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Workflow Tip: Append Text to the iOS Clipboard

If you do any sort of note-taking or writing on iOS, you probably find yourself wishing you'd be able to copy separate bits of text in the clipboard simultaneously. While that's still not possible because the iOS clipboard only supports one entry at a time, the process can be sped up with Workflow.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I was looking for an extension to append links to an existing note through the system share sheet. I eventually downloaded NoteBox, which has an iOS 8 extension that can quickly capture any string of text and that has a merge feature to collect separate notes into a single one. That wasn't perfect, but it allowed me to collect dozens of tweets and prepare them for a blog post on MacStories in just a couple of minutes.

With Workflow, I came up with a better system that uses extensions and the ability to append text to the iOS clipboard. This is the workflow I use, which does three simple things:

  1. Receives input (text) from the Workflow action extension;
  2. Adds the input to your existing clipboard;
  3. Updates the system clipboard with the added input text.

In practice, this means that, using any app capable of showing the share sheet, you can add some text to your clipboard as a new line without convoluted steps of manual copy & paste. Want to add some tweets to a link you copied? In Twitterrific, run the workflow on those tweets and they will be added to the clipboard. Multiple links in Safari or RSS? Copy the first one as you'd normally do, then add more through the workflow. You won't have to manually merge the contents of the clipboard as long as you use the Workflow action extension to append text.

I'm using this workflow every day to end up with a clipboard that contains multiple links, email addresses, or generic strings of text, and it's been a great timesaver. You can download the workflow here.

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