Last week on family vacation, atop the San Jacinto Mountain with the scenic Coachella Valley behind me, of course tons of selfies were taken. As is the law these days. When it was my turn to pull out my phone, I realized I couldn’t get a flattering angle, and the gorgeous background in focus, and click the shutter button on my iPhone all while keeping my grip steady. So I realized, hey…

I can use the timer!

Most of us think of the timer when it comes to dashing into a group photo in time, not selfies. Even my tech-genius boyfriend said, “hey, I never thought of that!” So I figured I’d share the world’s most simple tip for better selfies with you all.

As in, use the timer.

Finding the iPhone timer to take better, easier selfies | cool mom tech

On your iPhone, in camera mode, just click the timer icon at top. It’s the third icon between the live photos icon and the filters icon. You can see it here.

Next, click “3 seconds” (which I find generally adequate) or “10 seconds” (if you’re realllly particular about getting just the right duck face, ha), then click the shutter button to take the photo. You can see how it looks in the black nav bar in the photo up top.

The world's simplest tip for taking better phone selfies, especially with a panoramic background | CoolMomTech.comNo retouching — just a happy real-life shot with my mom in a gorgeous setting.

As for you Android phone users, it’s a little more of a process, but still easy: just click the gear icon to get into your photo settings, find that timer icon option, then from there choose 2, 5, or 10 seconds.

Now you have a little time, complete with visible countdown on your screen, to get the angle right, get that background in focus and framed the way you’d like, and bonus, you can even extend your arm as far or close as you’d like without that awkward dance we all do, trying to hang onto the phone and not end up with 4 blurry pics before finally getting one that’s semi-acceptable.

It’s particularly helpful for the larger phones like the iPhone 7 Plus and 8 Plus, and for panoramic (horizontal) orientations, which make it doubly hard to balance your phone and reach that button with your thumb when taking selfies.

In other words, use your timer to take better selfies! It’s such a simple trick that lets you spend less time trying to get the perfect shot, more time living your life.