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

How to use a great Mac VPN for privacy and streaming


Intego Privacy Protection running on MacBook Air
Get a quality VPN for privacy and streaming on your Mac.
Image: Intego

What’s the best VPN to use on a Mac, and how do you use a VPN for data privacy? With Intego Privacy Protection, you can instantly connect to servers all around the world, including ones specially optimized for streaming. This advanced VPN comes with plenty of options for keeping your data secure and private.

You can set it to automatically open when you start your Mac, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to launch it. Intego’s international servers, which are optimized for streaming services, worked perfectly in my testing. I’ll show you how to get started with one of the best VPNs for Mac.

How to reset your Mac to factory settings


Mac mini with external hard drive, keyboard, trackpad and display sitting on the floor (isometric perspective)
Always reset your Mac before selling or passing it along to a friend.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Selling your old Mac or passing it to a friend or family member? It is always a good idea to reset your Mac to factory settings before doing so.

This ensures the machine wipes clean all your data, so you won’t have to worry about any privacy problems. The best part is that Apple makes it very easy to reset a MacBook, iMac or Mac mini to its factory state.

How to add your driver’s license to Apple Wallet


How to add your driver’s license to Apple Wallet
Some states allow iPhone users to put their driver's license on their iPhone. Here's how.
Image: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

In several U.S. states, Apple’s digital ID initiative enables iPhones and Apple Watch to hold a digital copy of the user’s driver’s license, in the same way these devices store credit cards and airline tickets.

Here’s what you need to know to add your driver’s license and ID to the Wallet app.

Rotate, skew and crop photos on iPhone


Fix Your Perspective
Straighten out images that were taken slightly askew.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

If you’re traveling this summer, there’s a neat editing trick to get spectacular shots of landmarks or murals.

With advanced editing tools in the Photos app, you can make adjustments you might not have thought were possible. Fix the perspective or angle a picture was taken, correct the fisheye distortion on an ultra-wide photo and more.

You can also precisely rotate and skew perspective on photos from your iPhone, for those times when you don’t realize until it’s too late that your shot is slightly to the side or slightly askew. You can fix it all directly in the Photos app.

6 secret features in Apple Mail


Get a grip on your email
Take better care of your email inbox with these hidden features.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Some people maintain zero unread emails; some let that red badge climb into the thousands. It’s never too late — you can become one of those clean inbox people like me. What can help you along the way to Inbox Zero are these six tips in Apple’s own Mail app for iPhone and Mac that you might not have known about.

Well, beyond the obvious Tip Number 0: You should always hit the Unsubscribe button at the bottom of every unsolicited promotional email as soon as you get the first one. After you kill all those unwanted subscriptions, these six lesser-known Apple Mail features will make you a true pro at managing your email.

How to get the latest HomePod software update


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 Thursday.

Version 16.5 is minor “bug fix” update the promises performance improvements. It follows a more significant new version that brought the return to an upgrade to the underlying architecture of Apple’s HomeKit home-automation system.

If you depend on automatic updates, it’s possible your smart speaker hasn’t yet installed either update. Here’s how to do so manually.

Pro Tip: Adjust portrait blur after you take the shot


Adjust the blur effect
Add more blur to the background or bring it into focus.
Image: King of Hearts/Wikimedia Commons/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Pro tip bugYou can adjust the Portrait mode blur on iPhone and Mac — even after you’ve taken the picture. Your iPhone stores the depth data that it uses to make the blur effect along with the photo, so if the picture was taken on a recent iPhone, you can adjust how blurry or clear the background is. It’s super easy to get just the right amount of bokeh.

A blurrier background, under the right conditions, can make for a really dramatic picture with emphasis on the subject. You might want to turn up the blur to intentionally hide details behind you. On the other hand, if you’re in a photogenic spot of scenery, you might want to see more of the landscape.

Either way, I’ll show you how to edit Portrait mode on iPhone and Mac.

Make your selfies pop using this TikTok-proven formula


Editing a selfie using TikTok’s recommended filters
There’s a lot of filters to brighten your pictures, but sorry, there’s not a filter that makes you look like you’re in your 20s.
Image: Levi Clancy/Wikimedia Commons/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Viral clips on TikTok show you how to edit your selfies for a more stunning, popping image on your iPhone. I live in a part of Ohio that’s perpetually overcast, but you would think I’m on my way to the beach with the warm hues this method gives your pictures.

Read on for detailed instructions on how to use TikTok’s winning selfie formula, apply the same filters in bulk on all the pictures from a photo shoot, and my recommended selfie stick for taking great group shots and landscapes.

5 hidden features in iMessage


Hidden iMessage Features
You probably won’t find these features on your own.
Image: Jonatan Svensson Glad/Wikimedia Commons/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

In the United States, iMessage is one of the first features iPhone users mention as a benefit over Android. In the rest of the world, nobody cares, because everyone uses WhatsApp and other cross-platform services.

But there are a lot of cool features inside the Messages app these days — we’ve previously covered how to edit and unsend messages and share your screen. Here are five more hidden features inside Apple’s messaging app. Keep reading or watch the video below.

Apple explains how to use Stage Manager on iPad


Stage Manager on iPad
A tutorial video from Apple Support demonstrates how to get started using Stage Manager on iPad.
Photo: Apple Support

Stage Manager puts iPad applications into floating, resizable, overlapping windows. It’s the most significant change to iPadOS in many years, and Apple Support created a video that walks through the possibilities.

Watch it if you’d like to get started with this multitasking system.