July recap: Here’s the posts I published this month

You might’ve seen a few weekly recaps that I started up on this blog – in order to avoid as much weekend work as well as the monotony of similar posts, I’m combining those into this new monthly recap.

At the end of each month, I’ll be sharing things that I’ve published across the web, whether it be a post here, an article on The Sweet Setup or iMore, an appearance on a podcast, or anything else I might be up to.

I’m also sharing great work I find elsewhere (plus a few things of my own) in my new newsletter. I’ll be sharing it twice a month, but I’m not setting specific dates – once near the beginning and another near the end — so look for the first near the end of August!

Inside, I’ll be curating articles, tweets, videos, podcasts, and music, plus new shortcuts that I’m building. These shortcuts will be exclusive in the newsletter for 10 days, then I’ll be sharing them elsewhere online so everyone can get them even if they don’t want to sign up.

The main theme will be technology, but it won’t just be about Apple stuff – subjects will change over time but I’m also into topics like philosophy, data visualization, marketing, video games, and more, plus I want to expand as time goes on.

I also want to hear from you if you’re on the mailing list. Please reply if you have anything to say and I’ll read your emails (I may even feature some with responses in the future, if you’re open it).

Anyway, here’s what I wrote in July (and here’s the workflow/shortcut I used to generate this list):

I slowed down slightly at the end on my own site, and I may dabble with tweaking my style & some shorter posts to mix up my flow. There’s much to say but making sure it’s just right has held me back.

I am insanely excited about August (particularly next Wednesday), and September will probably be even better when I assume Shortcuts will drop with iOS 12.

Going to be a great next two months.

Grouping in HomeKit, Shortcuts Tweets, and Quick Links


The coffee shop below where I used to work, and where I first met the RelayFM team during RelayCon just weeks before I started at Workflow. (Source)

During week 29 of the year, I wrote one piece here and one for The Sweet Setup.

On Monday, I saw YouTuber Peter McKinnon1 tweeting about accidental screenshots and remembered my old workflow for cleaning them out of Photos, so I updated it for Shortcuts and shared it as the post “How to delete unplanned screenshots with Shortcuts”. I really enjoy the handiness of shortcuts like this that solve a small problem well, even though that’s only one of the many ways I use the app.

On Thursday, the first out of a batch of posts I wrote for The Sweet Setup was published – How to group smart accessories in the Home app – and the rest will be coming out across the next few Thursdays. I know a ton of quick tips around Apple devices beyond shortcuts too, so I’m sharing them there regularly as well here on my site (alongside tons more Shortcuts coverage too, that is).

As for the photo at the top of this post, I’m shooting an original photo each week to use as the header for these recaps. It’ll be an exercise in using my camera more and capturing random moments as stock-like photography, plus I want to push the overall visual quality of my blog.

Shortcuts tweets of the week

Trying something new this week – curating different tweets I’ve come across about Shortcuts, since seeing how other people use it will be most of the fun for me:

  • Marls Barkley has a great idea for shortcuts that help you listen to that new favorite song of yours over and over again:

  • I had a great back & forth with Jason Snell and Federico on Twitter after reading a post from his site and realizing it could be done with Shortcuts. I’m in the process of writing up how it works, but he updated his post with our joint solution2:

  • I’ve also seen a handful of developers tweeting about their Shortcuts – here’s Greg Pierce with the classic undersell3:

Links of the week

Here’s a selection of good links I came across this week – I’m a bit behind on my normal reading so there’s a few tweets in here that got me thinking as well:

  • Instapaper is going independent: I’m super happy to see Instapaper break out of Pinterest and get a renewed life under the Instant Paper company4. Let’s hope it continues to get pushed forward – I’ll have to write up my ideas and share them with the team.
  • New keyboard shortcuts for Safari in iOS 12 Federico Viticci consistently shares great tips on Twitter and in the Club MacStories Weekly Newsletter5 – this little tidbit is super helpful for iPad Pro users. I’m a big Reading List user too, so I’ll be using Command + Control + 2 a lot in Safari from now on:

