How to convert any video (or song) into an MP3

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convert MP3 iPhone workflow
With a couple of taps, you can convert any audio or video file to MP3
Photo: Cult of Mac

Converting an audio track to MP3 on the Mac is dead easy. Just open it with iTunes, and choose the File > Convert option from the menu bar. On iOS, though, there’s no native way to do this. There are lots of shonky-looking apps in the App Store that offer to create MP3s for you, but it’s likely that you already have the answer installed on your iPhone or iPad.

That’s right. Apple’s own WorkFlow app can quickly and easily convert any audio (or video) file to MP3.

How to get alerts when iOS games and apps go free

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Free game alerts
Who wouldn't want to play UNICORN 3D - Colour by Number?
Photo: Cult of Mac

Are you an iOS gamer? Do you love games so much that your iPhone may as well be a pocket games console? And do you also hate paying developers to make those amazing games for you? Then good news! because today’s how-to shows you how to get alerts whenever a top game gets its price reduced to free.

How to use HomePod to control your smart home

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HomePod HomeKit Unboxing
HomePod is a great speaker, and a more-than-adequate Home Hub.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

If you’re a home automation fan, then you’re going to love Apple’s new HomePod speaker. Not only can you use it to control your HomeKit setup with your voice using Siri, but you can also use the speaker as a Home Hub. That means that you can leave it at home taking care of business, letting you dial in to tweak things from wherever you are in the world.

iOS 11 makes Spotlight search super-powerful

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spotlight search in iOS 11
Spotlight in iOS 11 is a power-users dream, letting you find anything -- whether on the web on on your device -- fast.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Spotlight search gets a big overhaul in iOS 11. The Spotlight updates in iOS 11 don’t seem quite as spectacular as the iPad’s new Dock, or drag-and-drop, but the small tweaks make the search tool a lot more useful.

Now you can search both your iPad and the web, similar to how you conduct a search in Safari. If you ever used Launchbar, Alfred or Quicksilver on the Mac, the new iOS 11 Spotlight will feel familiar.

Replace Photobucket sharing with this automatic Dropbox action

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workflow dropbox photo bucket
Workflow makes short work of rolling your own image-hosting service.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Imagine if an almost 15-year-old image hosting company suddenly decided to deactivate all the links to the photos you had stored there. That’s exactly what happened last week, when Photobucket cut all “hot-linked” — or embedded — images, and insisted that users pony up $400 per year to get them back. That’s a big deal, because Photobucket images power much of the web. It’s not used only for posting images to forums, but to put images on Amazon store pages, and eBay listings.

Few of the folks affected by this are going to pay the ransom to get their photo links back, so the web will be littered with Photobucket placeholders reminding people of this fiasco for years to come. We can’t help with that, but we can offer a great alternative to Photobucket. Today we’ll see how to upload a photo to Dropbox and grab its direct link automatically, so you can use the image on any website you like.

How to automatically save iMessage pictures to the iPhone Photos app

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save iMessage pictures
Easily save lots of iMessage pictures and movies all at once.
Photo: Cult of Mac

You can’t yet automatically save incoming photos and videos from the Messages app in iOS, but there is a way to quickly select a whole bunch of iMessage pictures and movies, and save them all to your Camera Roll.

Why would you want to do this? The main reason is search. Once your media gets inside the Photos app, it can be searched and included in Memories. Plus, all the pictures of people will get scanned and recognized. In short, right now some of your most valued pictures don’t show up in the place you keep all your pictures. Let’s change that.

How to automatically import new music into iTunes

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iTunes on Mac
Use an Automator workflow and never manually add media to iTunes again!
Photo: Apple

So, say you have a Dropbox folder that keeps your media files synced across all your machines. Wouldn’t it be super-convenient to have iTunes import music from the Dropbox folder automatically? Also, just double-clicking the media files to import them to iTunes doesn’t sound too much work at first, but, what if your files are scattered all over the disk? For instance, some of you might have organized your media files into different folders by artist name, or by download source.

Let’s see how you can harness the power of automation to automatically import music to iTunes on a Mac.

How to turn your Mac into an internet printer, and print from anywhere

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Epson Expression Home XP-430 multifunction printer
It's surprisingly easy to print a file remotely on a Mac.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Picture this scenario: You’ve multiple computers at your office and only one of them (which is a Mac) is connected to the printer. Every time you need to print a document stored on these “other” computers, you have to manually transfer the file to the Mac and start the printing process from there. Wouldn’t it be super-convenient if you could just send a document wirelessly and instantly initiate the process of printing files remotely?

Today, I’ll show you how to break apart from this hassle and easily print files remotely from any computer using a combination of Dropbox and Automator.

Apple VP Lisa Jackson joins federal committee overseeing automation

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Jackson
Lisa Jackson presenting at an Apple keynote.
Photo: Apple

The U.S. Department of Transportation revealed that it has established a new advisory committee that will make recommendations in the field of automation.

Apple’s VP of environment and policy, Lisa Jackson, will be one of the committee’s 25 members that will work on some of the most important issues facing transportation, including self-driving cars.