Activate iPhone X Reachability with a flick of the thumb

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gestures iPhone x
Your thumb will get a workout now that the home button is no longer around to do all the work.
Photo: Apple

Here’s a great Reachability tip for iPhone X users. It’s so neat that even if you find Reachability pointless, you’ll love it. Or at least, you’ll love how absurd the gestures are to activate it.

What am I talking about? Let’s just say that if you’re a close-up conjurer who specializes in card tricks, then you will have no problem with this iPhone X tip. If you’re a normal human, it might take a bit of practice.

How to use Portrait Mode on iPhone X and 8

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iPhone 8 Plus portrait lighting camera
Portrait Lighting can make a movie star out of almost anyone. Almost.
Photo: Ste Smith/ Cult of Mac

Portrait mode is an iPhone 7 feature that has been supercharged in the iPhones X and 8, with the addition of Portrait Lighting. Both features use depth data from these iPhones’ dual cameras, either to separate the subject of the photo from its background, or to completely re-light the photo to add drama. Here’s how to make the most of them.

Try these great emoji shortcuts on iPhone and iPad

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emoji iPhone quicktype
What dog doesn't like sushi?
Photo: Cult of Mac

Who doesn’t love emoji? People with bad eyesight, that’s who. Everyone else, everyone everywhere, loves the little pictures of medals, flags, headphones, eggplants, and feces. What we don’t like is finding them by swiping around the keyboard section of an iPhone screen. In some ways it’s a metaphor for human existence. We love to manipulate the meaning of symbols through context and juxtaposition, the way a standup comic does, but we’re too lazy to spend the time to do it properly.

Happily for the future of the human race, there are shortcuts to great emoji if you’re using iOS. Let’s take a look.

The best ways to buy an unlocked iPhone X

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iPhone X
Don't lock yourself to a carrier -- buy your iPhone X from Apple instead.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

It might not seem like it at the time, but buying an iPhone for full price upfront is probably the cheapest option. Swallowing the $1,000 purchase price of an unlocked iPhone X isn’t easy. However, you won’t wind up tied to carrier contracts that trap you for a year or two. Plus, you can pick a cheap, $10-per-month prepaid data plan instead.

In the European Union, Apple sells unlocked phones from the get-go. If you buy a new iPhone from Apple on launch day, it will not come tied to a carrier. In the United States, SIM-free iPhones usually go on sale a few weeks after launch.

Today we’ll look at how and where you can buy a SIM-free, unlocked iPhone.

These are all the things Spotlight can find on your iPhone and iPad

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spotlight
A picture of a light, to illustrate Spotlight search.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Spotlight is Apple’s search technology for Mac and iOS, and it can help you find almost anything. Not just stuff on your iPhone, either. Spotlight can also help you find nearby places, look up words in a dictionary, and even do currency and unit conversions, all from one search box. Let’s take a look at everything Spotlight can do on your iPhone or iPad.

How to edit multiple images the easy way in Photos for Mac

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copy paste adjustments
Don't delay — edit your photos like a boss.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Do you have a bunch of photos that you took with your iPhone that all need to be tweaked the same way? Maybe you edited one shot from a session into the perfect B&W portrait, and you want to apply the exact same combination of lighting effects, color tweaks and filters to the rest of the pictures you took in the same photo shoot. Or perhaps you just want to standardize the white balance for a batch of images so their colors all match.

That’s easy to do in Photos for macOS High Sierra, using the Copy Adjustments tool. Here’s how to use it.

Text snippets now support multiple lines, iCloud sync

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MK Mac
Keyboard snippets make your life way easier.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Text snippets are one of the most useful “unknown” features on Mac and iOS. They let you type a few letters, and have them expand into a whole word, sentence or paragraph. You can use them to type, say, aadd and have it turn into your office address, for example. Or you might set up a shortcut to generate a symbol usually hidden on the iOS keyboard: xx to type a #, for example.

Until now, though, Apple’s Text Replacement function proved a royal pain to use. It never synced properly between devices, and it didn’t support multiple-line snippets. But in an update last week, Apple fixed both those problems.

How to use Apple Pay Cash to send money to friends

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Apple Pay Cash
Learn how to use Apple Pay Cash in just one minute.
Photo: Apple

Apple Pay Cash lets people send money to each other using iMessage. You can send up to $3,000 — certainly enough to cover your share of lunch — and the transaction is free if you use a debit card registered in your Apple Wallet.

All you need is to have a card in Apple Pay, and be running iOS 11.2 or newer, and you’re good to go. Here’s how to use it.

How to track package deliveries on iPhone, Mac, and Apple Watch

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cardboard boxes
With a decent tracking app, all you have to worry about is recycling the old boxes.
Photo: exceptinsects/Flickr CC

It’s gift-giving season, that time of year where you buy people yet more junk that they neither want nor need, all out of a guilt forced on your by tradition and the fear of looking cheap. It’s going to stress you out. But we can at least make the process of buying unwanted dross a little smoother, by making an app do all the package deliveries tracking for you.