this article, while useful, could be presented and authored in a way that is more broadly appealing to TiPb's current and potential readership.
-Orangensaft

Brian says:

Wow. Lots of iDicks on here. Not every post is going to be for everyone kids. Stop being total tools about it and post a good tip yourselves - if you're so well-versed in iPhone functionality and all...

JordanHoffy says:

Glad to see people here are so passionate about their cell phones. Thanks for the info, Rene.

Royce says:

Hey Rene, this tip may be a little childish for most, but whatever. I do however have a tip that people may like to see. If you're watching a youtube video and you only want to hear the audio for whatever reason (save battery ect.) you can play the video, lock the iphone/ipod touch, and double the home button to bring up ipod controls. from there you just hit the play button and your audio plays with no video. this is nice for listening to songs or podcasts on youtube when the screen isn't important and you don't want to accidentally pause or skip it while listening.

3Gs on Fido says:

@coffeegrower
excellent tip, i love it.
@rene
i know you must have thick skin by now so you probably don't need me saying this but don't listen to all of the whiners, they are so full of themselves they don't even realize there are actually people out there who appreciate tips like these. keep up the great work. and thank you!

Rtistic says:

Rene u have a lot of growing up to do

Bronte says:

@greginchina
You can still copy/paste numbers that are recognized as phone numbers. Highlight some normal text near it then adjust the highlighted field over just the number using the little blue dots. You can then paste it into the phone app and add your prefix. Hope this helps.

Ody says:

I prefer these much more than the jailbreaking tips!

Wow says:

This shows how wide and broad the TiPd blog is. - Shown by the huge range of ....readers who can't seem to see beyond their own noses. Thanks to those who added to Rene's article. And thanks Rene for a nice blog.

Visi says:

Next article "How to use fart apps"

DoubleDown says:

I just wish there were other options when 'clicking' on a 'phone number'. Like copy or open in a new page. Sometimes I'm looking up a number for someone else and I don't want to call that number, but simply add it to a text message. Or the number IS a web link, but the iPhone thinks it's a phone number, so the only option is to call. This is a nice feature, but needs work.

ghostface147 says:

Next tip. Pressing the silver button thingy on the top of the antenna thingy makes the screen go dark.

Heathos says:

I found this useful. I'm new to iPhone, just bought a 3GS after having a nokia 3310. Unlike most people I just got iPhone to look cool and be socially accepted, knowing how to use it is a benefit. Be appreciative, why troll and be critical on a forum that's free. Maximum respect Rene

Tom says:

For me it would have been more helpful if you described how to turn that feature of, because at times it really drives me crazy and I'm almost unable to copy numbers from safari because of that "feature".

Aj says:

Good point, what I find annoying is that they should've added "COPY" right next to call, in case you needed to copy that data to somewhere else and not just to call.

Scott says:

You should feature the tip of double tapping spacebar for a full stop. I'm amazed at how many people don't know that.

GinoDotCom says:

Realistically, anyone who is reading an iPhone blog knows how to click on a blue underlined phone number. There is just no defending this one... Novice tips are welcomes because I certainly don't know it all, but this is A:should NOT even be considered a tip & B:if it is, it's a tip for a complete idiot.

spook† says:

I just bought an iPhone because it's uber-trendy and makes me popular. Truth is I'm a tool...I've honestly never actually figured out how to turn it on. But it's okay, because I can hold it up to my head and walk around like I'm using it, and it leaves the masses in awe.
I am, however, anxiously awaiting the TiPb tip that shows me how to turn the phone on...I think that might really open up some new doors as far as what this device does for me...perhaps I'll get some fart apps and custom ringtones, then people will have no choice but to recognize my awesomeness.

largenj says:

Day 1 stuff man...give some better more useful tips that these. If they didn't know how to do these little "TiPS", they probably wouldn't be on this site either...

Harold says:

Hello,
do you know how to replace the text on the popup (the phone number) by something else. for example : "you're gonna call home" instead of "+555-43565" (the phone number of my home)
thank you
Harold.

Trudy Piermont says:

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fast browser says:

I've been surfing on-line greater than three hours these days, but I never discovered any interesting article like yours. It's beautiful price enough for me. In my view, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web might be a lot more helpful than ever before.

taz323 says:

Tips are great, didn't know could make call from safari, thanks