THIS WEEK'S SPONSOR:

SaneBox

Organize Your Inbox and Never Waste Time on Email Again


Posts tagged with "shortcuts"

Introducing Automation April: A Month-Long Community Event About Automation, Featuring Shortcuts, Interviews, Discord Workshops, and a Shortcut Contest

Welcome to Automation April.

Welcome to Automation April.

Over the past decade, MacStories has become the hub for all kinds of user automation. Starting with URL schemes, then Workflow, and eventually Shortcuts, we’ve created hundreds of shortcuts for MacStories readers and Club members and published stories about automation that have been read by millions of people around the world. With the MacStories Shortcuts Archive, launched three years ago, we unified our catalog of free shortcuts in a single gallery; with the arrival of Shortcuts on macOS, we’ve expanded our Mac coverage for Club members and launched a new column and Discord channel all about automation.

I love automation because of what it stands for: giving users – the people – the power to fully control their computer and make it more efficient. To make it truly their own. This is why I’ve been writing about the Shortcuts app for years and why I’ve always believed in it as the future of automation on Apple platforms: it’s the software equivalent of a bicycle for the mind.

For this reason, I’m absolutely thrilled to introduce Automation April, a month-long showcase of automation on Apple platforms by us, developers, and MacStories readers – with a focus on Shortcuts.

For the entire month of April, we will cover automation and Shortcuts – even more than we normally do – on every property of the extended MacStories universe. There will be shortcuts and articles on MacStories; we will post Automation April-themed episodes of AppStories; there will be special content in MacStories Weekly and AppStories+ for Club members; we will host special ‘Town Hall Workshops’ and a dedicated Automation April channel in our Discord community.

But there’s more:

In addition to all of the above, we are launching a contest to pick the best shortcuts submitted by MacStories readers for Automation April.

Starting Monday, April 4th, until Wednesday, April 20th, we will be accepting up to two shortcut entries per user via a dedicated Automation April website. The contest will be open to everyone with a free MacStories account (more on this below). We’ve also assembled a panel of Shortcuts experts who, alongside the MacStories team, will judge shortcuts submitted by people.

Oh, and we’re giving away an Elgato Stream Deck XL and an Analogue Pocket for the Best Overall Shortcut prize. Yep, you read that right.

April has always been a special month for MacStories: the site turns 13 (!) on April 20th, and this isn’t the first time we’ve organized a special event to celebrate our community. But with Automation April, we’ve prepared the biggest event we’ve ever done that will encompass every single aspect of the MacStories family – from the articles you know and love to Discord, the Weekly newsletter, and a brand new community contest.

The next four weeks are going to be fun. So let’s dive in and let me give you an overview of what you can expect from the first edition of Automation April.

Read more


Logger Is the Missing Console for Shortcuts Power Users

Logger for Shortcuts.

Logger for Shortcuts.

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.

Read more


Preserve and Play the Original Wordle for Decades with WordleForever

Playing the original Wordle offline with WordleForever.

Playing the original Wordle offline with WordleForever.

Update: It appears that WordleForever is only supported on iOS/iPadOS 15.4 at the moment, which are available as public betas. I was not aware of the fact that older versions of iOS/iPadOS had a bug in the Shortcuts app that prevented WordleForever from working properly. If you want to play with WordleForever now, you’ll have to install iOS/iPadOS 15.4.


Like many others over the past week, when I saw the news that Wordle had been acquired by The New York Times, I immediately felt a mix of two feelings: I was genuinely happy (and still am!) for Wordle creator Josh Wardle, who managed to turn a simple web game into a successful venture; and I was concerned The New York Times would inevitably ruin the beauty and simplicity of the original game. And I still am.

So in the spirit of game preservation (a topic I care deeply about) and out of skepticism regarding the future of Wordle as a NYT product, I teamed up with Finn Voorhees to create WordleForever, a shortcut that lets you back up the entire Wordle game offline – on your device – using Apple’s Shortcuts app so you can keep playing the game for the next few decades. With WordleForever, you can put the original Wordle on your iPhone or iPad Home Screen and play the original game (with the same words as everyone else) for years to come.

Read more


MacStories Starter Pack: Reverse-Engineering the Matter API and My ‘Save to Matter’ Shortcut

My Save to Matter shortcut.

My Save to Matter shortcut.