  • Farewell Serenity Caldwell, hello (again) Lory Gil!: Serenity Caldwell of iMore has made an awesome leap to Apple on the communications team. I’ll definitely miss hearing her on podcasts and wish I had more chances to work with her, but I’m positive Apple is better off with her on their team. I’m also super excited to work more with Lory Gil and keep up with the Shortcuts pieces I have been writing for iMore so far. Serenity was kind enough to give me a quick shoutout in her thread of goodbyes even though I’ve been with them for just a few months:

  • Get rid of Pinterest in Google Image Search: If you’re not a fan of the Pinterest-ridden results in Google Search that require you to log in just to see them, you’ll want to use this trick (apparently it’s very popular:

  • Using your iPad as a digital contact sheet: My friend Drew Coffman came up with a clever way to add back physicality to your photography process when you’re doing it on the iPad – take a screenshot of your recent import and use Markup to draw on it like a contact sheet.

Also, in case you’re curious, here are the links to all the articles I’ve written on other sites:

Last item of the week: there was a lot of embedded tweets in this post – what do you think of that? Does it work alright if you’re subscribed to the RSS feed? Thanks for letting me know!

Read last week’s recap post.

  1. Phwhat’s up everybody? ↩︎
  2. I don’t know about you, but I’m all down for building shortcuts together in public with anyone who wants help. Tweeting out the progression of shortcuts along the way is also a great demonstration of the process I go through building many shortcuts – it takes some trial and error to get it right. ↩︎
  3. Teasing Drafts for Mac is just mean. ↩︎
  4. I assume this is is mostly Brian Donohue who ran it at Betaworks after Marco sold it to them and even stayed strong on the team after the Pinterest acquisition. ↩︎
  5. And on the rest of MacStories, of course. Oh and Connected, AppStories, and Canvas too. ↩︎

 

How to delete unplanned screenshots with Shortcuts

If you’re an iPhone X or Apple Watch user, you may have a bunch of screenshots you’ve unintentionally taken recently filling up your camera roll:

Maybe you’re accidentally gripping the volume up button as you also press power to turn off your iPhone, or you’re pressing the Digital Crown and side button at the same time to pause an Apple Watch workout1 – either way, you probably don’t want most of the screenshots that are filling up your library.

With the Shortcuts app in the iOS 12 beta (or using Workflow if you’re not on the beta), you can set up a three-action script to get your latest screenshots, pick which ones to delete, and delete them all in one go.

Add the actions by searching in the action drawer or browsing through the Content Types categories, then dragging them into the following order:

  • Get Latest Screenshots
  • Choose From List
  • Delete Photos

I’ve increased the number of screenshots to 30 so there’s a full screen to choose from, toggled Select All Initially, and set it up with a Siri command as well.

This shortcut is useful since you don’t have to sort out regular photos you want to keep, all the images are already selected by default so you only have to unselect the ones you want to save, and it will confirm the deletion in case you make a mistake.

If you use the Add To Siri function available in the shortcut’s settings, you can set up your own custom voice trigger and later ask Siri to “delete my screenshots” (for example) when you want to kick off this flow.

One thing to note: the shortcut won’t operate entirely in the Siri interface because it requires the menu UI and delete confirmation, so currently it’s expected behavior that using Siri will just open the app and run the shortcut.2

Additionally, you could switch up this shortcut for new purposes with a few tweaks – if you’re not using any of your screenshots anymore, just bump up the number further or run this a couple of times to clean them all out; or, maybe swap out the first two actions with Select Photos to pick from your entire library instead of choosing only from screenshots.

See more of my Tips & Tricks posts, shared every Monday.


  1. Apple assigns the trigger of pressing the buttons to both pause your Apple Watch workout and take a screenshot, so if you want to keep the screenshot function on you’ll have a library full of mid-workout screencaps. 
  2. I hope this type of functionality can be displayed within Siri in the future so shortcuts can operate entirely without opening the app. Admittedly, however, that’d likely be a hard user interface to make look natural from within the Siri overlay. 

Screenshots, Shortcuts, and Consulting

This week I only had time to publish one post – here on my website.

Stitching pics with StitchPics

On Monday, I shared about creating all-in-one screenshots using StitchPics to combine multiple together. I’ll probably be using this app a ton, because it’s perfect for sharing Shortcuts in a highly visual way.

I hope Apple restores the ability to share by link as was possible in Workflow, but for now the limitation is actually helping me clean my library up and save anything I don’t need as .shortcuts files.

Stocks, baby

I also enjoyed some of the follow-up to my TechCrunch piece – because it happened on Sunday, many people saw it on Monday morning.

I was super pumped when I went to go copy the link and found my piece right at the top of their site – later I found out it was in the Stocks app too!1

First apps

This week was the 10-year anniversary of the App Store, and so there was some good sharing around how the changes have impacted us since then.

Apple wrote a long piece, MacStories covered a huge swath of stories, interviews, and reflections, and people took to Twitter to share their first apps downloaded from the App Store.

I stayed on brand and tweeted my first apps alongside my first few shortcuts in the app.

This was a somewhat tongue-in-cheek tweet, but I am fascinated to think another 10 years from now what it’ll be like to interact with Apple’s platform as something like Shortcuts becomes prevalent exactly 10 years in.

Coming soon

Otherwise I’ve been staying busy with consulting (only so much time before Shortcuts launches!), writing ahead for future posts, and continuing forward on my secret project.

I didn’t get a chance to share much about Shortcuts (though following my Twitter feed may not seem like it) so there’s more coming soon.

I’m also planning on sharing my Launch Center Pro setup soon since I’ve been recommending it to people as a trigger mechanism for shortcuts – just need to update it a bit first.

Links from the week

  • Bradley Chambers’ homescreen criticism: After tweeting about his special powers for criticizing his coworkers’ homescreen, a ton of people sent him theirs and he quoted them with advice. I sent mine in for fun and I’ve seen others changing things up since then – fun to take a look through his feed at others.
  • Affinity Designer launched, then Adobe leaked Photoshop news: everyone was in a big iPad mood this week after Affinity launched a full vector design app and teased their upcoming publisher app too. I had some discussion about their business model which will be interesting to play out, especially as they’re staking a brand flag and Adobe coming hot on their heels with “full” Photoshop supposedly coming next year. As Federico put it well, it’s a bit surreal that iPad is getting tons of focus and love as the Mac community seems to be losing some faith.
  • Austin Mann reviews the new MacBook Pro: Now that Apple pushed the MacBook Pro line into the space users have wanted, and seemingly addressed some dust issues, it seems like the MacBook Pro is a great buy again. I lost mine in a theft last year and don’t have the $7,000 to max one out, but I’m likely getting a laptop and monitor to replace my iMac when the time comes.
  • Throwbacks – the start of Workflow, and the REAL start of Workflow: now that the change from Workflow to Shortcuts is underway, there’s two great videos to watch. The first is the demo video that Ari gave after first building Workflow, quickly showing how to create a workflow in the app – this proof of concept wowed the community and lead to the first version of the app. But a much earlier video shows that Ari has been at this his whole life – he’s probably embarrassed, but there is a fantastic video of him as a 15-year-old talking about jailbreaking on the news. You can see the passion even at a young age, and today he’s even more able to execute on his vision. I jokingly tweeted about it, but I really am excited to see what he will build one day because I’m sure him (and the team) are just getting started.
  • Sock recommendations: I tweeted asking people about help finding a good pair of socks and got 10 replies – will have to buy some and report back.

If you’re an app developer and you’re integrating Shortcuts into your app, please send me a TestFlight invite at matthew.cassinelli@gmail.com and message me if you want specific feedback.

For larger integrations or consulting for your brand, I have some limited time available if you want to work together before the release of iOS 12.

Read the last recap from Week 27.


  1. Plus, my friend and my cousin told me they had read it first and only then realized it was my byline at the top. ☺ 

How to make a full-page screenshot of an app or website with StitchPics

With the sharing feature that was in Workflow not being available in Shortcuts1, many people are resorting to sharing screenshots to show people how their shortcuts work.

