Never miss a delivery with this free package-tracking app [Awesome Apps]

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AfterShip package tracker
A package tracking app with all the features you expect, and it costs nothing.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac
Awesome Apps

AfterShip Package Tracker is a free app that does exactly what it says in the name: It tracks your packages. You can see all your orders in one place, when they will arrive, and how close they are geographically to you. Push notifications are fast and alert you when your items are on their way.

Plus, unlike just about every other package-tracking app for iOS, AfterShip Package Tracker is totally free, with no in-app purchases.

Sign in to your Google accounts before December or they’ll be deleted

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iPad showing google.com
Use your Google account before December 1 to make sure it doesn’t get deleted.
Photo: cottonbro studio/Pexels

Google plans to purge old accounts starting in December. However, you can keep your Google account active and prevent it from being deleted. You have until the first day of December to save any inactive Google accounts.

What’s being cleaned out? Any Google account that’s been inactive for two years. If you received an email about a dormant account, you know for sure that you need to take action. However, that’s not foolproof. If your dormant account doesn’t have a recovery email set up, you’d never be notified in the first place.

If you have a bunch of alternate, backup Google accounts — as many do — here’s what you need to do.

5 more secret iPhone gestures you need to know

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Secret Faster Gestures
These secret gestures will speed up your iPhone.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Here are a few secret tricks and gestures that’ll help you get around your iPhone faster. These hidden gestures help you text pictures to your friends faster, scroll through big pages and screens, type special characters and use your phone one-handed.

This is a follow-up to an article from earlier this year with three other secret iPhone gestures you need to know. Learn all of these gestures and you’ll feel like an iPhone power user.

Look up laundry tag and car dashboard symbols with your iPhone camera

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What Do They Mean?
Ever wonder what these symbols mean?
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Those cryptic laundry symbols and car dashboard icons are a mystery, until now: your iPhone camera can tell you what they mean. You don’t have to look up a guide or Google their meaning; just take a picture and your iPhone will tell you.

While in my testing, it didn’t identify every single symbol, the feature will do in a pinch. And if you want to use an app for the best possible results, I have two recommendations found on the App Store that can help you.

3 ways to emulate old video games and computers on your Mac

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Windows XP, Mac OS 9 and Super Mario Bros. running in emulators on a Mac
Run Windows XP, Mac OS 9, Windows 11, Super Mario Bros. and more on your Mac.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Collecting old video game consoles and vintage computers is a fun hobby, but keeping all that hardware working can quickly become an expensive, never-ending task — not to mention all the space you need just to store the gear. You might instead (wisely) opt to emulate your favorite games and software on the Mac you already own.

In this guide to emulation on the Mac, I’ll walk you through the best apps you can use to accomplish the two most common scenarios: playing old video games, and taking Classic Mac OS for a test drive on a modern Mac. Plus, I’ll wrap up with the easiest way to virtualize modern operating systems like Windows and Linux on your Mac. (This handy virtualization software also works for old and obscure computer operating systems.)

Best of all, each of these Mac emulation methods is free and open source.

Block all YouTube ads with the best Safari extension ever [Awesome Apps]

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Vinegar running on iOS
No ads. Picture-in-picture. Background play. All in one extension. Perfect, no notes.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac
Awesome Apps

If you love YouTube but hate YouTube ads, Vinegar is the best Safari extension you can download. It blocks all ads on YouTube and restores many iOS-native features like playing videos in the background, picture-in-picture, and more on iPhone, iPad and Mac alike.

YouTube ads are freaking insufferable. But if you don’t want to put down the dough for YouTube Premium (currently $13.99 per month), you can pay a one-time fee of just $1.99 to buy Vinegar for all your Apple devices.

If you ever watch YouTube, Vinegar is life-changing. Get it now on the App Store for iOS, iPadOS and macOS.

Find electric car charging stations in Apple Maps

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Where Can I Plug In?
Find charging stations from Apple Maps.
Image: Ank Kumar/Wikimedia Commons/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Find electric car charging stations from Apple Maps while you’re on the road to figure out where you can top up your EV. Apple Maps added some powerful new features in iOS 17 to make it easy: you can see charger availability, charging speed and connector types for your vehicle.

Here’s how it works.

Use Live Voicemail and Silence Unknown Callers together for call-free bliss

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Talk After The Beep
Don’t want to miss those important calls about my Lightning cable wholesaling business.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

With Live Voicemail, a new feature in iOS 17, you don’t need to pick up your iPhone midcall to see who’s calling or what they want. You can see a transcription of their voicemail message as it’s being recorded — and pick up at any point, if the call turns out to be important. This feature proves transformative for introverts who only want to answer a phone call if strictly necessary.

Even better, Live Voicemail pairs very well with another iOS feature, Silence Unknown Callers. With both of these turned on, unwanted calls will be far less intrusive, but you will still be able to pick up the important calls as they come in.

Here’s how to use Live Voicemail to avoid phone spam and other annoyances without missing crucial calls.

