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Introducing the 2023 Automation April Shortcuts Contest Winners

John: One of the things I love about judging Automation April is seeing the wide variety of problems people use Shortcuts to solve and their creativity in solving them. This year’s Automation April Shortcuts Contest was no exception. We judged well over 100 shortcuts in the following categories.

  • Best Everyday Shortcut
  • Best Productivity Shortcut
  • Best Health Shortcut
  • Best Media Shortcut
  • Best Mac Shortcut
  • Best Overall Shortcut

The shortcuts we reviewed ran the gamut from simple shortcuts with a few actions to complex systems for automating elaborate workflows. What all of the shortcuts we judged had in common is a dedication to problem-solving. That’s reflected not just in the ingenuity of the shortcuts created by participants but also in their willingness to work with others in the Club MacStories+ Discord community and elsewhere to work together and learn. The Shortcuts community is a vibrant and generous group of which we’re fortunate to be a part.

Like last year, the quality of submissions to the contest made it exceptionally hard to pick the top shortcuts, but with the help of Simon Støvring, Jack Wellborn, Christopher Lawley, Matthew Cassinelli, Jason Snell, and Rosemary Orchard, we have come up with winners in each category. We’ve also included a handful of honorable mentions to showcase some of our favorite shortcuts that didn’t win a category. There are some real gems among the honorable mentions, so don’t forget to check them out too.

With that, we give you the 2023 Automation April Shortcuts Contest winners and the shortcuts they’ve created.

Table of Contents

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Automation April: Hyperduck Leverages the Power of URL Schemes to Control Your Mac from an iPhone or iPad

Hyperduck is a recent utility from Sindre Sorhus for sending URLs from an iPhone or iPad to your Mac that has some very interesting applications. Hyperduck hasn’t replaced my use of AirDrop, Handoff, and other Apple technologies that move data between devices, but it has extended those features in meaningful ways and has quickly worked its way into my everyday computing life.

Hyperduck does just one thing very well. It sends URLs from an iPhone or iPad to a Mac using iCloud. That’s different than how AirDrop works, which has some advantages.

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AppStories, Episode 325 – Automation April: Third-Party Apps with Great Shortcuts Support

This week on AppStories, we dig into third-party apps with excellent shortcuts support.

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  • Viso – Beautiful minimal image viewer for macOS.

On AppStories+, My Mac Studio is in the shop, so Federico and I are both using MacBook Airs.

We deliver AppStories+ to subscribers with bonus content, ad-free, and at a high bitrate early every week.

To learn more about the benefits included with an AppStories+ subscription, visit our Plans page, or read the AppStories+ FAQ.

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Automation April: Mac Outliner Bike Adds Shortcuts Support

Last spring, I reviewed Bike, Jesse Grosjean of Hog Bay Software’s excellent outlining app for the Mac. The app’s simple, elegant design keeps the focus on the outline you’re creating, while its rich, keyboard-driven set of features enable ideas to be organized quickly and efficiently. Advanced features, like versioning, linking and grouping rows, and a long list of ways to view, navigate and edit your outlines, make Bike one of the best ways to create outlines on the Mac.

Bike has 14 Shortcuts actions.

Bike has 14 Shortcuts actions.

Bike’s focus on efficiency and extensive support for keyboard shortcuts and AppleScript make it the perfect candidate for Shortcuts support, which was added to the app today. Version 1.11 of Bike adds 14 Shortcuts actions to the app:

  • Create Outline
  • Open Outline
  • Open Row
  • Get Rows
  • Fold Rows
  • Focus Row
  • Edit Rows
  • Import Rows
  • Export Rows
  • Find Rows
  • Create Row
  • Delete Rows
  • Move Rows
  • Get Selection

The actions cover a lot of the functionality of Bike with a focus on outlines, text and row selections, and rows. Outlines can be created from scratch or existing ones opened, and Get Selection returns any selected text and its outline row.

Exporting all rows as plain text.

Exporting all rows as plain text.

The remainder of Bike’s Shortcuts actions apply to rows, the building blocks of outlines. Rows can be opened in-app or retrieved in a variety of ways, such as by their root, row ID, focus, selection, ancestor rows, child rows, and descendant rows by using the Get Rows action. There’s also a Find Rows action that uses predicate filtering to allow rows matching multiple criteria to be located and sorted. Rows can be imported and exported in Bike, OPML, and plain text formats too.

Rows can also be created, edited, deleted, and moved within an outline with precision, thanks to a detailed set of action parameters. Actions for focusing on particular rows and folding and unfolding rows round out the available actions by allowing users to use Shortcuts to prepare their outline work environment automatically.

I’ve only just begun experimenting with Bike’s new Shortcuts integration, but it’s clear that thanks to extensive parameter and predicate filtering, the automation opportunities are extensive. Especially if you work with big outlines that require frequent, repetitive edits, Bike’s new Shortcuts integration could save you a lot of time.

Bike 1.11 is available on the App Store and directly from Hog Bay Software as a free download. Some features, including Shortcuts support, require a $2.99/month or $19.99/year subscription from the App Store or a one-time license purchase directly from Hog Bay Software, which comes with one year of updates.


