The 36 best macOS Sonoma features you should try after you update

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While almost nothing about macOS Sonoma leaked ahead of WWDC23, Apple showcased plenty of upgrades during the keynote.
This is a big year for the Mac.
Photo: Apple

macOS Sonoma may not have the same buzz as iOS, but there are loads of new features this year to try out on your Mac. You can get beautiful Apple TV-style aerial screensavers, widgets on your desktop, powerful enhancements to Safari and more.

macOS Sonoma will be released at about 10 AM Pacific on Tuesday, September 26. Here are the 36 best features you can look for after you update.

How to reset your iPhone before trading in or selling

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Erase Your Everything First
Erase everything before you pass off your iPhone.
Image: Ahmadkurdi44/Wikimedia Commons/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

How do you reset an iPhone if you’re trading it in, selling it or passing it down to another family member? There’s a right way and a wrong way. If you don’t fully reset the phone, it’ll still be locked to your Apple ID — and the phone will be effectively useless to anyone who tries to use it.

Follow along to make sure you reset your iPhone the right way.

How to leave the iOS 17 beta program

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How to leave the iOS 17 beta program
If you're done with iOS 17 betas, you can easily set your iPhone to ignore them.
Image: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

With iOS 17 now available to all, you no longer need to be enrolled in Apple’s beta program to get your hands on it. There are good reasons why you might not want to run prerelease software on your iPhone any more.

Here’s how to pull your iPhone out. It’s easy and only takes a minute. Maybe less

What do the Apple Watch buttons do? Click, double-click and hold.

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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

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

In watchOS 10, Apple changed a lot of these features. The software update added a new Widgets view, assigned Control Center to the side button and changed what double-clicking the dial does. (For older devices, consult our article about what Apple Watch buttons do in watchOS 9.)

Here’s a guide to the buttons on the Apple Watch.

Bring new life to an old Intel-based iMac or Mac mini [Setups]

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Commenters offered good advice on speeding up this Intel-based iMac setup.
Commenters offered good advice on speeding up this Intel-based iMac setup.
Photo: vmcommo@Reddit.com

If you have an aging Intel-based iMac or Mac mini that’s slowing down like an old codger, today’s featured iMac setup shows a relatively simple way to revitalize your machine and keep using it.

All you need is an external solid state drive (SSD) and the knowledge, below, to make it your computer’s replacement startup disk.

The 50 best iOS 17 features you should try after you update

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iOS 17 preview
iOS 17 is packed with features.
Photo: Apple

What’s new in iOS 17? This is a big year for iPhone and iPad. You should definitely check out the biggest new features — Contact Posters and Standby — first. But there are dozens of other great features for you to learn, explore and take advantage of, too.

iOS 17 is out now. I have all the 50 best tweaks and changes organized in this overview.

Get the awesome new Modular Ultra Apple Watch face

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Apple Watch Ultra with the Modular Ultra face
With eight complications, the new Modular Ultra face can show a lot of info.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Apple is about to launch a cool new watch face for the Apple Watch Ultra called “Modular Ultra.”

The new face does a lot: It allows up to eight complications, including the customizable bezel that can show water depth, elevation or seconds. I think it looks super-cool. And just wait until you see the night mode.

If you saw the new watch face during the Apple Watch Ultra 2 segment of Apple’s “Wonderlust” event Tuesday and want it right now, you’re in luck: It works with the original Apple Watch Ultra and is already available in the latest watchOS 10 beta.

Here’s how to download, install and customize it.

5 best iMessage, FaceTime and phone features in iOS 17

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Live Voicemail & More Best Features
Live Voicemail, FaceTime video messages, Check-In and others are some of the best iOS 17 features.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

iOS 17 brings with it a lot of new features to the apps you use to communicate every day: iMessage, FaceTime — and last and certainly least — Phone. If you’re trying to call someone and have a missed connection, you have many more options for leaving them a message to pick up later. Changes to iMessage bring small but impactful improvements to stickers, threaded replies and sharing your ETA.

iOS 17 is out now. If you bought a new iPhone 15, you’ve got it already. Otherwise, head over to Settings > General > Software Update to get it. Upgrading may take about 20 minutes after downloading, so make sure you don’t start it at a bad time.

How to save your Live Photos as a video

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Make A Video Out Of Your Pictures
Turn your many, many cat photos into a few great videos.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

You can turn multiple Live Photos shot on your iPhone into a video. Simply select a group of Live Photos taken in a burst, and you can create a single, stitched-together video that you can save to your library and share on social media.

Here’s how it’s done.

