Shortcuts and automation

Some time ago I started thinking about how I could use Apple’s Shortcut application to automate some things I do regularly. I looked at some of the biggest galleries with shortcuts and hoped to find something I could use. But every time I did, I thought it’s too much for me. My idea of minimalism has one rule: if something can be automated, it can probably be eliminated. I didn’t understand why people like them and why there are hundreds of shortcuts available online. Mostly for things I could do without them, sometimes even faster.

I almost gave up when an email arrived with a new invoice for phone service. And I knew. I created a simple shortcut to save the attachment to the right folder in iCloud.

Later, I mapped a few things I do regularly and created or found shortcuts to help me automate them. Hence the little gallery below. All these shortcuts are the ones I use regularly, and most of them will only work for me because they’re quite specific. But maybe someone would like to check them out, the names are links to the iCloud file with the shortcut. Most of them I made myself, but a few I found on the web or in the built-in gallery of the app. Two of them were made especially for me by Maurce Parker, the wonderful developer behind the Zavala app.

What’s important is the fact that all of these shortcuts are useful to me, and I really use them in real life. It’s not automation for automation’s sake. I rarely automate things that can be done with one or two mouse clicks, I found it unnecessary. But if something is difficult to accomplish in any other way, or requires many steps, I can justify the effort of preparing the shortcut and learning a new way of doing things.

Maybe in the future I’ll add something new or edit the ones I already have, maybe, who knows. For now those below made my life a bit easier, and that’s all. For some of you those can look like very basic things, but for me they’re achievements, especially those ones that I have created by myself for myself with my very limited skills. It took many trials and errors, they’re not perfect, but they work. For me. For my simple needs.

New daily entry

It checks if there is an entry with today’s date in the folder with my journal. If it exists, it opens it, if not, it creates a new one with the appropriate name and content template. As the final steps it opens iAWriter ready to write the entry.

New reflection

Works like the previous one, but asks first for the topic of reflection and use it as a file name.

New blog post

Creates a new file in proper folder, starts with the tittle and open iAWriter

Text length

Checks the clipboard for the text, then counts the number of words and characters.

Morning routine

Turns off alarms (I have two backup ones…), set the HomeKit scene and turns off the focus mode.

Afternoon routine

Set the HomeKit scene and turns on the focus mode.

Evening routine

Exactly opposite to the morning routine: turns on backup alarms, set the HomeKit scene and turns on focus mode.

Save the invoice

Every month I receive invoices for a few services via e-mail. I was tired of renaming and saying them, so I made this one to automate a bit this action. I have to open the pdf, check what’s inside, and use the Shortcut from the share sheet. It allows me to choose what’s the type of the invoice and based on that it selects the proper folder.

Generate QR code

Very simple one – it asks for the website address and creates the QR code.

Add reminder

The fastest possible way to create a reminders and I’m surprised that Apple didn’t make this default function.

Export as tasks

Very specific one. Allows to create a new list in Reminders and populate it with reminders based on Outline made in app called Zavala.

Plan to actions

Similar to the previous one, but works without opening the app, it simply reads the content of the app and allows to select the outline from the menu.

Sort lines

Sorts the lines of the text alphabetically.

Days left

Well, it shows how many days left to the selected date.

Remove background

Select the photo, it will remove the background using native iOS/macOS function and display it in Quick Look window.

Convert to GIF

Makes a GIF from Live Photo.