Apple’s Shortcuts app brings extensive automation capabilities to your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, using a drag-and-drop, fill-in-the-blanks interface much like Automator—but much more powerful. It lets you perform sequences of tasks, including ones that span various apps, with just a tap, a click, or a voice command—or even automatically when certain conditions are met. Shortcuts can save you time and effort, help you accomplish previously complicated tasks, and let you customize your device to better meet your needs. macOS 12 Monterey finally brought Shortcuts to the Mac, and with iOS 15/iPadOS 15, Shortcuts has become even more powerful than before.
But for all its utility, Shortcuts is not self-explanatory, so it can be challenging to figure out its quirks and create effective, time-saving automations. That’s where Take Control of Shortcuts comes in. Written by automation expert Rosemary Orchard, this book opens the world of automation to users at every level.
With Rosemary’s help, you’ll learn how to:
- Navigate the Shortcuts app: Understand the user interface (on each platform) and terminology, then install and run your first shortcut.
- Run shortcuts: Discover many different ways to run a shortcut, from tapping or clicking an icon to using Personal or Home automations, Siri, and Apple Watch.
- Build shortcuts: Start with simple, one-step shortcuts and work your way up to complex shortcuts with input, output, variables, conditionals, loops, and more. Debugging advice is also included.
- Install and sync shortcuts: Download and install shortcuts others have written, sync your shortcuts across your devices, and share them with other people.
Then, to both illustrate the main principles you’ve learned and give you practical tools to get you started, Rosemary walks you step by step through the creation of 23 sample shortcuts, most which you can also download and install using links in the book. Examples include:
- Event templates
- A daily overview
- Converting and sharing images
- Adding a song to a playlist
- Logging expenses
- Turning on lights automatically when you get home
- Disabling rotation lock just for YouTube on an iPhone
- Reminding you about upcoming deadlines 15 minutes after you arrive home
- Automatically setting seasonal scenes for HomeKit lights
The book also discusses how Shortcuts can use REST APIs to talk to various web services (with detailed examples), and numerous complementary apps that work in conjunction with Shortcuts.
Whether you’re completely new to automation or already have significant programming experience, you’ll find plenty of useful information in this friendly, practical guide.