Pro Tips

Read Cult of Mac’s latest posts on Pro Tips:

Share a link with quoted text in Messages [Pro Tip]

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You Can Quote Me On This
You can even select this text right here.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Pro-tip-4 The best way to send someone a great article you just read online is to share a link with quoted text: It highlights whatever you found interesting in the post and encourages them to click the link.

Usually, you would have to copy the quote and paste it with the link, but there’s a hidden way to do it in Safari. It’ll properly format the rich link with the quoted text highlighted above.

If you want to quote a specific line from an article or a how-to (like this one), sending it with a pull quote is easier and looks nicer than copying the text you want and putting it in quotation marks as a separate text.

And it takes just a second! Here’s how it’s done.

How to type the Apple logo

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How to type the Apple logo
Show you're an expert by dropping the Apple logo into texts.
Graphic: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Pro-tip-4 You can use the Apple logo as an emoji … if you know how. Expressing your love for all things Apple looks a lot better if know how to type the .

It’s easy to do on a Mac, and I can show you how to add  to texts on iPhone and iPad, too.

How to set AirDrop to share iPhone photos with anyone [Pro Tip]

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How to set AirDrop to exchange pictures with anyone's iPhone [Pro Tip]
Here's why you might be having trouble exchanging images with your friend's iPhone over AirDrop, and how to fix it.
Image: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

You’re at a holiday party and your friend takes a great picture. You ask them to AirDrop you a copy and the two iPhones won’t connect. So frustrating — what the %^#* is wrong? Why can’t you share iPhone photos the way you used to?

The problem might be because Apple changed the way AirDrop works last year. Here’s how to set the easy wireless file-transfer system so you can get that picture from your friend.

Speed up Haptic Touch with this hidden iPhone setting in iOS 17 [Pro Tip]

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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 in iOS 17 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]

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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.

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.

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

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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

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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

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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]

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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]

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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

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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

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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.

How to use Water Lock on Apple Watch [Pro Tip]

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Person swimming underwater wearing Apple Watch
Apple Watch makes for a good fitness tracker underwater.
Photo: Apple

Pro tip bugApple Watch is highly resilient to being submerged in water. You don’t have to worry much about ruining the electronics inside — your biggest concern is the water triggering random stuff on the screen. If your Apple Watch feels like it’s not responding to your tapping, it’s probably in Water Lock mode.

Water Lock will make sure your Apple Watch doesn’t glitch out when you’re in the shower, having a bath or going for a swim. Read on to see how to (and how not to) use it.

How to make Siri silence alarms on other Apple devices [Pro Tip]

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How make Siri silence alarms on other Apple devices [Pro Tip]
A quick Siri command can quiet an alarm going off on the other side of your house.
Graphic: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Pro-tip-4Say you’re in the kitchen and you hear an alarm going off on the iPad in your bedroom. Rather than walking across the house to to deactivate it, you can use Siri on your iPhone or HomePod to shut off the alarm. This method also works with timers (and a variety of devices, too).

Here’s how to do this trick on devices running iOS 16, which is out in beta now and coming soon to an iPhone near you.

How to force iPhone reboot with simple Siri command in iOS 16 [Pro Tip]

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How to force iPhone reboot with simple Siri command
Rebooting your iPhone is as easy as asking Siri to do it. And you don't even have to say "please."
Graphic: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Pro-tip-4If your iPhone or iPad locks up, iOS 16/iPadOS 16 will let get out of the jam by rebooting the device with a simple Siri command. It’s the easiest method I’ve found to get the handset or tablet going again when there’s a problem with the touchscreen, or the device is just misbehaving.

Here’s all you have to do.

Pro Tip: Use your iPad to charge your iPhone in an emergency

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Pro Tip: Use your iPad to charge your iPhone
In a pinch, your iPad can charge your iPhone.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Pro-tip-4Your iPhone battery has run out, you absolutely must make a call or text, and there’s no wall socket anywhere. If you have an iPad, the solution is easy: Connect the iPhone to the tablet.

