Mastering Apple Music: sharing 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.

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.

Download it again if you ran into problems during setup.

We also updated the post later in the day to include the new workflow link and screenshot of the shortcut, so check out the full post to get the details.

Also, add me on Apple Music so I can see what you’re listening to as well.

Check out other articles I’ve written for The Sweet Setup.

Grouping in HomeKit, Shortcuts Tweets, and Quick Links


The coffee shop below where I used to work, and where I first met the RelayFM team during RelayCon just weeks before I started at Workflow. (Source)

During week 29 of the year, I wrote one piece here and one for The Sweet Setup.

On Monday, I saw YouTuber Peter McKinnon1 tweeting about accidental screenshots and remembered my old workflow for cleaning them out of Photos, so I updated it for Shortcuts and shared it as the post “How to delete unplanned screenshots with Shortcuts”. I really enjoy the handiness of shortcuts like this that solve a small problem well, even though that’s only one of the many ways I use the app.

On Thursday, the first out of a batch of posts I wrote for The Sweet Setup was published – How to group smart accessories in the Home app – and the rest will be coming out across the next few Thursdays. I know a ton of quick tips around Apple devices beyond shortcuts too, so I’m sharing them there regularly as well here on my site (alongside tons more Shortcuts coverage too, that is).

As for the photo at the top of this post, I’m shooting an original photo each week to use as the header for these recaps. It’ll be an exercise in using my camera more and capturing random moments as stock-like photography, plus I want to push the overall visual quality of my blog.

Shortcuts tweets of the week

Trying something new this week – curating different tweets I’ve come across about Shortcuts, since seeing how other people use it will be most of the fun for me:

  • Marls Barkley has a great idea for shortcuts that help you listen to that new favorite song of yours over and over again:

  • I had a great back & forth with Jason Snell and Federico on Twitter after reading a post from his site and realizing it could be done with Shortcuts. I’m in the process of writing up how it works, but he updated his post with our joint solution2:

  • I’ve also seen a handful of developers tweeting about their Shortcuts – here’s Greg Pierce with the classic undersell3:

Links of the week

Here’s a selection of good links I came across this week – I’m a bit behind on my normal reading so there’s a few tweets in here that got me thinking as well:

  • Instapaper is going independent: I’m super happy to see Instapaper break out of Pinterest and get a renewed life under the Instant Paper company4. Let’s hope it continues to get pushed forward – I’ll have to write up my ideas and share them with the team.
  • New keyboard shortcuts for Safari in iOS 12 Federico Viticci consistently shares great tips on Twitter and in the Club MacStories Weekly Newsletter5 – this little tidbit is super helpful for iPad Pro users. I’m a big Reading List user too, so I’ll be using Command + Control + 2 a lot in Safari from now on:

  • Farewell Serenity Caldwell, hello (again) Lory Gil!: Serenity Caldwell of iMore has made an awesome leap to Apple on the communications team. I’ll definitely miss hearing her on podcasts and wish I had more chances to work with her, but I’m positive Apple is better off with her on their team. I’m also super excited to work more with Lory Gil and keep up with the Shortcuts pieces I have been writing for iMore so far. Serenity was kind enough to give me a quick shoutout in her thread of goodbyes even though I’ve been with them for just a few months:

  • Get rid of Pinterest in Google Image Search: If you’re not a fan of the Pinterest-ridden results in Google Search that require you to log in just to see them, you’ll want to use this trick (apparently it’s very popular:

  • Using your iPad as a digital contact sheet: My friend Drew Coffman came up with a clever way to add back physicality to your photography process when you’re doing it on the iPad – take a screenshot of your recent import and use Markup to draw on it like a contact sheet.

Also, in case you’re curious, here are the links to all the articles I’ve written on other sites:

Last item of the week: there was a lot of embedded tweets in this post – what do you think of that? Does it work alright if you’re subscribed to the RSS feed? Thanks for letting me know!

