How to back up your iMessages (and why it’s essential)

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Never lose your old messages again.
Never lose your old messages again.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Why would you bother to back up your iMessages? After all, they’re all stored in iCloud these days, right? Well, yes your messages are all stored in iCloud, but they’re not backed up up there. They’re synced, which means that if you delete a message thread, it’s gone forever. The answer is to make a local backup, which requires a Mac. Which is ridiculous in 2019, but there you go.

Here’s how to back up your iMessages in case the worst happens.

iCloud problems make some Apple services shaky [Updated]

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iCloud iPhone
It’s a bad day to be in Apple IT.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Update: The problems have apparently been fixed, as all the indicators on Apple’s System Status page are now green, and there are no outstanding issues listed.


If you’re having difficulties with some feature of iCloud, don’t reboot your computer or network because it’s not just you.

Apple’s official System Status page has lit up with a rash of yellow icons indicating problems.

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iPhone survey
I wanted a Galaxy S10, but I'm stuck with iPhone.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Guilty iCloud hacker sent to slammer

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Celebgate hack
Christopher Brannan gets a prison sentence for his part in the crime.
Illustration: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

A judge sentenced a former high school teacher to 34 months in prison Friday after the man pleaded guilty to his role in the “Celebgate” hack of iCloud and other accounts.

Of those convicted for the high-profile hack, Christopher Brannan, 31, received the harshest sentence for breaching accounts. The attack led to the circulation of nude photos and videos of model Kate Upton, actress Jennifer Lawrence and others.

EFF pushes Apple to ‘fix’ iCloud encryption

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iCloud iPhone
Your iCloud data isn’t truly secure because Apple can always access it.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

In a campaign called “Fix it Already!,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is urging tech giants to remedy nine security and privacy problems in their products. 

In Apple’s case, it wants the iPhone maker to encrypt iCloud backups so that only users can access them. 

A radical Safari tabs trick that’s hard to explain in the title

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A desert, not unlike the Mojave, where you could go on safari.
I’m getting desperate for Safari-related images for these how-to posts.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

This tip is exhibit A in the case for Apple being really, really good at hiding features. I imagine if you went around to Apple’s house for dinner, and the company asked you to set the table, you’d have some real trouble finding the cutlery. Maybe you’d open the cutlery drawer and see only the spoons. Then you’d open the drawer below, expecting that Apple had just set things out differently, as usual.

But in that second drawer you’d find nothing but fruit. WTF Apple? And then you’d notice that the top drawer is a little thicker than it appears when open. You try the top drawer again. This time you see that if you press down on one of the wooden spoons, the others move aside — animated a little too slowly — to reveal the knives and spoons. But where the hell are the forks?

Back to today’s tip. It’s a combination of two tricks you may already know:

  • Search the open Safari tabs on your iPhone.
  • Long-press the tabs button to close all tabs.

What do you think today’s tip might be?

How to delete unwanted music downloads on iPhone

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Enjoy this music-related image.
Enjoy this music-related image.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Problem: Your iPhone is full of downloaded music. There’s probably a lot of it that you don’t need taking up space on there, but deleting it is a pain. The solution? As ever, it’s hidden inside the Settings app. There’s a dedicated page just to solve this exact problem, listing your downloaded music and making it easy to delete. Let’s check it out.

Apple reveals what user data is being stored on Russian servers

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iOS 11.3 Beta 1
Local data storage law came into effect in 2015.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple has revealed which user data is being stored on Russian servers as part of its compliance with a local law which came into effect in Russia in 2015. The user data affects only Apple users in the region, and includes their name, delivery address, email, and phone number.

A filing by Apple makes no mention of other forms of personal data, such as iMessages, documents, or photos. In the event of Apple employees, Apple also stores information such as passport numbers, income information, and more.