Oddly, this has had a great benefit for the fledgling community – shortcuts are very visual, and a bunch of hyperlinks links on Twitter might not have had the same effect as a good photoset2:

But longer shortcuts with more than a handful of actions can’t fit onto one screen, so users have to resort to more creative options.

StitchPics

My recommendation is StitchPics, a simple but very functional app to combine photos that’s free with a $1.99 in-app purchase to add more than 8 images3.

Made by a Chinese developer, the app isn’t fully translated, the logo is somewhat inexplicably an L, and on iPad it only works in portrait orientation.

That being said, I’m definitely glad I bought it. That’s because, beyond basic auto-stitching, StitchPics has a fantastic pinch-based method of combing images that’s super reliable for getting things exactly right.

Here’s a quick example:

Once it takes a guess at how to put your images together, you can slide either image up or down behind the crossover point and collapse parts you want to be hidden.

Especially with longer shortcuts where you may need to take many screenshots, it makes aligning the different actions much easier.

StitchPics is also great for getting images of complete webpages on mobile – just take screenshots as you scroll and stitch them together in the app.

Tailor

A popular alternative is Tailor, but historically I’ve found it is unreliable at parsing multiple screenshots from Workflow (and the same is true for Shortcuts). The actions just look too similar across many images and it doesn’t know how to handle it.

Tailor is also free (but with a watermark removable by in-app purchase) and should work fine for simpler shortcuts. However, it is only available for iPhone.

That’s why I’ve been using StitchPics – it ain’t pretty, but it gets the job done, and a bit better, on both my devices.

Get StitchPics on the App Store.

Click here to check out more Tips & Tricks posts

Links in this post


  1. I don’t know if it’s temporarily removed or gone for good, but boy am I hoping for the former not the latter. 
  2. Awesome work Ben! And also wow, almost 7,000 people liked a good automation joke (even if it’s mostly for the Harry Potter). 
  3. Plus you can add your own watermarks, change it to a custom size, cut off the top or bottom, leave blank spaces, or change the color of the fonts in the app. 

My piece on TechCrunch – and the Shortcuts app is here!

This week I shared a bit more off my site than on it, with only one post here, one on iMore, and another on (!) TechCrunch.

Swipe to share

First, I started the week with another Tips & Tricks post – “Swipe on the Copy & Paste menu in iOS to see more actions” – aimed at sharing a simple but helpful gesture.

In case you can’t tell from my crack headline writing, swiping on the popover that appears when you go to copy and paste menu makes it easier to access the Share button.

I had fun making a simple GIF to show the interaction, and I think that went a long way in making the post useful for people – just reading about it is nice, but seeing it in action makes a difference.

This is mostly useful since I use that menu all the time with Workflow – now it’s going to be even handier to use with Shortcuts. It’s great to select text, share it into a shortcut, and act on it with the features like Make Rich Text From Markdown or Change Case.

Getting Started with Shortcuts

But the big fun came later in the week, when the beta for Shortcuts dropped and everyone started playing around what’s essentially Workflow 2.01.

All the new features were discovered right away:

Eventually, I was able to stop jumping up and down, sit down, and write up an introduction to the Shortcuts app for iMore2 – this went into the very basics of installing the app, what happens to your old workflows if you used Workflow, and where to start looking for more ideas for custom shortcuts.

I have lots of other pieces coming about Shortcuts on both iMore, The Sweet Setup, and here on my own website (plus some scheduled podcast appearances!).

But until then I’ve started a Twitter thread where I’m sharing some of the bigger concepts or examples of shortcuts I’ve made over time in one place. Click on it, scroll through, add it to your Twitter bookmarks when you’re done, and come back again later:

Guest post on TechCrunch

My most exciting piece came today, this Sunday afternoon, as a guest post on TechCrunch: “Apple’s Shortcuts will flip the switch on Siri’s potential.”

In my piece, I talked about some of my vision for where I see Shortcuts taking Siri in the future. It’s not about the nitty gritty of building shortcuts, but instead about the end result of adding useful shortcuts into your routine with Siri – actually getting things done.

