Apple how-tos: Tips and tricks for all Apple devices | Cult of Mac

How to get the latest HomePod software update

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How to reset HomePod and HomePod mini
Here’s how to be sure you have the latest HomePod software update. Or stop your smart speaker from updating.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Your HomePod is a lot more than a simple speaker — it’s a whole computer. And like any computer it has an operating system that needs occasional updates.

Here’s how to make sure your Apple smart speaker has the latest software version. That’s especially important now, as the most-recent update fixes a vexing HomeKit problem.

How to adjust brightness of iPad Magic Keyboard keys

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How to enable Tap to Click for iPad Pro's Magic Keyboard
There’s a new, better way to change backlight brightness for the keys in the iPad Magic Keyboard. Here’s how to do it.
Image: Apple/Cult of Mac

The old way of adjusting the brightness level on the Magic Keyboard for iPad stopped working. And good riddance. There’s a new, better way.

Changing the brightness level for the keys on the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad used to be a hassle, but it’s now about as simple as one could wish. iPadOS 15.4 adds a control to the Control Center than makes this adjustment quick and easy.

Here’s how to set up and use the new feature.

How to make your own GIFs with Twitter app

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How to record a GIF with the Twitter iPhone app
Making a Gif with Twitter’s iPhone app is a snap.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Twitter made creating a GIF as easy as posting an image. Using the iPhone camera, users can capture a short video in the social-networking service’s app that is automatically converted into a GIF.

Here’s how to make your own GIFs with the Twitter app. It’s easy and fun.

How to connect an external keyboard to your iPad

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Satechi’s new aluminum iPad stand is ready for work or play
Add a keyboard and your iPad become a very capable desktop. Or a laptop, if you’d prefer.
Photo: Satechi

Your iPad is a powerful computer, and becomes even more so if you attach a keyboard to it. Fortunately, it’s easy. The only complication is there are a bunch of different options.

Let’s go through the possibilities so you can pick the one that’s best for you.

How to start a collection of classic Macs

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Collecting vintage Macs: My Macintosh Classic with matching ADB keyboard and mouse.
My Macintosh Classic with matching ADB keyboard and mouse.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

What makes people start collecting vintage Macs? There are many reasons. Some folks want to play abandoned games or use old software on original hardware. Some simply don’t know how to transfer files, and thus keep their old machines as a giant backup, just in case.

I collect old Macs because I care deeply about history. I want to have an informed perspective on the past so I can better understand trends of user-interface design and the evolution of technology.

My first vintage computer was a Macintosh Classic I bought on eBay for about $80. After lifting it out of its shipping box, I reached around the back to flip on the power switch and watch it boot. I loved hearing the whir of the hard drive, the fans humming and the delightful blip!-blip!-blip! noise the disk drive made when reading a floppy.

Apple computers are highly collectible. They span the entire history of personal computing. The company’s unwavering design philosophy, always pushing ease of use, means even the oldest and weirdest Apple computers are never hard to figure out. The historical lineup spans all different kinds of form factors and designs. Not to mention, they look rad.

So, you want to collect old Apple computers, too? Where do you start, and what do you want? Here’s a quick guide to buying classic Macs. These tips should get you started and help you avoid common pitfalls. (If you want to go even deeper, we also provide some links to further reading on the subject.)

How to get the new gender-neutral Siri voice in iOS 15.4

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Apple’s AI-driven voice-controlled digital assistant Siri
Siri doesn’t have to sound female.
Image: Apple

One of the new features in iOS 15.4, released earlier this week, is a new, gender-neutral voice for Siri.

Apple developed the gender-neutral voice in response to criticism for using female voices as the default for the virtual assistant. If you want Siri to use a voice that is not explicitly female or male — maybe if you don’t identify that way yourself, or if you just want a nongendered voice assistant — now you have the option.

Here’s how to switch to the new voice on iPhone, iPad and Mac.

How to set up Face ID with a mask (and glasses) in iOS 15.4

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iPhone setting up Face ID with a mask
You will be prompted to set up Face ID with a mask after installing iOS 15.4.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

New in iOS 15.4, released today, Apple is extending Face ID to authenticate your face while wearing a mask. In my testing, it has increased the reliability and the number of situations in which Face ID works.

This feature is arriving late into the pandemic — it would have been great to have this for the past couple of years — but as new COVID variants surge, we may still need it for the foreseeable future. Plus, in some countries, wearing a mask when you’re sick has been standard for many years.

Here’s how to set up Face ID with a mask on your iPhone.

How to donate to help Ukraine

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Donate to help Ukraine
Do what you can to help.
Photo: Benjamin Marder/Unsplash

As Ukraine valiantly fights off a terrifying and unjustified Russian invasion, some 1.5 million of its citizens have been forced to flee in search of safety. More than 38.5 million have stayed behind — many of them to fight for their country — and a growing number are now without water, power and food.

Some are working in their bath tubs — the safest place in their homes — while others are sheltering underground as the cities around them are bombarded by Russian missiles and turned into ruble. It is a crisis, the likes of which Europe didn’t think it would have to endure again after World War II.

Ukrainians need all the help they can get. If you want to do your bit, you can donate to one of many charities that are now working to support citizens by providing food and water, blankets and clothes, and other essential supplies. Here’s how to get started.

How to watch Apple’s big ‘Peek Performance’ event

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Watch Apple's Peek Performance event
Don't miss Apple's newest announcements.
Image: Apple/Cult of Mac

We’re just a day away from Apple’s big “Peek Performance” event, which is expected to bring upgraded iPhone, iPad and Mac models. Cupertino could also have other sweet surprises up its sleeve — like a new desktop display.

Whatever the case may be, you won’t want to miss it if you’re an Apple fan. And you don’t have to! Here’s how to stream the enter March 8 event live.