Categories
Newsletter

What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 30

Originally posted as What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 30sign up for the newsletter here.

Hello folks,

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:

  1. Set Orientation Lock
  2. Set Voice and Data
  3. Take Screenshot

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.
  • Reader Mode
    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.
  • Data Controls
    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.
  • Reminder Screenshot
    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
    Anders Borum has an awesome solution for combining his app Shellfish along with Scriptable and Charty to create a shortcut that pulls logs from your website, processes the data, and charts it so you can track sources of where people have visited – check out the shortcut to see how the JavaScript works as well as the connections between apps.

📲 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.

What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 30

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.

Read about “Communication triggers” in the Shortcuts User Guide.

Categories
Newsletter Offsite

“What’s New in Shortcuts?” Issue 29

Originally published in Issue 29 of the newsletter.

Hello folks,

I wanted to fully wrap up the iCloud links issue from a few weeks ago, as I received another statement after requesting clarification on the process, saying:

“Apple has confirmed the shortcuts have been restored.”

I haven’t had any issues and have been connecting with folks in the Shortcuts community since then, so we all seem glad to be moving on and looking forward to what’s coming next.

We’ve got iOS 14.5 coming with some new actions soon, and after that we’re in the endgame ahead of WWDC this June – until then, here’s what’s new this week:

Categories
Newsletter

What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 22

Originally posted as What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 22sign up for the newsletter here.

Welcome to Issue 22 of “What’s New in Shortcuts?”

Hey there,

There’s a good amount of Shortcuts news this week, but there’s no pressure to learn it all right away – take what you want now and save the rest for later.

I’m putting together a bit more of a guided path through Shortcuts for folks like you soon, so absorb what sticks now and I’ll reinforce it with some good lessons down the line.

🗓 NEW THIS WEEK

One new stream, three podcast shortcuts, and a ton of new actions from Toolbox Pro:

Categories
Newsletter

What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 14

Originally posted as What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 14sign up for the newsletter here.

Welcome to issue 14 of “What’s New in Shortcuts?”

This is the week! Once iOS 14.3 drops, millions of people will update their smartphones and suddenly be able to create their “app ideas” by adding them as shortcuts to their Home Screen.

The main change? The limitation where “custom icons always open into Shortcuts first” is now gone!

Shortcuts added to the Home Screen actually behave like you’d expect, opening into apps immediately – plus they run all the scripting actions perfectly, just like the Shortcuts widget.

Other than that, here’s what’s new in Shortcuts this week:

🎧  SHORTCUTS TO THE MAX

Apple Fitness+ comes out tomorrow, Apple’s releasing AirPods Max, and M1 Macs are still shipping out to new users every day – here’s how to take advantage of Apple’s latest updates:

Categories
Newsletter

What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 7

Originally posted as ”What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 7”sign up for the newsletter here.

Welcome to Issue 7 of “What’s New in Shortcuts?”

This week we saw iPhones shipping, I held a few Shortcuts Live streams, and my Home Screen system is almost fully operational.

This week I’m settling into some new office gear I got after talking to Matt Galligan about ergonomics–I’m excited (and comfy)–so expect some impressions of using an iPad with a monitor next weekend.

Until then, here’s what’s new with Shortcuts from this week:

📲 QUICK SHORTCUTS FOR iOS 14.1

Apple pushed out iOS 14.1 ahead of the new iPhones shipping – and they couldn’t help but add a few new things:

Categories
Links

What is Spatial Audio, Why Does it Matter, and What’s Apple’s Plan?

Em Lazer-Walker, Cloud Advocate at Microsoft, on what she’s calling the “audio version of ARKit” in iOS 14:

They talked about this largely in context of playing movies with multi-channel surround sound, but that’s probably the least interesting application of spatial audio.

As someone who’s been working in the field for a long time — my research at the MIT Media Lab in 2015 and 2016 focused on location-based storytelling in public spaces using spatial audio — I wanted to try to give some context around why this is interesting and what it might enable.

Fascinating summary of Apple’s new Spatial Audio feature and its potential – this covers what it is, how it differs from surround sound, and goes into detailed applications for this like wayfinding, vocal content, and real-world play/gaming experiences.

Read the full post on dev.to.

Categories
Siri Shortcuts

How to create a deep link to file in iCloud Drive so you can directly access it later

If you’re looking to access one of your files by clicking on a URL instead of navigating through your Files app, you can copy a link to that file using the Share sheet on iOS.

Categories
Siri Shortcuts

The MacStories Review of iOS 12 (and Shortcuts)

Every year, it’s a staple in the Apple community to read Federico Viticci’s in-depth review of the latest version of iOS.

Federico has been running MacStories for years and always spends the summer drafting massive, book-length guides to the new changes that come to Apple’s iPhone and iPad software, quickly becoming the go-to place to pay attention when the new release drops.

This time, it’s very much the same, with Viticci publishing his entire review with 16 individual sections as pages (and 1 page for credits). Here’s the subhead introduction:

After years of unabated visual and functional changes, iOS 12 is Apple’s opportunity to regroup and reassess the foundation before the next big step – with one notable exception.

Categories
Apps Tips & Tricks

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:

[videopress 6TEyzPrb]

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.

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  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. 
Categories
Tips & Tricks

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

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

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.