I’ve been reading TechCrunch for years and it’s one of the earliest technology website I remember devouring when I first got into the scene – I am extremely honored to see my name there after I was invited to write at WWDC.3

Links from the week

In case you noticed, I’m moving this weekly recap to Sunday instead.4

So Sundays it is – it doesn’t technically fit the calendar week as nicely for this to go out the day after, but also I can recap the entire week if I do happen to publish something else on Saturday.

Otherwise, here’s a few links from elsewhere around the web to check out – this week I’m focusing on Shortcuts because of the launch, but I’ll keep it to a wider range of topics in the future:

  • Automators #1: Automating Calendar Events: The Automators podcast from Relay.FM just launched their first episode on Friday and it dives into different ways to use your calendar. I’ve never subscribed to a podcast so fast – they have a great forum, they’re making blog posts and videos for each episode. I’m sure it will be a great resource for the Shortcuts app and a bunch of other types of automation for iOS, Mac, and the web too.

  • Initial observations of Shortcuts: Jordan Merrick has a good quick reaction to the new features Shortcuts gained over Workflow and how they affect usage. I agree that it’s slightly odd that the action groups are hidden within the search field – I hope people aren’t confused and think there’s a limited set of options.

  • First impressions of Shortcuts for iOS: Michael Rockwell put together a helpful rundown of the new changes Workflow users will see in Shortcuts and what’s different in the betas right now.

  • r/shortcuts: There’s a new subreddit for Shortcuts that popped up over the weekend – I joined as moderator to help with the transition from r/workflow, guide the community as best I can, and try to establish a positive tone for the submissions.5

Random things:

  • I’m trying to set up my cellular plan on my iPad Pro after my last one was stolen, but T-Mobile is being difficult and says “Your account is not set up for logging in.” What?! Anyone go through this and have suggestions?

  • I’m saving a bunch of my shortcuts as files and cleaning up my library – funny how the fact that sharing by link isn’t available is prompting me to do this now, when it would have been helpful to do all along.

  • I’m still hard at work on a few new projects, which are slow but steady. I’m getting super excited and hope to launch sometime soon!

Despite calling it a weekly newsletter and accepting names for the list months ago, I haven’t yet published a single issue.

I’m still taking sign-ups though and waiting for the right moment to launch it, so add your email here and you’ll get it in your inbox when the time comes.

Have a good week!

Read last week’s recap post.


  1. Workflow ended at 1.7.8 before we were acquired, and now Shortcuts begins at version 2.0 
  2. Slightly different than my Siri Shortcuts: FAQ piece. 
  3. I was waiting for a friend and just said hi to the person closest to me – it was Sarah Perez, and after we talked she grabbed the editor Matthew Panzarino, I mentioned I worked at Workflow, and he said I should write something up. 
  4. That’s partially because that’s when my TechCrunch piece was going out, but also anyone who’s run a website probably knows it sucks to try and write on the first day of your weekend. 
  5. I saw some people in the Workflow subreddit who could be too critical of new users or repeated questions, so I’m going to push things towards an air of openness and learning – this app is damn confusing and we’ll all be better off in the long run by lifting one another up. 

Swipe on the Copy & Paste menu in iOS to see more actions

If you’re like me, you may have been on iOS for years before you learned that when you select text and want to navigate the copy & paste menu, you don’t have to tap the arrows to navigate – you can just swipe to the next page.

Normally I’d select text, try to accurately hit the tiny little next arrow, and usually missed and paste something instead of closing the menu. But when I was at WWDC, I saw someone go to share a bit of text and he… just…swiped on the list of actions.1

For anyone who uses the Workflow action extension often and likes to run workflows on text using the text selection share menu, this is extremely handy. And for Drafts users, this also provides quicker access to the Dictate and Arrange actions available in that second page of the copy & paste menu.

This is a super small thing and may seem obvious, but if you don’t know about it, you might not ever really figure it out. Hope this helps – check out more of my new Tips & Tricks archives here and coming every Monday on my site.


  1. I’ve… worked on iOS for years and he… justswiped on the menu.