Even more reasons Humane’s Ai Pin is a total bust

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On-screen text says
Why Humane's introductory video for the Ai Pin begins with co-founder Imran Chaudhri shuffling a series of boxes stacked like a snowman I do not understand. And that is just the first five seconds of the dreadful presentation.
Photo: Humane

In a tedious and awkward 10-minute video released Thursday, buzzy startup Humane gave a more thorough introduction of its Ai Pin. The video all but confirms my feelings that we are seeing the next hilarious Silicon Valley failure play out in real time.

Since co-founder Imran Chaudhri’s TED Talk earlier this year, where we got a vague introduction to the supposed iPhone-killer’s features, there remained a slim chance — one in a hundred — that the then-unnamed device wasn’t a total waste.

Any ounce of doubt has been washed away as this new video doubles down on the Ai Pin’s flaws and walks back its only positives. In fact, the introductory video clearly demonstrates why the device will fail: The AI gave completely wrong answers and provided no way to check their accuracy. It’s absolutely untrustworthy.

6 reasons to set up Apple’s Family Sharing ASAP

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iCloud Family Sharing
Share your services, locations, photos and more over iCloud.
Photo: Denis Lyamuya/Wikimedia Commons/Apple

If you have a family, odds are you share a house, furniture, car and more. But you might not give as much attention to what you share in your digital lives, even if your digital pictures and purchases are equally valuable.

Apple makes it easy to link your digital lives together with just a little bit of setup. Here are the top six benefits of using Family Sharing.

Make stickers from your own photos for fun group chats

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Cut Your Own Stickers
Make your own stickers from your own photos.
Image: Watty62/Wikimedia Commons/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

You can make stickers from your photos and send them in iMessage and Snapchat, right on your iPhone. Stickers that you make from your own pictures are a lot of fun to send in group chats. They’re great for sending highly personal reactions using photos of people or pets that everyone knows. You can even add fun sticker effects.

Last year brought the ability to copy and paste the subject from a picture. Now in iOS 17, it’s easy to collect them in a set of stickers. I’ll show you how it all works.

How to ping an Apple Watch from an iPhone

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Where’d My Watch End Up?
It's not easy to find in a pile of miscellaneous clutter.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Finally, you can ping a lost Apple Watch from your iPhone — thanks to iOS 17 and watchOS 10. The reverse has always been a cool feature of Apple Watch: locating the iPhone you set down somewhere nearby, surely.

If you take your Apple Watch off at the end of the day, forgetting to throw it on the charger, you may not remember where you left it the following morning. Now, you can find a lost Apple Watch from your iPhone. Here’s how it works.

How to fix software updates on your brand-new MacBook Pro

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Install macOS Sonoma on M3 MacBook Pro
Fix software updates on your new MacBook Pro.
Photo: Apple

Some lucky first-day owners of the new M3 MacBook Pro unboxed their machines Tuesday to discover a reversal of fortune: Their new Macs arrived with a broken version of macOS that can’t install software updates.

Some MacBook Pros shipped to customers with an unreleased (well, more like unintentionally released) build of macOS Ventura 13.5. This version can’t be updated to macOS Sonoma through the standard Software Update feature in System Preferences.

Here’s how to fix the admittedly rare problem.

A high-quality, EDC band for your Apple Watch [Reviews] ★★★★☆

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All three Mifa nylon Apple Watch bands together.★★★★☆
The same high-quality velcro Apple Watch band comes in these three variants. (A new green model comes with a different NASA logo.)
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

If you’re looking for a hardy velcro EDC watch band for your Apple Watch, Mifa has you covered. Mifa’s Nylon Sports Leather Apple Watch Band is sturdy, the velcro is strong and the stitched leather is high-quality.

It’s a nice band for daily wear.

It comes in five different styles. The gray-on-black NASA-inspired design is my favorite. Two other designs in brown and black emphasize “EDC-34 Essential Series” with the Mifa name. And two new versions (in green and orange) sport NASA’s classic “meatball” insignia.

This solid metal boom arm mounts your microphone and more [Review] ★★★☆☆

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Kuxiu X36 boom arm with a RØDE NT-USB+ microphone positioned in front of a Mac★★★☆☆
The Kuxiu X36 is a good boom arm for your audio-video equipment.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

The Kuxiu X36 Boom Mic Arm is a solid metal piece of gear for mounting a microphone to your desk. It has a clean, logo-free design that blends in with any setup.

Unlike other boom arms, the Kuxiu X36 isn’t free-floating and adjustable with a single finger — it’s a firm stand that will hold its position. It’s split into three segments, not just two, so it’s nonetheless highly adjustable.

After some months of testing, I was surprised to find a much better use for it than mounting my microphone. Read on to see what it’s best for.

How to set up repeating Apple Cash payments

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Automatic Apple Cash Payments
Schedule payments using the easiest way to pay someone — Apple Cash.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Set up repeating, scheduled Apple Cash payments to send money to your friends or family on a regular basis. You can use this to pay back your housemates for bills, send your kids some money or pay back personal debts.

Whatever the reason may be, Apple Cash is a fast and easy way to send money. I even have a pro tip for scheduling a singular payment in advance. Here’s how to set up recurring payments.

Should you buy the new MacBook Pro or iMac?