Editor’s Note: Reverse-Engineering the Matter API and My ‘Save to Matter’ Shortcut is part of the MacStories Starter Pack, a collection of ready-to-use shortcuts, apps, workflows, and more that we’ve created to help you get the most out of your Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

For the past few months, I’ve been enjoying and keeping an eye on the development of Matter, a new read-later service that aims to combine a powerful text parser with elegant design, social discovery features, annotations, and the ability to listen to articles as audio. I’m not one to typically care about the latest VC-backed startup that promises to revolutionize reading articles with social features, but Matter struck me for a few reasons: the app’s reader mode is gorgeous; the ability to annotate articles with highlights is great; and, more importantly, it has the best, most human-sounding text-to-audio conversion engine I’ve ever tested.

Something else happened a few months ago: Matter introduced an official plugin to sync your article highlights as Markdown notes to Obsidian. Integration with PKM-style apps is a hot trend right now in the modern crop of read-later services (John covered this very topic here), so I wasn’t shocked to see that Matter joined Readwise in supporting Obsidian with a plugin. Something about it piqued my interest though:

If Matter didn’t have a public API, how could the Obsidian plugin even sync to the Matter service?

Obviously, there had to be an API involved behind the scenes, which Matter hadn’t announced yet, but which I could potentially reverse-engineer and integrate with Shortcuts. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the past month.

My experiments with the still-unannounced Matter API have developed on three separate fronts, and I’m going to share the results in three different places:

  • Today on MacStories, I’m going to share a one-click shortcut called Save to Matter that lets you save any article to your Matter queue directly from the share sheet or anywhere else on iOS, iPadOS, or macOS without having to use the Matter extension;
  • Tomorrow on MacStories Weekly for Club MacStories members, I will share MatterBot, an advanced Matter shortcut that lets you take complete control over your Matter queue with support for exporting annotations as Markdown or even downloading articles as MP3 files;
  • Next week for Club MacStories+ and Premier members only, I will share MatterPod, another advanced shortcut that lets you turn your Matter queue into a Matter podcast feed hosted on your own web server.

Before we dive in, I also want to confirm that I privately reached out to the folks at Matter weeks ago about my experiments, and they were cool with me writing about my findings and sharing shortcuts I’ve built for the Matter API.

With that being said, let’s take a look at how you can get started with the Matter API and the Save to Matter shortcut.

Read more


MacStories Starter Pack: Introducing Obsidian Shortcut Launcher, A Free Plugin to Trigger Shortcuts from Obsidian

Obsidian Shortcut Launcher is a free plugin that works on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.

Obsidian Shortcut Launcher is a free plugin that works on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.

Editor’s Note: Obsidian Shortcut Launcher is part of the MacStories Starter Pack, a collection of ready-to-use shortcuts, apps, workflows, and more that we’ve created to help you get the most out of your Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that, over the past year, Obsidian has become as essential to my workflow as Shortcuts. As I have been thoroughly documenting in the My Obsidian Setup series for Club MacStories members, Obsidian – which is the MacStories Selects 2021 App of the Year – is more than a text editor: it’s something more similar to an OS for writers that encompasses note-taking, Markdown writing, journaling, research, and more. At this point, just like I can’t imagine using Apple devices without Shortcuts, I can’t imagine taking notes or writing articles without Obsidian.

Which means that it shouldn’t surprise anyone either that I wanted to combine my two favorite apps and figure out a way to integrate Obsidian with Shortcuts.

Today, I’m thrilled to introduce Obsidian Shortcut Launcher, a free Obsidian plugin – available in the Community Plugins section of the app – that lets you trigger shortcuts as commands from Obsidian. With Obsidian Shortcut Launcher (or ‘OSL’), you’ll be able to trigger any shortcut you want from Obsidian, passing along values such as the text of the document you’re working on, its name, text selection, and more. Obsidian Shortcut Launcher is free to use and works on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.

Obsidian Shortcut Launcher is the result of weeks of planning and work from me and Finn Voorhees, and it has created an entirely new dimension in how I use Obsidian and Shortcuts on a daily basis. Because OSL is available in Obsidian’s Community Plugins list, you can find its source code here. Read on below to find out how OSL works behind the scenes, how I’ve been using it for my setup, and how you can start using it yourself with Obsidian and your favorite shortcuts.

Read more


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:

Read more


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.

Read more


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.