Using your iPad to give your handset an emergency charge is a trick you might not have thought of. But maybe it’ll get you out of a jam sometime.

Quickly view available keyboard shortcuts in any iPad app [Pro tip]

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See iPad keyboard shortcuts
Speed up common tasks inside your favorite apps.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Pro-tip-4iPad has gotten better and better at working with external keyboards in recent years. You’ll now find great support for keyboard shortcuts in most of the apps you use regularly. But how do you quickly find out which keyboard shortcuts are available to you?

There’s an easy way in iPadOS — and it works inside any app.

Reorganize Control Center to make favorite tools easier to find [Pro tip]

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How to reorganize Control Center
And to remove tools and shortcuts you never use.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Control Center Pro Tips WeekWe want to help you master Control Center, one of the most powerful and underutilized features on Apple devices. Cult of Mac’s Control Center Pro Tips series will show you how to make the most of this useful toolbox on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac.

Make your favorite Control Center tools and shortcuts easier to find by reorganizing and cleaning up your Control Center window. It’s easy on iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch — and we’ll show you how.

Ping a lost iPhone using Control Center on Apple Watch [Pro tip]

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Ping a lost iPhone using Control Center on Apple Watch
Make your iPhone easier to track down — even in the dark.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Control Center Pro Tips WeekWe want to help you master Control Center, one of the most powerful and underutilized features on Apple devices. Cult of Mac’s Control Center Pro Tips series will show you how to make the most of this useful toolbox on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac.

Can’t remember where you left your iPhone? Use Control Center on your Apple Watch to “ping” it so that you can quickly track it down. You can even have your iPhone light up so that it’s easier to find in the dark.

We’ll show you how.

Switch between AirPods audio modes in Control Center [Pro tip]

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Switch AirPods audio modes in Control Center
The quick and simply way to toggle noise cancellation and Transparency.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Control Center Pro Tips WeekWe want to help you master Control Center, one of the most powerful and underutilized features on Apple devices. Cult of Mac’s Control Center Pro Tips series will show you how to make the most of this useful toolbox on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac.

Switching between different AirPods audio modes is simple with Control Center on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. You can activate or deactivate Transparency and active noise cancellation in just a couple of taps.

We’ll show you how.

Block access to Control Center when iPhone and iPad are locked [Pro tip]

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Disable lock screen access to Control Center on iPhone and iPad
Keep Control Center protected by your passcode.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Control Center Pro Tips WeekWe want to help you master Control Center, one of the most powerful and underutilized features on Apple devices. Cult of Mac’s Control Center Pro Tips series will show you how to make the most of this useful toolbox on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac.

Control Center puts a ton of useful toggles and shortcuts at your fingertips, and you can access all of them while your iPhone or iPad are locked. If that’s not something you want, you can change it.

Here’s how to block Control Center access from the lock screen on iOS and iPadOS.

Activate Live Listen for AirPods inside Control Center [Pro tip]

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Activate Live Listen Control Center
Make it easier to hear other people in a crowded room.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Control Center Pro Tips WeekWe want to help you master Control Center, one of the most powerful and underutilized features on Apple devices. Cult of Mac’s Control Center Pro Tips series will show you how to make the most of this useful toolbox on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac.

Activate Live Listen for AirPods and Powerbeats headphones inside Control Center to make it easier to hear other people in a noisy environment. The feature is built into iPhone and iPad and easy to use.

We’ll show you how.

Enable Schooltime inside Control Center on Apple Watch [Pro tip]

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How to use Schooltime in Control Center on Apple Watch
Schooltime prevents Apple Watch from being a distraction in the classroom.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Control Center Pro Tips WeekWe want to help you master Control Center, one of the most powerful and underutilized features on Apple devices. Cult of Mac’s Control Center Pro Tips series will show you how to make the most of this useful toolbox on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac.

Schooltime is a handy new feature, introduced in watchOS 7, that keeps Apple Watch quiet and prevents it from being a distraction in the classroom. It can be added to your Control Center options so that enabling Schooltime at any time takes just a swipe and a tap.

We’ll show you how.