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.
Plus, Federico is releasing a “Pro” version for Club MacStories subscribers that takes advantage of Toolbox Pro integrations, and comes with more custom icons! An annual subscription to Club MacStories is $50 – anyone who reads my site should probably be a subscriber.
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.
With all the different menus, the flow gets slightly complicated – this is really about 20 different tasks combined into one quick step.
The article originally didn’t include the most helpful version of the shortcut, and someone mentioned they had trouble setting it up – the shortcut was lacking Import Questions to make it as easy as possible to add playlists and links.
I updated the shortcut with 23 import questions for you to fill out, plus I updated some of the menu titles to be even more explicit what’s going on.
(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.
Here are 10 tools that YouTubers and other video creators can take advantage of using Shortcuts (titles are links):
Share links to my YouTube videos
It’s a pain to get links for YouTube videos from your channel and share them with people – this workflow makes it painless. Enter your channel URL, this grabs the feed links, and then choose from the list to copy the YouTube video link of your choice to the clipboard or share it with people.
Take a video and save it to an album
If you’re using your phone for content creation, you probably want to keep your footage organized. Using this, you can run the workflow to take a video and save it to a pre-chosen album in Photos. When you’re filming it’s only in video mode, so it’s not possible to swipe away on accident – you’ll always be shooting right away, and the footage will be stored right where you want it.
If you’re trying to keep track of new plans for future work, use this to add them right into your Notes, Things to-dos, Trello boards, OmniFocus tasks, Clear list, Todoist projects, or Bear notes right away (all the apps!). It works when you’re sharing something, when you have an idea on your clipboard, or when you just want to type.
If you end up sending the same types of emails to people, whether it be potential sponsors or just people you collaborate with, you can use this workflow to set up a list of contacts, quickly fill out the body, and send it off.
Speed Dial Contact
If you’re in communication with a lot of people but just want a quick shortcut to texting the people most important in your life, add their contact details and run this workflow to choose whether to open right into their thread in iMessage, start a FaceTime video, call them on FaceTime audio, call them regularly, or call them via Skype.
Write and Share
Sometimes you just need to get your thoughts down right away, and then figure out what to do with them later. This workflow lets you run it, start typing, then choose whether it should be a tweet, a text message, something for Notes, or belongs elsewhere. Another great alternative for this workflow is the app Drafts as well.
Play Playlist Immediately
If you’re in the zone, the last thing you want to do is peruse your music library for something to listen to while you’re working. Set up your favorite playlists ahead of time, then hit this workflow to start it right away.
Make a GIF
It’s still way too hard to make GIFs on iOS, but this workflow lets you take 5 photos quickly and stitches them together into a GIF. Then you get a preview where you can share it, then saves it to your library.
Get File and Share
If you’ve got documents organized in the Files app, you can run this workflow to open up the file picker and quickly AirDrop it to someone nearby, or if it’s in Dropbox copy a link that you can send to someone else. And otherwise, you can open up the Share sheet and send it off to another app that way.
Post photo to Instagram
This shortcut lets you choose between a few options on which photo to use, then opens it in Instagram. You can take a photo, pick from your library, or upload the last photo. You can choose whether to crop or not before you get into Instagram so it’ll be just the right size. You can type your caption in the prompt, choose from a list of your most common hashtags (and enter any new ones), and when you’re done it’ll be copied to your clipboard ready to paste into the comment field.
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.
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.
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. ↩
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. ↩
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. ↩