Read last week’s recap post.

  1. Phwhat’s up everybody? ↩︎
  2. I don’t know about you, but I’m all down for building shortcuts together in public with anyone who wants help. Tweeting out the progression of shortcuts along the way is also a great demonstration of the process I go through building many shortcuts – it takes some trial and error to get it right. ↩︎
  3. Teasing Drafts for Mac is just mean. ↩︎
  4. I assume this is is mostly Brian Donohue who ran it at Betaworks after Marco sold it to them and even stayed strong on the team after the Pinterest acquisition. ↩︎
  5. And on the rest of MacStories, of course. Oh and Connected, AppStories, and Canvas too. ↩︎

 

How to delete unplanned screenshots with Shortcuts

If you’re an iPhone X or Apple Watch user, you may have a bunch of screenshots you’ve unintentionally taken recently filling up your camera roll:

Maybe you’re accidentally gripping the volume up button as you also press power to turn off your iPhone, or you’re pressing the Digital Crown and side button at the same time to pause an Apple Watch workout1 – either way, you probably don’t want most of the screenshots that are filling up your library.

With the Shortcuts app in the iOS 12 beta (or using Workflow if you’re not on the beta), you can set up a three-action script to get your latest screenshots, pick which ones to delete, and delete them all in one go.

Add the actions by searching in the action drawer or browsing through the Content Types categories, then dragging them into the following order:

  • Get Latest Screenshots
  • Choose From List
  • Delete Photos

I’ve increased the number of screenshots to 30 so there’s a full screen to choose from, toggled Select All Initially, and set it up with a Siri command as well.

This shortcut is useful since you don’t have to sort out regular photos you want to keep, all the images are already selected by default so you only have to unselect the ones you want to save, and it will confirm the deletion in case you make a mistake.

If you use the Add To Siri function available in the shortcut’s settings, you can set up your own custom voice trigger and later ask Siri to “delete my screenshots” (for example) when you want to kick off this flow.

One thing to note: the shortcut won’t operate entirely in the Siri interface because it requires the menu UI and delete confirmation, so currently it’s expected behavior that using Siri will just open the app and run the shortcut.2

Additionally, you could switch up this shortcut for new purposes with a few tweaks – if you’re not using any of your screenshots anymore, just bump up the number further or run this a couple of times to clean them all out; or, maybe swap out the first two actions with Select Photos to pick from your entire library instead of choosing only from screenshots.

See more of my Tips & Tricks posts, shared every Monday.


  1. Apple assigns the trigger of pressing the buttons to both pause your Apple Watch workout and take a screenshot, so if you want to keep the screenshot function on you’ll have a library full of mid-workout screencaps. 
  2. I hope this type of functionality can be displayed within Siri in the future so shortcuts can operate entirely without opening the app. Admittedly, however, that’d likely be a hard user interface to make look natural from within the Siri overlay. 

Screenshots, Shortcuts, and Consulting

This week I only had time to publish one post – here on my website.

Stitching pics with StitchPics

On Monday, I shared about creating all-in-one screenshots using StitchPics to combine multiple together. I’ll probably be using this app a ton, because it’s perfect for sharing Shortcuts in a highly visual way.

I hope Apple restores the ability to share by link as was possible in Workflow, but for now the limitation is actually helping me clean my library up and save anything I don’t need as .shortcuts files.

Stocks, baby

I also enjoyed some of the follow-up to my TechCrunch piece – because it happened on Sunday, many people saw it on Monday morning.

I was super pumped when I went to go copy the link and found my piece right at the top of their site – later I found out it was in the Stocks app too!1

First apps

This week was the 10-year anniversary of the App Store, and so there was some good sharing around how the changes have impacted us since then.

Apple wrote a long piece, MacStories covered a huge swath of stories, interviews, and reflections, and people took to Twitter to share their first apps downloaded from the App Store.

