How to expand a (potentially dangerous) shortened URL on your iPhone

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Wiggly yellow road sign
Take a shortcut.
Photo: John Gibbons/Unsplash

Someone sends you a link that looks like this:

https://youtu.be/rZdrlpz3MOo

What do you do? Well, that one is probably safe, as it uses YouTube’s own URL shortener. But what about all those other shortened URLS you see in emails, on Twitter and everywhere else? They could link to anything. A cautious person never clicks on links in emails. And only an insane person would click on shortened links in emails. That’s why you need today’s shortcut, which lets you expand a URL, preview the actual link, and then tap a button to either open it or dismiss it.

How to record Digitakt into Ableton Live with Overbridge 2 [Video]

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Digitakt close up
The Digitakt drum sampler is even more awesome paired with Ableton Live.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Overbridge 2 is an amazing new app/plugin from Swedish drum machine and synthesizer maker Elektron. As its name suggests, it acts as a bridge between your computer and Elektron’s hardware boxes.

Using Overbridge, you can plug in, say, the Digitakt drum computer and sampler, and stream all eight of its audio tracks to your Mac or PC over a single USB cable.

Access your Mac’s hidden Bluetooth debug menu

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bluetooth keyboard mouse
Troubleshoot your Mac's Bluetooth connections.
Photo: Amy Hirschi/Unsplash

Got Bluetooth problems like a glitchy mouse or an unreliable keyboard? Maybe a screwy trackpad or poor headphone connection? Any of those problems could result from a glitch in your Mac’s Bluetooth radio. Maybe you’ve already tried everything — unpairing your devices, resetting them or even creating a pristine new user account on your Mac solely for troubleshooting purposes.

You may even know about the hidden Bluetooth menu that appears when you option-click on the Bluetooth menu bar icon. But did you know that there’s another, deeper, super-hidden menu with extra troubleshooting tools? There is. Here’s how to fix Bluetooth problems when nothing else seems to work.

How to share Mac screen without iMessage

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a screen
Unlike the Mac, this screen is difficult to share.
Photo: JD X/Unsplash

Are you the tech-support person for your family and friends? Are you the go-to nerd for fixing up iPhones, Macs and maybe even TVs 1? These days, you can’t just pay a visit to your parents to sort things out, so you’ll have to do it remotely. And if you’re all using Macs, that means screen sharing. You can do this very easily via iMessage — it’s as simple as starting a FaceTime call.

But what if your friend/parent/sibling in need doesn’t use iMessage? Don’t worry — all you need is their Apple ID.

5 post-apocalyptic novels you probably haven’t read yet [What We’re Into]

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Five amazing post-apocalyptic novels for your reading pleasure.
Five amazing post-apocalyptic novels for your reading pleasure.
Photo: Kimberly Farmer/Unsplash CC

What We're Into bug If you’re looking for some situation-appropriate fiction to read during the COVID-19 lockdown, then what could be better than a good old post-apocalyptic novel?

Some people will want to avoid all mention of pandemics and other worldwide disasters. But if your idea of catharsis comes through mental inoculation, then you should check out this list. I’ve read a ton of dystopian fiction over the years, and below are some of my favorites. A few are from recent years, and one is a bona fide classic, but all of them are great.

Toggle ‘shopping mode’ on your iPhone for touch-free, mask-friendly grocery buying

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Make safe grocery acquisition a little easier with Drafts' shopping mode.
Make safe grocery acquisition a little easier with Drafts' shopping mode.
Photo: David Clarke/Unsplash

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve probably become hyper-aware of how much you touch everything. Your face, your iPhone, the AirPods you never clean, the filthy handle on your apartment building’s front door, etc. And when you visit the store, using your iPhone’s Reminders app for your shopping list, you’re likely forever tapping the iPhone and using Face ID to wake it up again.

Clearly that’s useless if you’re being responsible and wearing a mask in the supermarket. Today we’ll see how to quickly toggle a “shopping mode” in the Drafts app, which will keep your iPhone awake while you dash down the aisles.

How to listen to YouTube music in the background on iPhone

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youtube on a phone
There's no need to stare at a screen just to listen to YouTube music.
Photo: Szabo Viktor/Unsplash

Unlike streaming music, which often keeps playing when you switch away from the app or webpage, YouTube playback stops as soon as you leave mobile Safari. This means that using YouTube as a music player is out of the question. Or is it? Can you make YouTube play just the audio, even when you’re not showing the video? You can, and it’s really, really simple.

How to share a mouse, keyboard and trackpad between iPad and Mac

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iPad, share keyboard, and trackpad
Tap a switch to use your Mac's trackpad and keyboard with your iPad.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apple’s new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro — the one with the built-in trackpad — looks amazing. But it costs $350. That’s very pricey for a keyboard. Plus, it’s a keyboard that will only be useful for as long as it can attach to your iPad Pro. That means it might not fit your next tablet if Apple tweaks the iPad Pro design.

Compare that to a USB or Bluetooth keyboard, which will remain compatible with every computer that gets made in the foreseeable future. Toady we’ll see how to share your Mac’s keyboard and mouse or trackpad with your iPad. We’ll also learn how to instantly switch between the two, both with USB and Bluetooth.

No, it’s not as portable as the new Magic Keyboard case, but it’s less messy on your desk. And you will likely have a better keyboard, and a better trackpad.

Service Station app customizes your Mac’s right-click menu

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Service Station
Service Station should be on every Mac.
Photo: Knurling Group

Service Station is the Mac app I didn’t know I was waiting for. It lets you customize the Finder’s right-click contextual menu to put essential functions just a click away. It’s also from the Mac App Store, and uses the official Finder Extension framework, so you don’t need to worry about running some weird hack on your machine.

Unfortunately, it only runs on macOS 10.14.4 or later, so I can’t use it on my old iMac. (That’s a sad-face emoji right there.)