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What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 33

Originally posted as What’s New in Shortcuts? Issue 33sign up for the newsletter here.

Welcome to Issue 33 of “What’s New in Shortcuts?”

Last Friday, the iPad Pro went up for pre-order as AirTags were arriving – I’m getting the 12.9″ 1TB model to review and will be sharing my thoughts with members soon after I get my hands on one.

As for AirTags, there’s not a whole lot related to Shortcuts–Chris Lawley determined that they can indeed be used for NFC automations–but I’ve got an inkling of how they might be useful in the future& I’m making a whole video on it, so stay tuned to the YouTube channel this week.

Otherwise, I’ve got productivity shortcuts, conversations from the User Group, and quick links for you to check out this week – plus a blurb about the return of Get Variable:

🆕 NEW FROM ME THIS WEEK

This week we’ve got a bunch of productivity shortcuts! I’ve updated my Routine Checklist to use Things and added it to the Catalog, plus there’s a new Morning Agenda for Siri and Day One shortcut for journaling:

  • Routine Checklist
    I’ve updated my Routine Checklists shortcut to use a better method and made it free – it uses Things again, plus adds them individual tasks rather than a single task with a checklist so that they are easier to check off from the Apple Watch. Members can also get the full checklists on the Extras page.
  • Morning Agenda
    I’ve created the first version of my morning agenda shortcut, which speaks out the weather, reminders, & your calendar events, shows any notes created the day before, and then presents options for media to start your day with. I’ll be updating this over time with more sections and more advanced logic, but this first version works well enough to share now rather than wait.
  • Day One
    I’ve created a Day One shortcut that takes advantage of many of their excellent shortcuts, from templates to rich media entries to searching through your journal. This is also my v1 shortcut for Day One – I plan on adding more or splitting this into multiple shortcuts in the future, so expect updates down the line.

🤖 POSTS FROM THE USER GROUP

This week I wanted to highlight some conversations going on in the Shortcuts User Group, the community I created for talking about, diagnosing, and sharing shortcuts – join the Slack and participate in conversations like these:

  • Zed’s Punchard shortcut
    Zed has created a Punchcard system using Shortcuts – it keeps track of your time during the week, opens his specific website for logging it all on Fridays, and if he works on the weekend, it credits it towards next week.
  • Antonio helps me parse my scripts
    I’ve been trying to take my video scripts and turn them into shot lists for a while, so I posted in #ask-for-help and Antonio Bueno put together an amazing Regular Expression solution for me – check out our conversation to see him put it together.
  • The Ultimate Outdoor Walk Automation
    Giacomo Passini has posted a detailed write-up full of screenshots explaining how to set up an Apple Watch shortcut – check out the walkthrough if you’ve never put together a complex shortcut before.

🔗 LINKS SINCE LAST TIME

Clever wallpapers for battery life, Shortcuts for Spanish speakers, and making a setlist into a playlist:

  • Ben Vessey’s battery level wallpapers
    Designer Ben Vessey has put together a highly visual set of custom wallpapers designed to be used with Shortcuts automations for Battery and Charge levels – the idea is that you always know what level you’re at because the wallpaper changes in the background automatically. He’s selling multiple versions of the set, so check out his website for all the options.
  • Antonio’s Spanish-speaking resource
    Speaking of Antonio, he’s created a simple resource in Spanish for getting started with Shortcuts. He specifically mentioned it’s just the beginning, but it’s cool to see resources pop up for non-English speakers as well – check it out.
  • My quick Outside Lands setlist generator
    I shared this on Twitter last week, but I created a quick shortcut to make a playlist out of the setlist for the Outside Lands festival here in SF. I copied the artist names from the website, pasted them into the shortcut, and then did some quick text manipulation to isolate each artist name, a kind of “poor man’s RegEx” technique that I actually use quite often.

📲 SHORTCUTS SPOTLIGHT

Get Variable is back!

It appears that iOS 14.5 left one more surprise for us Shortcuts users – and that’s the return of the Get Variable action.

I’m not sure if this is a permanent change or a bug, but Get Variable was available in Workflow and previous versions of Shortcuts – this action lets you place content anywhere into the flow of your shortcut (rather than relying on a variable slot in an existing action).

Without it, there are some cases where it can get tricky how to retrieve your content and pass it along — inside If statements and Menus it could get a bit wonky — so it’s a welcome presence again.

Plus, having it back also improves visual clarity when reading a shortcut, clearly marking where previously-stored data is coming back into play.

If you haven’t read the Shortcuts User Guide sections about variables yet, check them out:

Plus, you can chat about new actions like this in the #iOS-14-beta channel in the Shortcuts User Group.

Join the Shortcuts User Group