I stayed on brand and tweeted my first apps alongside my first few shortcuts in the app.

This was a somewhat tongue-in-cheek tweet, but I am fascinated to think another 10 years from now what it’ll be like to interact with Apple’s platform as something like Shortcuts becomes prevalent exactly 10 years in.

Coming soon

Otherwise I’ve been staying busy with consulting (only so much time before Shortcuts launches!), writing ahead for future posts, and continuing forward on my secret project.

I didn’t get a chance to share much about Shortcuts (though following my Twitter feed may not seem like it) so there’s more coming soon.

I’m also planning on sharing my Launch Center Pro setup soon since I’ve been recommending it to people as a trigger mechanism for shortcuts – just need to update it a bit first.

Links from the week

  • Bradley Chambers’ homescreen criticism: After tweeting about his special powers for criticizing his coworkers’ homescreen, a ton of people sent him theirs and he quoted them with advice. I sent mine in for fun and I’ve seen others changing things up since then – fun to take a look through his feed at others.
  • Affinity Designer launched, then Adobe leaked Photoshop news: everyone was in a big iPad mood this week after Affinity launched a full vector design app and teased their upcoming publisher app too. I had some discussion about their business model which will be interesting to play out, especially as they’re staking a brand flag and Adobe coming hot on their heels with “full” Photoshop supposedly coming next year. As Federico put it well, it’s a bit surreal that iPad is getting tons of focus and love as the Mac community seems to be losing some faith.
  • Austin Mann reviews the new MacBook Pro: Now that Apple pushed the MacBook Pro line into the space users have wanted, and seemingly addressed some dust issues, it seems like the MacBook Pro is a great buy again. I lost mine in a theft last year and don’t have the $7,000 to max one out, but I’m likely getting a laptop and monitor to replace my iMac when the time comes.
  • Throwbacks – the start of Workflow, and the REAL start of Workflow: now that the change from Workflow to Shortcuts is underway, there’s two great videos to watch. The first is the demo video that Ari gave after first building Workflow, quickly showing how to create a workflow in the app – this proof of concept wowed the community and lead to the first version of the app. But a much earlier video shows that Ari has been at this his whole life – he’s probably embarrassed, but there is a fantastic video of him as a 15-year-old talking about jailbreaking on the news. You can see the passion even at a young age, and today he’s even more able to execute on his vision. I jokingly tweeted about it, but I really am excited to see what he will build one day because I’m sure him (and the team) are just getting started.
  • Sock recommendations: I tweeted asking people about help finding a good pair of socks and got 10 replies – will have to buy some and report back.

If you’re an app developer and you’re integrating Shortcuts into your app, please send me a TestFlight invite at matthew.cassinelli@gmail.com and message me if you want specific feedback.

For larger integrations or consulting for your brand, I have some limited time available if you want to work together before the release of iOS 12.

Read the last recap from Week 27.


  1. Plus, my friend and my cousin told me they had read it first and only then realized it was my byline at the top. ☺ 

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.

Click here to check out more Tips & Tricks posts

Links in this post


  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. 

My piece on TechCrunch – and the Shortcuts app is here!

This week I shared a bit more off my site than on it, with only one post here, one on iMore, and another on (!) TechCrunch.

Swipe to share

First, I started the week with another Tips & Tricks post – “Swipe on the Copy & Paste menu in iOS to see more actions” – aimed at sharing a simple but helpful gesture.

In case you can’t tell from my crack headline writing, swiping on the popover that appears when you go to copy and paste menu makes it easier to access the Share button.

I had fun making a simple GIF to show the interaction, and I think that went a long way in making the post useful for people – just reading about it is nice, but seeing it in action makes a difference.

This is mostly useful since I use that menu all the time with Workflow – now it’s going to be even handier to use with Shortcuts. It’s great to select text, share it into a shortcut, and act on it with the features like Make Rich Text From Markdown or Change Case.

