Thank you so, so much if you shared my video over the past few days. I asked and you delivered, which really was heartwarming to see and it made a huge difference. Special thanks to Myke Hurley and Jason Snell for mentioning it on Upgrade, as well as Lory Gil for inviting me to link at the bottom of my iMore articles (which we’ve been updating with new information) – both helped a ton.
I’m still trying to get it linked elsewhere because I really do want as many people to learn as possible and help them avoid confusion, so I’m excited to see how it keeps growing over time.1
Every year, it’s a staple in the Apple community to read Federico Vittici’s in-depth review of the latest version of iOS.
Federico has been running MacStories for years and always spends the summer drafting massive, book-length guides to the new changes that come to Apple’s iPhone and iPad software, quickly becoming the go-to place to pay attention when the new release drops.
This time, it’s very much the same, with Viticci publishing his entire review with 16 individual sections as pages (and 1 page for credits). Here’s the subhead introduction:
After years of unabated visual and functional changes, iOS 12 is Apple’s opportunity to regroup and reassess the foundation before the next big step – with one notable exception.
I had the honor of being on Relay FM‘s great new show Automators this week. Hosted by David Sparks and Rosemary Orchard, the show dives deep into automation with Apple products and covers a whole range of apps and devices.
With iOS 12 launching on Monday, David and Rosemary had me on their show to talk all about Shortcuts and walk people through two of my custom shortcuts – Open Twitter Lists and Golden Hour.
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.
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 can’t wait to get Siri Shortcuts so I can say “Hey Siri, this is a jam!” and have it added to my Running and Dance playlists at the same time, while putting it on repeat for the next 30 minutes.
— Marls Barkley (@m_rlons) July 16, 2018
- Merlin Mann tweeted some useful Find My iPhone shortcuts:
Good good shortcuts. pic.twitter.com/1NwapT6qR6
— Merlin Mann (@hotdogsladies) July 15, 2018
- Robb Lewis’s example is a great reminder that not all shortcuts need to be fancy:
iOS12 suggestions are pretty good so far. pic.twitter.com/weABOnNqgT
— Robb Lewis (@rmlewisuk) July 22, 2018
- 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:
— Six Colors (@bleedsixcolors) July 20, 2018
- I’ve also seen a handful of developers tweeting about their Shortcuts – here’s Greg Pierce with the classic undersell3:
Not that exciting, but the first background-enabled custom intent Shortcut is running in a Drafts beta. pic.twitter.com/DCsZcntTiE
— Greg Pierce (@agiletortoise) July 16, 2018
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 + 2a lot in Safari from now on:
Pretty sure this is new (and not documented yet), but in iOS 12 Safari you can use ⌘1…9 to navigate to tabs with an external iPad keyboard. You can also do ⌘⌃1/2 to open Bookmarks and Reading List, respectively ?
— Federico Viticci (@viticci) July 15, 2018
- That Weird Symbol on Your Camera is the Film Plane Indicator: Interesting detail from PetaPixel on Twitter – the icon shows where your sensor is, which is useful if you’re trying to measure to the exact point where light reaches the capture point on your DSLR.
- 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:
Finally, quick shout-out to the other amazing folks I’ve worked with at iMore over the years: @russellholly @journeydan @Asacco @rstevens @jessiechar @jmetzendorf @jsnell @mattcassinelli + way too much other talent to fit.
And the @_RelayFM crew. You know what you did. ?
— Serenity Caldwell (@settern) July 19, 2018
- 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:
you can type -pinterest.com in the search and it will remove pinterest results, makes google images usable again
— taruan (@taruan_) July 20, 2018
- 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.
Maybe I’ll just start marking up screenshots with the Apple Pencil? pic.twitter.com/WGYz4PBCbI
— Drew Coffman (@DrewCoffman) July 22, 2018
Also, in case you’re curious, here are the links to all the articles I’ve written on other sites:
- Phwhat’s up everybody? ↩︎
- 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. ↩︎
- Teasing Drafts for Mac is just mean. ↩︎
- 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. ↩︎
- And on the rest of MacStories, of course. Oh and Connected, AppStories, and Canvas too. ↩︎
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 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.
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.
I also enjoyed some of the follow-up to my TechCrunch piece – because it happened on Sunday, many people saw it on Monday morning.
— gwhizkids (@gwhizkids) July 9, 2018
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.
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.
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 email@example.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.
- Plus, my friend and my cousin told me they had read it first and only then realized it was my byline at the top. ☺ ↩
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:
BRB, making Harry Potter spells into Siri Shortcuts. pic.twitter.com/ceK3bBuyEh
— Ben Markowitz (@bpmarkowitz) July 6, 2018
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.
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.
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.
Links in this post
- StitchPics for iPhone and iPad (Free on the App Store)
- Tailor for iPhone (Free on the App Store)
- Ben Markowitz on Twitter
- I don’t know if it’s temporarily removed or gone for good, but boy am I hoping for the former not the latter. ↩
- Awesome work Ben! And also wow, almost 7,000 people liked a good automation joke (even if it’s mostly for the Harry Potter). ↩
- 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. ↩
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 2.0.
All the new features were discovered right away:
More highlights from Shortcuts beta:
– Scriptable Do Not Disturb (!!) and other device settings
– Third-party URL schemes fully supported
– Show Result for Siri with Magic Variables
– New payment actions based on SiriKit pic.twitter.com/qwyiBFM7eb
— Federico Viticci (@viticci) July 5, 2018
Eventually, I was able to stop jumping up and down, sit down, and write up an introduction to the Shortcuts app for iMore – 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:
Friends, I am fully available to help with Shortcuts.
I’m not working full time so that I can do this for all of you. Do not ever hesitate to reach out, I would be happy to be drowning in requests.
My goal joining Workflow was to tell people about this – nothing has changed ?
— Matthew Cassinelli (@mattcassinelli) July 5, 2018
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.
Links from the week
In case you noticed, I’m moving this weekly recap to Sunday instead.
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.
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.
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!
- Workflow ended at 1.7.8 before we were acquired, and now Shortcuts begins at version 2.0 ↩
- Slightly different than my Siri Shortcuts: FAQ piece. ↩
- 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. ↩
- 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. ↩
- 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. ↩