How to add sketches and diagrams to emails in iOS 11

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Drawing
If you misspell your markups, you can even go back and edit them before sending.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel / Cult of Mac

If you’re explaining something to another human in person, you’ll often reach for a pencil and paper to make it easier. Perhaps you’re drawing a map, or a quick diagram of that chest of drawers you think would look great in the guest room.

And that’s in person, where gestures and feedback from the listener help communication. Given the limits of email, then, wouldn’t a sketch, chart, or diagram be even more useful? The answer is a resounding “probably,” and the best news you’ll hear today is that it is dead easy to add a drawing to your emails, even without an Apple pencil, and even on an iPhone.

PencilSnap makes sure your Apple Pencil is never far away

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PencilSnap
It's a simple magnetic sleeve, but it'll make your Apple Pencil a lot more useful.
Photo: Twelve South

As much as Apple Pencil accessories seem like useless widgets desired to cash in on gullible buyers, the PencilSnap from Twelve South solves a real problem — how do you keep your Pencil together with your iPad? With a paper notebook, you either clip your pen to the cover (good), to the spine (nasty), or just leave it between the pages and jam the book closed around it (what are you? Some kind of monster?).

With the iPad you can’t do any of those. Instead, you’ll have to buy the PencilSnap to take care of it for you.

How to hook up a USB audio device to your Mac

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mackie-blackjack
Mackie's Blackjack works equally well with iOS and Mac.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

If you want to listen to music on your Mac, you either suffer its built-in speakers, or you plug a speaker into the headphone jack. But what if you want to get sound into you Mac? Or you have some fancy speakers hooked up to a fancy mixer, and the little headphone output doesn’t cut it, quality-wise? Then you should switch to USB. And don’t worry — you won’t have to install drivers, or any of the other crap that makes PC use so painful. In fact, using a USB audio interface is as easy as plugging in a pair of headphones, only better.

How to use the Siri news podcast feature

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siri
Siri can now play news podcasts for you, just like olden-day radio.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Thanks to an iOS upgrade, a simple question — “Hey, Siri, what’s the news today?” — will now play you an NPR podcast. It’s just like turning on the radio in the morning to catch up on events, only you don’t have to use sucky radio. Here’s how to use Siri News.

How to speed up your iPhone if the Spectre patch slows it down

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ghosts
Ghosts are a bit like spectres.
Photo: Sean MacEntee/Flickr CC

Spectre is the worst kind of security flaw. Not only do the partial fixes not even protect against attacks, but they also slow down your iPhone, or other device. But things aren’t quite as bad as they seem. You can take steps to speed up your iPhone once again, and one of the fixes not only makes the web faster, but also fixes Spectre’s biggest attack vector.

AudioStretch slows down songs and videos to make learning music easier

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The AudioStretch audio transcription app works for videos, too.
AudioStretch may be the only slow-downer app that does video.
Image: Cognosonic

AudioStretch is a “music transcription tool.” It’s a universal iOS app that slows down music, and/or changes its pitch, so you can learn to play songs. We’ve covered another of these, Capo Touch, before on Cult of Mac, but AudioStretch is easier to use. Plus, a recent update added the ability for the music transcription app to work its magic on video.

How to compare and restore previous versions of your Dropbox files

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revisions app
Revisions revises Dropbox's versions.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Did you know that when you make changes to a file you have in your Dropbox, the cloud service actually remembers those changes? In fact, Dropbox retains unlimited versions of your files for 30 days.

That means you can go back and recover a single deleted sentence from a text file, for example, but this feature also has the potential to radically change how you work. With a free Mac app called Revisions for Dropbox, you can really dig in and use this Dropbox feature properly.

How to type Slack-style keyboard emojis on Mac

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rocket icon
Rocket will change the way you use emoji on your Mac.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Users of chatroom (and time-wasting tool) Slack will be familiar with typing out emoji reactions. To insert a smiley face, for example, you just type :smile:, and your text will be replaced by a smiley-face emoji when you hit enter.

If you ever find yourself missing this handy feature anywhere else on your Mac, you should take Rocket for a spin. It’s a macOS app that exists to make emojis easier.