Getting Started with Shortcuts

But the big fun came later in the week, when the beta for Shortcuts dropped and everyone started playing around what’s essentially Workflow 2.01.

All the new features were discovered right away:

Eventually, I was able to stop jumping up and down, sit down, and write up an introduction to the Shortcuts app for iMore2 – this went into the very basics of installing the app, what happens to your old workflows if you used Workflow, and where to start looking for more ideas for custom shortcuts.

I have lots of other pieces coming about Shortcuts on both iMore, The Sweet Setup, and here on my own website (plus some scheduled podcast appearances!).

But until then I’ve started a Twitter thread where I’m sharing some of the bigger concepts or examples of shortcuts I’ve made over time in one place. Click on it, scroll through, add it to your Twitter bookmarks when you’re done, and come back again later:

Guest post on TechCrunch

My most exciting piece came today, this Sunday afternoon, as a guest post on TechCrunch: “Apple’s Shortcuts will flip the switch on Siri’s potential.”

In my piece, I talked about some of my vision for where I see Shortcuts taking Siri in the future. It’s not about the nitty gritty of building shortcuts, but instead about the end result of adding useful shortcuts into your routine with Siri – actually getting things done.

I’ve been reading TechCrunch for years and it’s one of the earliest technology website I remember devouring when I first got into the scene – I am extremely honored to see my name there after I was invited to write at WWDC.3

Links from the week

In case you noticed, I’m moving this weekly recap to Sunday instead.4

So Sundays it is – it doesn’t technically fit the calendar week as nicely for this to go out the day after, but also I can recap the entire week if I do happen to publish something else on Saturday.

Otherwise, here’s a few links from elsewhere around the web to check out – this week I’m focusing on Shortcuts because of the launch, but I’ll keep it to a wider range of topics in the future:

  • Automators #1: Automating Calendar Events: The Automators podcast from Relay.FM just launched their first episode on Friday and it dives into different ways to use your calendar. I’ve never subscribed to a podcast so fast – they have a great forum, they’re making blog posts and videos for each episode. I’m sure it will be a great resource for the Shortcuts app and a bunch of other types of automation for iOS, Mac, and the web too.

  • Initial observations of Shortcuts: Jordan Merrick has a good quick reaction to the new features Shortcuts gained over Workflow and how they affect usage. I agree that it’s slightly odd that the action groups are hidden within the search field – I hope people aren’t confused and think there’s a limited set of options.

  • First impressions of Shortcuts for iOS: Michael Rockwell put together a helpful rundown of the new changes Workflow users will see in Shortcuts and what’s different in the betas right now.

  • r/shortcuts: There’s a new subreddit for Shortcuts that popped up over the weekend – I joined as moderator to help with the transition from r/workflow, guide the community as best I can, and try to establish a positive tone for the submissions.5

Random things:

  • I’m trying to set up my cellular plan on my iPad Pro after my last one was stolen, but T-Mobile is being difficult and says “Your account is not set up for logging in.” What?! Anyone go through this and have suggestions?

  • I’m saving a bunch of my shortcuts as files and cleaning up my library – funny how the fact that sharing by link isn’t available is prompting me to do this now, when it would have been helpful to do all along.

  • I’m still hard at work on a few new projects, which are slow but steady. I’m getting super excited and hope to launch sometime soon!

Despite calling it a weekly newsletter and accepting names for the list months ago, I haven’t yet published a single issue.

I’m still taking sign-ups though and waiting for the right moment to launch it, so add your email here and you’ll get it in your inbox when the time comes.

Have a good week!

Read last week’s recap post.


