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What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 34

Originally posted as What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 34sign up for the newsletter here.

Welcome to Issue 34 of “What’s New in Shortcuts?”

Hello folks,

This week we’re in the shortcut dip between new Apple products shipping – but that just leaves more room for Shortcuts fun really.

Next week I’ll have more fun stuff to share, especially as we head towards the summer beta season – and be on the lookout for new streams in the calendar too.

🆕 NEW FROM ME THIS WEEK

My video on what’s beyond the surfaces of AirTags, a shortcut for importing Castro’s OPML to podcasts, and one of my first Mac shortcuts:

  • The AMAZING AirTags feature Apple hasn’t added (yet?)
    My new video on the automation possibility with AirTags and the U1 chip is up on YouTube – I’m calling it “Spatial Awareness for Siri.” Check out the short video and let me know what you think in the comments!
  • Export podcasts \> Podcasts
    I came across this thread between Stephen Aquino (Accessibility writer at Forbes) and Oisin Prendiville (co-founder of Supertop) talking about a possible method of moving from Supertop’s podcast app Castro into the main Podcasts app using the OPML file and built a shortcut to solve the problem. I was hoping Shortcuts could automatically parse the OPML with a simple file rename, but that didn’t work, so I built a somewhat-shaky converter that just scrapes the RSS feeds out and passes them into “Subscribe in Podcasts” – and it worked! I’m going to build a more universal version, but feel free to try it out now if you use Castro.
  • Open the Mini Player
    I’ve spent some time setting up my own versions of Federico’s Mixed Automation shortcuts for Mac, mostly around opening specific apps as well as a few URLs in specific browsers – members can access one of my first tests that opens the Mini Player of the Music app on the Mac, which simulates key presses in combination to activate the keyboard shortcut.
Categories
Newsletter

What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 33

Originally posted as What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 33sign up for the newsletter here.

Welcome to Issue 33 of “What’s New in Shortcuts?”

Last Friday, the iPad Pro went up for pre-order as AirTags were arriving – I’m getting the 12.9″ 1TB model to review and will be sharing my thoughts with members soon after I get my hands on one.

As for AirTags, there’s not a whole lot related to Shortcuts–Chris Lawley determined that they can indeed be used for NFC automations–but I’ve got an inkling of how they might be useful in the future& I’m making a whole video on it, so stay tuned to the YouTube channel this week.

Otherwise, I’ve got productivity shortcuts, conversations from the User Group, and quick links for you to check out this week – plus a blurb about the return of Get Variable:

🆕 NEW FROM ME THIS WEEK

This week we’ve got a bunch of productivity shortcuts! I’ve updated my Routine Checklist to use Things and added it to the Catalog, plus there’s a new Morning Agenda for Siri and Day One shortcut for journaling:

  • Routine Checklist
    I’ve updated my Routine Checklists shortcut to use a better method and made it free – it uses Things again, plus adds them individual tasks rather than a single task with a checklist so that they are easier to check off from the Apple Watch. Members can also get the full checklists on the Extras page.
  • Morning Agenda
    I’ve created the first version of my morning agenda shortcut, which speaks out the weather, reminders, & your calendar events, shows any notes created the day before, and then presents options for media to start your day with. I’ll be updating this over time with more sections and more advanced logic, but this first version works well enough to share now rather than wait.
  • Day One
    I’ve created a Day One shortcut that takes advantage of many of their excellent shortcuts, from templates to rich media entries to searching through your journal. This is also my v1 shortcut for Day One – I plan on adding more or splitting this into multiple shortcuts in the future, so expect updates down the line.

Categories
Links Siri Shortcuts

Singalong

New shortcut Singalong for Apple Music users:

Turns on the Apple TV, asks if you want to Hand Off music to the TV from the current device, then opens the Music app and shows the Remote on the current device.

Categories
Links Siri Shortcuts

MacStories releases MusicBot, putting most of Apple Music in one Siri Shortcut

Federico Viticci, doing his usual excellent work on MacStories:

For the past several months, I’ve been working on a shortcut designed to be the ultimate assistant for Apple Music.

Called MusicBot, the shortcut encompasses dozens of different features and aims to be an all-in-one assistant that helps you listen to music more quickly, generate intelligent mixes based on your tastes, rediscover music from your library, control playback on AirPlay 2 speakers, and much more.

