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MacStories Unwind: Developer Debrief, OS Previews, and Shortcuts Talk

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Sponsored by: Concepts – Sketch, Note, Draw

This week on MacStories Unwind:

MacStories

Club MacStories

  • Monthly Log
    • Safari Tab Groups
    • Flexible Work Environments
  • MacStories Weekly
    • Command Browser
    • Five things you may have missed in the iOS and iPadOS 15 betas
    • Unabridged versions of three developer interviews from our developer debrief feature story

AppStories

Unwind



MacStories Unwind: iOS and iPadOS Beta Updates and Shortcuts News

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Sponsored by: GoodTask – Get It Done With the Task Manager Based on Apple’s Reminders and Calendars

This week on MacStories Unwind:

MacStories

Club MacStories

  • MacStories Weekly
    • Federico re-engineers his Timery timer setup in Shortcuts
      • John covers the many ways to use Shortcuts on the Mac
      • A Remote Control & Mobile Mouse giveaway
      • Results of our WWDC 2021 straw poll

AppStories

Unwind


Dr. Drang on How Shortcuts Fits Into Existing Mac Automation

We speculated for years about whether Shortcuts would come to the Mac and, if so, in what form. In 2019, Dr. Drang wrote about his concern that Shortcuts would come to the Mac as a Catalyst app that couldn’t interoperate with existing Mac automation tools. It was a legitimate concern, especially given the state of Mac Catalyst apps at the time.

As Drang explains in a post today, those early concerns haven’t materialized. Shortcuts for Mac isn’t limited by Mac Catalyst, and Apple has directly plugged the app into the existing Mac automation ecosystem. Drang concludes that:

All in all, this is looks like everything I wanted in Mac Shortcuts. As I said in the post two years ago, the ability to run every kind of automation from every other kind of automation is key to making a fluid system, where you can use each tool for what it does best. Also, it means that third-party automation tools like Keyboard Maestro, which has a good AppleScript dictionary for running its macros, will fit in well with the new environment even before they incorporate Intents that are directly accessible from Shortcuts.

As Drang notes, Shortcuts for Mac’s ability to run AppleScript and for shortcuts to be run from AppleScript or from the command line is an important feature that promises to significantly increase the app’s utility from day one. Even before existing Mac automation apps do anything to support Shortcuts, they will work with it if they support AppleScript or shell scripting. That will allow users to build shortcuts that incorporate workflows created in apps like Keyboard Maestro and for Keyboard Maestro to run shortcuts from the very start.

However, before automation fans run out and install Monterey to start building new automations, it’s worth noting that Shortcuts for Mac is a brand new app in the first beta of Monterey. As Drang notes, some functionality isn’t enabled yet, and there are significant bugs that need to be worked out throughout the app. That’s to be expected, and there are still good reasons to be excited about Shortcuts for Mac. For now, though, adventurous automators should approach Shortcuts for Mac with realistic expectations about what they will be able to create.

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Photo Editing and Management App Darkroom Adds Extensive Shortcuts Support

Photo editing and management app Darkroom, which added a new Clarity tool last month, has added substantial new Shortcuts actions to the app that allow users to automate a wide variety of its features for the first time. The update is notable because it allows Darkroom to work hand-in-hand with other apps, something which few photography apps do. For now, the shortcuts are available in Apple’s Shortcuts app on iPhones and iPads, but this fall, when macOS Monterey is released, the Darkroom team says that it plans to offer the same actions on the Mac.

The update features five Shortcuts actions:

  • Import to Darkroom
  • Flag Photos
  • Reject Photos
  • Add Photos to Favorites
  • Edit With Darkroom
Darkroom can automate cropping to a long list of aspect ratios.

Darkroom can automate cropping to a long list of aspect ratios.

The Import to Darkroom action adds images to Darkroom and can simultaneously apply a filter with the intensity you choose, set a frame aspect ratio with an inset, and optionally prepare the processed image for export. The Edit With Darkroom action can also apply filters and apply a frame to an image and adds the ability to crop an image to any of a long list of preset aspect ratios and add a watermark to images, all without opening Darkroom. Cropping an image has also been added as an edit that can be pasted to multiple images inside the Darkroom app itself.