  1. Workflow ended at 1.7.8 before we were acquired, and now Shortcuts begins at version 2.0 
  2. Slightly different than my Siri Shortcuts: FAQ piece. 
  3. I was waiting for a friend and just said hi to the person closest to me – it was Sarah Perez, and after we talked she grabbed the editor Matthew Panzarino, I mentioned I worked at Workflow, and he said I should write something up. 
  4. That’s partially because that’s when my TechCrunch piece was going out, but also anyone who’s run a website probably knows it sucks to try and write on the first day of your weekend. 
  5. I saw some people in the Workflow subreddit who could be too critical of new users or repeated questions, so I’m going to push things towards an air of openness and learning – this app is damn confusing and we’ll all be better off in the long run by lifting one another up. 

Keeping a better film watchlist in Letterboxd

Lately, when I’m ready to sit down and enjoy something for the evening, I’ve struggled to find the right movie to watch.

It’s way too easy to quickly pick whatever’s available on Netflix, Hulu, or HBO, but really all you’re shown is what they’ve purchased movie rights for. The TV app and iTunes on Apple TV are somewhat helpful, but you can’t go very deep into the catalog of films available when you’re just browsing.

So I’ve been trying to use Letterboxd to keep track of movies and build up a better list to pick from when it’s time to watch. The iOS app is designed for finding films, saving them for later, and logging reviews, wrapped up in a mini social network.1

Letterboxd is nice enough for a dedicated app just for movies – the features you’d want here are different from a TV-tracking app like Couchy, which is more designed for keeping up (because you don’t usually review episodes).

Thankfully, Letterboxd added automation support last year along with the release of their iPad version. They have documentation for their URL scheme available, so I took a look and put together a workflow to help me get started tracking movies to watch.

I built Add to Letterboxd Watchlist, a workflow that takes a list of movie titles and opens them one-by-one in Letterboxd to their Add to Watchlist search page and back into Workflow to move on to the next.

With this workflow, you can save a list of movie titles separated onto new lines. You can add them in the prompt while the workflow is running, or by inputting them via the Action Extension or from the widget with the list of movies saved to your clipboard.

The way Letterboxd’s URL scheme works requires you confirm the result in its app each time (to make sure you’ve got the right movie), but then it kicks you back to Workflow temporarily. Here the next item is passed along the repeat loop, then you’re opened into Letterboxd for the next result.

Once you get to the end of your list and have iterative back & forth between Letterboxd and Workflow, I added a silly little prompt at the end to count the number of items successfully added and list the movies once more for good measure.

Ideally, an app like this would be able to accept a whole list of titles at once and iterate through the results from within the app. But for now, the URL scheme automation makes it possible to batch the results in one go – even though the app doesn’t officially support it.

This is just one example of how iOS automation can make a repetitive task much quicker, and in some cases even faster than you’d be able to do from a computer or on the web. I’m looking forward to collecting movie ideas a bit easier and having a great list to choose from too.2

If you want to see more of what I’ve written about iOS automation, check out my workflows category (I’ll be changing this to shortcuts soon enough) or subscribe to my blog posts via RSS.


Links for Letterboxd


  1. The only person I follow on there is Jonathan Poritsky, who is a self-professed member of #FilmTwitter. 
  2. I’ll be setting this workflow up as a custom shortcut to launch it with Siri too – I’ll just have to copy the list to my clipboard and say “Watchlist”. 

Shortcuts & Siri: I’m excited to see more

The best announcement at WWDC this June was Shortcuts, which will let you seamlessly interact with your apps with Siri, your iOS devices, and Apple accessories.

These quick actions will make using Apple devices much faster for everyone, plus the upcoming Shortcuts app will mark iOS opening up to true automation and sets the platform down a path full of potential.

I originally joined Workflow, the app and team that was acquired by Apple and is now becoming Shortcuts, because I believed in the power of getting things done on mobile devices and what it means to have the capability to do so in your own hands. I saw firsthand the benefits of having your own creations to use with you everywhere,and the accessibility for everyone to build those programs with the touch-based interaction.

