Tools: Shortcuts

Today’s recommendation is focused on automation but iOS exclusively. I don’t like to narrow my suggestions, but “Shortcuts” is a tool on a level by itself. It was born as Workflow, an app distributed in the App Store, and it provided a simple drag-and-drop approach to scripting and automation. Now it’s “Shortcuts,” and it’s a prime citizen in your iOS device, allowing you to do very complex tasks automatically.

Let’s say that you do a task frequently. For example, check the weather every morning. You usually need to open your favorite app or open a browser every day and search for your area. What if you could create an automation that sends you a notification daily with that information. Or each time you open Pocket or the “Books” app on your phone, you could enable dark mode and turn on “Do Not Disturb.” These are some of the things you could automate and would make you like a lot easier.

The problem it solves

It brings automation to the masses and in a simple way. It connects to many of the features in your phone so that you can control the brightness, camera, apps, and much more. The idea is always the same. Start with a trigger, as something happens, a location or a time, and then something else happens. You can get quite creative and build extremely complex “Shortcuts” that visually do a lot.

Shortcuts are shareable, so there’s a huge community teaching other people and building their own “Shortcuts” that you can import and enjoy. Please be careful, however, to be sure that the source is reliable. Some may do tricky things in the “Shortcut” to get your information, for example, if you’re looking for a community. Shortcuts on Reddit will provide you with ideas and templates that you can use.

Why I use it?

I use it a lot in 3 main areas:

  1. Time tracking – When I open my books app, I want to track the time I’m reading, so I’ll start a timer. Or when I arrive at a location (for example, my job), the work timer will start and the same when I leave that location.
  2. Health – I can quickly create simple “Shortcuts” to input my weight every morning or my caffeine intake. This information is kept safely on the Health App, so it’s a good way to keep track of key metrics. Previously I needed to find an app to do these tasks.
  3. Automate the ideas for this site. I have a “Shortcut” with all the sections and, when an idea pops up in my head, I trigger that shortcut and write it down. Then I call a Flow that saves this to my backlog in Airtable. It also creates the folders that I use to deal with screenshots and other things in my posts—all of this by inserting a title and a text.

Where you can find it

The short answer is, only on your iPhone or iPad. Apple snatched this company at the right time and made a huge competitive jump over Android.

Official Website

I’ll start posting some “Shortcut” templates in a “Template Archives” section, so keep an eye for that.

Want more? Check my other tools suggestions.

Disclaimer

I have no affiliation with this brand or person (people), and the views here are my own. I didn’t have any bad experiences, but if you do, please know that this is a recommendation, and you’re always free to make decisions by yourself before buying something.

Manuel Gomes

I'm a Project Manager with experience in large projects and companies. I've worked in the past for companies like Bayer, Sybase (now SAP) and I'm currently working for Pestana Hotel Group.

View all posts by Manuel Gomes →

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