How to jump between the audio and video of Supercomputer

For episode 19 of Supercomputer, instead of hitting the “call” button to record, we pressed “video chat” and proceed to produce our podcast. I edited out some moments, added chapter markers for the audio file, and uploaded the video to YouTube.

This last week, for episode 20, I also added visual chapters, actually used Alex’s correct audio file, and shared our second video recording to YouTube.

But podcasts are for audio, right?
Continue reading “How to jump between the audio and video of Supercomputer”

Look ahead at your day with “Agenda” 📹

Today I released my fifth YouTube video, focusing on building an agenda for the day and walking people through the process of building it.

This is a full-Siri shortcut, meaning it’ll work on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, HomePod, and CarPlay, with Siri speaking out the results to you:

It includes overdue and upcoming reminders, today’s calendar events, and contacts who have a birthday today – so many people say they only use Facebook for birthdays, so this could help you break that habit too.

In the video I demonstrate the use of Repeat With Each, Magic Variables, and Count/If actions to do some logic where I didn’t get quite the results I wanted.

As usual I’d love any feedback on the video – it’s slightly long, but there’s lots of good material to absorb. There was some fuzziness with my audio too, but I managed to get it listenable enough.

On to the next video – seems like Shortcuts 2.1 will be dropping alongside iOS 12.1 tomorrow!

How to make a GIF on iOS: Shortcuts in under 3 minutes [Video]

On Friday, I published a shorter video demonstrating how to build a custom shortcut in the Shortcuts app in just under 3 minutes:

For the topic, I picked “how to make a GIF” because it’s not that easy on iOS, and everyone has a library full of bursts and Live Photos that are stuck in the camera roll.

With just a few actions, you can put together an animated loop of your bursts, Live Photos, or sets of photos, and easily share it with people.

Get the shortcut here if you want to make your own.

I could have made some improvements to the shortcut. Since I filmed this without a script, I didn’t add in Save to Photo Album at the end so that every GIF you made would be saved automatically – this is important because most people run shortcuts from the main library view, but you can only see the GIF in my version if you open the shortcut editor.1

I’m working on some new shorter videos, along with a longer main video each week – working out the process now, but I should be able to ramp up to get more videos out for all of you.

In the meantime, let me know if there’s anything particular you’d like to see from my channel2.

And, as always, linking to the video or retweeting it goes a long way – thank you to everyone who’s been supporting me so far.


  1. It also could have all been built using Find Photos to give you more control; getting into that level of detail, however, definitely takes more than 3 minutes, so I’ll have to work sharing the best examples with the least compromises. 
  2. People left more comments that I’m still a robot who doesn’t blink – even though I totally did once! It’s apparently difficult for me to blink naturally with a bright light in my face while trying to communicate the intricacies of this app on the fly. 

My Top 10 Shortcuts, plus My First Guest Video

Last week, I published my third YouTube video. This one covered 10 great shortcuts that I’ve built over the years, with quick descriptions and demonstrations for each:1

Here they are in order:
1. $0.99 Rental of the Week
2. Flip Photo to IG
3. Log Water
4. Make Wifi QR Code
5. Copy Free Time or Copy Today’s Free Time
6. Search for Link
7. Spongebob
8. Set Bedtime From Sunrise2
9. BART Departures (or, just Ashby)
10. Now or Later Network (and modified Download File)

After I published, Rene Ritchie from iMore also reached out to me and asked for a short video clip with one of my tips on getting started with Shortcuts. Here’s what the full video turned out like:

I shot and put my part together for his video in just a few hours, which encouraged me to make shorter videos myself and demonstrated how tackling a specific single topic is much easier to produce.

For my own work, I’m still working through some process details – my own video was pretty long and difficult to make with so many parts, and an early version of it also just ended up not being very interesting to me. I also need to level my audio better still, plus nail down some of exactly how I am and should be using my cameras too.

I’ve also been developing criteria for which shortcuts I want to share, because, despite people wanting to see all 900 of mine, throwing them all online isn’t my goal – I want to teach people how to build their own, not just use my pre-built shortcuts.

Plus, I’ve completely shifted my schedule to allow for both video production AND writing – I fell off the map a bit getting my thoughts out here and on iMore/The Sweet Setup since starting to make videos.

So enjoy the shortcuts from the video, subscribe to my channel if you haven’t yet, and subscribe to my RSS feed to have these blog posts come directly to you too.