I left and started working independently because I wanted to share my own experiences directly with people. I want to take time to help everyone understand how to take advantage of these types of tools in their own lives, work directly with app developers and companies to build integrate these properly, and share my own vision of what the world could look like with these technologies properly utilized.

Now that the public beta is available, people are starting to see what the basic custom voice and suggested shortcuts can do – I’ll be sharing my thoughts even more here and a few other places.

Coverage so far

Over on iMore, I wrote a piece shortly after WWDC called Siri Shortcuts: Everything You Need To Know that introduced people to the new features. I shared about how you’ll first experience shortcuts, how to set up custom voice commands to launch Siri actions now, and what the Shortcuts app will be in relation to Workflow.

I didn’t cover too much about the specific details of interacting with Siri intents-based shortcuts, so there’s more to come there.

Rene Ritchie also had me on his podcast VECTOR to talk about Shortcuts for my debut appearance on a podcast. In it, we talked about the potential of Siri, how Shortcuts will work, and I teased some thoughts that I’m going to write up in more detail this summer. I’m super thankful for Rene to have me on his show and give me a chance to share1.

I really enjoyed speaking to someone else about all my ideas – keep an eye out for more from me in this space.

Coming soon

I have so much more to say about Shortcuts that there’s so many places to start (is there anything you’d like to know?).

I suggest everyone on the betas try out the parts of Shortcuts that are available now in Siri Settings, and read up more with Federico’s coverage from MacStories because he nailed all the details available so far.

If you’re really curious, I suggest watching the Shortcuts developer sessions available on Apple’s website and in the WWDC app – Introduction to Siri Shortcuts, Building for Voice with Siri Shortcuts, and Siri Shortcuts on the Siri Watch will get you very far and reveal most of what’s possible for apps to do with the technology right now, and coming this fall.

Workflow is on the App Store

Now’s the time to dive into Workflow and get a sense of what’s coming with Shortcuts. I suggest you download the app, explore the Gallery, follow the community on Reddit, and check out more of MacStories’ archives to learn as much as possible about Workflow’s past.

I wrote the original Workflow documentation while I was on the team to try and clearly show people what’s possible with the app – I suggest reading through the archive available online. Apple has just recently updated the documentation URL to redirect to help.apple.com/workflow, so you can check out their new set of documentation there as well.

Getting ahead on Shortcuts is guaranteed to be worth it now, and if the potential expands more in the future you’ll be even further ahead.

If you’d like to keep up with my Shortcuts coverage, follow my posts here on MatthewCassinelli.com or via RSS, subscribe to my email newsletter, and follow me on Twitter.


  1. Sorry again I messed up my audio! 

How I Lost My iPad

This last week, I published two posts – one post on The Sweet Setup and one on my website.

Over on The Sweet Setup, I shared “Losing my iPad Pro: what I missed (and love) about Apple’s tablet experience” where I talked about replacing my iPad after it was stolen and how it clarified the space in my experience the device fills for me:

The iPad has been my main computing device since the Pro line came out. Being without it for a few weeks has really highlighted why I prefer the iPad, and in many cases, has shown me how I can do more than on any other device.

Without an iPad, the joy of using a device doesn’t exist to the same extent. I still have an iMac, but since I lost the iPad and have had to use the iMac full-time again, I’m starting to feel the desktop’s limitations.

I had some good conversation on Twitter and a bit of discussion on Reddit – the conversation was positive, with many people sharing how they also prefer to use an iPad as their main device.

I’m seeing this more and more – it makes sense to me 🙂


 
On my website, I only shared one post this week1”Workflows and shortcuts for saving your clipboard to Copied”. In it, I wrote about 7 workflows I create for Copied, helping me utilize the clipboard manager beyond what’s already possible with their action extension:

To start taking advantage of Copied’s deeper features, I turned to the URL scheme and set up three workflows to show my clipboard, open a list, and add a clipping with a custom title.

Plus I made one specific workflow for saving Highlights out of Instapaper, and my favorite out of the bunch saves tweets into Copied so I can reference them for later projects.

