Apple how-tos: Tips and tricks for all Apple devices | Cult of Mac

What to check before you power on an old Macintosh

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An unexpected find in this room was a Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh.
Hold up, you don’t want to ruin a rare Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh — take some precautions first.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

When you pick up a classic Macintosh (or a vintage computer of any kind) that hasn’t been used in a while, you need to check it out before plugging it in and turning it on. Capacitors on old motherboards fail and leak over time; you DO NOT want to run power to a computer if this has happened; you could easily fry the motherboard.

Collecting old computers is a lot of fun. You can use old versions of Mac OS in emulators online, but it’s nothing compared to the experience of setting up a heavy machine on your desk, hearing the fans and disk drives whir to life and watching a fuzzy CRT display fade in from black. If you’re new to this (rather expensive) hobby, you can also check out my earlier piece on how to get started — what to look for, what to watch out for and where to shop.

So, you are the new custodian of a classic computer. What should you do before you power it on for the first time?

What new HomePod temperature and humidity sensors can do for you

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What new HomePod temperature and humidity sensors can do for you
Here's how to take advantage of the temperature and humidity sensors in HomePod 2 and HomePod mini.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

HomePod 2 and (surprise!) HomePod mini both include temperature and humidity sensors. These can be used by Apple’s Home app to control HomeKit accessories. Or just tell you how hot or cold it is in your living room.

Here’s how to use the sensors in Apple’s large and small smart speakers.

How to remove duplicate photos on iPhone, iPad and Mac

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Get rid of all those copies
Find and delete copies of your photos on your iPhone.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

You could have dozens of copies of the same images in your Photos library, taking up space on your phone and in your iCloud account. Luckily, Apple offers an easy-to-use little tool that lets you find duplicate photos and delete the copies, all right from the Photos app.

These types of duplicate images can accumulate more quickly than you might expect. They arise if you make a copy of a photo to edit, if you screenshot a photo to bump it to the top of your Camera Roll, or if you save the same image out of Messages twice by accident. In fact, I found a bunch of duplicates in my own carefully curated library.

It’s a surprisingly sophisticated feature that took Apple engineers a fair amount of smarts to cook up (more on that later). Here’s how to use Apple’s duplicate image remover and get rid of all those unnecessary files.

How to get the HomePod 16.3 update with loads of new features

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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 software version released on Tuesday.

This is a major update, as the new version 16.3 enables some “hidden” sensors in HomePod mini and makes other significant changes. Those who use HomePod as the hub for a smart home absolutely should not miss out.

Here’s everything the Apple Watch buttons do

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What do the buttons do?
The buttons on the Apple Watch switch apps, activate Apple Pay, open Siri and more.
Image: Apple/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

The Apple Watch borrows a lot from the iPhone, but the biggest difference between them is down to the extra buttons. They each do different things whether you click, double-click or hold them down. What do the Apple Watch buttons do?

Here’s a quick guide to get you started.

Listen to Apple’s AI-generated audiobooks

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Read Me A Story, Computer
Listen to romance novels with a soothing robot voice.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac/Mads Dyrmann/John Salatas/Anna Schroeder/Wikimedia Commons

It’s annoying when a book you want to read doesn’t have an audiobook version — they’re great while you’re driving, doing dishes or folding laundry. Apple is now offering authors AI-generated audiobooks of their work. Novels you otherwise wouldn’t be able to hear, you can now find in the Apple Books app. Let me show you how you can find and listen to them if you’re curious.

Turn on gentle rain and ocean sounds while you work

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Relaxing Rain Sounds For Work
Chill out and silence the sounds of your environment with the sounds of rain, the ocean and more.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac/W.carter/Wikimedia Commons

Working in an office or in the city, you’re probably inundated with noise from people chattering, cars running and nearby music. Your iPhone has a built-in feature called Background Sounds for playing rain noises or white noise to tune it all out.

You don’t need to download any apps or pay a cent; it comes for free on your Mac and iPhone. Let me show you how it works.

How to save money by dumping unwanted App Store subscriptions

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Apple is raising some subscription services costs for the first time.
Start the year off saving cash by canceling any App Store subscriptions you don't want.
Photo: David Švihovec/Unsplash License/Modified by Cult of Mac

It’s a new year, a fine time to clear out some of the mistakes of the past. That includes no longer paying for subscriptions for apps or services you don’t use anymore.

Here’s how to find everything you’ve signed up for through the App Store, see what it’s costing you, and cancel it if you’ve lost interest. Or perhaps save a bit of money by changing how often you’re billed.

Type faster with these essential Mac keyboard shortcuts

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magic keyboard refurb
Learn how to get around the keyboard and edit text faster.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

You want to get faster at typing? Sure, you can hold down the Backspace key or mash it really fast. But there’s a better and more precise way to backspace and delete text on the Mac, using the Option (⌥) and Command (⌘) keys. These Mac keyboard shortcuts can make editing text lightning-fast and seamless. Here’s how you can be a keyboard wizard.

All of these work on the iPad, too, if you have a physical keyboard connected.

Top tips for traveling with AirTags

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Travel smarter with AirTags
An AirTag in a bag can find a solution to an absolute calamity.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Traveling is a lot easier if you can keep track of your luggage with AirTags. It’s been in the news lately: Airlines have lost flyers’ bags and people have recovered them because they had the foresight to put an AirTag in the luggage. You can make sure it’s with you all the way along your journey and quickly find it among the baggage claim at your final destination.

Read on for my tips on traveling with AirTags.