Find new music you’ll love with Apple Music’s Discovery Station

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Let’s Try Something… New?
New music — what a concept!
Image: Pedro Ribeiro Simões/Wikimedia Commons/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

You can find new music on the Apple Music Discovery Station, which gives you a tailored playlist to suggest new artists and jams you’ve never heard before but should like based on your personal musical tastes.

Personalized recommendations have long been a reason people cite for sticking with Spotify over Apple Music. Now, you can add the Discovery Station to my list of eight reasons you should make the switch. Apple Music offers personalized music picks, too, and the system works great.

I’ll show you where to find Apple Music’s Discovery Station and how to make the most of it.

Copy text from a PDF on Mac the easy way [Pro Tip]

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It Doesn't Have To Be This Hard
Selecting text from a PDF can be easy. Imagine that!
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Pro tip bug Here’s a better way to copy text out of a PDF on a Mac using Live Text.

Although the Mac offers fantastic support for opening and editing PDFs in the built-in Preview app, the simple act of copying and pasting text from a PDF can still be a nightmare. For instance, selecting text on a two- or three-column document often selects across the whole width of the page, which is totally useless.

Taking a quick screenshot and using Live Text often yields better results — and it works with old document scans as well as PDFs. Here’s how it’s done.

Adobe shares tips for students struggling with PDF textbooks

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PDF textbooks are better than paper textbooks
Students have better options for textbooks than this.
Photo: cottonbro studio/Pexels

Adobe wants to help students accustomed to old-fashioned paper textbooks get over the transition to PDF textbooks. The company points out that its free reader for the digital format does a lot more than display text and images, and many of these features are ideal for students.

The software developer highlighted five of the benefits of the free Mac application for those going to class with a PDF textbook.

How to tell if your AirPods are fake

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Real ... or fake? How to tell if AirPods are counterfeit products.
Ensure your AirPods are the real deal.
Image: Cult of Mac

Fake AirPods are a bigger problem than you might think. With so many legit-looking AirPods clones floating around, it can prove difficult to spot counterfeit earbuds.

However, you can take several steps to see if the AirPods you are contemplating buying — or that you already bought — are genuine Apple products.

Rename multiple files on Mac the easy way

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Bring Method to Madness
Restore order to your file system.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

It’s easy to rename multiple files at once on a Mac using the Finder’s batch rename tool. If you have a big series of pictures, videos, screenshots or documents in a series, you can use this feature to rename them all in a similar format and sequence.

You don’t have to take on such a tedious task by hand.

6 useful apps hiding in your Mac

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No Downloading Required
Nothing to download or install — you’ve already got ’em.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

If you work on a Mac, these six useful apps can help you get that work done faster. And you don’t need to take time to download them or figure out if they’re worth the price — you already have these apps on your computer.

These come with every Mac, and you can locate them in the Applications and Utilities folders. If you’re in the Finder, just hit Shift-Command-A (⇧⌘A) or Shift-Command-U (⇧⌘U) to find them.

I’ll walk you through a few of the more useful Mac apps hiding there that you probably haven’t heard of.

3 more simple AirPods tricks everyone should know

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3 more simple AirPods tricks everyone should know
AirPods have some nifty features you should be aware of.
Image: Ed Hardy/David Snow/Cult of Mac

AirPods have no obvious controls on them, so it’s easy to think you just stick them in your ears and start listening. But these wireless earbuds offer features that aren’t immediately obvious.

We recently published six hidden tips and tricks for AirPods. Now here are a few more you might not know.

The latest group covers how to more easily control your AirPods, how to find a lost one, plus a simple way to extend the battery life.

Split up payments with Apple Pay Later

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Give me my money! (In four scheduled installments)
Instead of paying once, you have the pleasure of paying four times! (But a little less.)
Image: DigiGal DZiner/Wikimedia Commons/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

You can split up a big purchase across four smaller payments using Apple Pay Later. Unlike other similar services like Klarna, Afterpay and Affirm, there’s no interest — you pay the exact same amount of money as if you were purchasing at once.

Payments are expected every two weeks, matching the most common paycheck schedule in the United States. It’s easy to use and transparent about what you’ll pay when; it couldn’t be more straightforward.

Find out if Apple Music deleted one of your favorite songs

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Do you have banned music?
Find out of music in your library has been taken down by Apple.
Image: Public Domain/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Here’s how you can find out if any songs in your library have been removed from Apple Music. Songs are taken off Apple Music all the time if there’s a problem with licensing or if a controversial artist has been broadly disgraced. Spotify was caught up in similar heat last year, losing Neil Young’s discography in a protest of the streaming service’s association with podcaster Joe Rogan.

