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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.

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“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:

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“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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What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 27

This originally appeared in Issue 27 of “What’s New in Shortcuts?”

Hello all – we’re currently experiencing a fairly major outage for iCloud links related to Shortcuts, and at the moment almost every shortcut that has been shared in the past cannot be installed.

There are articles from places like iMore, MacStories, 9to5Mac, and MacRumors on it – I posted on r/shortcuts as well to reiterate the issue to the community there.

I’ve also had to update my entire Shortcuts Catalog, and if you’ve seen any shortcuts from the past that aren’t working, let me know and I’ll see what I can do to recreate or restore them.

This is still developing and, while it does seem like it’s possible to resolve, I shared a thread where I highlighted how major issues like this are eroding the larger trust in Shortcuts, especially outside the current community – this is a crisis moment for Shortcuts.

I hope Apple is able to dedicate resources to fully overcoming the technical debt accrued inside the Shortcuts ecosystem, as well as restoring trust in the community – the people who are in this community and our ideas for how to use shortcuts are stronger than ever, but we’re constantly trying to stand on uneven ground.

So with that said, I want to celebrate this community and what they’re doing:

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What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 26

Originally posted as What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 26sign up for the newsletter here.

Welcome to Issue 26 “What’s New in Shortcuts?”

Hello all!

If you’re in the US, you might feel a little wobbly thanks to Daylight Saving Time – or if you’re somewhere it’s not used, all your US-based media just moved around an hour.

Thankfully I’ve got a new Daily Health shortcut that includes easier access to your Sleep data, as well as a way to set your alarms by the sunrise – I find I can’t help but wake up then anyways, so might as well get to sleep on time too!

Beyond that, there are some YouTube videos on Shortcuts for you to watch, as well as a challenge for you at the end:

🆕 NEW THIS WEEK

I’m back on YouTube, members can get their Automation goodness, and better Daily Health is on the way:

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“What’s New in Shortcuts?” Issue 25

Originally posted in What’s New in Shortcuts: Issue 25.

After last week‘s preview, I’ve officially launched my updated Shortcuts Library – check out the blog post to read my thoughts about the changes.
"What's New in Shortcuts?" Issue 25

I’m also excited to start sharing the next batch of shortcuts with members—l’ll be putting out my Daily Health shortcut next issue—plus I’m starting in on new sections for the Catalog!

Until then, here’s some fun stuff to check out this week:

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What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 24

This was originally published in Issue 24 of my newsletter “What’s New in Shortcuts?” – sign up here.

Hello – this week is lowkey one of my most exciting weeks for Shortcuts, despite a bit of a lull until the next version of iOS comes out…

Plus we’ve got some fun app updates for now and our ear towards the future:

🆕 NEW THIS WEEK

I’ve revamped my Shortcuts Library (plus my membership shortcuts) — and I was on Automators!

  • Check out the new & improved Shortcuts Library
    My Shortcuts Library portion of the Catalog has been entirely updated, combining hundreds of actions into a set of 25 shortcuts that dig deep into each area they’re created for and provide a whole new way to utilize the functionality I’d previously made available across a lot of shortcuts. Check out the collection and add them to your own library!
  • Sign up to get my advanced Membership shortcuts
    My membership shortcuts collection has also been updated with a matching set of 25 more advanced shortcuts dedicated to more particular workflows or apps that I’m utilizing. This collection will be the main resource I’ll be updating weekly, with member shortcuts moving to public release after I publish content or processes around it – there’s a fancy new gallery to make them easy to grab too.
  • Automators #70: Matthew Cassinelli and Changing Your Shortcuts Usage
    My episode of Automators with David Sparks and Rosemary Orchard has gone out – we talked for 96 minutes about everything Shortcuts, my whole new approach to Shortcuts, and what we want out of the service going into iOS 15. Make sure to listen to the episode, and subscribe to the show.
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What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 23

Originally posted as What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 23sign up for the newsletter here.

Welcome to Issue 23 of “What’s New in Shortcuts?”

I’ve finally done it! My whole Shortcuts library has been fully rebuilt according to my new system and I’m truly loving it – plus I figured out another level of what should go on my true Home Screens, so that’s been really exciting and already proving itself out in usefulness.

Thankfully David Sparks and Rosemary Orchard swooped in at just the right time and had me as a guest on the Automators podcast – look for the excellent conversation this Friday when the episode drops!

Until then, here’s two more of my new shortcuts and some great Shortcuts tips I found in the community – plus, look for the fully-updated Shortcuts Catalog coming very soon!

🆕 NEW THIS WEEK

Controlling your smart speakers, managing your own Twitterverse, and chapters for my latest stream:

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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:

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What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 21

Originally posted as What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 21sign up for the newsletter here.

Welcome to Issue 21 of “What’s New in Shortcuts?”

After the amazing results from the survey I sent around, I’ve made a few changes to this newsletter – first by moving it to Wednesday afternoon (PST) instead of Sunday evenings.

I’m also going to create less single-serving shortcuts and fewer but more powerful shortcuts that solve particular use cases & provide more continued utility over time.

In many ways, it’ll be the same content, condensed into bigger shortcuts that handle multiple tasks in one tool.

In addition, I’ll be taking some of the writing here and building it out more on my blog & other channels, then linking back to that each week – for example, I’ll be pausing my Scripting series here and turning it into more useful blog posts.

That being said, you’ll still see lots of inklings of future content in the newsletter in smaller tips as we go.

Thank you so much for being a subscriber and/or a member – with this helpful feedback and my new approach, I’m truly more excited than ever to synthesize and translate what I know into useful resources for you all!

🗓 NEW THIS WEEK

This week I’ve got two new shortcuts available–one for the public and one for members only — plus I’m doing a livestream this afternoon: