Flick on your iPad’s keyboard to type numbers and symbols

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wooden hand on yellow background keyboard flicks
Flick your keyboard.
Photo: Charles Deluvio/Unsplash

One of the disadvantages of smaller iPads’ software keyboard is the lack of a numbers row. The 13-inch iPad displays a full keyboard with a numbers row and separate Caps Lock and Tab keys. But to type numbers on smaller iPads — the 10.5- and 11-inch models, and the mini — you first hit the symbol/number shift key to convert the top row of letter into numbers.

It’s a minor inconvenience, but if you do a lot of number entry on your iPad, then it becomes a major usability problem. The good news is that there’s an excellent workaround: keyboard flicks.

Add a one-tap AirPods connect button to your Home screen or Dock

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airpods connect
This sticker is just one way to speed up AirPods connections.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

If you own multiple iOS devices, then AirPods are supremely convenient. As soon as you connect them to one device, they automatically pair (and remain paired) to all your other devices. So, if you have a Mac, an iPhone, an iPad, and an Apple Watch, then all you have to do is tap connect on whichever device you want to use.

The problem is that the connect button is hidden, and a pain to reach. You have to swipe to open Control Center, then tap the AirPlay icon, then tap your AirPods in the list. And then wait a few seconds to see if it worked. Admittedly, this is a small inconvenience, but we can make it better. How about adding a button to your iPhone Home screen or Mac Dock that connects the AirPods with one tap?

5 ways to look great on a video call

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Lighting? Check. Clothes? Maybe. Teeth? Absolutely! Flattering angle? Nope. Use these videoconferencing tips to look your best on calls.
Lighting? Check. Clothes? Maybe. Teeth? Absolutely! Flattering angle? Nope.
Photo: Austin Distel/Unsplash

Whether you’re working from home, hanging out with friends on group FaceTime, or attending events remotely, you’re probably using video calling a lot more than you ever have before. While you probably make the effort to present yourself well in real-life meatspace, on Skype, Zoom or FaceTime, I bet you look terrible.

Fear not. Today we’ll see five ways to make sure you look great on a video call.

Amazing Mac calculator Soulver adds handy QuickSoulver panel

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calculator
Normal calculator apps are so last century.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Soulver is my favorite Mac calculator app, because it doesn’t act like a normal calculator. Imagine that you have a piece of paper on which you jot calculations. Then, the paper works out the results for you. Soulver is like that — you type in the sums, and it solves them. You can rework the problems, just like you could on paper, and you can save the whole sheet. And now, in v3.3, the app’s maker added a brand-new Spotlight-like QuickSoulver popup panel that lets you perform instant calculations.

Yes, you can train Face ID to unlock while wearing a mask

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train Face ID with a mask
Face ID will let you train it while wearing a folded mask.
Photo: Xuanwu Lab

Face ID is great, as long as your iPhone can see your face. A mask — like the ones we all should be wearing to slow the coronavirus pandemic — blocks the iPhone’s Face ID sensor from seeing your face. That means you either need to remove the mask (bad) to unlock your iPhone, type in your passcode every time (annoying), or disable the passcode entirely (a terrible idea).

But, according to in-depth research from China’s Tencent Xuanwu Lab, you can train Face ID to work while you’re wearing a mask. It needs some careful setup, but once it’s done, it works reliablly and quickly. You can even wear glasses.

5 Ableton Live tips for GarageBand users

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ableton live at home
Who needs to leave the house any more?
Photo: Ableton

If you’re a stuck-at-home musician, or just someone who would like to learn to make music with their Mac, then maybe you’ve just downloaded the generous, lockdown-era, three-month free trial of Ableton Live. And if you’re a GarageBand (or Logic Pro X) user, you may be feeling a little lost.

Fear not. I did the same thing last year. At first I was overwhelmed just trying to do basic stuff, like routing my guitar into Ableton or trying to work out why the app offers at least three record buttons.

So, as a relatively fresh Ableton user, I thought I’d make a list of handy tips for new users coming from Apple’s music apps.

How to wear a mask without your glasses fogging up

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Better get used to wearing a mask.
Better get used to wearing a mask.
Photo: Liam Burnett-Blue/Unsplash

I wore a tubular scarf to the grocery store the other day, and spent most of the time breathing shallowly so my glasses wouldn’t steam up. On the bike it was fine, because the wind kept everything clear. But as soon as I stopped, the mask funneled my hot, moist breath onto my specs, and I couldn’t see.

Luckily, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department knows a thing or two about keeping your spectacles clear while you wear a mask. Here’s how to do it.

Outrun is a beautiful, privacy-first iPhone running app

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outrun
Run, in private, with Outrun.
Photo: Bruno Nascimento/Unsplash

Outrun is a privacy-focused run-tracking app that integrates with the Health app. (It’s also a seminal arcade racing game from 1986, but that’s not what we’re talking about today.) The Outrun running app is a great alternative to all those running and cycling apps that upload and/or sell your data to anyone who wants it, or drive you crazy with ads. Or both.

Give your videoconferencing calls killer audio quality

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Not every videoconference audio setup has to be as janky as this.
Not every videoconference audio setup has to be as janky as this.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

You’ve probably made more video calls in the last few weeks than you’ve made in the previous few years combined. And if they were on your iPhone or iPad, then they probably sounded great. But what if you’re using a Mac, with its prehistoric mics1?

No worries. Through the magic of technology, you can use a better mic with your Mac’s Skype or FaceTime. (As a bonus, it also might make you feel more comfortable during videoconferences.)