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Posts tagged with "shortcuts"

WordleBot: A Shortcut to Annotate Your Wordle Results with Scores

WordleBot for iPhone.

WordleBot for iPhone.

Update, January 18: I have released version 1.1 of WordleBot with support for converting emoji results to a single image. You can read the article here and redownload the updated shortcut below.

I, like the rest of the Twitter over the past few weeks, have fallen in love with Wordle, Josh Wardle’s ingenious daily word game (if you somehow missed it, check out Wardle’s profile in The New York Times). It’s so refreshing to have something so disarmingly simple, yet challenging that isn’t out to scam us (although some have tried) or sell our data on the Internet these days. Wordle reminds me of Brain Age for Nintendo DS in its heyday: everyone I know does it and is talking about it, at least for now. For me, Wordle has become this nice, daily ritual that I try to complete with my girlfriend to improve our English skills.

Wordle is a web app, and it comes with a clever built-in sharing feature that lets you share your results with other people by visualizing them as emoji of different colors based on the letters you guessed in the daily puzzle. I’m sure you’ve seen those tweets featuring lots of green and yellow emoji pass by on your timeline. While I think Wordle’s default sharing mechanism is fun, on-brand, and already iconic, I don’t like how its output is not accessible or descriptive enough. Folks with visual impairments such as colorblindness may find the emoji-laden Wordle tweets nearly impossible to decipher; those blocks of emoji don’t play well with screen-reading technologies such as VoiceOver; and, I just thought it’d be useful to figure out a way to score each line of the puzzle to bring some additional context to your Wordle results.

So, I made WordleBot, a shortcut that takes Wordle’s default shareable text and reformats it with partial and perfect scores for each line. With WordleBot, you’ll be able to share results that keep the original Wordle aesthetic and format but also include scores for 🟨 and 🟩 letters on each line, like this tweet:

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Apple Frames 2.1: Apple Watch Series 7 and 2021 MacBook Pro Support, New Update Flow, Plus Chinese and Czech Localization

Apple Frames, now with support for the latest MacBook Pros.

Apple Frames, now with support for the latest MacBook Pros.

Today I’m pleased to announce the release of Apple Frames 2.1, the first major update to version 2.0 of my popular Apple Frames shortcut, which I launched last October. It took me longer than I hoped to put together this update, but I’m happy that I was able to add compatibility fo all the latest device frames supported by Apple, new languages, as well as a brand new update flow that will make it easier to download the latest templates powering Apple Frames in the future.

Let’s take a look.

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Accessing Shortcuts for Mac with Alfred Workflows and Universal Actions

Alfred users can now access their library of shortcuts on the Mac, thanks to an official Alfred workflow by Vítor Galvão. The workflow allows users to access individual shortcuts and folders of shortcuts, as well as pass text and files to shortcuts for processing. It’s a nice approach that uses Alfred’s existing workflow system to invoke Ruby and Bash scripts under the hood.

Searching for individual shortcuts (left) and by folder (right).

Searching for individual shortcuts (left) and by folder (right).

Let’s start with the easiest approach first. Invoke Alfred with the hotkey you’ve assigned to the app, then type ‘sc’ for Shortcuts. Any shortcuts you’ve recently accessed through Alfred will appear at the top of the list for quick access. If you need a different shortcut, though, start typing its name to filter the results until you see the one you want. Press Return and the shortcut will run.

Browsing shortcuts by folder.

Browsing shortcuts by folder.

If you don’t recall the name of the shortcut you want or want to browse a folder of shortcuts before running one, type ‘scd’ instead, which lists all of your shortcuts folders. Highlight one and hit Return to see all of the shortcuts in that folder.

Providing text to Alfred that displays an alert.

Providing text to Alfred that displays an alert.


Using Universal Actions to pass the text to the Alert shortcut.

Using Universal Actions to pass the text to the Alert shortcut.

Alfred’s Shortcuts workflow also incorporates its Universal Actions feature, which was introduced last year. The simplest way to pass some text to a shortcut is to invoke Alfred, type, or paste some text into its UI. Then, invoke Alfred’s Universal Actions to display a list of commands that can be performed on the text you provided.

The list of Universal Actions includes ‘Run shortcut,’ ‘Shortcuts,’ and ‘Shortcuts Folders.’ ‘Run shortcut’ lets you pick from your list of shortcuts and then uses the text you provided to Alfred as its input. The ‘Shortcuts’ action locates any shortcuts that match the text you provided, and ‘Shortcuts Folders’ does the same searching instead for folder names that match your text. URLs and files work similarly when the ‘Run shortcut’ action is selected, passing the URL or file as input.

Picking an image to pass to a shortcut.

Picking an image to pass to a shortcut.


Displaying an image passed to a simple 'Open File' shortcut.