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Should you upgrade?
Here’s some buying advice for the new Macs.
Image: Apple/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Apple introduced the next generation of MacBook Pro and iMac, each powered by the next generation of its in-house silicon: M3, M3 Pro and M3 Max. The Macs run faster than ever before thanks to smaller transistors and additional cores packed into each processor.

The products are already available to order — so is it time for you to upgrade? That all depends on which devices you have, so I’ve put together a buying guide with sharable images and a video to help you decide.

Apple rolls out updated iMac with M3

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The new iMac with M3 in all seven colors
The new iMac with M3 gets faster internals but the same seven colors.
Photo: Apple

At Monday’s “Scary Fast” event, Apple rolled out a simple update to the iMac, the perennial all-in-one desktop computer, with the new M3 chip. This comes alongside the new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro.

“The world’s best all-in-one gets even more powerful and even more capable,” said CEO Tim Cook. “We’re giving the iMac a giant leap in performance while keeping the same, impossibly thin design,” said SVP of hardware engineering John Ternus.

iMac starts at the same price of $1,299. You can order it today and it will be available next week.

How to watch Apple’s ‘Scary Fast’ Mac event

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Scary Fast event logo superimposed on aerial photo of Apple Park
Apple’s “Scary Fast” event is a surprise event coming this Monday.
Photo: Arne Müseler/Wikimedia Commons/Apple

 How can you watch the Apple Mac event today? You can stream the event on YouTube, on the apple.com website or on your smart TV.

This week, Apple is expected to debut the M3, M3 Pro and M3 Max, roll it out in the 24-inch iMac and MacBook Pro and potentially update the Magic Keyboard, Mouse and Trackpad to USB-C. It’s less likely we’ll see any new iPads or AirPods at this event.

Here’s how you can watch it all live.

Learn all these gestures and you’ll master your iPad

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The Guide to iPad Gestures
No more mad swiping at the screen — learn the details of how your iPad works.
Image: Leander Kahney/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Gestures are a great way to become an iPad power user. Gestures help you easily navigate through apps, switch between pages, access controls, and reduce multiple taps to a single swipe. Gestures are especially useful for Stage Manager, the new multitasking environment on iPad.

Apple designed gestures to mimic natural, real-world movements, making them intuitive to use and learn. Swiping, pinching, tapping, and other gestures feel familiar and are easy to master.

If you use your iPad a lot, they’re well worth learning — even just a few. Your fingers will thank you!

How to turn off Mac webcam video reactions in macOS Sonoma

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Fireworks!!!!
Fireworks are fun, but occasionally, inappropriate for the situation.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

How do you turn off the webcam video reactions on your Mac in macOS Sonoma? This feature, which puts full-screen animated effects on your video calls, made a good demo when it was introduced, but has since confused many people who trigger it accidentally in serious situations.

The Off button isn’t where you would expect — it’s not hiding in Skype, Google Hangouts or Zoom at all — it’s in the Mac’s menu bar.

Let me show you what’s going on and how you can turn it off.

Get better Bluetooth controls with AirBuddy [Awesome Apps]

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AirBuddy for macOS
Wrangling Bluetooth should work this way out of the box, but luckily, there’s AirBuddy to help.
Image: Apple/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Awesome AppsAirBuddy is a handy Mac app that lets you monitor all your nearby Bluetooth devices and AirPods. You can check battery life, switch them back and forth between multiple Macs on your desk, and best of all — get the same beautiful AirPods animations that you see on your iPhone.

It offers granular Bluetooth controls that Apple should build right into macOS.

Check In: Every parent should know this essential iOS 17 feature

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Where Did You Go?
A smarter way to keep tabs on your loved ones’ travels.
Image: Boonlert Aroonpiboon/Wikimedia Commons/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Check In is a new iOS 17 feature that tracks your travels and lets contacts know when you’ve safely reached your destination. It’s great for traveling, or kids going to and from school, or even going on a date. You no longer have to count on remembering to text someone when you make it home safely — your iPhone will let them know for you.

Check In is like sharing your ETA in Apple Maps, but tweaked for personal safety. Friends, family and loved ones will be automatically notified if you’re stopped for any reason before reaching your destination. It also has timer-based check ins, which come in handy for situations like meeting a stranger from Craigslist. If you don’t check in after a set time, your contacts will be alerted.

Here’s how to use it — frankly, every parent should know how this works.

This cellular home internet comes with truly unlimited data at a good price [Review] ★★★★☆

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EZ Internet Solutions router sitting on a cable box★★★★☆
This router has a few tricks up its sleeve. It has an AT&T SIM card — but best of all, it didn’t come from AT&T.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

EZ Internet Solutions is a rural internet service provider that can give you a solid cellular internet connection that’s truly unlimited — no data cap, no speed throttling. If you live in a spot without any internet infrastructure, but you do have a cell connection, it is a solid option you should consider.

EZ Internet Solutions offers cellular home internet in places AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile don’t. Contrast that with HughesNet, a popular satellite internet provider, which charges an arm and a leg only to give you a fraction of the speed.

I truly live in the middle of nowhere, and yet I’ve been using EZ Internet to live stream a video podcast every week for months without a hitch.