D. Griffin Jones, author at Cult of Mac

Get the most battery life out of your MacBook

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Get the most battery life out of your Mac.
Get the most battery life out of your Mac.
Image: Apple

How do you kill that which cannot die? The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro boast industry-leading battery life. In the PC world, the high power consumption of Intel processors means you generally must choose between battery life and performance.

The latest MacBooks use Apple’s own custom chips, cut from the same cloth as the iPhone and iPad chips Apple has been designing since 2010 (and, in a roundabout way, the one they made for the Apple Newton in 1994). This is what powers them to last all day at full speed.

If you want to take your M1 Max MacBook Pro to the coffee shop to get work done, and you leave your power cable at home — even if you’re editing 8K ProRes video streams in Final Cut Pro — you still might be ordering lunch and staying through dinner. How could one possibly need more battery life, and how do you get it?

How to make Twitter fun again

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Twitter can be… fun? Preliminary research suggests it can.
Twitter can be ... fun? Preliminary research suggests it can.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Twitter: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems. People have been talking quite a bit about Twitter lately.

When friends of mine complain about how they don’t enjoy using Twitter, I used to be confused. Twitter is what you make it. If you don’t like Twitter, you can simply follow different accounts and get a completely different experience.

It’s important to note that none of my friends have tens of thousands of followers and/or are regularly harassed on Twitter. That can be a very different experience outside of one’s power to control, to put it lightly.

Twitter has changed, and now, the people you follow might have very little bearing on what you actually see on Twitter at all. Here are my tips on how to take back control of your timeline and make Twitter enjoyable.

How to make Podcasts use less storage

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Clear up space with new Podcasts settings in iOS 15.5.
Clear up space with new Podcasts settings in iOS 15.5.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

You can clear up a big chunk of your iPhone’s storage space by limiting how many podcasts you keep downloaded.

iOS 15.5, which Apple released Monday, introduces a feature to automatically limit the number of episodes you have downloaded in your podcast library. If you struggle with storage on your iPhone, enabling this setting will give you more space. It’ll automatically clear out downloads if you don’t listen right away, along with any backlog of old episodes.

Get started with Focus modes and eliminate unwanted distractions

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These are my custom Driving and Writing Home Screens.
Find out how to use Focus modes on iPhone, iPad and Mac. Your frazzled nerves will thank you.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Apple’s new Focus feature is like Do Not Disturb on steroids. It works on Mac, iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, and is much smarter than the Do Not Disturb of old. Since not all work or relaxation is created equal, you can set up Focus modes for specific situations to keep unwanted distractions at bay.

When you’re working, you might want email and Slack to come through, unless you’re in a meeting.

When you’re at home, you may want most notifications to come through, but not if you’re having have friends over, playing games or watching a show.

You need your iPhone and your Mac to be very different tools throughout the day — Focus modes are all about customizing them for everything you do.

Every Focus mode can have different rules for who can reach you and which apps can send alerts. You can even have your Home screen change automatically based on the current Focus mode. That way, you have access to the apps you use most in each situation. It’s a powerful tool.

How do you set this all up? Keep reading to find out.

Your iPhone can alert you to breaking glass, smoke alarms and other dangers

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Get alerts for alarms, door bells, dogs, appliances and more.
Get alerts for alarms, door bells, dogs, appliances and more.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

The other day I was walking with music blasting through my AirPods when I almost stepped in front of a speeding ambulance.

Luckily, the magical Sound Recognition feature on my iPhone was turned on and my AirPods recognized the wailing sirens. They silenced the music and piped the sirens into my ears instead, saving my bacon. It was amazing and quite magical.

Your iPhone can also listen and alert you for crying babies, running water, knocks on the door, barking dogs and more.

Here’s how to use it.

Stop following me! Tweak iPhone location settings to keep spies at bay.

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You can see all of the locations your iPhone thinks are significant and turn off the location features in Settings.
Your iPhone keeps track of locations you visit frequently.
Photo: Rawpixel Ltd, CC BY 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons

If you’re uncomfortable with social media apps tracking your movements, here’s how to stop them using your iPhone’s built-in Location Services.

Or if you’re moving to a different city or to a new job, it can be annoying seeing travel suggestions to the wrong place. Resetting your location history will start from a clean slate.

If you find yourself traveling to a country with an authoritarian government, as everyone attending this year’s Olympics were, clearing your phone’s location history is a safe bet.

These moves may also protect you from shady data brokers, who spy on and sell your movements.

Here’s how to do it.

Meet friends, track kids, send your ETA: How to use location sharing on iPhone

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How to share your location on iPhone: Location sharing is a powerful iOS feature that can quickly connect you with friends and family.
Location sharing is a powerful iOS feature that can quickly connect you with friends and family.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Location sharing is a highly versatile and useful feature of iOS. When you’re trying to meet up with someone, traveling in a new place or spending a day out with friends, you can quickly share where you all are. It proves super-handy in big public spaces like malls, amusement parks and stadiums.

Giving directions on precisely where to pick up someone along a street block or in a parking lot is made much easier by sending a pin in an iMessage chat. With Family Sharing, I can see if my wife is on her way home without first sharing her ETA in Apple Maps. Another benefit is that I can use Find My to ping her phone if it’s lost in the house.

Here’s how to use location sharing.

Make sense of your epic screen recording by adding a voiceover

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Combine microphone audio with your screen recordings to add voiceover.
Combine microphone audio with your screen recordings to add voiceover.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

iOS 11 added screen recording to the iPhone and iPad, allowing you to make videos of your device’s screen. You can use it to copy videos you can’t just download, record game play, show someone how to use an app and more. Personally, I use it most often to record bugs and crashes in the apps I use so I can submit bug reports.

But did you know that you can record a voiceover, too? Here’s how.

Make your iPhone read text out loud

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Spoken Content Settings (Big)
Your iPhone can read text from websites and iMessages (and even words in photos). Here's how to make it happen.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

The iPhone is renowned for its many accessibility features. Accessibility settings can make text on the screen bigger, buttons easier to identify, animations less jarring and sound easier to hear.

An accessibility feature that is useful for everyone is Spoken Content. You can have your phone read out loud anything you have on-screen. This feature was designed for people who have trouble reading small text, but you will find it handy even if you don’t — in lots of situations.

You can have recipes read to you while your hands are busy cooking, quickly hear how to pronounce a word you don’t know — that’s what I use it for most of all — and more. You can even hear what you’re typing as you write.

Here’s how to turn on Spoken Content.