Displaying an image passed to a simple ‘Open File’ shortcut.

Vítor Galvão’s Alfred workflow for Shortcuts, which you can download from GitHub, is an excellent example of Alfred’s extensibility, which makes a series of Ruby and Bash scripts approachable for more users through Alfred’s simple UI. The workflow is also another of the many examples of just how well Shortcuts for Mac integrates with third-party utilities thanks to its scripting support and other integrations with macOS.


Shortcuts By SENTINELITE: A Fantastic New Stream Deck Plugin


If you own a Stream Deck and want a better way for adding your shortcuts to it, give Shortcuts by SENTINELITE a try. I’ve only been playing with the plugin for a short time, but this is hands down the best way I’ve found for adding push-button convenience to Shortcuts on the Mac.

I covered the Stream Deck and how I’ve been using it late last year. I’ve also built a variety of utility shortcuts for packaging shortcuts as scripts and applets that make it easier to add multiple shortcuts to your Stream Deck setup. Shortcuts by SENTINELITE significantly improves the process by making it as simple to add a shortcut to the device as it is to add an app.

One of the things that I appreciate about Shortcuts by SENTINELITE is that the plugin preserves the folder structure you use in Shortcuts and sorts shortcuts alphabetically. It’s a small thing, but one that makes the experience of wading through large collections of shortcuts much better, giving the plugin a leg up on many other Shortcuts utilities I’ve tried.

Here's a simple shortcut for grabbing the icons for the shortcuts you want to add to your Stream Deck.

Here’s a simple shortcut for grabbing the icons for the shortcuts you want to add to your Stream Deck.

Just like adding an app to a Stream Deck button, you can add a custom icon and title to the button you create. There’s also a toggle for turning on an Accessibility mode that adds audible cues to the plugin’s interactions for the visually impaired.

If you’ve put off adding shortcuts to your Stream Deck, your procrastination has paid off because Shortcuts by SENTINELITE is the easiest solution that I’ve found so far. That said, I have run into a known bug that occasionally requires the Stream Deck Mac app to be restarted, which is annoying, but on balance, it’s a small price to pay compared to the plugin’s utility.

You can download the Shortcuts for Stream Deck plugin, which also happens to be open-source and free from Stream Deck’s Mac app or on Elgato’s website.


Early Experiments with BetterTouchTool’s ‘Notch Bar’ as a Visual Shortcuts Launcher for macOS

The notch bar in BetterTouchTool.

The notch bar in BetterTouchTool.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been playing around with (and thoroughly enjoying) BetterTouchTool’s latest major feature: the notch bar. This feature is currently available as an optional alpha update in BetterTouchTool, and it’s still rough around the edges, so don’t consider this short post a full review of it; I’m sure we will revisit this functionality more in depth over the course of 2022. However, since I believe the notch bar is one of the most exciting developments in the Shortcuts for Mac ecosystem lately, and since I’m having so much fun with it, I figured it’d be worth an early hands-on preview before the end of the year.

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Shortcuts for Mac’s Superpower

Earlier today on Six Colors, Jason Snell wrote about running Shortcuts from the command line:

I was reminded by Simon Støvring, maker of the excellent Mac and iOS utility Data Jar (which is a persistent data store that’s accessible via Shortcuts), that people may not be aware of just how well integrated Shortcuts is into macOS.

Jason has put his finger on something I think has gone unnoticed by a lot of users. The deep integration of Shortcuts with macOS is its superpower, especially because it’s bidirectional. You can run your shortcuts from the command line and run command line scripts in your shortcuts. The same goes for AppleScript.

Add to that the ability to run shortcuts via AppleScript files, as applets, or with third-party apps, and there’s an incredible amount of room for creativity in bringing tools built into macOS and third-party automation apps together in new ways. It’s what led me to build the utility shortcuts I wrote about on MacStories and Club MacStories today and Federico to explore new ways to pass input into shortcuts earlier this week.

Be sure to check out Jason’s story for examples of the way shortcuts can be run from the command line and the results passed to other apps or used by macOS in various ways.

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How to Batch Convert Shortcuts for Use Throughout Monterey and with Other Automation Apps

My latest Shortcuts experiments began in earnest on my way back from Rome. I stopped in Ireland for a few days to deal with COVID testing and start ramping back up to my normal work routine. I wasn’t quite ready to tackle the day-to-day yet, so I decided to revisit a Shortcuts experiment I had started back in June.

I’ve been a fan of PopClip for years and have played around with creating my own extensions for the app occasionally. So, shortly after WWDC, I tried building a PopClip extension that triggered a shortcut that had been saved as a Service. PopClip works with services, and the extension I built came tantalizingly close to working, but it had too many issues to be useful, so I set it aside.

PopClip.

PopClip.

