What's New in Shortcuts

By Matthew Cassinelli

What's New in Shortcuts - Issue #32



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Matthew Cassinelli
Matthew Cassinelli
Welcome to Issue 32 of “What’s New in Shortcuts” – what a week for Shortcuts tweets!
Florian Bürger shared his Fjorden automation (say that five times fast), an important SOS shortcut is making the rounds on TikTok, there’s a handful of new apps with great Shortcuts support, and an impressive list of ideas straight from the community.
Plus, stay for the end as I guide you through my super-intelligent choice to delete my entire Shortcuts database on the Mac – and learn how I barely made it through the other side with my library (partially) intact:

🐦 Tweet of the week
This week, Florian Bürger’s tweet taking advantage of Shortcuts Automations for his camera app Fjorden (that pairs with the super-cool physical camera hardware too) – in the linked video, he shows it set up so that whenever the default Camera app is open, Shortcuts will automatically takes you to Fjorden instead:
Florian Bürger
iOS 15.4 Beta allows you to remove the notification (& delay) when running personal automations via Shortcuts…

This means, opening Fjorden (or any other camera app) from the lock screen is now super quick and almost seamless 🤩 https://t.co/Ez2JGeVo6l
Florian’s technique is currently possible on iOS, but due to the Shortcuts notifications, it’s a fairly disruptive. Now, in the iOS 15.4 betas, this works more seamlessly thanks to the Notify When Run toggle – check out my coverage for the feature on iMore from a few weeks ago:
Shortcuts beta adds "Notify When Run" toggle to hide Automations – Matthew Cassinelli
Florian’s piece also broke out on Twitter and then made it on the Verge, where they covered the beta feature – it’s great to see more mainstream press pay attention to and celebrate fixes with Shortcuts, especially with an example as great as Florian’s:
iOS 15.4 makes Shortcut automations way less annoying to use - The Verge
🆕 New from Shortcuts Live
Last Friday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Matthew Bischoff about their Shortcuts collection – and oh wow, I was so happy to do so.
I’m still collecting my thoughts, but there was about 15 separate moments where you can see my eyes light up as Matthew talked through their ideas, giving tons and tons of great tips from the perspective of a software developer – even just 10 minutes into the stream I joked that we could stop because they’d already solved one of my biggest mental blocks:
Shortcuts for Mac from a designer & developer's perspective (feat. Matthew Bischoff)
Shortcuts for Mac from a designer & developer's perspective (feat. Matthew Bischoff)
Matthew also followed up with a blog post on their own website, covering 5 of the shortcuts we talked about on the stream – definitely make sure to get the shortcuts yourself, especially if you’re following along new:
5 Shortcuts I Use Daily · Matthew Bischoff
This stream is still live on my channel, but after two weeks it’ll go unlisted and into the member archive – however, you can always access the stream from the direct link or the embed on my site:
Livestream: Shortcuts for Mac (feat. Matthew Bischoff) – Matthew Cassinelli
📰 Stories of the week
I’m glad 9to5Mac saw this shortcut from a viral TikTok video and wrote it up – the shortcut uses an innocuous Home Screen icon and messages in the menus, but is actually designed to discretely call for help in a dangerous situation:
SOS shortcut provides easy-to-use safety tools for iPhone users - 9to5Mac
Serhii Vasylenko published a great write-up on his blog covering two shortcuts for processing images – one compresses images using TinyPng, and the other resizes a batch of images to 1600px wide. Make sure to check out the full images on his site and get the shortcuts too:
Monterey Shortcuts for Easy and Fast Image Processing | Serhii Vasylenko — Technical Blog
This next piece isn’t even an article, but I happened to see a post from the Maverick Truck Club forums, a group dedicated to the Ford Maverick, mentioning an old Reddit post where the user had tapped into FordPass using Shortcuts – if you have a Ford, you might be able to automate it using this info:
Using Siri Shortcuts to Start/Lock/Unlock Your Maverick | MaverickTruckClub
Earlier this week, when I saw Federico’s tweet about his new method for scraping comments out of shortcuts, my ears naturally perked up – this is exactly what I do to upload to my Shortcuts Catalog.
He followed up to that tweet with Part 1 on Club MacStories explaining a better way to do that all, which I’m now in the process of adopting myself:
Parsing Shortcuts as XML or JSON and Extracting Comments From Them | Club MacStories
📲 Apps of the Week
Marcos Tanaka, developer of apps like MusicSmart & MusicHarbor, launched his new “Play” app for YouTube videos – the app lets you create a custom queue that can be organized by tags & added/retrieved using Shortcuts.
I haven’t gotten a chance to built shortcuts for Play yet, but I plan on streaming a working session soon where I build some in realtime – until then you can read about it on MacStories too:
Marcos Tanaka
🎉 Play is now available! 🎉

Use Play to bookmark and manage YouTube videos to watch later. Easily add, organize, and watch on your iPhone, iPad and Mac.