The Flag, Reject, and Favorite actions do as you’d expect, allowing you to mark images accordingly without doing so from inside Darkroom itself. Flagging and rejecting photos is a recent addition to Darkroom, which I previously covered on MacStories.

It’s fantastic to see Darkroom adding such deep support for Shortcuts. The app itself is one of my favorite photo editors. However, by freeing its core features from the app itself, Darkroom gains the advantage of becoming part of more complex photo-editing workflows, automatically processing images in multiple apps, without the images having to be opened sequentially in each app. I’ve just begun to scratch the surface of what Darkroom’s new Shortcuts actions can do, but the possibilities are intriguing.


The iPad’s New Universal Keyboard Shortcuts

Jason Snell, writing at Six Colors about one of the new keyboard-related additions to iPadOS 15:

In iPadOS 14, if you hold down the Command key, you can see a list of app-specific features and their key equivalents. It’s like a quick-reference card for keyboard shortcuts. In iPadOS 15, it’s been expanded to become more like the iPad equivalent of the Mac menu bar—not only does it list keyboard shortcuts, but it can list every command in the app, and you can click any of them to execute them. iPad apps that build out the Mac menu bar for their Catalyst version can pick this feature up for free. It’s another way that the Mac and iPad are trading features and complementing one another.

Then there’s the Globe key. Hold it down in any app in iPadOS 15, and you’ll see a different set of commands, all of which can be applied globally. (Get it?) These menus are full of shortcuts to switch to the home screen (Globe-H), open a Quick Note (Globe-Q), activate Control Center (Globe-C), and pretty much any other system-level area.

I particularly like Snell’s suggestion regarding these new global keyboard shortcuts and the Shortcuts app in the future. As I explained on Connected this week, I’ve been using iPadOS 15 since the first beta came out at WWDC, and I’m still learning all kinds of new keyboard shortcuts that are now supported by the system. Impressively, the new Globe modifier has been associated with all sorts of system functions, including Siri and Control Center.

If you use a third-party hardware keyboard that doesn’t have a Globe key, you can always remap another one in Settings ⇾ General ⇾ Keyboard ⇾ Hardware Keyboard ⇾ Modifier Keys. And while the keyboard shortcuts menu can be dismissed by holding the Globe key (or ⌘, for app-specific commands) again or clicking outside of it, you can also press the ⌘. shortcut (which is the equivalent of an Escape button on iPadOS) to instantly close it. Lastly, you can start typing while the menu is shown to quickly filter commands by name.

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MacStories Unwind: WWDC Recap: OS Overviews, Shortcuts on the Mac, Spatial and Lossless Audio, and Apple Design Awards

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Sponsored by:
* Daylite – The CRM with Apple Fans in Mind.
* Raycast – Goodbye Spotlight. Hello Raycast.

This week, Federico and John look back at all of the WWDC announcements and coverage at MacStories, AppStories, and the Club, plus news about spatial and lossless audio, and game and music Unwind picks for the weekend.

MacStories

Club MacStories

  • MacStories Weekly
    • Coming Saturday, a WWDC themed issue for Club members.

AppStories

Unwind Picks


You can follow all of our WWDC coverage through our WWDC 2021 hub, or subscribe to the dedicated WWDC 2021 RSS feed.



Shortcuts for Mac: The Future Is Now

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

To say we’ve followed Shortcuts closely at MacStories is probably an understatement. Federico was relying on it to run MacStories months before it was publicly released as Workflow, and today, the app is deeply embedded in every aspect of our production of the website, podcasts, and Club MacStories content, as well as the way we operate the business.

As someone who works across a Mac and iPad all day, the lack of Shortcuts on the Mac was frustrating, but something I was willing to deal with because the app was such a good fit for the way I worked, even when I had to run it in parallel to my Mac instead of on it. Going into WWDC, though, my feelings about automation on the Mac aligned closely to what Jason Snell wrote on Six Colors earlier this year. As we discussed on AppStories, the time had come for Shortcuts to be available on all of Apple’s platforms, which was why I was so pleased to see it become a reality during this week’s WWDC keynote.

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