Last Friday, the iPad Pro went up for pre-order as AirTags were arriving – I’m getting the 12.9″ 1TB model to review and will be sharing my thoughts with members soon after I get my hands on one.
As for AirTags, there’s not a whole lot related to Shortcuts–Chris Lawley determined that they can indeed be used for NFC automations–but I’ve got an inkling of how they might be useful in the future& I’m making a whole video on it, so stay tuned to the YouTube channel this week.
Otherwise, I’ve got productivity shortcuts, conversations from the User Group, and quick links for you to check out this week – plus a blurb about the return of Get Variable:
🆕 NEW FROM ME THIS WEEK
This week we’ve got a bunch of productivity shortcuts! I’ve updated my Routine Checklist to use Things and added it to the Catalog, plus there’s a new Morning Agenda for Siri and Day One shortcut for journaling:
I’ve updated my Routine Checklists shortcut to use a better method and made it free – it uses Things again, plus adds them individual tasks rather than a single task with a checklist so that they are easier to check off from the Apple Watch. Members can also get the full checklists on the Extras page.
I’ve created the first version of my morning agenda shortcut, which speaks out the weather, reminders, & your calendar events, shows any notes created the day before, and then presents options for media to start your day with. I’ll be updating this over time with more sections and more advanced logic, but this first version works well enough to share now rather than wait.
I’ve created a Day One shortcut that takes advantage of many of their excellent shortcuts, from templates to rich media entries to searching through your journal. This is also my v1 shortcut for Day One – I plan on adding more or splitting this into multiple shortcuts in the future, so expect updates down the line.
I’m super excited about Apple bringing the M1 chip to the iPad Pro – it means there’s more power coming to iPad, it shares a chip architecture with Macs, and that means more attention as well as opportunities for users.
I’m hoping that also means Shortcuts for Mac is less a question about how it’d work being built for iOS instead of Mac, which I thought would be preventative in the past… very interesting times we’re in right now.
There wasn’t a mention on-stage or in the one-shot slide of AirTags features whether there’s any type of Automations support for AirTags, so I’m hoping that’s a feature we’ll figure out or get later on.
Until pre-orders kick off this Friday, here’s what’s new in Shortcuts this week:
🆕 NEW FROM ME THIS WEEK
Lots of member materials this week (I’ve got a slew of public shortcuts coming soon), so sign up to get the goodness:
New Screenshot workflow
My new Screencap shortcut and Screenshot Multitool are available for members – this lets you capture screenshots on iOS and save them with macOS-style naming in iCloud Drive, the multitool lets you export existing screenshots (along with other functions), and a Hazel workflow I’ve shared moves your Mac screenshots into the same place. Members can read the write-up in a new members-only post.
Next Tuesday, Apple will be hosting a “Spring Foward” event – and we’ll likely see iOS 14.5 come out alongside anything new.
With that, we’ll get three new actions in Shortcuts:
Set Orientation Lock
Set Voice and Data
Below, I’ve got a few shortcuts you can use to take advantage of those, plus a few links from the community:
🆕 NEW FROM ME THIS WEEK
The new actions in iOS 14.5 are a bit odd to implement at first, but here’s some ideas for you:
Turn Orientation Lock Off
Seemingly most useful inside Automations, Shortcuts now has an Orientation Lock action – letting you set per-app Orientation Lock controls using the Open App and Close App automations. Use this shortcut inside a Run Shortcut (or just search for the action) and set one automation for all the Open App options, then another for Close App – you can select multiple apps at once for the trigger.
I also created a standalone use case for Orientation Lock with Reader Mode, a shortcut designed for iPad for locking your device in portrait orientation and opening the News app – I’ve also added this as an option to my iPad Settings shortcut already available for members.
New to the free portion of the Catalog, I’ve added a shortcut called Data Controls that takes advantage of the third action new in iOS 14.5: Set Voice and Data. This action lets you toggle between full 5G, 5G Auto (depending on service), and 4G modes, as well as change between SIMs if applicable – my shortcut makes it easy to switch between modes, plus includes a series of deep links into various Settings pages for options related to cell data, hotspots, and network settings.
Another new action in iOS 14.5 is Take Screenshot, which I admittedly found hard to visualize how to use at first, but I eventually realized it’d be useful for saving screenshots and immediately creating a reminder. The idea here is to actually act on those screenshots rather than store them, so this doesn’t even save it to Photos at all – now part of the free collection as well.
Coming next week for members: a complete Screenshots workflow + a stream to walk you through setting it all up!
🔗 LINKS SINCE LAST TIME
This week we’ve got new actions in Toolbox Pro, a way to use Automations to read more, and how to analyze website data on iOS:
New media actions in Toolbox Pro
I forgot to link to this when it came out, but Shortcuts power user app Toolbox Pro has added new actions for finding rich media results for Movies, TV, Books, & Games – download the app and unlock all the actions for $5.99.
App Automations for Mindfulness
Joseph Lam has shared a great Automation tip on Twitter – he has an App automation set for multiple apps like Twitter and YouTube that, when opened, will prompt him to potential choose to read instead – if so it opens Books, and otherwise does nothing. I love these kinds of mindfulness shortcuts, as they can provide gentle nudges towards better behavior (especially when you’re the one choosing to set it up).
Website analytics in Shortcuts form
📲 SHORTCUTS SPOTLIGHT
Getting the Contents of Communication automations
Did you know that with Shortcuts’ newest Automations–Email and Messages–you can use the Shortcut Input variable to retrieve the contents of the email and message?
While the Automations do not run in the background without asking, you can set up Automations that will ask when the message is received and, when run from the notification, can extract the body of the communication.
I’ve set this up as an example with a daily email I get called Flow State, which provides links to a new artist or newly-curated music every day – my automation shows the body of the email quickly in a prompt, then presents the links for me to both save to Reading List as well as open the first in the bunch.
That way, when the email comes in, I can quickly read about the new music, then save only the links to Apple Music out of the bunch, as well as open the first option to listen to right away.
“We are aware of an issue where previously shared shortcuts are currently unavailable. Newly shared shortcuts are available, and we are working to restore previously shared shortcuts as quickly as possible.”
It was good to see Apple give a proper response to the situation as well as promptly begin fixing things – although I haven’t received any official statement as a follow-up, so it’s unclear whether it has been fully resolved yet.
I hope Apple also reconsiders making .shortcut files available to install locally so users don’t have to rely on links instead of actual files for the multitude of programs that they spend time and effort creating with this app.
Despite the issues, the Shortcuts community didn’t stop this week – and I put together a fun Overcast shortcut for members:
I’ve also had to update my entire Shortcuts Catalog, and if you’ve seen any shortcuts from the past that aren’t working, let me know and I’ll see what I can do to recreate or restore them.
This is still developing and, while it does seem like it’s possible to resolve, I shared a thread where I highlighted how major issues like this are eroding the larger trust in Shortcuts, especially outside the current community – this is a crisis moment for Shortcuts.
I hope Apple is able to dedicate resources to fully overcoming the technical debt accrued inside the Shortcuts ecosystem, as well as restoring trust in the community – the people who are in this community and our ideas for how to use shortcuts are stronger than ever, but we’re constantly trying to stand on uneven ground.
So with that said, I want to celebrate this community and what they’re doing:
Tomorrow, Thursday March 25, I’ll be streaming with my designer friend Joey Banks and walking him through some of the oddities of the Home app, working on scenes, grouping devices, and HomeKit automations: