Improve your iPad and iPhone workflows with automation!

Take Control of

Rosemary Orchard

Automation is no longer just for advanced Mac and PC users! Apple’s Shortcuts app lets anyone with an iPhone or iPad automate day-to-day tasks, from the simple to the complex. This book is a complete introduction to Shortcuts, which covers every aspect of building, installing, debugging, running, syncing, and sharing shortcuts. It also includes step-by-step recipes for creating numerous useful shortcuts yourself.

All Take Control books are delivered in three ebook formats—PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket (Kindle)—and can be read on nearly any device.


Note: Work is underway on a new edition of this book, which will cover changes to Shortcuts in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, plus the new Shortcuts app for macOS 12 Monterey. We expect the new version to be ready in the second quarter of 2022.

Apple’s Shortcuts app brings extensive automation capabilities to your iPhone or iPad, using a drag-and-drop, fill-in-the-blanks interface much like Automator on the Mac. It lets you perform sequences of tasks, including ones that span various apps, with just a tap 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. And with iOS 14/iPadOS 14, 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 iOS/iPadOS automation to users at every level.

With Rosemary’s help, you’ll learn how to:

  • Navigate the Shortcuts app: Understand the user interface and terminology, then install and run your first shortcut.
  • Run shortcuts: Discover many different ways to run a shortcut, from tapping an icon to using 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 15 sample shortcuts, 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

The book also discusses how Shortcuts can use REST APIs to talk to various web services (with detailed examples), and 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.

Rosemary Orchard photo

About Rosemary Orchard

Rosemary Orchard is the cohost of Automators, an automation-themed podcast on Relay FM with David Sparks, and Nested Folders, an independent productivity podcast with Scotty Jackson. She also writes for MacStories and The Sweet Setup, as well as produces videos for ScreenCasts ONLINE. Rosemary is also the coauthor of Build Your OmniFocus Workflow.

When she isn’t writing, she’s busy eating chocolate and planning world domination with Shortcuts.

Version 1.1 of this book includes information related to changes brought about by iOS and iPadOS 14 (see iOS 14/iPadOS 14 Update for more details). Major changes include:

  • The addition of Apple Watch support to Shortcuts. See “Run Shortcuts on Apple Watch.”
  • Copy and paste of actions. See “Copy, Paste, and Duplicate Actions.”
  • New automations, and improvements to existing automations. See, for example, “Run Shortcuts from Automations.”
  • Support for folders in Shortcuts. See “Organize Shortcuts in Folders.”
  • The widget system in iOS and iPadOS 14 is completely new and Shortcuts offers support for it. See “Run Shortcuts from a Widget.”
  • Read Me First
    • Updates and More
    • What’s New in Version 1.1
  • Introduction
  • Shortcuts Quick Start
  • iOS 14/iPadOS 14 Update
  • Explore the User Interface
    • The Shortcuts Tabs
    • The Shortcuts Editor
    • Install and Run Your First Shortcut
  • Run Shortcuts
    • Run Shortcuts Directly in the App
    • Run Shortcuts from a Widget
    • Put Shortcuts on Your Home Screen
    • Run Shortcuts from Automations
    • Run Shortcuts from the Share Sheet
    • Run Shortcuts from Spotlight
    • Use Siri Triggers
    • Run Shortcuts on Apple Watch
  • Build Shortcuts
    • One-Step Shortcuts
    • Actions
    • Name
    • Variables
    • Input & Output
    • If and Otherwise
    • Repeat Loops
    • Lists, Menus, and Dictionaries
    • Debug Shortcuts
    • Graphical Representation (the Icon)
    • Run a Shortcut Inside Another Shortcut
    • Organize Shortcuts in Folders
  • Install and Sync Shortcuts
    • Install Shortcuts from iCloud Links
    • Sync Your Shortcuts
    • Share Your Shortcuts
  • Productivity Shortcuts
    • Share PDF
    • Meeting Time and Notes
    • Event Templates
    • Add Tasks in Bulk
    • Daily Overview
  • Media Shortcuts
    • Convert and Share Image
    • Play Audio
    • Set AirPods Pro Noise Cancelling
    • Add Current Song to Playlist
  • Home Shortcuts
    • Make a Button a Toggle
    • When I Get Home and…
  • Other Shortcuts
    • Share Your Shortcuts in Bulk
    • Log Expense
    • Tip Calculator
  • Work with REST APIs
    • An Introduction to API Calls with Shortcuts
    • Zapier
    • Airtable
    • Manage API Keys with Shortcuts
  • Complementary Apps
    • Toolbox Pro
    • Pushcut
    • Jayson
    • Scriptable
    • Drafts
    • Toggl
    • PCalc
  • About This Book
    • Ebook Extras
    • About the Author
    • Shameless Plug
    • About the Publisher
  • Copyright and Fine Print

Rosemary Orchard Talks Shortcuts with Chuck Joiner

Posted by Joe Kissell on December 28, 2019

Rosemary Orchard joined Chuck Joiner on the MacVoices podcast to discuss her new book, Take Control of Shortcuts. You’ll hear what’s great about Shortcuts for iOS and iPadOS and what you’ll learn from her book.

April 30, 2022—Work is underway on a new edition of this book, which will cover changes to Shortcuts in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, plus the new Shortcuts app for macOS 12 Monterey. We expect the new version to be ready in the second quarter of 2022.


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