I got my iPhone 15 Pro Max last week, and I’m loving the possibilities opened by the Action button combined with the Shortcuts app. But as I was playing around with different ideas for the Action button, I had a thought:
Wouldn’t it be great if instead of just one shortcut, I could toggle between two shortcuts with the same Action button press? That’s exactly what my new MultiButton shortcut does.
With MultiButton, you’ll be able to assign two separate shortcuts to the Action button. Unlike other solutions you may have seen that always make you pick shortcuts from a menu, MultiButton automatically cycles between two shortcuts if you press the Action button multiple times in rapid succession. You don’t need to pick shortcuts from a list; just press the Action button and MultiButton will take care of everything.
Toggling between two shortcuts with MultiButton.Replay
Allow me to explain how MultiButton works and how you can configure it for your Action button. In the process, I’ll also share some new shortcut ideas that you can start using today on your iPhone 15 Pro.
I just published version 1.0.2 of S-GPT, the shortcut I released last week to have conversations with OpenAI’s ChatGPT and integrate it directly with native features of Apple’s OSes. You can find the updated download link at the end of this post, in the original article, and in the MacStories Shortcuts Archive; before you replace version 1.0.1 of S-GPT, save your existing OpenAI API key somewhere as you’ll have to paste it again in the shortcut later.
I’m going to include the full changelog for S-GPT 1.0.2 below, but long story short: S-GPT is now aware of the current date and time, and I’ve heard all the requests about improving interactions with the HomePod and Siri, so I made that part much better. S-GPT can now perform a variety of date/time calculations with natural language, and you can end a conversation by saying “no” or “stop”.
The ‘Shortcut Result’ variable, used as an image variable in a shortcut that calls Apple Frames.
I just released a small update to Apple Frames 3.1, which came out earlier this week, with a new output command: &passthrough. With this output command for the Apple Frames API, you’ll be able to generate a framed image (from whatever source you like) and simply pass its result to the next action in a shortcut as a native image variable.
I wrote about this as part of my Extension column in MacStories Weekly today, where I also covered the ability to run Apple Frames from the command line on macOS. Here’s the excerpt about version 3.1.1 of Apple Frames and the new passthrough mode:
As I was researching this column for Weekly, I realized there was an obvious candidate for an output command I did not include in Apple Frames 3.1: a passthrough command to, well, pass framed images along as input for the next action of a shortcut.
Here’s what I mean: when you run Apple Frames from a helper shortcut using the ‘Run Shortcut’ action, that action produces an output variable called ‘Shortcut Result’. If you’re running Apple Frames as a function, thus turning it into a feature of another workflow, it can be useful to take the framed images it produces and use them as a native variable in other actions of the shortcut. The problem is that the output commands I launched with Apple Frames 3.1 all involved “storing” the framed images somewhere, whether it was Files or the system clipboard.
This is no longer the case with the &passthrough output command I added to Apple Frames 3.1.1, which you can redownload from the MacStories Shortcuts Archive or directly from this link. If you run the Apple Frames API with this command, framed images will be passed along as native output of the shortcut, which you can reuse as a variable elsewhere in a shortcut that’s invoking Apple Frames.
Any shortcut or longer workflow that involves running Apple Frames in the background and retrieving the screenshots it frames can take advantage of this method, allowing you to bypass the need to store images in the clipboard, even if temporarily. Essentially, passthrough mode turns Apple Frames into a native action of the Shortcuts app that returns a standard image variable as its output.
This is the only change in version 3.1.1 of Apple Frames, and I’m excited to see how people will take advantage of it to chain Apple Frames with other shortcuts on their devices. You can download the updated version of Apple Frames below.
Add device frames to screenshots for iPhones (11, 8/SE, and 12-13-14 generations in mini/standard/Plus/Pro Max sizes), iPad Pro (11” and 12.9”, 2018-2022 models), iPad Air (10.9”, 2020-2022 models), iPad mini (2021 model), Apple Watch S4/5/6/7/8/Ultra, iMac (24” model, 2021), MacBook Air (2020-2022 models), and MacBook Pro (2021 models). The shortcut supports portrait and landscape orientations, but does not support Display Zoom; on iPadOS and macOS, the shortcut supports Default and More Space resolutions. If multiple screenshots are passed as input, they will be combined in a single image. The shortcut can be run in the Shortcuts app, as a Home Screen widget, as a Finder Quick Action, or via the share sheet. The shortcut also supports an API for automating input images and framed results.
Apple Frames 3.1 comes with a lightweight Apple Frames API to extend its automation capabilities.
Update, March 3: Version 3.1.1 of Apple Frames has been released with support for a new passthrough output command. This post has been updated to reflect the changes. You can redownload the updated shortcut at the end of this post.