  1. Well, as quick as possible – it’s 17 minutes :) 
  2. Note: requires Shortcuts 2.1 beta – use Set Bedtime From Sunrise (Dark Sky) if you’re on Shortcuts 2.0. 

Everything Went Better Than Expected

I am incredibly amazed right now, because I launched my YouTube channel on Monday and my first video has gotten 20,000 views along with 2,304 subscribers as of publishing – last week I had 2.

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

If you haven’t watched the video yet, here it is – don’t forget to subscribe 😇:

Now I’m hard at work on a second one – the Shortcuts app is out alongside iOS 12, and there’s lots of confusion on how the app works, what works in Siri and what doesn’t, and once you get past that, what to even build with it.

I’ve got a ton to cover and unfortunately I can’t cram it all into one video, so I’m going to work my way through it and give as many quick asides with those details as I can.

I’m also still writing articles and making a podcast, so if anybody with good video experience wants to help me skip over beginner’s mistakes2 or link to good resources, that would be amazing.

In the meantime, I’m answering as many comments on the video and DMs as I can while still getting shit done, but there’s lots of places elsewhere to look, starting first with Apple’s new Shortcuts User Guide.

But you should also buy David Spark’s Shortcuts Field Guide video series if you want to skip ahead to everything right away, read Federico’s review for a deep dive along with what’s new in iOS 12, and join some of the other healthy communities sprouting up. The subreddit seems to be growing nicely and searching on Twitter for icloud.com/shortcuts will show you a ton of examples, which is fantastic – keep up the good work everyone.

I can’t wait to see what you do with it.3


  1. The YouTube analytics are fun to explore too – people who came from external links stayed the longest on average, which I credit to all of you! 
  2. Mistakes like leaving autofocus continuous on, and having too loud of music with vocalization, and not leveling any of the audio properly, for example… 
  3. 😏 

Sharing about Shortcuts: in audio and video form

With the imminent release of the Shortcuts app for iOS, I’ve been hard at work creating new ways to share with everyone.

After Workflow was acquired by Apple, I took a contract position covering support while the process transitioned to Apple Support. I didn’t want to leave the Workflow community hanging without someone to help with problems, and in my time there helped thousands of people with their workflows – and read every tweet about us.

I had joined the small team to help people learn how to use this thing, and once I saw them continue to update it I took a leap of faith and left early before I learned too much about the plans.

Seeing Shortcuts at WWDC was awesome and a wonderful confirmation that this app is the future of automation on iOS.

Plus, while I was there, I met Alex Cox and she kept telling me to make a podcast about it all. When she said she’d host it with me, I immediately said yes, and Supercomputer was born.

Since then we’ve recorded 5 episodes, introducing ourselves, talking about assistants, covering morning routines, prepping for travel, and now detailing Apple’s September 12 iPhone and Apple Watch event.

Next week we are covering Shortcuts as it’s available for everyone to use, and there will certainly be more intertwined in many episodes to come as it’s intertwined into how iOS works from here on out.

I’d love it if you would subscribe to the show and share it with others if you think if might be useful to them. Even if you use Overcast and Recommend it there (which id be extremely thankful for), Podcasts subscriptions drive the iTunes charts which ultimately get us more users through Apple’s recommendations – subscribing there helps us the most!

I am also open to any constructive criticism or feedback – help me make the show better! I am relatively new to podcasting and feel like I’m improving quickly, but any help speeding that up is welcome.

But wait, there’s more!

Shortcuts is a highly visual tool, and while I love writing and now producing podcasts, sometimes a little video goes a long way in helping you understand how this darn thing works.

So I’m producing YouTube videos to help you learn how to use Shortcuts! My channel will be me explaining what shortcuts are (and what they aren’t), giving examples of shortcuts you can use and how to use them, and I’ll teach you how to build your own shortcuts and think about the process.

In the same spirit above, I am new to video and hopefully I can get through the inevitable awkward bits sooner rather than later, but I have the content down – I worked at the app, I wrote the documentation, I’ve built thousands of workflows/shortcuts, and I am making the time to show you how to use it.

So subscribe to my channel, listen to my podcast, and ask me any questions on Twitter.

I’ll help as best as I can, and I hope you jump in the deep end with me to take advantage of all that Shortcuts has to offer – this is going to be fun.

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”.