Posts tagged with "Automation April"

Introducing S-GPT, A Shortcut to Connect OpenAI’s ChatGPT with Native Features of Apple’s Operating Systems

S-GPT for Shortcuts.

S-GPT for Shortcuts.

Update, April 13: I’ve updated S-GPT to version 1.0.2. You can read the full changelog here. All download links have been updated.

Update, April 13: For Club MacStories+ and Premier members, I’ve published Part 1 of an extensive ‘Making Of’ series about S-GPT. This is a technical deep dive for my Automation Academy series. You can find it here and sign up for or upgrade to a Premier account using the buttons below.

Update, April 7: For Club MacStories members, I’ve shared some optional prompts to add different personalities to S-GPT, including two inspired by Roy Kent and Steve Jobs. You can get the prompts and read more here; the main S-GPT shortcut is and will remain free-to-use for everyone, of course.

Update, April 7: I’ve updated S-GPT to version 1.0.1. You can read more details here. All download links to the shortcuts have been updated to the latest version.

It’s the inaugural week of the second annual edition of Automation April, and to celebrate the occasion, I’ve been working on something special: today, I’m introducing S-GPT, an advanced conversational shortcut for ChatGPT that bridges OpenAI’s assistant to native system features of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and watchOS.

S-GPT (which stands for Shortcuts-GPT) is free to use for everyone, but it requires an OpenAI account with an associated pay-as-you-go billing plan since it takes advantage of OpenAI’s developer API, which has a cost. S-GPT was built with the latest ChatGPT API, and it can be used both with the existing ChatGPT 3.5 model or – if you have access to it – the ChatGPT 4 API.

While the shortcut is free for MacStories readers, I will be publishing a detailed, in-depth Automation Academy class soon for Club MacStories Plus or Premier members to explain the techniques and strategies I used to build this shortcut. I genuinely think that S-GPT is, from a technical perspective, my best and most advanced work to date; I hope my Academy class will help others learn some useful tips for Shortcuts and, in return, make even better automations for our contest.

With that said, let’s look at what S-GPT is and what you can do with it.

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Jack Wellborn on Making Computers Personal with Automation

Jack Wellborn, one of our Automation April Shortcuts Contest judges, has a great post on his website that’s perfect for Automation April.

As Jack explains, apps built for a general audience require some features to make way for the ones that most people use. While the approach is understandable from a design standpoint, it can be frustrating if any of those semi-hidden features are ones you rely on. However, as Jack explains, there’s a solution:

This is where personal automation comes in. Personal automation gives individuals the ability to choose which of their features should be most easily accessed. I used Shortcuts and AppleScript to elevate star ratings using dedicated keys on my Stream Deck. Now I can rate songs regardless of what app I am currently using, and in one step instead of five. Using personal automation, I have also changed how Time Machine works, streamlined pasting links from Safari, and made joining Zoom meetings practically effortless.

Personal automation doesn’t need to involve expensive third party hardware, or require scripting. It can be something as simple as customizing keyboard shortcuts or defining text replacement macros. Apple’s Shortcuts app is completely drag-and-drop, and makes building personal automation easy enough for even basic users. On top of the many automation apps and features included with Apple’s platforms, there are also a slew of great third party apps that unlock even more possibilities.

I love Jack’s perspective on automation. He was the winner of our Best Overall Shortcut in last year’s Automation April Shortcut Contest. It wasn’t the most complex shortcut we received, but it had the perfect combination of originality, thoughtful design, and everyday utility that our judges look for. As Jack points out, personal automation is about making your devices work for you and not the other way around, which is what Automation April is all about.

To learn more about how to submit a shortcut to the Automation April Shortcuts Contest, be sure to check out my story with all the details that was published on MacStories yesterday.

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


AppStories, Episode 323 – Automation April: Shortcuts Check-In

This week on AppStories, we check in on the shortcuts we use the most and the types of tasks we get the most bang for the buck from by automating.

On AppStories+, Federico tours the world of wireless earbuds and shares his favorite AirPods Pro replacement tips, while I ship a single AirTag halfway around the world.

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.


Enter Your Shortcuts in the 2023 Automation April Shortcuts Contest

We’re very excited to announce the second annual Automation April Shortcuts Contest, which, along with all of Automation April is dedicated to the memory of Alex Hay, the developer of Toolbox Pro and other apps.

As we had hoped when we introduced Automation April last year, the Automation April Shortcuts Contest became the centerpiece of Automation April. Last year, we had over 200 contest submissions across six categories of shortcuts. We received some remarkable shortcuts that showed just how creative and clever this community can be. But best of all, we saw the automation community come together to help each other when they got stuck and share the shortcuts they made.

