You should really stop checking your phone all the time

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stop checking phone
It's hard not to pick up your iPhone all the time.
Photo: Tyler Lastovich/Unsplash

Your iPhone is amazing. And that’s part of its problem. Every time you’re at a loose end, waiting in line, or just think that you’re bored, you pull it out and graze those Home screen icons to find something that might interest you.

This, you may not be surprised to know, is unhealthy behavior. At best, it’s a nervous habit that turns into a compulsion. At worst, it can cause anxiety, give you square eyes, and disconnect you from the delights of the world around you. And if you are creative in any way, the constant stimulation from your iPhone crowds out any opportunity for your imagination to drift, or for you to notice inspiration and oddities in the smells, sights and sensations of the real world.

Which is why you should follow the advice of app developer Readdle, and stop checking your phone all the damn time.

How to stop your UWB-equipped iPhone 11 from tracking you

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This is not how Apple's UWB tracking works.
This is not how Apple's UWB tracking works.
Photo: Hadis Malekie/Unsplash

The latest generation of iPhones (the 11 and 11 Pro) contain the new U1 chip, which lets your iPhone locate other iPhones with pinpoint accuracy. Currently it is only used to show you the direction of other iPhones when you AirDrop a file. However, it will almost certainly soon be used to keep track of the rumored Apple Tags (or AirTags) tracking devices.

But what if you want to turn off UWB (ultra-wideband) tracking altogether? No problem.

Start work right with this one-click app and playlist launcher

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applescript
Writing this AppleScript is as easy as writing your shopping list.
Photo: David Ballew/Unsplash

Every morning when I sit at my Mac to start writing, I open the same apps and start the same iTunes playlist. This repetitive, tedious task is what computers are supposed to do for us, so I figured I’d make my Mac open up those apps, and start that music playing, all without me having to do anything.

That dream was quickly quashed — the Mac isn’t quite able to read my mind yet. So I settled for the next best thing: An AppleScript that I can leave in the Dock, and then click once to open everything. The best part is, it’s absurdly easy to make your own.

Add a one-tap web search button to your iPhone Home screen

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Add a custom search button to your Home screen on iPhone or iPad.
Super-charge your web searches with this customizable Home screen shortcut.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

This fantastic shortcut makes searching the web with your iPhone faster than ever. It places an icon on your Home screen, and you just tap it, type a search into the box that pops up, and hit enter. Your search will then open in Safari.

This customizable search shortcut proves speedier than pretty much any other method, including iOS’ built-in Spotlight search.

How to resurrect your Mac’s startup chime

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startup chime
Chimes and bongs: not just for hippies.
Photo: Arturo Rey/Unsplash

When you start up a Mac, it goes “bong,” and that’s the way the world should be. Unless, that is, you bought a Mac in 2016 or later, when Apple removed the Mac startup chime. These days, a Mac starts up silently, with only a whisper of fan noise (or the din of a whirring, clicking hard drive on an iMac) to let you know something is happening.

But what if you miss the good old Mac startup chime? Or — if you’re new to Macs — you just fancy a bit of retro charm? Today we’ll see how to bring back the bong.

How to use Apple Maps public transit directions

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Stockholm's excellent public transit.
Stockholm's excellent public transit.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Apple Maps offers surprisingly great public transport features. It recently expanded transit directions across Europe, so you can get “turn-by-turn” directions for metro, tram and other modes of public transit.

Even if your city isn’t yet covered by these directions, there’s still a whole lot of really useful information available. For instance, just tap a station on the map, and it will show all upcoming departures.

Let’s take a look at Apple Maps public transit features.

How to replace Apple’s Music app with something better

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Yes it does landscape, too.
Yes it does landscape, too.
Photo: Marvis

Like almost all of Apple’s built-in iOS apps, the Music app is capable but hard to use. Apple’s habit of hiding key functions behind multiple button-taps is in full force here, and it’s getting worse. Want to “heart” a track? You used to be able to do it from the lock screen player. Now you have to access the Music app’s share menu, and find it there.

And what if you want to view your recently added items as a list, or your list of songs as a grid? Tough. On the other hand, if you use features like the For You… playlists, and Apple Music’s excellent More by… recommendations, many alternative music apps don’t support them.

The answer to this digital music conundrum is Marvis Pro, a 1-year-old music app that offers everything you need — and nothing you don’t.

How to wash (and dry) your hands properly

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dirty sink
This is a lot cleaner than many public bathrooms I've been in.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

With the COVID-19 coronavirus spreading around the world, it’s worth taking a moment to learn how to wash your hands. Official government advice says that touch is not the most likely way for transmission of the deadly virus. But in general, touch is more likely to spread disease than kissing, according to Bill Bryson in his latest book, The Body. Which means that washing your hands is one of the best ways to guard against catching a cold or something worse.

You probably wash your hands plenty of times throughout the day. But unless you’re a surgeon, you probably don’t do it properly.