👉 App Store https://t.co/CRZj2vDFWH
👉 Press Kit https://t.co/G4g5dMiTMq
Nautomate is a new beta app from Toolbox Pro developer Alex Hay built around providing Shortcuts actions for Notion – the Twitter account has been sharing the work-in-progress and new actions, so make sure to check it out for your Notion setup:
Just added a new ‘Convert Database’ action which lets you export a @NotionHQ database as CSV, Markdown Table or JSON Dictionary.

You can optionally filter, sort & limit the results.

Flexible & powerful! 💪🏻

#notion #nocode #shortcuts https://t.co/7PeelPazu6
Timery, the time-tracking app built on Toggl, has added a new Get Recent Time Entries action to make it easier to restart a timer you were just using.
Timery is chock full of really handy actions, plus I really recommend anyone working with Dates/Times to check out the Format Duration action – it’s saving my bacon for my all my current chapter marker work and I mentioned it on my stream with Jason & Dan.
In Shortcuts return a list of your recent time entries with the new Get Recent Time Entries action. Apply filters to customize which time entries are returned, and choose how they are sorted. Combine it with Choose from List and Start Time Entry actions to restart a recent entry. https://t.co/h9mxAf7GeO
Now that I’ve mentioned the chapter marker stuff again, I also saw this tweet from the tool Otter AI mention their Shortcuts support — I’ve had a set of 4 of these in my library for a while and haven’t used them yet, but I was intrigued in the company when I saw Shawn Blanc mention he uses it to transcribe his own meetings.
They have an “Insert Marker” shortcut that could act like an edit point/chapter marker for any conversation recorded with Otter, which I may have to actually test soon:
Otter.ai Voice Meeting Notes
VIDEO: Are you an #iOS user? Now you can command #Siri to open @Otter_ai🗣️This short tutorial will show you how!📲

#SiriShortcut #AppleEDUchat #Apple #Technology #AI https://t.co/6vMiEr0SOK
Watchla, a watchOS-first app for controlling a Tesla, has added Shortcuts support for all of its actions (both on the watch and iOS), meaning anyone with the EV can integrate their commands with Siri fairly easily:
Hi everyone, as you may know by now #Watchla v2.0 is out now :)

It adds a bunch of stuff like:
• an iOS companion app
• Siri Shortcuts for both WatchOS & iOS
• a much faster re-factored stack
& a ton more!
For anyone who doesn’t know, the Starbucks app also has great Shortcuts support – there’s a “Reorder” option that makes it easy to get your favorite drink scheduled for pickup; if that’s not convenient, I don’t know what is.
(Here’s lead developer at Starbucks Jason Stoff mentioning this to someone on Twitter:)
Jason Stoff ⚜️
@mpz216 @Starbucks Have you tried setting up a Siri Shortcut to re-order?The Starbucks shortcut is designed for this exact scenario. If it doesn’t work for your needs, I’d be curious about that too.
💡 Ideas of the Week
This week I saw a ton of good ideas on Twitter – there’s consistently a bunch of new ideas I hadn’t thought of, so make sure to dig in:
Aravind Balla
On Twitter, I saw this NFC tag that was stuck onto a portable pill container – the author is using it to log their medication each time, which is a great use case & could solve the “When did I last take my meds?” problem with another quick shortcut using Find Health Samples:
Michael 🤖
NFC sticker + portable medication container + NFC scan automation on shortcuts iOS app. Makes med logging easier https://t.co/yaY3ac4fZH
Mark Sweeney shared a thread covering some of his shortcuts used for working in Comic Books – I asked Mark to share the links to the shortcuts, so make sure to check out the replies to dig through them:
Mark Sweeney
Set up new shortcuts with the Shortcuts app in Monterey to automate steps in comic book work.

