Look ahead at your day with “Agenda” 📹

Today I released my fifth YouTube video, focusing on building an agenda for the day and walking people through the process of building it.

This is a full-Siri shortcut, meaning it’ll work on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, HomePod, and CarPlay, with Siri speaking out the results to you:

It includes overdue and upcoming reminders, today’s calendar events, and contacts who have a birthday today – so many people say they only use Facebook for birthdays, so this could help you break that habit too.

In the video I demonstrate the use of Repeat With Each, Magic Variables, and Count/If actions to do some logic where I didn’t get quite the results I wanted.

As usual I’d love any feedback on the video – it’s slightly long, but there’s lots of good material to absorb. There was some fuzziness with my audio too, but I managed to get it listenable enough.

On to the next video – seems like Shortcuts 2.1 will be dropping alongside iOS 12.1 tomorrow!

Apple Shortcuts: The Bicycle for the Mind is Back, but it’s Electric 🔗

Stu Maschowitz of Prolost has put a fantastic piece out on the Shortcuts app:

“To me, whether Jobs intended it this way or not, the “bicycle for the mind” is the tool that empowers you to repurpose it for your specific needs, not just to consume things with it, or use it in the same way as everyone else.”

Later in the piece (emphasis mine):

“Job’s bicycle analogy was all about efficiency of locomotion. Without a bicycle, we’re highly inefficient animals at just getting around, but we can build tools, like bicycles, which put us at the top of the list.

But I also take from it that riding a bicycle is good for you. It makes you stronger. Buying a tool and using it is like driving a car — you’ll get to your destination, and efficiently, but you’ve done nothing to better yourself. Every day that car will take you exactly the same distance.

But each day you ride a bicycle, your legs get stronger. You get where you’re going, sure, but maybe more importantly, the more you ride, the farther you can go.

This is the way I look at the Jobs bicycle analogy: When you build your own tools, you make your mind stronger, and able to go farther the next day.

As I use Shortcuts more and more, I feel myself somewhere between driving a car made of apps built by other people and riding a bicycle of my own creation. I’m creating genuinely useful tools, and I’m pushing myself farther each day I ride[…]”

Stu’s piece is one of the best I’ve seen about the current state of Shortcuts, what it means to learn and use them regularly, and he also provides some really handy examples.

I highly suggest everyone train their Shortcuts muscles today, because you never know how it’ll help you out tomorrow being that much stronger at it.

Definitely check out the full piece (16 minutes) and get the shortcuts from his site too.

How to make a GIF on iOS: Shortcuts in under 3 minutes [Video]

On Friday, I published a shorter video demonstrating how to build a custom shortcut in the Shortcuts app in just under 3 minutes:

For the topic, I picked “how to make a GIF” because it’s not that easy on iOS, and everyone has a library full of bursts and Live Photos that are stuck in the camera roll.

With just a few actions, you can put together an animated loop of your bursts, Live Photos, or sets of photos, and easily share it with people.

Get the shortcut here if you want to make your own.

I could have made some improvements to the shortcut. Since I filmed this without a script, I didn’t add in Save to Photo Album at the end so that every GIF you made would be saved automatically – this is important because most people run shortcuts from the main library view, but you can only see the GIF in my version if you open the shortcut editor.1

I’m working on some new shorter videos, along with a longer main video each week – working out the process now, but I should be able to ramp up to get more videos out for all of you.

In the meantime, let me know if there’s anything particular you’d like to see from my channel2.

And, as always, linking to the video or retweeting it goes a long way – thank you to everyone who’s been supporting me so far.


  1. It also could have all been built using Find Photos to give you more control; getting into that level of detail, however, definitely takes more than 3 minutes, so I’ll have to work sharing the best examples with the least compromises. 
  2. People left more comments that I’m still a robot who doesn’t blink – even though I totally did once! It’s apparently difficult for me to blink naturally with a bright light in my face while trying to communicate the intricacies of this app on the fly. 

The Allegory of Dark Mode [Podcast]


On Thursday, Alex and I released our 9th episode of Supercomputer into the world. Titled “The Allegory of Dark Mode”, this episode follows up from our show two weeks ago on task managers.

After a short one-week break, we broke back into how we use our devices to get things done, plus went off a bit on how I use Twitter.

Near the end things got weirdly philosophical, which I’m totally okay with.

We talked about and shared a good number of shortcuts we use in the show notes, so if you’re not already subscribe to the show and add them as you listen along.

I also started a submission form for Shortcuts questions, so feel free to submit any places you’re getting stuck or shortcuts problems in the Airtable form any time!

Next week we’ll be talking about the home – HomePod, Apple TV, HomeKit, and more – looking forward to episode 10!

Listen to the show:
Website
iTunes
Overcast

My Top 10 Shortcuts, plus My First Guest Video

Last week, I published my third YouTube video. This one covered 10 great shortcuts that I’ve built over the years, with quick descriptions and demonstrations for each:1

Here they are in order:
1. $0.99 Rental of the Week
2. Flip Photo to IG
3. Log Water
4. Make Wifi QR Code
5. Copy Free Time or Copy Today’s Free Time
6. Search for Link
7. Spongebob
8. Set Bedtime From Sunrise2
9. BART Departures (or, just Ashby)
10. Now or Later Network (and modified Download File)

After I published, Rene Ritchie from iMore also reached out to me and asked for a short video clip with one of my tips on getting started with Shortcuts. Here’s what the full video turned out like:

I shot and put my part together for his video in just a few hours, which encouraged me to make shorter videos myself and demonstrated how tackling a specific single topic is much easier to produce.

For my own work, I’m still working through some process details – my own video was pretty long and difficult to make with so many parts, and an early version of it also just ended up not being very interesting to me. I also need to level my audio better still, plus nail down some of exactly how I am and should be using my cameras too.

I’ve also been developing criteria for which shortcuts I want to share, because, despite people wanting to see all 900 of mine, throwing them all online isn’t my goal – I want to teach people how to build their own, not just use my pre-built shortcuts.

Plus, I’ve completely shifted my schedule to allow for both video production AND writing – I fell off the map a bit getting my thoughts out here and on iMore/The Sweet Setup since starting to make videos.

So enjoy the shortcuts from the video, subscribe to my channel if you haven’t yet, and subscribe to my RSS feed to have these blog posts come directly to you too.


  1. Well, as quick as possible – it’s 17 minutes :) 
  2. Note: requires Shortcuts 2.1 beta – use Set Bedtime From Sunrise (Dark Sky) if you’re on Shortcuts 2.0.