Like last year, we encourage to you build a shortcut and submit it to the contest whether you’re a Shortcuts expert or just starting out. Shortcuts do not need to be complex to win in one of contest’s categories. That’s true for all the categories, but especially true for the Best Everyday Shortcut category, which we created because we know from experience that some of our most valuable and frequently-used shortcuts are among the simplest.

Our panel of judges will be evaluating submissions based on originality, performance, design, user experience, and usefulness. Pushing the boundaries of what is possible with Shortcuts is certainly a factor that will be considered in originality, but, at the same time, usefulness doesn’t require complexity, which is something we’ve emphasized often in our writing about Shortcuts. So, no matter your level of experience, we’d love to see what you build.

Entries must be submitted by 5:00 PM Eastern US time on April 17, 2023, so let’s dig into the details.

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Remembering Alex Hay, the Maker of Toolbox Pro, During Automation April

I have some sad news to share with the MacStories community. Recently, Alex Hay, the developer of Toolbox Pro and other apps, passed away after a battle with cancer.

I can’t tell you how hard it is to write those words, and I can only imagine what those closest to Alex are going through. However, it’s also important to us here at MacStories to take a moment to reflect on Alex’s impact on our community and honor his memory.

One of the greatest privileges of running MacStories has been getting to know the developers behind the apps we love. Over the years, Federico and I have gotten to know hundreds of developers. They are the artists of our time, and their imagination, creativity, and passion are what inspire us.

In any creative field, though, there are always some people who stand apart from the pack. You don’t notice them because they’re especially good at self-promotion. No, they stand out because their raw talent is simply impossible to ignore. That was Alex Hay.

I don’t recall how Alex first appeared on my radar, but it was undoubtedly a text from Federico along the lines of “Hey, you gotta check out the crazy stuff this guy in the UK is doing with Shortcuts. You’re going to love this.” Nobody has an instinct for up-and-coming developers and apps like Ticci, but honestly, anyone could see Alex’s immense talent after just a few minutes with his apps. They are that good.

Toolbox Pro.

Toolbox Pro.

No app exemplifies Alex’s talent as much as Toolbox Pro, an app that simplifies complex APIs by making them accessible through Shortcuts. Toolbox Pro provides access to features of apps like Apple Music that even Apple hasn’t built by translating MusicKit APIs into Shortcuts actions. For Shortcuts power users, Toolbox Pro became the bridge between the worlds of iOS development and Shortcuts creation, allowing Shortcuts to be extended further than ever before.

Toolbox Pro was just one of Alex’s apps. He built a logger for Shortcuts that made debugging complex shortcuts infinitely easier. He also released Nauromate, an app that translated Notion’s APIs into Shortcuts actions making that app immensely more accessible to Shortcuts users.

What all of Alex’s apps have in common is that they opened new doors for Shortcuts users to take control of their iPhones, iPads, and Macs in new and exciting ways. Instead of building apps that fulfilled a specific need, Alex’s talent was building apps that let users tap into their own creativity to make what they wanted for themselves with Shortcuts.

The news of Alex’s passing reached us just as Federico and I were finalizing our plans for Automation April, leaving us shaken. Our reactions were the same: to use Automation April, an event that brings all corners of the Apple automation community together to remember and honor Alex’s memory.

So, with his family’s blessing, we’re dedicating Automation April 2023 in memory of Alex Hay, a brilliant and beloved member of the automation community who was taken from us far too early at the age of 36. MacStories is also making donations to the American Cancer Society and Cancer Research UK in Alex’s name, and we’d love it if you would join us in making a donation using the links above too.

The Apple automation community is a close-knit group of talented, creative people, and no one exemplified that more than Alex Hay. We’re grateful for the chance we had to get to know Alex and the apps he built that opened up so many new possibilities for Shortcuts users around the world. Our hearts go out to his family and friends, and we hope you’ll join us in thinking of him and his loved ones throughout Automation April.

Coming Soon: The Second Annual Automation April Community Event Featuring Shortcuts, Interviews, Discord Workshops, and a Shortcut Contest

We are back with another edition of Automation April. Last year’s kickoff event was a big success. We published a wide variety of automation stories, released special podcast episodes, held online automation events, and capped off the month with a Shortcuts contest. But best of all, we saw tremendous excitement and participation throughout the automation community. It was amazing to see the community come together to share their love of automation and learn from each other all month long.

Great automation is about more than efficiency. It’s also about making your devices your own, so they suit your needs better than off-the-shelf apps can by themselves. The spirit of tinkering, customization, and building something better is what Automation April is all about, which is why we’re pleased to be spending April showcasing automation on Apple platforms alongside developers and MacStories readers again this year.

