Distraction-free apps won’t help you focus. Here’s what will.

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Like a Vegas casino carpet, our devices overstimulate our brains. Distraction-free apps won't help.
Like a Vegas casino carpet, our devices overstimulate our brains.
Photo: Michael Winters/Flickr CC

“Distraction-free” apps are ridiculous. They don’t help at all. In fact, if you have trouble focusing on the task on hand, then the problem isn’t the app. The problem is you.

Removing clutter from an app’s interface won’t stop you from flipping to Twitter every five minutes. A carefully chosen font won’t stop you from whipping your iPhone from your pocket every time a question pops into your head.

The problem is not even distraction. The problem is overstimulation, and it’s going to take some effort for you to fix it.

5 super-useful Terminal tricks for total noobs

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terminal tricks
Where the hell are you supposed to begin?
Photo: Cult of Mac

The Mac’s Terminal is at once scary and powerful. It’s like a whole other computer living underneath the pretty interface of macOS. Sometimes, it’s convoluted. Other times, it seems laser-focused, offering a much quicker way to get things done. Instead of clicking and dragging your way through multiple screens, you just type a line of text.

However, the Mac Terminal is pretty intimidating if you’re not used to it. Today we will learn five super-useful Terminal tricks that make getting around much easier.

How to pay off your Apple Card

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Making Apple Card payments is as simple as its design.
Apple Card payments are as simple as its design.
Photo: Apple

The Apple Card is here, and it looks like a pretty good credit card (as these things go). But far more interesting than the MasterCard interest rates, or the minimal design of the card, is the software behind Apple Card.

You manage all aspects of the card — from payments to Daily Cash summaries — through the Wallet App you already have on your iPhone. You can even download a PDF of your transactions. Let’s check it out.

Troubleshoot Apple Music with Smart Playlists

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Cassette tapes
In the olden days, playlists were stored on tapes.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Think about your music library for a second. Which of the songs in your library come from Apple Music? Which ones did you add to the library yourself? And which ones have you added to iTunes Match, but haven’t actually made it to your iCloud library yet?

These things are a little confusing. The beauty of Apple Music, and the iCloud Music Library, is that all of your music is there, in one place. But this simplicity also makes it hard to see what’s going on. Happily, iTunes is still more than up to the task, and can even split these songs into individual playlists. Let’s check it out.

How and why you should reject arbitration on your Apple Card

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Apple Card
There’s something you need to do before you make your first Apple Card purchase.
Photo: Apple

Invitations to get an Apple Card are trickling out, but even before you make the first purchase with your shiny new credit card, you should reject its arbitration provision.

If you don’t, you give up the right to benefit from any class-action lawsuits brought against Goldman Sachs, the bank backing Apple Card.

How to repeat and shuffle songs in iOS 13

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Shuffling songs used to be easy. Here's how to shuffle songs in Apple Music in iOS 13.
Shuffling songs used to be easy.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

This may seem like a frivolous how-to. But seeing as I couldn’t work out how to switch off shuffle Apple Music tracks on my iPhone in iOS 12, I think it’s worth a look — if only so dummies like me can look it up.

BTW, you can find the Apple Music repeat and shuffle controls in iOS 12 by swiping up on the Now Playing panel to reveal the buttons at the bottom, if you need to know.

So, let’s take a look at how Apple changed things in the iOS 13 Music app.

How to decline and mute calls with iPhone

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Sweet, sweet silence is just a couple button-taps away when you know how to decline iPhone calls.
Sweet, sweet silence.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Phone calls are so 20th century. Apart from a knock at the door, when else can another person decide to bug you, and then bug you right away, at their own convenience, without getting your permission first?

In the 21st century, we have a name for these people: entitled. Fortunately, it’s easy to bump their presumptuous invasions, and let them know who’s the boss1.

Here’s how to decline iPhone calls (or mute them if you’re feeling particularly passive-aggressive).

How to add a custom iMessage avatar in iOS 13

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Memoji are awesome. Here's how to make your own.
Now you can use Memoji in iMessage profiles.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

You know how you can add an avatar to pretty much any social app ever, and all your friends, family, contacts, etc., will see it? Well, in iOS 13 you can finally do the same for iMessages.

No longer will you have to hope that your contacts use a nice photo of you, or worry that your boss is using a picture of a cute pig or pussycat to represent you in the group chat. Now you can add and share your own avatar, or even a Memoji. Let’s see how.

This is what happens if you try to put a folder named ‘Dropbox’ in iCloud Drive

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A dropped box
A dropped box.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Dropbox is getting increasingly bloated and annoying — on the Mac, at least. When iOS 13 ships later this year, you’ll be able to share whole iCloud folders with other people, so you can ditch DropBox altogether. But how will you switch?

One thing you can’t do is just drag your Dropbox folder into iCloud Drive. iCloud just won’t let you. In fact, you can’t even create a new folder and name it “Dropbox.” WTF?

How to add Low Power Mode (and other handy things) to iOS Control Center

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Take control of your iPhone's Control Center.
Take control of your iPhone's Control Center.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The Control Center on your iPhone or iPad comes with a bunch of preset icons so you can quickly open the Camera app, toggle Do Not Disturb and do plenty of other tricks. But you also can customize it, adding your choice of one-swipe shortcuts. You can even set the order of the icons.

Today we’ll see how to add Low Power Mode, and take a look at the other options available.