Apple how-tos: Tips and tricks for all Apple devices | 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 get the latest HomePod software update

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How to reset HomePod and HomePod mini
Here’s how to be sure you have the latest HomePod software update. Or stop your smart speaker from updating.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Your HomePod is a lot more than a simple speaker — it’s a whole computer. And like any computer it has an operating system that needs occasional updates.

Here’s how to make sure your Apple smart speaker has the latest software version. There’s a new version out this week, and you don’t want to miss out.

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.

How to get the latest AirPods firmware update

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How to get the latest AirPods 3 firmware update
There is a firmware update out for AirPods 3. Here’s how to get it.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Apple began pushing out AirPods firmware updates Tuesday. Models getting fresh software include AirPods Pro, AirPods 2, AirPods 3 and AirPods Max.

It’s not clear what’s in the 4E71 firmware. But updating isn’t a bad idea, since Apple typically refines the AirPods experience gradually.

The AirPods update process is indirect, but we can steer you through it.

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.

Fortnite returns to iPhone with clever workaround – here’s how to play!

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Fortnite returns to iPhone with clever workaround – here's how to play!
If you've been missing Fortnite, you can play it now on iPhone or iPad.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Fortnite got kicked out of the App Store as part of a legal battle between Apple and Epic Games, but you can play it on your iPhone today for free. Microsoft added it to Xbox Cloud Gaming so the combat game is playable on iOS and iPadOS devices.

Setting up your iPhone or iPad to play Fortnite from the cloud rather than the App Store is different from what you’re used to. Not hard, just different. I’ll walk you through it.

How to find and fix passwords that hackers have stolen

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How to find and update passwords that hackers already have
If hackers steal the passwords you use to log into websites, your Apple device can warn you and help you change them.
Photo: Cult of Mac

There’s a good chance that some company’s lax security has already let hackers steal the password you use for their website. And it could have happened with a bunch of them. Fortunately, your Apple devices make it easy to find out which of your passwords have leaked out so you can change them.

It’s World Password Day. Take this as an excuse to fix these problems now.

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.