1: a keyboard shortcut that opens selected files in transmit - which uploads to specific folders on my server based on what folder the files originated from on my Mac.
Matias Korhonen shared this shortcut (check out the full image in the thread) to upload an resized image & publish it via git/Netlify – and also offers up a fair point about how it’s cool it can be done on a phone, but to set it up there is fairly clunky (and better done on a bigger screen):
Matias 💉³
Managed to create an iOS Shortcut that takes a photo as input, resizes it, and pushes it to git (and then Netlify publishes it).

It's nice that this is a thing that's possible but, at least on a phone, the Shortcuts app is clunky as hell to use.

In a similar git-inspired story, user Yi on Medium wrote up a guide for saving links to GitHub using Get Contents of URLs – it’s fairly straightforward with just the steps, but it’s possible to follow along and get the, ahem, gist of it:
How to use Shortcuts on iOS to automatically save link to GitHub as a Reading List
Aravind Balla also shared this great shortcut for logging your current weight into the Health app if you don’t have a smart scale (but do have a dumb one):
Aravind Balla
A simple Siri shortcut to log weight everyday. 🤘

(You don’t need that Text action, but you sure need a weighing machine to measure) https://t.co/ty1djPEgT5
Ian Brennan shared this great thread for anyone with Elgato lights – you can tap into the direct web requests made by the light and use your own shortcuts with Get Contents of URL to control the lights/get data.
And before you ask like I did in the replies, this method uses a publicly-visible IP but requires being on your network to control it:
Ian Brennan
It exposes GET and PUT endpoints on your local network, so you can send a JSON payload to this address and update the state of the light https://t.co/hoo9a6q7nk
David Blue shared his Home Screen shortcut that’s built around the App Store URL scheme rather than App Store actions – I have a similar shortcut that takes me right to the Updates screen, which is usually what I’m checking out:
David Blue ※ (ɥ̶͇͖͉̠̰̟͔̒́̆ͧ͋̀̀ 𝙼𝙾𝙳𝙴)
if you were wondering… I put a Siri Shortcut on my homescreen instead of the App Store that takes me directly to the update page. https://t.co/W8DonQMJuG https://t.co/reXONAlhC1
Kevin Boyd shared this shortcut on Twitter that just made me laugh – it’s a reference to Hermes Conrad from the show Futurama:
Kevin Boyd
On Tuesday, I must have had a premonition about the Futurama news. I created this Siri shortcut to play music from a specific playlist: https://t.co/HJf7Qe8RNT
Ryan Melon on Twitter shared this clever hack – she’s able to get around Screen Time limits using a shortcut to tweet for her instead.
To be honest, I see no problem with that – tweeting isn’t the problem for me, it’s scrolling:
🌲🏳️‍🌈 Ryan
Me (a woman in stem) tweeting from a siri shortcut to get past my (self-imposed) screen time limits
“Timbo Fett” shared this intriguing tweet that he also followed up on in the replies – he uses Shortcuts automations run every morning to log the UV index for the entire day, which has now created this cool chart showing the average sun intensity in his area over time:
Timbo Fett
UV Index at 3 for the first time since November 18. I have a #SiriShortcuts that reminds me to use sunscreen. Fun stuff. https://t.co/oitYWPGKzc
Timbo Fett
@mattcassinelli UV Index is a record type in the Health app. I run these steps once a day at sunrise to log it.

I split the Reminders stuff into a separate shortcut that can be run in the automation or on its own. Here if you’re interested: https://t.co/EKy9VwcA6X https://t.co/YwHO3t1jFA
@Nimalan shared this great—and apparently “first useful"—shortcut that they’re using to scrape the text out of a website and turn it into Markdown.
And while I jest using quotes above, this is truly a useful little utility – this kind of thing isn’t easy without Shortcuts:
Wow Shortcuts is pretty awesome. I just made one to convert web pages to Markdown 🔥 That’s the first Shortcut I’ve ever found useful!

https://t.co/17hwGULNjY https://t.co/KARnTu2FEv
Brad @ScoobyDofus “Brad Romance” (I’m just having fun calling out Twitter usernames at this point) shared this Songwhip shortcut for sharing a single link to any music service for your current track:
Brad Romance 🐻🏳️‍🌈
If you’re on iOS and use Apple Music, this shortcut adds an item to the “share” menu to create a Songwhip link for whatever is currently playing, which allows you to share a link to multiple music services in one go. https://t.co/xrNHqc3d1l https://t.co/x2t9BKq85K
Ryan Eibling shared this handy little Apple Music shortcut that finds what would be the next track on an album for the current song and plays it next – kind of a mini preview for what other kind of music that artist makes.
I have a similar “Play full album next” shortcut that uses the entire track list, but I’m going to keep this as an shorter alternative too:
Ryan Eibling
Shortcut for "continue this album" in Apple Music, for when a song comes up in shuffle that makes you want to hear what's next on the album.