Have any songs in your Apple Music library been deleted behind your back? There’s a way to find out if you have a Mac by building a smart playlist. I’ll show you how.

How to add fonts to an iPad

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How to add fonts to an iPad
iPad comes with a useful selection of fonts, and you can add more.
Graphic: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Anyone getting real work done on an iPad might need to add a font to their word processor or image creation app. The process is more complicated than it should be, but you can bring the huge numbers of fonts available for Mac or Windows to your tablet, too … if you know how.

I’ll walk you step-by-step through the installation.

5 reasons to use Safari instead of Chrome

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Chrome isn't as good as you think
You should reconsider using Safari
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

A lot of Mac owners use Google Chrome as their web browser, and personally, I don’t get it. For Apple fans, it seems like a total disconnect not to use Safari instead of Chrome.

For starters, Apple markets its products as privacy-forward and seamlessly integrated with each other. And the web browser is an essential component of your computer, whether we’re talking Mac, iPhone or iPad. You have a lot to gain by using Safari on all your devices.

But look at the numbers: Although the Mac has 20% market share, second to Windows, Apple’s web browser Safari only captures 8.9% of the market.

Here’s my attempt to sway it the other way — the top five reasons I use Safari instead of Google Chrome.

All 25 iPhone Action and side button accessibility shortcuts, ranked

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All 25 Side Button Features
The side button does much more than you think. Who needs an action button?
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

The iPhone 15 Pro replaces the mute/silent switch with a customizable Action button that can do a number of actions you pick. If you set it to an Accessibility feature, you have 25 different options that you can toggle on or off.

And on any older iPhone, you can simply triple-click the side button to access the same 25 accessibility features. You can’t do things like launch a Shortcut or turn on your iPhone’s flashlight, but a lot of people can benefit from these features.

Here are all 25 of the features you can assign to a button on your iPhone — and what they do.

The cheapest and easiest way to add wireless CarPlay to any vehicle

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CarPlay with Fire tablet and adapter

The easiest and cheapest way to add Apple’s CarPlay to any vehicle is with a cheap Amazon Fire tablet and a USB CarPlay dongle.

You don’t need to buy an expensive new car stereo, nor spend the weekend ripping out your dash and fiddling with wiring. Adding a Fire tablet is very plug-and-play, and instantly makes a big difference. It cost me less than $100 and gave my old pre-Bluetooth stereo a new breath of life. Now I have a big, beautiful, 8-inch screen for maps and directions.

However, it took me a while to find the right combination of gear. Plus, you should consider a few things before taking the plunge with this DIY wireless CarPlay hack.

How to get the latest iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 public betas

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iOS 17 and iPadOS 17
Here's how to install the iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 public betas on your iPhone or iPad.
Image: Apple/Cult of Mac

The second iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 public betas became available Monday so anyone who wants to start tinkering with the new features can try these well before the autumn release.

Among the more significant changes in iOS are personalized contact posters in the Phone app, home screen widgets go interactive, and autocorrect is smarter. iPadOS gets many of those same features, as well as signifi can’t Lock screen improvements.

Want to try the changes out for yourself? We’ll show you how.

Change the X icon back to Twitter

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Give me back the bird!
Everyone’s favorite bird icon is back… kind of.
Image: Garrett Heath/Wikimedia Commons/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

If you miss the Twitter icon, you’re not alone. But there’s good news: You can easily change the app’s new X icon back to Twitter’s blue bird on your Home Screen by using a shortcut.

While it’s too late for Elon Musk to backtrack on many of the questionable business decisions he made since buying Twitter, you can at least patch over this latest one using my free downloadable Shortcut.

If you’re still using X, née Twitter, you might want the bright blue bird back on your Home Screen. I’ll show you how to get it.

The hidden Mac keyboard shortcuts you don’t know

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Stock photo of someone with their hands on a MacBook keyboard.
Despite what this stock photo implies, I believe your Mac has to be turned on for the keyboard shortcuts to work.
Photo: Fabian Irsara firsara/Wikimedia Commons

Keyboard shortcuts are a great way to speed yourself up when you’re using a Mac. Mastering them means more time spent getting things done and less time spent moving your hands back and forth between keyboard and trackpad.

There are the basics like Command-C and Command-V for copy and paste; Command-B, Command-I and Command-U for bold, italics and underline; Command-Z and Shift-Command-Z for undo and redo. But for a lot of people, that’s where their knowledge ends.

You can do so much more than you may know. Here’s a guide to the best Mac keyboard shortcuts.