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8 Tips for Optimizing Shortcuts for macOS from Club MacStories

As part of Club MacStories, Federico Viticci published an Automation Academy guide on Tips for Optimizing Your Shortcuts for macOS Monterey.

In the post, Federico explains some tips he’s developed over the last six months working on the Mac that are super useful for Shortcuts users, especially if you’re coming from the iPad — things like changes with variables, how to use actions native to Mac from the Automator experience, and innovative ways to utilize AppleScript (that I’m definitely going to adopt myself and integrate into my own shortcuts).

Here’s the list of techniques:

  1. Check Your Current Platform
  2. Right-Click to Choose Variables
  3. Get the Title of a Webpage
  4. Get the Text Selection of a Webpage
  5. Check If a Specific App Is Running
  6. Pass Multiple Variables to AppleScript
  7. Check the Frontmost App
  8. Modifying a File with Quick Actions and Overwriting the Original Version
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Links

How Federico Viticci Rediscovered The Mac (And Shortcuts’ Essential Role)

Federico’s annual pre-WWDC piece is out and you should read all 8,000 or so words of it, particularly this section about Shortcuts:

While the Shortcuts app shouldn’t have been released in those precarious conditions last year (it should have been labeled a beta), my usage of the app has increased alongside Apple’s work on improving its performance and stability;

[…]

[T]oday, I consider Shortcuts for Mac an essential tool in my workflow and, in some ways, the most important change Apple could have brought to allow people like me to try macOS again.

I agree with the overall conclusion of the piece, but this summary of Shortcuts on iPad vs. the Mac struck a chord with me as well:

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Links

Submit your shortcuts to MacStories’s Automation April contest

I am super happy to announce that I’m a judge for the new Shortcuts contest hosted by MacStories as part of their new “Automation April” campaign – the contest is live now!

As part of the Shortcuts contest, anyone can submit two shortcuts to be judged by a panel of Shortcuts users, including myself, for Best Shortcut in five categories:

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Newsletter

“What’s New in Shortcuts” #30

New issue of my Shortcuts newsletter is out:

Welcome to Issue 30 of “What’s New in Shortcuts” – this week we saw the release of iOS 15.3 with a slew of bug fixes, the beta for iOS 15.4 and the long-anticipated drop of Universal Control, and we’re now on the tail end of iOS 15’s remaining features before Apple switches gears to iOS 16 this summer.

Shortcuts is now much more stable than it was previously in the fall and it seems like Apple has managed to process all of the Feedback we’ve been submitting – I’m very grateful for the bug fixes this week, as is much of the community who’ve been awaiting these changes.

I spent much of the week flying through new shortcuts for GTD (still a work-in-progress), put together a good technique in the Discord community that I’ll be sharing for members soon, and started unleashing a series of Shortcuts stories I’ve been working on (linked below).

Next week, I’ll be streaming with the Six Colors crew, and covering some new apps dropping throughout the week.

Until then, here’s what was new in Shortcuts – the Twitter community shared good ideas as always, MacStories had another banner Shortcuts week, and Jarrod Blundy took off in a rocketship:

Read the full newsletter on Revue (~2300 words).

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Newsletter Offsite

“What’s New in Shortcuts” #29

New issue of my Shortcuts newsletter is out – come for the generative soundscapes, stay for the mind-mapping enthusiasm:

Welcome to Issue 29 of “What’s New in Shortcuts” – this week is the last iteration of the current iOS and Mac beta cycles, meaning soon we’ll have new versions of Shortcuts with bug fixes out.

As I mentioned last week, Shortcuts seems to be mostly stable now and I’ve been able to rely on more shortcuts that were previously broken – things like Copy to Clipboard and Convert Time Zone are fixed.

I am unfortunately still having sync issues (my folders lost their sort order twice this week) intermittently, so I hope you all don’t run into that after the update.

Otherwise, this week we’ve got a lot of goodness to cover – I shared some soundscape and mind mapping shortcuts, we saw some new apps adding actions, Six Colors put out more podcast notes follow-up, and there a very, very cool spotlight from the App Store:

Read the full newsletter on Revue (~2100 words).

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Newsletter

“What’s New in Shortcuts?” Issue 28

This originally appeared in Issue 28 of “What’s New in Shortcuts?”

After last week’s outage with Shortcuts links shared online, I received a statement from Apple on the manner:

“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.”

Since then, they seem to have begun restoring access to previous iCloud links (according to Federico Viticci’s tweets).

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:

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Siri Shortcuts

What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 14

View the original issue.

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.

I’ve tried to capture my excitement in a video – look for it soon on YouTube. But until then, here’s what’s new in Shortcuts this week:

Categories
Newsletter

What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 13

Originally posted as What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 13sign up for the newsletter here.

Welcome to Issue 13 of “What’s New in Shortcuts?”

As the betas of iOS 14.3 keep chugging along with the promise of better Home Screens coming soon, the community has rediscovered some new features that snuck in around iOS 14.1.

Plus, I’ve got some tools I put together for my own workflow – and a fun one for getting in the Christmas spirit.

Over on Reddit, we’ve got more creative uses of Shortcuts – and for members, I’ve updated my Routine checklists to use Reminders and Notes (which I’m quite excited about, not going to lie ).

💡 AUTOMATIONS, ICONS, AND ADAPTIVE LIGHTING

The new Personal Automations for Email and Messages haven’t seemed too useful – but a few more details make the difference. Plus, two actions you might not’ even used:

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Newsletter

What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 6

Originally posted as  “What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 6“sign up for the newsletter here.

Welcome to Issue 6 of “What’s New in Shortcuts?”

I’ve kicked off streams for Shortcuts Live again, starting with an unannounced one this past Sunday afternoon – which ended up including my cat Oliver as a guest.

Make sure to follow me on Twitch if you’re interested in tuning in – I’ll be mostly streaming there instead of YouTube to keep the feeds separate (but look for new videos soon).

Otherwise, here’s what’s new in Shortcuts this week:

📲 GET YOUR SHORTCUTS FILL

With the HomePod Mini promising some fun shortcuts opportunities and iOS 14 being a bit more settled now, there’s always more to learn – here’s how you can keep up with myself and other Shortcuts creators:

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Guest appearances Gear Tips & Tricks Offsite

Using Apple Pencil to edit audio with Ferrite

Last Monday night, I streamed on Twitch for about a half hour on the topic of Ferrite for iPad with my friend Alec Pulianas, a computer engineer and podcast editor at AMP Creative Studios.

Watch How to edit podcasts with Apple Pencil in Ferrite (ft. Alec Pulianas) from matthewcassinelli on www.twitch.tv

We both edit podcasts and audio using Ferrite, a purpose-built audio editing app designed primarily for spoken word content (as opposed to Logic Pro or Garage Band which were built for music). It works on both iPhone and iPad, enabling a very natural touch input paradigm for editing your audio that both Alec and I prefer to use.

In our stream, we talked about the additional benefits when you edit on the iPad, including how using the Apple Pencil in this app feels like a remote control and which custom settings we use to edit.

We also covered details like Ferrite templates, the keyboard shortcuts, and a few of the downsides as well – it doesn’t have the same speed-changing capabilities as Logic, for example.

I really enjoyed talking with Alec—he’s a great guy—about this tool we both enjoy, especially because it’s changed how I edit audio and opened up where I can do my work.

Check out the clip on Twitch and follow my channel if you want to see future streams like this.1


  1. I’ve saved the entire stream as a “highlight” so it lasts past Twitch’s normal 30-days, but doing so unfortunately removes the live view count and chat comments.