The MacStories Review of iOS 12 (and Shortcuts)

Every year, it’s a staple in the Apple community to read Federico Vittici’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.

The review is also available as an eBook and audiobook for members of Club MacStories, their membership program that provides great newsletters with tons of Shortcuts ideas, links, and interviews. Members get the book free and the audiobook at 60% off, so now is better than ever to subscribe.

Now that Shortcuts is out I’m sure you won’t want to miss Federico’s work, so definitely consider joining if you have the means.

One of the major sections to look at is his coverage of Shortcuts, because he’s the OG in the space – I originally learned about Workflow because of Federico and his coverage is what brought me to work for the app, so at a certain point we all owe him for bringing a spotlight to this awesome technology.

His evangelism for the potential got all of us who knew about it excited and I’m sure influenced Apple’s decision to purchase our company, so, everyone go thank Federico!

Now excuse me while I keep reading because there’s no way I’ve read it at all just – will have to switch back and forth with Myke’s lovely voice filling my ears too as I do my own prep for the big day.

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.

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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. 

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.