I poured hundreds of hours of work into MusicBot, which has gained a permanent spot on my Home screen. Best of all, MusicBot is available to everyone for free.

MusicBot is yet another one of Federico’s shortcuts that turns a vast number of functions into a single Siri Shortcut for you to use. Plus, look at that custom icon!

I quite literally have over 50 music-based shortcuts that this will be replacing.

Categories
Links Siri Shortcuts

» Mastering Apple Music: my favorite shortcut (on The Sweet Setup)

Last week over on The Sweet Setup, I posted one of my personal favorite shortcuts that I built back when I worked at Workflow.

It interacts with all the Apple Music Mixes curated for me, letting me select which one to use, then lets me choose from five options:

I run this shortcut almost every day, either updating a playlist to the Master versions I’ve created, jumping in to pick something, and shuffling all the tracks when I don’t want to choose.

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Siri Shortcuts

10 Shortcuts for YouTubers and video creators

(This post has been updated to refer to Shortcuts instead of Workflow, now that the app has been converted by Apple. All of these still work as quick shortcuts, but not everything operates fully from Siri.)

If you’re in the content creation business, time is of the essence. While you’re busy working on your craft and trying to put your work out into the world, the last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time on mundane tasks.

Shortcuts for iOS pairs nicely with this, and since it’s free & owned by Apple1 it’s worth testing out to see if you can save time with some shortcuts.

Here are 10 tools that YouTubers and other video creators can take advantage of using Shortcuts (titles are links):

Categories
Apps

Controlling your HomePod volume with iTunes and a simple Mac app

If you’ve picked up Apple’s HomePod in the past few weeks and tried to use iTunes on your Mac to Airplay something to the speaker, you probably got blasted with the music playing at full volume.

This occurs since HomePod uses iTunes’ in-app volume slider to adjust its levels rather than your Mac volume, and iTunes is usually at 100% because the hardware keys are used control my computer’s overall sound instead1. Plus, if I want to change the volume on HomePod after the music starts, I have to go into iTunes and drag the slider – you can’t turn it down that quickly.

Screenshot of iTunes Volume Control running in a Mac menu bar

To get around this, I installed a Mac app called iTunes Volume Control that’s available on GitHub. Created by Andrea Alberti, it’s an app that lives entirely in your menu bar and changes the Mac’s hardware volume keys to control iTunes instead. When it’s running, it can entirely take over mute, volume up, and volume down – or, you can set it so you have to hold a modifier key like Command before hitting the keys. I use the latter option, so I can control my Mac volume with the keys normally and then use ⌘ + or ⌘ – to adjust iTunes when I need to.

Once you’ve installed the app, you’ll find it’s much better experience playing music from iTunes with HomePod as your speaker. I set iTunes Volume Control to launch at login, so it’s basically always running when I use my computer and I never have to turn it on when I need it2. I’ll usually open iTunes, use ⌘ – to turn down the volume, then pick my song and AirPlay to my HomePod.

iTunes Volume Control also provides an option to change the step size for each press, so the volume can be changed in more specific intervals – you can set it go up 3% each time, for example, rather than the default 10% at a time. This gives you fine-grained control of the HomePod volume, right from your keyboard.3

I could see improving this setup using iTunes and AppleScript – you could set up a command to launch iTunes already set to 30% and set to AirPlay to the HomePod, avoiding the setup process each time I want to listen from my Mac on my HomePod. However, I have no experience there and that’s a project for another day.

The best part of this setup is that iTunes Volume Control is entirely free to download and use. Check out the documentation first, but use this link to get the app and start controlling your HomePod from your Mac.

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  1. Instead of adjusting the levels in iTunes and on your Mac separately, it’s much more common to leave iTunes at 100% and change the volume on the whole computer instead. 
  2. I normally hide it in the menu bar using Bartender, so I can click on the Bartender icon to reveal it but keep it away from view otherwise. 
  3. I do the same thing with HomePod normally by using my Apple Watch. Once you change the source in Control Center on your iPhone to the HomePod, the Now Playing controls show up on Apple Watch and let you control the smart speaker from your wrist.