At the end, there was two more example workflows – one for searching Copied, and another for grabbing a specific clipping from a list.

The tweet I shared had a screenshot of all seven workflows – see the piece to add them.

 
I was also thankful when I saw Federico Viticci linked to my Copied piece in the Interesting Links section of the weekly newsletter that members of Club MacStories receive. If you have the means and are interested in more about workflows & other great ways to use iOS, I suggest paying for the subscription and reading through the archives (here’s a sample from November).


 
Since this is my first weekly recap, I also wanted to share something from the week prior: I was grateful to appear on Rene Ritchie’s podcast VECTOR for episode 125 to talk about Siri, Shortcuts, and Workflow, marking one of my debut appearances on a podcast.

We had a great conversation and talked about what some of the changes coming in iOS 12 mean for workflows, getting things done, and some ways I could see Shortcuts being useful for everyone.

Unfortunately I screwed up the audio recording on my end and my microphone input didn’t get properly saved, so we had to default to the Skype call for my end. It doesn’t sound great, but hopefully the conversation topic made it still worth the time for listeners.

During the conversation, I also talked about my Log Water workflow – add it to your library if you want to try it out and examine it. I got really excessive with the logic and honestly confused myself many times while setting up the different messages that differ depending on how close you are to the daily goal, but it’s a fun look at the ways you can take a simple version of an automation and beef it up to be more dynamic.

I really enjoyed recording the episode and it gave me a lot of energy – I’m going to try this more often.


 
That’s it for this week.

I’ve spent an ungodly amount of time on Twitter (thanks for the data, Screen Time!) so I’ll be spending less time this next week refreshing my feed and more writing. That being said, it’s still worth following me there because I’m sharing there often too.

If you’re interested in receiving my upcoming newsletter, here’s the sign up form.

I’ll be publishing these recaps on Saturdays (unlike this time on Sunday) to play along with the calendar weeks – mostly because it’ll make my date workflows easier. 🤖


  1. Self-shaming myself with “only” because I want to be sharing here much more often. 

Saving your clipboard to Copied with Shortcuts

One type of apps that make the Mac more useful than iPad for many are clipboard managers.

Instead of copying & pasting one thing at a time, tools like Alfred, Pastebot, and Copied let Mac users copy lots of information in batches and then use it later (often with special formatting or inserting with keyboard shortcuts).

On iOS, the problem isn’t nearly as solved – since apps don’t have the same access to your clipboard at all times, they can’t capture everything you’re cutting & pasting on your iPhone or iPad.

However, Copied does provide a solution that works across the Apple device line, letting you save things to their database, sync it across iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and share it elsewhere.

And, with support for URL scheme actions on iOS, it’s possible to use Copied in conjunction with an app like Workflow. You can create shortcuts that clip the contents of your clipboard, share sheet & save it into your Copied lists for organization, and much more.

Getting your clippings in

While getting text into Copied is mainly done through the action extension, sometimes it can take too many taps to get my information in just the right place.

To start taking advantage of Copied’s deeper features, I turned to the URL scheme and set up three workflows to show my clipboard, open a list, and add a clipping with a custom title.

Show clipboard in Copied:
The first workflow I’ve built adds on to the base URL of copied:// that opens the app and includes clipboard at the end. When this is run or opened with a shortcut phrase, Copied will display your clipboard text in a new window and let you add a title or choose a group before saving it.

Open Copied list:
The second workflow lets you open into one of the custom lists you might’ve added to Copied in order to grab one of your clippings out of there.

Since this workflow includes a main List action where I include all my Copied list names, I also added a Combine Text and Save File action that creates a .txt file in iCloud Drive of the list names for use in other workflows.1

Editor’s note: Even if you don’t plan to use this often, add it with your list names and run it to save the List names to iCloud.