Matt Lucero took some time to recreate the NASA pic of the day shortcut to use less actions/feel less complex:
NYSL Lucero
I spent a lot of time adjusting the Nasa Astronomy Picture of the day shortcut for iOS to be less bloated.

Change your iOS wallpaper to the @nasa picture of the day.

If you’re into it here it is:

Ashley Bartlett shared their idea for pulling in recent videos and saving it to a Training album in Photos – I like this context-specific use case for saving to Photo Albums that makes the process much easier during a time when you probably don’t want to fiddle around on your phone:
Ashley Bartlett 💉 💉 💉
Finally tried something with Apple Shortcuts. I want to put my gym training videos in a specific folder, this makes it that little bit easier. https://t.co/9ZcxH0fClc
Minnaar Pieters shared this great Apple Watch automation tip that uses Sunrise and Sunset times to get rid of the display’s glow at night:
Minnaar Pieters
Tip: While I like using the Apple Watch Always On display, I don’t like its glow at night. Using the Shortcuts app on your iPhone, set up a Personal Automation to turn Always On display on and off at certain times: https://t.co/xlZUxfJH34
🖥 Shortcuts Spotlight
As I mentioned at the start of this newsletter, this issue’s Spotlight is more of a warning than a tip – do not delete your Shortcuts data on the Mac:
Matthew Cassinelli
Pro-tip: don’t delete these files from Shortcuts for Mac https://t.co/2OWpkWmUuQ
I shared slightly more context in the Twitter Community, but I’ve been plagued with sync issues this last week ever since I broke the ability to move multiple folders around, and since then my devices have been trying to catch up.
I’m honestly not sure the exact timeline of last night since it all became a blur, but at some point my Mac got the “Your shortcuts database is corrupted” and I had to reset back to zero on that device.
When that happened, I first turned Airplane Mode on my other devices and exported all my shortcuts to Files, just in case I might lose them entirely – thankfully I had a full backup on iCloud now just in case.
When my Mac started syncing back the files, however, something else went wrong – about 600 were missing, many folder titles/icons were blank, and in general the library was not matching my other devices (which also were still staying in sync).
I then made the mistake of trying to fix it myself, rather than just letting the device sit for a while – I remembered seeing on Reddit that Shortcuts stored the data locally in a .sqlite folder, so I went spelunking for that.
Being a fool, I decided to delete my database – and the Shortcuts app became an empty shell…
Then, when I hit Command + Z to undo in Finder, it did actually work… but Shortcuts was now reading only a string of numbers (likely my user ID) in all fields and no actual shortcuts – I’d completely borked it, to say the least.
Thankfully, due to extreme luck & circumstance, I happen to have a Mac mini as well, which includes a full copy of my Shortcuts database. And when I copied & pasted that over from my Mac mini to my MacBook Air & restarted Shortcuts, it worked!
Now, it wasn’t without effects, however, because then all of my instances of Shortcuts (across Macs, multiple iPads, and my phone) all had to resync through every single one of my shortcuts (I am now up to 2.4K, don’t judge).
I sat there for 4 hours and watched on both my Macs as the Recently Modified view proceeded to slowly update each-and-every shortcut – a process that I’m now thinking was already overdue and potentially the original source of my sync issues in the first place.
Thankfully, at the end of the night, Shortcuts had finally finished updating, and some quick folder changes I’d made on one device were actually syncing across all of them.
However, when I woke up, I then found all of my folders are out of sync too (all 400+ of them 😇).
So, before I go spend another few hours fixing those, take this diatribe as a word of warning – seriously, do not delete your Shortcuts database…
That’s all for this week – thanks for your patience as my problems last night delayed this issue until Monday morning 🙏.
Coming up – look out for new posts on the blog, more livestream announcements on Twitter, and have a good week!
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Matthew Cassinelli
Matthew Cassinelli @mattcassinelli

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