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


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.

Speed up Haptic Touch with this hidden iPhone setting [Pro Tip]


Make your phone snappier
Speed up this common gesture on your iPhone.
Image: Apple/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Pro tip bug This hidden setting will speed up Haptic Touch, the fantastic feature that lets you preview links and bring up option menus on your iPhone.

If you use Haptic Touch all the time like I do, changing this setting will make your iPhone feel supercharged. It brings up handy shortcuts — hidden actions, content previews and contextual menus in a flash, saving you precious time as you tap around your screen.

Alternatively, if you find Haptic Touch annoying and trigger it accidentally all the time, you can slow down the time needed to activate the gesture. That way, a tap won’t be mistaken for a tap-and-hold.

Save Home Screen space with two shortcuts in one small widget [Pro Tip]


Two for the space of one
Double the shortcuts in the small widget.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Pro tip bug

You can fit two shortcuts into one small widget in iOS 17, a significant change for power users of Apple’s time-saving Shortcuts app. A lot of shortcuts I make are in pairs — and now, you can put two shortcuts of a kind in one small space on your Home Screen.

Shortcuts, if you’re not aware, let you automate the things you do most often on your iPhone, Mac, iPad or Apple Watch. For instance, you can create a shortcut that sets a Focus mode when you get to work, one that suggests easy-to-remember passwords, one for converting units — the possibilities are endless. (Read Apple’s helpful Shortcuts guide if you want to familiarize yourself with the powerful app.)

Home Screen widgets are a great way to launch the shortcuts you use every day. On the iPhone, where space is limited, fitting twice as many shortcuts without losing any icons could be a game changer for your Home Screen. Let me show you how to set it up.

Pro Tip: Set your Apple Watch time a few minutes ahead


Never Run Late Again
Cult of Mac is not legally responsible if you are still late after turning on this feature.
Image: Crew/Wikimedia Commons/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Pro tip bug Set your Apple Watch time a few minutes ahead of the actual time and you might trick yourself out of running late every day. This is an officially supported feature, not a hack that’ll have cascading, annoying side effects. And it doesn’t require you to set your smartwatch out of sync with internet time.

What will you gain? By running your Apple Watch a few minutes fast, you might nudge yourself to rush out the door a little earlier. And that might be enough to get you somewhere on time rather than late. If tardiness is a frequent problem for you, this little change could save your skin.

Pro Tip: Hot corners make it easy to mouse around your Mac


Who needs multitouch?
If you don’t have a trackpad or Magic Mouse, you can set up Hot Corners to get some of the features back.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Pro tip bug Hot corners are shortcuts for your mouse. Just throw your mouse cursor to the corner of the screen (the easiest place to hit) and you can instantly lock the screen, start a screensaver, show the desktop, show all windows and more.

If you use your Mac with a standard two-button PC mouse instead of Apple’s Magic Trackpad or Magic Mouse, hot corners can replace the multitouch gestures that you miss out on.

Hot corners area really quick and easy way to help navigate your Mac, and I recommend you turn them on and use them.

Pro Tip: Don’t lose track with persistent notifications


Don’t let important stuff slip by
Take control of your notifications.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Pro tip bug You can set all notifications from a specific app to stick to the top of your screen, so you won’t lose track of them in the junk drawer of Notification Center. When your phone is unlocked and something important comes in, it’ll stay visible at the top of the screen until you acknowledge it.

This can be super handy for medication reminders or if you’re the sort of person to ignore notifications once they’re gone. Junky apps will spam you with notification bait; unless you seriously cull what’s allowed to appear in Notification Center, it can train you to ignore those banners.

I’ll show you how to make your notifications sticky.

Send a YouTube link that starts (and stops!) at a specific time [Pro Tip]


Share videos that get to the point.
Copy a link to a YouTube video that starts partway through and save everyone some time.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Pro tip bug Say you want to send someone a link to a YouTube video, but you just want to show them a specific part halfway through. Doing this is really easy from both the YouTube website or the app.

Let me show you how to share a YouTube video that starts at a specific time.

Keep your Private Browsing secret with this one smart Safari move [Pro Tip]


Secretly switch out of private browsing.
You can quickly and secretly switch out of Private Browsing without anyone noticing.
Image: Dosso Dossi/Public domain

Pro tip bug So, you’ve been using Safari’s Private Browsing mode on your iPhone or iPad, for whatever reason, but you forget to close out of the tab. The next time you open Safari, you’ll be thrown into whatever unscrupulous web page you had open last time — and the result can range from unfortunate to embarrassing, depending upon what you were looking at and where you are when you unexpectedly resume the Private Browsing session.

Luckily, iOS offers a foolproof way to avoid reopening a Private Browsing mode session. Let me show you how.

Here’s everything the Apple Watch buttons do


What Do The Buttons Do? (old version)
The buttons on the Apple Watch switch apps, activate Apple Pay, open Siri and more.
Image: Apple/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

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

This guide was written before watchOS 10 changed and moved a lot of these features. See our updated guide if you’re confused why your Watch suddenly works differently.

Top tips for traveling with AirTags


Travel smarter with AirTags
An AirTag in a bag can find a solution to an absolute calamity.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Traveling is a lot easier if you can keep track of your luggage with AirTags. It’s been in the news lately: Airlines have lost flyers’ bags and people have recovered them because they had the foresight to put an AirTag in the luggage. You can make sure it’s with you all the way along your journey and quickly find it among the baggage claim at your final destination.

Read on for my tips on traveling with AirTags.