You can also follow MacStories’ Automation April coverage through our dedicated hub, or subscribe to its RSS feed.


Last Week, on Club MacStories: The Making of S-GPT, Our First Automation April Workshop, a Club-wide Discount, and Lots of App Coverage

Because Club MacStories now encompasses more than just newsletters, we’ve created a guide to the past week’s happenings:

The Making of S-GPT, Part 1: Using the ChatGPT API with Apple’s Shortcuts App to Have Conversations with OpenAI’s Assistant

Last week saw the return of Federico’s Automation Academy column for Club MacStories+ and Premier members. The latest edition dug into the techniques Federico used to build S-GPT, his shortcut that integrates OpenAI’s Chat-GPT with Apple’s OSes.

Federico’s column is a deep dive into working with web APIs in shortcuts, navigating JSON dictionaries, and the clever way S-GPT stores its ongoing conversation in a variable. Whether you’re working with ChatGPT’s API or another web API, the column is a great place to learn how to to hook your shortcuts up to web APIs.

Automation April: Shortcuts Workshop, Part 1

Last week we also held our first Automation April workshop where Federico and I were joined by Jack Wellborn, who won Best Overall Shortcut in last year’s Automation April Shortcuts Contest, to talk about tips for coming up with shortcuts ideas, our recent shortcuts experiments and projects, incorporating AppleScript and other techniques into Mac-based Shortcuts, and more.

Alerty: A New Club-Wide Discount

In MacStories Weekly 364, we announced a new Club-wide discount from our friends at Alerty, a push notification service. Alerty’s incredibly easy-to-use web API allows you to generate rich push notifications to any of your Apple devices. They can be used to extend Shortcuts’ notification system, triggered by server events, and more.

Members can get 50% off on a monthly or annual subscription by visiting the Club Discounts page.

MacStories Weekly: Issue 364


Deadline Extended for Automation April Shortcuts Contest to April 21st

As we head into the weekend, we wanted to let everyone know that we’ve extended the Automation April Shortcuts Contest to Friday, April 21st, at 5:00 PM Eastern US time. That gives you four extra days to finish your shortcuts and submit them.

Remember:

  • You can submit up to two shortcuts for consideration in any of the six categories
  • You can edit your submissions until the deadline on April 21st
  • Shortcuts do not have to be complex to win the contest; originality and utility are key factors in the judges’ decisions
  • We have tons of great prizes, including a Loupedeck Live S and CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 4 for the winner of the Best Overall Shortcut, plus Club MacStories memberships

For the complete rules, be sure to read our post from last week.

Good luck, and use the extra time wisely!


You can also follow MacStories’ Automation April coverage through our dedicated hub, or subscribe to its RSS feed.


Automation April: The Loupedeck Live S Is a More Portable and Affordable Automation Control Panel for the Mac

In 2021, I reviewed the Loupedeck Live, a programmable control panel for the Mac and Windows PCs for Club MacStories members as part of my Macintosh Desktop Experience column. It’s an excellent device, but its price put it at a disadvantage to a similarly-sized Elgato Stream Deck despite several other advantages that I explained in the review.

Last year, Loupedeck released the Loupedeck Live S, a smaller, more affordable Loupedeck that retains the core experience of the Loupedeck Live, but dispenses with a handful of physical buttons and dials. The new device retails for $189 compared to the Loupedeck Live, which is $269. That’s still $40 more than the 15-button Stream Deck MK.2, but a significantly narrower difference for a device that offers a wider range of functionality, making it worth another look if you were put off by the Loupedeck Live’s price.

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AppStories, Episode 324 – Automation April: A Link Management Workflow and S-GPT

This week on AppStories, I explain my new link management workflow, combining a series of apps and shortcuts, and Federico shares more about his S-GPT shortcut that integrates ChatGPT with Apple’s OSes.

Sponsored by:

  • Zocdoc – Find the right doctor, right now with Zocdoc. Sign up for free.

On AppStories+, a behind-the-scenes look at the first week of Automation April.

We deliver AppStories+ to subscribers with bonus content, ad-free, and at a high bitrate early every week.

To learn more about the benefits included with an AppStories+ subscription, visit our Plans page, or read the AppStories+ FAQ.


Automation April: Thinking About Linking

Links are the currency of information overload and distraction. There’s more media available than we could ever get to in a lifetime, and more things we might want to buy, places may want to visit, and other things to explore online than can be fit into a day.

The same problem exists in our work lives. That’s especially true for the kind of work I do. Links are part of everything. Whether I’m researching, writing, or preparing to record a podcast, I’m collecting, managing, and sharing links. I could follow all those trails as they cross my path, but I’d never get anything done.

Instead of flitting from one online discovery to the next with no plan, wasting precious time, I save links for later, putting them aside until I have time for them. I’ve been doing this forever, but I’ve also never been happy with my system. So, it was inevitable that I’d begin tinkering with my setup again, both with the apps I use and the shortcuts that support them.

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