Today, I’m happy to introduce something I’ve been working on for the past couple of months: Apple Frames – my shortcut to put screenshots captured on Apple devices inside physical device frames – is getting a major upgrade to version 3.1 today. In addition to offering support for more devices that I missed in version 3.0 as well as some bug fixes, Apple Frames 3.1 brings a brand new API that lets you automate and extend the Apple Frames shortcut itself.
By making Apple Frames scriptable, I wanted to allow power users – such as designers and developers who rely on this shortcut to frame hundreds of images each week – to save valuable time without compromising the accessible nature of Apple Frames for other people. This is why all of the new advanced features of Apple Frames are optional and hidden until you go look for them specifically. Furthermore, even if you do want to use the Apple Frames API, you’ll see that I designed it in the spirit of Shortcuts: it does not require any code and it’s entirely powered by simple, visual ‘Text’ actions.
I’m incredibly excited about what Apple Frames can do in version 3.1, so let’s dive in.
Today, I’m pleased to announce the release of version 3.0 of Apple Frames, my shortcut to put screenshots taken on various Apple devices inside physical frames for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch.
Apple Frames 3.0 is a major update that involved a complete re-architecture of the shortcut to improve its performance and reliability on all Apple platforms. For Apple Frames 3.0, I entirely rebuilt its underlying file structure to move away from base64 and embrace Files/Finder to store assets. As a result, Apple Frames 3.0 is faster, easier to debug, and – hopefully – easier to maintain going forward.
But Apple Frames 3.0 goes beyond a new technical foundation. This update to the shortcut introduces full compatibility with the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max with Dynamic Island, Apple Watch Ultra, and the M2 MacBook Air. And that’s not all: Apple Frames 3.0 also brings full support for resolution scaling on all iPad models that offer the ‘More Space’ display mode in iPadOS 16. And in the process, I also added support for ‘Default’ and ‘More Space’ options on the Apple Silicon-based MacBook Airs, MacBook Pros, and iMac. All of this, as always, in a native shortcut designed for high performance that uses Apple’s official device images and requires no manual configuration whatsoever.
Apple Frames 3.0 is the biggest, most versatile version of Apple Frames to date, and I’m proud of the results. Let’s dive in.
A few days ago, as I was playing around with my Lock Screen on iOS 16, I wondered: would it be possible to use the hidden Apple Notes URL scheme to create widget launchers to reopen specific notes in the Notes app?
That led me down a fascinating rabbit hole filled with hidden Shortcuts tricks and discoveries I thought would be useful to document on MacStories for everyone to see.
A note from Federico: This year, I’ve decided to try some new things for my annual iOS 16 review. Some you’ll see on Monday. One of them is previewing small excerpts from the review in the OS Preview series on MacStories and MacStories Weekly for Club MacStories. Today, I’m posting a preview of a section of the Shortcuts chapter here, and a section of the Everything Else chapter in MacStories Weekly. I hope you enjoy these. I’ll see you for the full story – and more reveals – on Monday.
In iOS 16, the Shortcuts app hasn’t undergone a major redesign or technical rewrite; instead, Apple’s efforts have focused on adding more actions for system apps, extending the developer API, bringing more stability, and making Shortcuts more approachable for new users.
The last point is both important and likely the reason why some Shortcuts power users will be disappointed by this year’s update. There isn’t a lot for them in this new version of the app: as we’ll see in my iPadOS review, there’s no integration with Files quick actions, no support for Stage Manager actions, and no system-wide hotkeys still. If you’re an advanced Shortcuts user and were wishing for more system-level enhancements in addition to stability this year: I hear you, but we’ll talk about this later on.
What we do have in iOS 16 is a fascinating new feature to get newcomers started with the Shortcuts app, a grab bag of useful new actions for Apple apps, and some solid developer-related enhancements that will make third-party actions much better than before. Let’s take a look.
Last week, I shared an initial batch of 10 shortcuts I prepared for Automation April here on MacStories. I’m back this week with another set of 10 shortcuts that encompass a variety of platforms, app integrations, and functionalities. In this week’s collection, you’ll find even more shortcuts to speed up macOS multitasking; a shortcut that makes it easy to create a calendar event starting from a date; there will be a couple of shortcuts for Markdown and Obsidian users too.
I’m having a lot of fun sharing these sets of shortcuts for Automation April. So once again, let’s dive in.
Indie developer Alex Hay has long pushed the boundaries of what third-party developers can build with the SiriKit framework and Shortcuts integrations on Apple platforms.
In late 2019, his Toolbox Pro app redefined what it means to complement Apple’s Shortcuts app with additional actions, creating an entirely new sub-genre of headless utilities designed to provide additional actions with configurable parameters. Recently, Hay introduced Nautomate, another utility that provides users with Shortcuts actions to integrate with the Notion API without having to write a single line of code. And today, Hay is launching Logger, another Shortcuts-compatible app that is similar to his previous ones, but with a twist: rather than adding actions for external services or apps such as Apple Music and Notion, Logger offers actions to create the troubleshooting console that has always been missing from Shortcuts.