Save with title to Copied list:
The third workflow is designed to save something to Copied with a custom title and into one of my lists.

If there is a link included that will be added into the URL field separate from the clipped text too. Here I’ve grabbed the names of the Copied lists from iCloud, then use Choose From List to let you pick which one to save within.

Plus, at the beginning, you’ll see some logic that makes the workflow more dynamic. It uses Count and an If action to check whether something is present coming from the action extension’s that it can use – this allows it to work if run from the share sheet, or otherwise default to the clipboard if started from the Workflow app, the widget, or as a shortcut with Siri.

Clipping specific types of content

My original goal looking into the Copied URL scheme was finding a better way to clip tweets and blog posts I’ve come across for use in my own writing later, so the next two workflows were designed for just that.

Clip Highlight to Copied:

This workflow takes text that I’ve highlighted or left comments on within Instapaper, then takes the Markdown outputted by tapping Share All Notes at the bottom of a saved piece and saves the link, quote, and title of piece into one of my Copied lists.

This is specifically designed for the way Instapaper outputs its notes, with some relatively sloppy logic that strips out the parentheses and brackets to grab the results I want.

Ideally I would know how to create regular expressions and could extract just the text I want so this wouldn’t potentially break with any odd formatting, but I don’t yet know how – it’s in progress, but for now this does work how I want it to.

Clip tweet to Copied:

The second workflow I’ve built (shown above in three steps) extract a tweet’s text from a Twitter link and input the information into Copied, since clipping a tweet normally only saves the URL and not the tweet itself.

Here the workflow uses the Twitter API 2 and extracts the username, handle, and body of the tweet, then rearranges it all into a clipping title, copied tweet, and the URL into one of my lists.

This nicely formats the display name and Twitter handle as the title, too, so I can reference what I’ve saved much easier.

Getting clippings back out

Finally, I used the other actions available in the Copied URL scheme to retrieve clipping later.


Editor’s note: this image is photoshopped to show both workflows on the same iPad.

Search in Lists:
The Search in Lists workflow I’ve created lets you type in a query and see if you’ve already saved it in Copied.

Running this will put the clipboard or action extension input into a text body, let you type what you’re searching for, and then opens into that space in Copied and displays your clipping to act on as you please.

Grab Item from List:
For those of you who might set up Copied lists that they want to refer to over time, they can use something like Grab Item From List to retrieve clippings from a specific point inside of a list.

While this example workflow I’ve made lets you type in a number to get the item in that spot in the list, you could also tweak it slightly to always retrieve the same clipping too.

I can see this being useful for people who have canned replies saved in Copied – you could swap Ask For Input with a Dictionary action and set up multiple items where each Key is your the title from Copied for your canned reply and the value is its position in the list. That way, when the workflow is run you can pick from the options and grab the corresponding clipping.3

Clip away, friends

Overall, utilizing Copied’s URL scheme helps bring down the friction of adding clippings into the app, plus helps you get even more organized as you add to the database.

With the ability to set these up as custom voice Shortcuts to launch using Siri and the workflows being designed to accept input everywhere they are run, Copied’s usefulness can be extended further whenever you’re using it on iOS.

Now it can be easier to use Copied more on whichever device you prefer, with the ability to clip & save content smoothly on any Apple platform.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter as @mattcassinelli.


Workflows in this post:

Links for Copied – a full-featured clipboard manager


  1. There’s also a Create Folder action at the top that creates /Lists/ in your Workflow folder in iCloud Drive, the only place where workflows can save to in the background (without opening the file picker). 
  2. I got the basis of the workflow from @brentacprime on Twitter, who also mentioned that he had found the workflow originally elsewhere online.

    This does a lot of the logic for accessing Twitter’s API and returning tweet text, so I mostly changed the way the text was arranged at the end and added in the Copied URL scheme logic. 

  3. I could have used this back when I was answering frequently asked questions as @WorkflowHQ on Twitter.