Twenty-one tips for making the most of your Apple subscriptions

You're already paying for your subscriptions, so you better get everything you can from them.
You're already paying for your subscriptions, so you better get everything you can from them. (Daniel Korpai / Unsplash/)

The number of Apple subscriptions you can sign up for has grown sharply. Today, monthly fees get you access to music, movies, TV shows, news, and exclusive games directly from Apple.

While the prices for these subscriptions are competitive enough, you'll still want to get your money's worth—and that means making sure you're aware of all the features and tricks available to you.

Apple Arcade

1. Find the newest games

New games appear in the Apple Arcade mix all the time, so if you get bored of what’s there, you won’t have to wait long for something else to show up. To see what’s been released most recently, open up the App Store on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad, then tap on Arcade and See All next to New Arcade Games.

2. Limit your playing time

Apple Arcade works with both Screen Time and Parental Controls, limiting you and your kids, respectively. On iOS and iPadOS devices, tap Screen Time in Settings, then App Limits and Add Limit. You can set a daily quota on individual games from Apple Arcade, or restrict the amount of gaming time in total.

3. Share with the family

If you set up Family Sharing with your Apple ID, you also get access to Apple Arcade for up to five family members—which means the kids can also enjoy the bundled games for the same $5-a-month fee. To get started, choose Family Sharing from System Preferences on a Mac, or tap your Apple ID, then Set Up Family Sharing in Settings on an iOS device (iTunes content and apps are also included).

4. Switch between devices

You can jump between Apple devices and pick up where you left off on Apple Arcade games—you just need to be signed into the same Apple ID and Game Center on each one. You can double-check this via System Preferences on macOS, in the Settings app on iOS and iPadOS, and through Settings on an Apple TV box.

5. Free up some space

Having access to so many games can quickly fill up space on your iPhone or iPad. If you open up Settings, then go to General and iPhone Storage (or iPad Storage), you’ll see a list of all installed apps and games. Tap a game, then hit Offload App to remove most data, but keep your saved games on your device, or Delete App to wipe everything.

6. Play games offline

This is more of a heads-up than a tip, but some Apple Arcade games can be played offline. A good way to check ahead of a long flight or weekend in the woods is to switch to airplane mode on your device to test a game out. Originally, Apple promised all Apple Arcade games would run offline, but certain titles require an active internet link.

7. Add a controller

A physical controller can make it much easier to play Apple Arcade games, though not all titles support controllers. The $50 SteelSeries Nimbus works with the Apple TV, iPads, and iPhones, for example, and you can also hook up an Xbox One or PS4 DualShock controller to the same Apple devices—the official instructions are here.

Apple News Plus

In a world where everything is breaking news, it's good to filter which of them make it to your lock screen.
In a world where everything is breaking news, it's good to filter which of them make it to your lock screen. (David Nield/)

8. Customize alerts

You probably want to keep up to date with the latest news, but you also may not want to be overwhelmed with notifications. On iOS and iPadOS, you can decide which publications will ping you through the Apple News app by going to Settings and tapping News, Notifications, and News Notification Settings.

9. Download for offline reading

A solid Wi-Fi connection isn’t always certain, but you can download magazines and newspapers to read while you’re offline. Look for the three-dot icon next to magazine and newspaper covers while you’re browsing—tap on this, then select Download Issue. Downloaded content will appear at the top of the Apple News Plus page.

10. See everything

Your Apple News Plus subscription gets you access to more publications than you might realize, so make sure you check them all out at some point. Head into the Apple News Plus tab inside the Apple News app, then click or tap Browse the Catalog—you’ll see everything that’s available, sorted alphabetically, and you can follow your favorite titles.

11. Save stories for later

Don’t lose track of something you want to catch up on later—Apple News Plus has a saved stories feature that lets you stash articles away for when you’re ready to devote your full attention to them. With an article open, tap the Share icon (the up arrow on a square), then choose Save Story. Find your saved stories later under the app’s Following tab.

12. Tweak your recommendations

You’ve no doubt got your favorite topics and magazines, and if you tell Apple News Plus about them, you’ll get better recommendations for new stuff to read in return: When you have something of interest open on screen, click or tap the Share icon and choose Suggest More Like This or Suggest Less Like This as required.

13. Check out back issues

One of the most compelling reasons to sign up for Apple News Plus for $10 a month is that you get access to a lot of older issues, as well as new content. If you pick Browse the Catalog from the app’s opening screen, then click or tap the three dots by any of the listed titles, you can choose Browse Back Catalog to scroll back through older issues.

14. Adjust the text size

It’s important that your reading experience is as good as possible inside the Apple News Plus app, and you can adjust the text size while you’re reading articles in the mobile app. Open up an article and you’ll see an AA icon at the top—tap this to make the on-screen text smaller or larger. The size setting can be configured for each article individually.

Apple TV Plus

Stay up all night and binge on your favorite shows even when no connections are available.
Stay up all night and binge on your favorite shows even when no connections are available. (Victoria Heath / Unsplash/)

Most video streaming services let you watch shows and movies offline, just in case no internet is available, and Apple TV Plus is no different. Tap on the cloud icon next to any title on iOS and iPadOS (labeled Download on macOS) to save something to your device. Tap Library, then Downloaded inside the TV app to see everything you’ve saved locally.

16. Free up some space

The problem with downloading all this content is that your iPhone or iPad can quickly fill up with video files. If you need to get rid of some, open Settings, then tap General and either iPhone Storage or iPad Storage, followed by TV. Then, you’ll see an option marked Review Apple TV Downloads, which lets you see what’s saved on your device, and remove it if necessary.

17. Keep videos on top

If you're watching Apple TV Plus on macOS, through the TV app, you can keep a playback window on top of other applications, so you can watch movies and shows while you get on with something else. Hover the mouse over the playback window, and it's the icon in the bottom right corner. Click it and you’ll be able to resize and reposition the video overlay.

18. Embrace AirPlay

AirPlay is getting rolled out to a growing number of smart TVs from the likes of LG and Samsung, which means you can beam content to them from iPhones and iPads. Just tap the AirPlay button while something is playing on your mobile device (it’s the icon showing an arrow pointing into a box). You can still control playback from the original device.

19. Pause or turn off play history

Apple TV Plus makes recommendations based on what you’ve watched before, but you can disable playback logging (maybe the kids borrow your iPhone or you just want to protect your privacy). From Settings on iOS and iPadOS, tap TV, then Use Play History. On macOS, select File and Preferences, then Playback and Use Viewing History.

20. Watch Apple TV Plus on the web

Watching videos through a web browser can be useful—you don’t need to install any extra software, and you can watch from any computer with a web connection, for example. Apple hasn’t always excelled at developing web apps, but you can watch Apple TV Plus in a browser (even on Windows) by going here.

21. Watch Apple TV Plus on Android

The same applies for Android devices, though the setup process is a bit clumsy at the moment (let’s hope an Apple TV Plus app for Android is on the way). In Chrome for Android, head to the Apple TV Plus website and log in, then tap the Menu button (three dots, top right) and choose Desktop site to make sure everything works correctly.


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