How to find that great song you heard on TV last night

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Somebody’s been doing some really hard listening here.
Somebody’s been doing some really hard listening here.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

If I’m watching a TV show and a great song comes on, I usually try to find my iPhone in time to shazam it. I almost always fail, as 1) TV shows don’t tend to play entire songs without people talking over them and 2) I can never find my phone in time. Or rather I’m too lazy to look for it.

A similar thing happens for movies, only I promise myself that I’ll check the credits at the end, and I seldom do.

My dad, old-school guy that he is, likes to call up the TV company and ask them. Maybe I’ll do that when I’m retired, if there are still TV companies with phone numbers.

But did you know that there’s an almost 100% foolproof way to find that awesome track that played in that TV show you saw last night? It’s called Tunefind, and it’s great.

How to make music with an iPad and a ‘classic’ Swedish synth

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These two will make beautiful music together.
A perfect music-making combo.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

At first glance, the decade-old OP-1 synthesizer from Swedish musical instrument makers Teenage Engineering looks about as standalone as it gets.

The tiny device couples a short, piano-style keyboard with a screen. And it contains a drum machine, several synthesizers, a sampler, a handful of sequencers, a virtual four-track tape recorder and even an FM radio. You can create entire tracks on it with no other gear, or you can hook it up to electric guitars and microphones and bring the outside world in.

But it also pairs surprisingly well with an iPad. You can record audio back and forth, but things go much deeper than that. You also can use the OP-1’s hardware keyboard to play instruments on the iPad, and use iPad MIDI apps to control the synthesizers on the OP-1.

Making music with an iPad and a synth

If you own both pieces of gear already, hopefully this how-to will give you some new ideas about making music with an iPad. But if you only own an iPad, this in-depth article will provide tips for using your tablet with other music gear.

And if you know nothing about the OP-1, or about Teenage Engineering’s work in general, you’ll learn why the company is kind of the Apple of the synth world. Teenage Engineering is known for its incredible interface design — and for having a quirky personality similar to 1984-era Apple, when the brand-new Mac was making waves.

10 hidden Activity app features that will take your fitness to the next level

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Discover the secrets of the Apple Activity app.
Discover the secrets of the Activity app.
Photo illustration: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

At first glance, the iPhone Activity app seems pretty simple. It’s basically just a calendar to keep track of your daily Activity Rings. But if you know where to look, you’ll find a surprising number of pro features buried beneath that slick, simple interface.

So check out our top 10 iPhone Activity app tips and discover some indispensable stats that will help take your fitness to the next level.

Hot Corners controls your Mac with a flick of the trackpad

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This street corner is pretty hot.
This street corner is pretty hot.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Are you forever dragging windows around on your Mac to find the one you want? Hiding all the open apps so you can see the desktop? Do you wish you could sleep the display without waiting for the Energy Saver timer to kick in? Want to start the screensaver right now?

You can trigger all these options, and more, just by moving your mouse pointer to a corner of your Mac’s screen. What?!? Yes. The feature that lets you do these wonderful things is called Hot Corners. It’s built in to every Mac — and it’s awesome.

How I wrote a shortcut to calculate the length of playlists

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Shortcut sign.
Shortcut sign.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

This weekend I made a shortcut that takes a list of songs, adds up the total duration, and shows it in a notification.

The first part was easy. The Shortcuts app has a great action that can tell you anything about an iTunes Media file (or any other media file), including its duration. I whipped up a shortcut to cycle through a list of music tracks, adding up the durations along the way. It took five minutes, tops.

Then things started to go wrong. The shortcut returned the total duration in seconds. I don’t know about you, but for me, a number like 4,166.867 isn’t that useful. I prefer something like 01:09:26, or 1 hour 9 minutes and 36 seconds. The problem was, I couldn’t get from one to the other.

How to mod your AirPods to fit tight in your ears

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WTF is going on here?
WTF is going on here?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

I love my AirPods, but I hate that they don’t fit right in my ears. They’re not designed to seal the ear canal, and therefore block external noise, but they often sit so loose in my ears that a) I can’t hear them without setting the volume way too high, and b) they feel like they’re about to fall out.

Today we’ll see how to add grippy dots to your AirPods. These dots will make the AirPods fit snugly in your ears, but — crucially — they will still fit in their charging case.

How to back up your iMessages (and why it’s essential)

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Never lose your old messages again.
Never lose your old messages again.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Why would you bother to back up your iMessages? After all, they’re all stored in iCloud these days, right? Well, yes your messages are all stored in iCloud, but they’re not backed up up there. They’re synced, which means that if you delete a message thread, it’s gone forever. The answer is to make a local backup, which requires a Mac. Which is ridiculous in 2019, but there you go.

Here’s how to back up your iMessages in case the worst happens.

How to turn your old Apple devices into quick cash

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iPhone 8 iPad Macbook
Your aging Apple tech could be worth a small fortune.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

If you recently picked up one of Apple’s newest devices, it’s time to turn your old ones into cash.

Your aging iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or Mac could be worth a small fortune — and Cult of Mac wants to buy it! We typically pay more than other trade-in services, and we won’t leave you waiting ages for your money.

Should you use the EQ in the iPhone’s Music app?

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How low can you go?
How low can you go?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The quick answer is “Yes, of course you should.” The more complex answer is “But only if you need it.” Your iPhone has an equalizer built in, although it’s not exactly easy to find. Annoyingly-hidden-yet-essential interface elements aside, there’s usually not much point in tweaking the EQ of your Apple Music library unless you have a problem in your setup.

But if you do want to use it, here’s how.

How to restart your Apple TV without leaving the couch

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Oh man, who wants to walk all the way over there? Reset Apple TV
Oh man, who wants to walk all the way over there?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Maybe you need to restart your Apple TV. Perhaps something didn’t load right, or the whole thing is acting screwy. It happens. The Apple TV is just another iOS computer after all. And while unplugging your Apple TV is one valid option, that means getting off your couch. And what do TV lovers hate more than unnecessary exercise? Nothing, that’s what. Happily for you, my lazy friend, you can restart the AppleTV using the remote. If you can find it.