If you joined us for Automation April last year, you’ve got a head start on what to expect this year. For everyone else, you can expect special Automation April stories on, special episodes of AppStories, themed issues of our Club MacStories newsletters, and events in the Club MacStories+ Discord community. Along the way, MacStories will turn 14 on April 20th, which makes this month all the more special for us. We’ve got a lot planned, so let’s dig into things in a little more detail:

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Introducing the 2022 Automation April Shortcuts Contest Winners

John: One of the hardest things about a new project is keeping it under wraps until it’s ready. That was true of Automation April in general, but it was especially true of the Shortcuts Contest. As soon as we’d decided on the outline of what the contest would be, we knew it was something that had the potential to be special by bringing together the MacStories and broader Shortcuts communities for a single event.

We couldn’t be happier with how this year’s inaugural Automation April Shortcuts Contest went. We had over 200 shortcuts submitted to compete in six categories:

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

The shortcuts we received were remarkable, and as we’d hoped, they ran the gamut from simple automations that solved one problem exceptionally well to shortcuts that offered broad functionality more like an app than an automation.

Having gone through every one of this year’s submissions, we’ve got a deeper appreciation than ever for just how vibrant and creative the Shortcuts community is. Across every Apple platform, its users are creating clever automations to extend the power of their devices and sharing them with a community that is incredibly generous with their time and efforts in helping others to learn how to build their own shortcuts.

With so many excellent shortcuts from which to choose, picking the winners was tough, but fortunately, we had a crack team of Shortcuts experts to help judge the submissions. Thanks to Simon Støvring, Matthew Cassinelli, Christopher Lawley, Jason Snell, Rosemary Orchard, Alex Cox, and David Sparks for their participation. We appreciate the time each was able to take sifting through this year’s contest submissions.

We’ve also got a little surprise for readers. Alongside the winners in each category, we’ve included a handful of honorable mentions to showcase some of our favorite shortcuts that didn’t win a category. I think you’ll see from the quality of these bonus shortcuts just how deep the field of submissions was.

With that, it’s time to reveal our first ever Automation April Shortcuts Contest winners and share the shortcuts they’ve created.

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Automation April: 10 Shortcuts for Discord, Photos, Finder and Files, Tot, Weather Forecasts, and More

All the shortcuts I created for Automation April this month.

All the shortcuts I created for Automation April this month.

It’s the final week of Automation April, and before we get into the details of the final batch of 10 shortcuts I’ve prepared for this week, I just want to express my gratitude toward all readers – old and new – who checked out MacStories this month, entered the contest, or signed up for Club MacStories. The response to Automation April has exceeded our most optimistic expectations: we received over 200 shortcut submissions for the contest, which is why we’re taking a few extra days to sift through all of them before; look for an official announcement of all the winners next week.

For this final group of 10 shortcuts, I’ve assembled another pretty diverse list of utilities for iPhone, iPad, and Mac that integrate with different parts of Apple’s operating systems. There’s a shortcut that automatically deletes old files from Finder or the Files app; another that finds the unique identifier of a specific task in the Reminders app; there’s a shortcut that gives you a weather report for the location of an upcoming event in your calendar. In case you missed the previous collections of shortcuts, you can find them here and here.

So, with Automation April coming to a close, let’s dive in one last time and check out the details of the shortcuts I’m sharing this week.

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Automation April: Processing Tot Dots with Shortcuts

I’ve used Tot by The Iconfactory on and off since it was released in 2020 and reviewed by Federico, but it never stuck. I never came up with a system for using the app that fits well with how I work. Instead, I would simply dump text and URLs copied from the web or jot notes to myself haphazardly in any of the app’s seven colorful dots. The trouble was that when I went back to the app to find something, I often found myself clicking and scrolling around a lot to find what I wanted.

With the introduction of Tot’s Shortcuts support, I immediately saw an opportunity to process Tot’s dots in ways that would make the app fit better with the way I use it. I still don’t have a system for the app’s seven dots. Instead, I’ve got a shortcut called Tot Dot Review that lets me parse and process Tot’s dots in several different ways that shows off Tot’s shortcuts actions along with a handful of built-in Shortcuts actions for extracting different types of data from text.

Tot Dot Review lets me quickly pull URLs, Apple Maps URLs, addresses, phone numbers, and dates from my Tot notes without skimming through each of the app’s seven notes. I can also copy Tot’s notes into Markdown-formatted text that I can copy and paste into another app for processing and delete the content of all seven Tot notes, so I can start fresh. The combination of options has made it easier to find and manage things in Tot, which has led me to use the app more too.

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