How to make your Mac’s dictionary popup way, way faster

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spotlight popup
A spotlight, looking something up.
Photo: Richard Ciraulo/Unsplash

What happens when you use a three-finger tap on your Mac’s touchpad to look up a word? In olden times, it would bring up a dictionary definition, instantly. Today, it probably doesn’t do anything. Not for a few seconds at least. Or rather, it pops up a panel right away, but then it takes a few seconds to load whatever Siri reckons you might be looking for.

So, how do we stop this madness? Easy. We switch it off in the Mac’s settings, aka System Preferences.

How to use the Apple Watch to snap remote selfies

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Apple Watch camera remote
Apple Watch camera remote inception.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The Apple Watch is an amazing fitness tracker, and a pretty good notification device. But it has other tricks — tricks that you maybe didn’t know about, or didn’t realize would be quite as useful as they are. One is the Camera app. The Apple Watch doesn’t have its own camera, but it does give you remote control of your iPhone’s camera.

This lets you trigger the camera’s shutter, or record a video, from anywhere in range of your iPhone’s Bluetooth radio. Why? Group self-portraits, without having to set the timer and run back to your friends in time to smile. Videos: I used the video camera function just this week to record my progress for my guitar teacher. Like I said, it might be more useful than you’d expect.

Here’s how to use the Apple Watch camera remote.

How to use the new copy, paste and undo gestures in iPadOS 13

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iPadOS productivity gestures
This is how text editing used to feel on iOS.
Photo: Jason Leung/Unsplash

It wasn’t until I installed iPadOS on my regular iPad that I realized how great iOS 13 is. It’s one thing to run it on an old, battered test unit, but a whole other thing to use it day to day. And, surprisingly, it’s the small features that make the biggest difference. The per-page view setting in Safari, for example. Or the new multi-app Slide Over panel. And, more than anything else, the new text-editing gestures, which are finally good enough to replace a mouse and a Mac.

Let’s take a look at how to use iPadOS 13’s new copy, paste, undo and redo gestures, plus text selection in general.

How to use a GIF for your iPhone wallpaper

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Look at this wallpaper. Just look at it.Look at this wallpaper. Just look at it.
Look at this wallpaper. Just look at it.
Photo: Jake Cvnningham/Flickr CC

Wouldn’t it be great if you could take that awesome (and hilarious!) GIF, and use it as an animated wallpaper for your iPhone? You could wake your iPhone, press on the screen, and watch the action unfold. Over and over. And over.

Sadly, GIF wallpapers are impossible. Or are they? Well, you can’t set an actual GIF to run as your lock-screen wallpaper, but you can convert any GIF into a Live Photo, and use that to animate your iPhone’s lock screen.

Here’s how.

How to add your own music to your iPhone without iTunes

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Add your own music to your iPhone without iTunes.
Add your own music to your iPhone without iTunes.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Maybe in iOS 13 we’ll be able to add songs to our music iPhone libraries without having to wake up a Mac or PC running iTunes. Until then, there’s no way to listen to songs downloaded from Bandcamp, or exported from GarageBand, alongside the rest of your music collection.

But there’s a workaround. Vox is a slightly confusing music app that combines your built-in Apple Music library with your Soundcloud, Spotify, and other services. And it will also let you import any audio file, and then add it to playlists and so on. Let’s check it out.

How to fix your parents’ messed-up computers when home for the holidays [Cult of Mac Magazine No. 276]

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Cult of Mac Magazine No. 276 cover
Get ready to fix your parents' computer.
Cover: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Christmas time means packing up your daily troubles, forgetting work for a week, and heading home to … troubleshoot your parents’ broken computers and gadgets? Oh man, is it that time of year again already? That’s the problem with being the family’s only geek — you get handed all the geek jobs. However, you can turn this to your advantage, and make it a lot easier, by going in prepared.

Find out how to be the family tech support in the latest free issue of Cult of Mac Magazine. Get it now on iTunes, or keep reading for the week’s best Apple news, reviews and how-tos.

Apple Watch fall detection disabled by default … unless you’re old

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apple watch series 4
If you’re under 65, fall detection isn’t enabled.
Photo: Apple

Don’t just assume your new Apple Watch Series 4 will be there to help you when you drunkenly fall into a neighbor’s flowerbed on your way home from the bar. If you’re under 65, fall detection is disabled by default.

Here’s how to enable it to ensure your emergency contact knows when you’re in trouble.

iOS 12 automatically saves iMessage photos to your Photos library

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The new iMessage photo filters are so good, you'll want them in the regular camera app.
iMessage photos are now saved to the camera roll, automatically.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

If you take a photo inside the Messages app in iOS 11 and earlier, that photo stays trapped in the message thread forever, unless you explicitly long-press and save it to your camera roll. In iOS 12, that’s changed. Now, when you take a photo using the messages app, any pictures you snap are saved to your Photos library. But that’s not quite the whole story.