Automation is no longer just for advanced computer users! Apple’s Shortcuts app lets anyone with an iPhone, iPad, or Mac automate day-to-day tasks, from the simple to the complex. This book is a complete introduction to Shortcuts, covering 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 two ebook formats—PDF and EPUB—and can be read on nearly any device.
Note: This book is mostly up to date. Shortcuts underwent some changes in macOS 13 Ventura, iOS 16, and iPadOS 16. Although most of the the changes are not huge, they do make parts of the book slightly inaccurate. Rosemary had said that she planned to deliver an updated manuscript in December 2022, but we haven’t seen it yet. We will publish it as soon as possible after we receive it. The update will be free to everyone who purchases the book now. (Read more about updates).)
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:
A daily overview
Converting and sharing images
Adding a song to a playlist
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.
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, and produces videos for ScreenCasts ONLINE.
When she isn’t writing, she’s busy eating chocolate and planning world domination with Shortcuts.
What’s New in the Second Edition
This revised and expanded second edition includes information related to changes brought about by iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, as well as the launch of Shortcuts on macOS. Major changes include:
Coverage of Shortcuts for macOS throughout the book, including an overview in “macOS Launch” and how to run shortcuts in macOS
An expanded discussion of how to run shortcuts from automations in iOS or iPadOS, now in its own chapter
How to deal with device-specific actions when developing cross-platform shortcuts
A new chapter describing Focus Mode shortcuts that let you take advantage of the upgraded Do Not Disturb built into iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS 12 Monterey; the chapter includes step-by-step “recipes” for three new shortcuts: “Disable Work Focus When It’s a Holiday,” “Focus Modes—Scheduled Exceptions,” and “Remind Me 15 Minutes After I Arrive at Home”
New shortcut recipes in the Media and Home categories: “Disable Rotation Lock for YouTube,” “Evil Flashing Alarm Clock,” and “Seasonal Scenes”
A greatly expanded list of complementary apps that work with Shortcuts, now categorized by which operating system(s) they support
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.
January 10, 2023—This book is mostly up to date. Shortcuts underwent some changes in macOS 13 Ventura, iOS 16, and iPadOS 16. Although most of the the changes are not huge, they do make parts of the book slightly inaccurate. Rosemary had said that she planned to deliver an updated manuscript in December 2022, but we haven't seen it yet. We will publish it as soon as possible after we receive it. The update will be free to everyone who purchases the book now. (Read more about updates.)