How to expand a (potentially dangerous) shortened URL on your iPhone

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Wiggly yellow road sign
Take a shortcut.
Photo: John Gibbons/Unsplash

Someone sends you a link that looks like this:

https://youtu.be/rZdrlpz3MOo

What do you do? Well, that one is probably safe, as it uses YouTube’s own URL shortener. But what about all those other shortened URLS you see in emails, on Twitter and everywhere else? They could link to anything. A cautious person never clicks on links in emails. And only an insane person would click on shortened links in emails. That’s why you need today’s shortcut, which lets you expand a URL, preview the actual link, and then tap a button to either open it or dismiss it.

Add a one-tap AirPods connect button to your Home screen or Dock

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airpods connect
This sticker is just one way to speed up AirPods connections.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

If you own multiple iOS devices, then AirPods are supremely convenient. As soon as you connect them to one device, they automatically pair (and remain paired) to all your other devices. So, if you have a Mac, an iPhone, an iPad, and an Apple Watch, then all you have to do is tap connect on whichever device you want to use.

The problem is that the connect button is hidden, and a pain to reach. You have to swipe to open Control Center, then tap the AirPlay icon, then tap your AirPods in the list. And then wait a few seconds to see if it worked. Admittedly, this is a small inconvenience, but we can make it better. How about adding a button to your iPhone Home screen or Mac Dock that connects the AirPods with one tap?

6 iPad trackpad gestures you need to know

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iPad trackpad gestures
Trackpad gestures transform the iPad into something entirely new.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The trackpad and mouse support Apple added in iOS 13.4 is just amazing. It’s like getting a whole new computer, just by updating your iPad. I’ve been using it for a week for so now, and I want to share my favorite trackpad gestures.

If you use a trackpad with your iPad, these gestures will change the way you use your tablet.

Shortcutify integrates Spotify, Google Maps, Todoist and more into Shortcuts

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Control your smart lighting, your music, and more with Shortcutify.
Control your smart lighting, your music, and more with Shortcutify.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Shortcutify is a free iOS app that lets you use web-based services in your Shortcuts. For instance, it can connect with Spotify, Todoist, AirTable and more, and provides an easy bridge between these services’ complicated APIs and the Shortcuts app on your iPhone or iPad.

If you use any of the supported services, you’re going to totally love Shortcutify. If not? More app integrations are planned for the future.

iPadOS 13.4’s Full Keyboard Access offers incredible touch-free control

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tab key Full Keyboard Access
You will come to love the Tab key with iPadOS 13.4's Full Keyboard Access.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Did you know you can control your iPad using just a keyboard? You can use the arrow keys to move between icons on the Home screen. You can use the arrow keys (again) to scroll lists. And you can even tap and toggle buttons using the space bar. Apple added this capability via iOS 13.4’s new Full Keyboard Access feature, and it’s wild.

How wild? How about offering system-wide, custom keyboard shortcuts for running actual Shortcuts? And that’s just the beginning.

Add a one-tap web search button to your iPhone Home screen

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Add a custom search button to your Home screen on iPhone or iPad.
Super-charge your web searches with this customizable Home screen shortcut.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

This fantastic shortcut makes searching the web with your iPhone faster than ever. It places an icon on your Home screen, and you just tap it, type a search into the box that pops up, and hit enter. Your search will then open in Safari.

This customizable search shortcut proves speedier than pretty much any other method, including iOS’ built-in Spotlight search.

This shortcut mutes iPhone audio when you enter Do Not Disturb

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mute audio orange speaker
Quiet!
Photo: Oleg Laptev/Unsplash

The Do Not Disturb mode built into iOS is excellent. It hides incoming alerts, and generally stops you from being disturbed by outside forces. But it won’t save you from yourself. What if you accidentally click on a YouTube link or — more likely — that GIF you clicked in Tweetbot turns out to be a noisy video? The sudden racket will surely wake your spouse.

Today we’ll see how to make a shortcut that automatically silences your iPhone whenever it enters Do Not Disturb mode.

Finally — a YouTube download shortcut for iOS that actually works

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download youtube shortcut
In the olden days, we had to download videos through our eyes, and we couldn't even save them.
Photo: Sven Scheuermeier/Unsplash

I’ve made several attempts at creating/repurposing iOS shortcuts that download YouTube videos and save them for offline viewing. The problem is, most of the shortcuts broke after a while, or proved so unreliable that I gave up on them. And, judging by the responses I get via Twitter, you folks are also very interested in downloading YouTube videos.

Well, this weekend I finally found a way to make it work reliably. And because it uses a third-party service to locate the downloadable video link, it means that someone else is making sure that it all keeps working. Hopefully. For now. Fingers crossed.

This Command key shortcut will change how you use your Mac

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command key
Take command.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

There are two kinds of Mac users. The sad, harried folks who don’t know how to use this easy, essential, life-changing Command key trick. And the happy, efficient, relaxed people who learned it years ago. If you’ve seen the movie Back to the Future, it’s like the difference between the two 2015 versions of George McFly, before and after Marty screws around with the 1950s. This trick will change your life.

Are you ready?