Sitting in Dublin with the released version of Monterey and a new version of PopClip that had been updated to work with Shortcuts, I revisited my early experiments. The updates to macOS and PopClip made adding shortcuts as PopClip extensions trivially easy, as Federico demonstrated recently in MacStories Weekly. Then, when I got home, my Stream Deck was waiting for me, which led to another round of experimentation and an in-depth story on the many ways it can run shortcuts.

Since then, I’ve been incorporating Mac shortcuts I’ve built into my workflows using multiple third-party apps like BetterTouchTool, Alfred, and, of course, PopClip. It wasn’t long before I wished there was a way to batch process shortcuts, so I could use them in multiple ways across Monterey and in third-party apps.

Scripts built with AppleScript are just one way to integrate shortcuts with other apps.

Scripts built with AppleScript are just one way to integrate shortcuts with other apps.

To streamline the process, I turned, of course, to Shortcuts itself. In total, I’ve created four shortcuts to help me deploy my favorite shortcuts across macOS:

  • Script Builder: Generates .scpt files that can be incorporated in other apps from multiple shortcuts using AppleScript
  • Dock Applet Builder: Creates Dock applets from shortcuts that can be launched from the Finder, app launchers, and more
  • Script Applet Builder: Converts shortcuts into AppleScript applets with custom icons that behave like Dock applets but don’t get automatically deposited in your Dock
  • PopClip Builder: Produces and streamlines installation of multiple PopClip extensions with custom icons that run shortcuts

I’ll cover the first two shortcuts here. Script Applet Builder and PopClip Extension Builder are included in The Macintosh Desktop Experience, my column for ClubMacStories+ that explores new ways to make your Mac work for you.

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Jason Tate’s Dedicated Now Playing Mini-Computer

Source: Chorus.fm.

Source: Chorus.fm.

As you can imagine, Jason Tate, Chorus.fm’s founder, listens to a lot of music. He wanted a dedicated device that displays the music he listens to throughout the day, so as a weekend project, he built what he wanted:

A small Raspberry Pi powered screen that displays what I am currently listening to. It sits, unassuming, next to my computer on the desk. When no music is playing it displays my most listened to albums from the past week, as well as some my music listening stats pulled from Last.fm.

The device consists of a Raspberry Pi Zero WH, a 4” screen, a 3D-printed enclosure, and other parts. The Pi runs Linux, serving a purpose-built website hosted on a Chorus.fm server that periodically polls the Last.fm API to fetch the currently playing song. The Now Playing screen’s design looks fantastic and is inspired by Marvis Pro, an Apple Music client for the iPhone and iPad that I wrote about last week in MacStories Weekly. If nothing is playing, the device shows Tate’s Last.fm listening stats and top albums played during the past week.

A nice final touch is that Tate’s creation can be controlled entirely with a shortcut that run shell scripts on the Raspberry Pi, allowing it to be shut down, rebooted, and refreshed, or the screen to be turned on and off separately.

I love projects like this and immediately began thinking of ways it could be extended using Apple’s MusicKit framework. Tate is using the device he built on his desk, but the size would work in a lot of environments like a kitchen countertop or bedside table. With the cold weather descending on Chicago, this seems like the perfect sort of project to dig into after the holidays. If you’re interested in learning more and building your own, Jason Tate’s story includes everything you’ll need.

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Exporting Links from Safari Reading List via Shortcuts for Mac

Reading List Exporter.

Reading List Exporter.

A few weeks ago in the second lesson of the Automation Academy for Club MacStories+ and Club Premier members, I wrote about how I’ve been using Reminders as a read-later app in addition to traditional task management. The full details are in the story, but to sum up: using a combination of shortcuts based on Apple’s native actions, I can use Reminders to choose between long and short stories whenever I’m in the mood to read something. I love this setup, and I’ve been using it for nearly three months now.

Earlier this week, however, I realized I still hadn’t re-imported old articles from Safari Reading List – my previous read-later tool – into Reminders. That immediately posed an interesting challenge. Sure, I could manually re-save each article from Safari Reading List to Reminders, but that sounded like a chore. Other read-later apps such as Reeder and GoodLinks have long offered Shortcuts actions to fetch links from their databases and process them in Shortcuts however you see fit; Reading List, like other Apple apps, doesn’t support any actions to get the URLs you previously saved. And that’s when I had an idea.

Now that it’s available on macOS, Shortcuts can get access to application support files that are kept private and hidden from users on iOS and iPadOS. More specifically, I remembered that Safari for Mac has long stored its bookmarks and Reading List items in a file called Bookmarks.plist, which folks have been able to read via AppleScript for years. Under the hood, a .plist file is nothing but a fancy dictionary, and we know that Shortcuts has excellent support for parsing dictionaries and extracting data from them.

The plan was simple, and I knew what to do.

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